What a strange turn of events. If we are to believe the leaks on the deal being cut for the fiscal cliff, it appears that President Obama’s agenda was narrow—restore fiscal sanity by upping the tax rates on very high earners. In the process, he appears ready to concede to House Speaker John Boehner a Republican plan to alter Social Security benefits recommended by the Simpson-Bowles commission. What an odd legacy the president would be leaving. The cut in Social Security benefits that Boehner proposes would have a disparate impact on African Americans, the group that voted most vociferously against the Republican world view. One would think the president’s agenda going into the fiscal cliff negotiations would be to remind those who worked hard for his election why it mattered he won.
Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are the foundations for the well-being of scores of millions of middle- and low-income Americans. Without Social Security, 14 million more low-income Americans would be living in poverty. Because of Medicare, 33 million older people live longer, have access to quality careand are not driven into poverty by rapidly rising health care costs. Medicaid is a health care boon to Americans not yet eligible for Medicare, which covers some 60 million Americans.