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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Creamer: Fight Cuts in Medicare, Medicaid & Social Security

In his latest HuffPo post, political strategist Robert Creamer sounds the call to arms, urging Dems to resist cuts in three major entitlement programs.

Friday, the Democratic group Third Way published a memo arguing that Democrats should support “entitlement reform” — by which they mean cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. I don’t doubt the sincerity or intentions of their proposal, but I believe that if Democrats took their advice it would result in a moral, economic and political disaster.

Creamer dissects and eviscerates conservative arguments for “entitlement reform,” revealing them as schemes to rip off working people to fatten the already bulging wallets of the uber-wealthy. He then rolls out public opinion data to show how little support there is for conservative “entitlement reform”:

“Entitlement Reform” would spell political disaster for Democrats. The Third Way memo argues that next year’s election will be about “deficits.” That’s just non-sense.
First, a recent CBS News poll found that 51% of Americans say the economy and jobs are the most important problem facing our country today — but just 7% cited the budget deficit.
…The polling shows clearly that the voters oppose cuts in in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
• The public opposes cutting Social Security benefits by 70% to 80%.
• Two-thirds of likely voters oppose raising the retirement age.
• Up to two-thirds support making the Social Security Trust fund solvent for generations by raising the payroll tax to cover income above $107,000 a year.
…A recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll showed that a 51% to 46% majority says the government should do more, rather than less…It found that by 54% to 18%, Americans do not believe that cuts in Medicare are necessary to reduce the deficit. Forty-nine to twenty-two percent say cuts in Social Security are not needed.

Creamer points out that elections are not about “issues” per se. Rather elections are about candidates’ credibility as leaders who will protect and advance the interests of the middle class. He explains how this plays out with respect to entitlements:

…if a voter becomes convinced that a candidate actually intends to take something away that they value — to cut their Social Security or Medicare benefits, for instance — they will decide in a nano-second that the candidate advocating that position is not on their side…Most Americans believe that they are owed their Social Security and Medicare benefits since they have paid throughout their working lives into Social Security and Medicare. Voters don’t view Social Security and Medicare just as “government programs.” They view them as “insurance programs.” Americans believe they deserve Social Security and Medicare benefits just as they would the benefits owed under any other insurance contract.

With respect to senior voters, Creamer has a warning:

The Third Way memo argues that seniors rarely break for Democrats anyway. Precisely. President Obama won in 2008 while losing seniors by eight points. Last fall, Democrats lost seniors by 21 points. The President can win re-election while losing seniors by 8 points – but not by 21. The election passes through states with old populations – like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Florida.
A decent chunk of seniors who voted against Democrats last year have to be convinced that Democratic candidates are on their side in 2012, or Democrats are toast. If they see Democrats bargain away their Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits — or those of their kids — they won’t vote Democratic in November of 2012. It’s that simple.

Creamer says that if Democrats cave and approve proposed entitlement cuts, it will prove to be “a moral, economic and political disaster.” His post merits a read from all Democrats– especially those who want to be re-elected in 2012.

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