Public Values

Shock Doctrine push to gut Social Security and middle class

Wait for an emergency like the terrible recession so people are in shock and want solutions, and then change everything so fast they can’t respond while telling them how this is good for them.

by Dave Johnson, from OurFuture.org

NOVEMBER 22, 2010: Today's Washington Post has punch two of a one-two punch. Punch one was the Simpson/Bowles "plan" to cut Social Security, cut middle-class tax breaks and programs (and dramatically cut taxes on the rich.) Punch two is pushing this plan hard with headlines claiming this solution is actually popular, while shutting out voices who explain why we shouldn't do this. This is full-on Shock Doctrine, wait for an emergency like the terrible recession so people are in shock and want solutions, and then change everything so fast they can’t respond while telling them how this is good for them.

This is how they do it, folks, demonstrated by this story in today's Washington Post: Consensus is forming on what steps to take in cutting the deficit,

After an election dominated by vague demands for less debt and smaller government, the sacrifices necessary to achieve those goals are coming into sharp focus. ... Smaller Social Security checks and higher Medicare premiums. [. . .] the plan unveiled this month by co-chairmen Erskine B. Bowles ... and Alan K. Simpson ... has been respectfully received with a few exceptions by both parties. Its major elements are also winning support from a striking line-up of commentators. [. . .] The strange bedfellows are a "testament to the moderate nature" of the ideas under discussion.

Consensus? Sharp focus? Here's your "sharp focus": The public hates this!

That headline is the manufactured reality. The real reality is that the public just hates this, and has voted against and will vote against politicians who push it.

Last month you saw campaign ad after ad hitting Democrats who "cut $500 billion from Medicare," and Democrats lost the senior vote and the midterms. The public hates this.

A recent Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research report showed that an overwhelming 69% of voters agreed that "politicians should keep their hands off Social Security and Medicare" when they address the deficit. The public hates this.

Only 6% of the public says the government's priority should be deficits now. The public hates this.

An AARP poll finds that 90% of people aged 18 to 29 say Social Security is important. The public hates this.

An NBC/WSJ poll finds that 57% are against cutting Social Security no matter how bad the deficit is. The public hates this.

A USA Today poll finds that the public by 66/31 says don't cut benefits to fix the deficit. The public hates this.

I can continue citing poll after poll; there are no polls that show the public is in any way behind this.

It's Clear: The public hates this and will vote out any politician who does this. If you think the public didn’t like the bailouts and the politicians who voted for them, this "Deficit Commission" plan to cut Social Security is the other shoe dropping. Bailouts helped Wall Street and not Main Street and people certainly didn't like that. But this is paying for bailing out Wall Street by hitting Main Street in the gut. And the public understands this.

But here is today's reality: the public hates this, and the corporate media tells you how much you love it. This is how it's done. You have heard the stories of FDR and LBJ saying "make me do it," meaning create the public pressure that forces politicians to do act. This is a story of manufacturing consent where the elites, the Peterson Foundation, the President and the corporate right are setting up an appearance of making them do it. (We have a jobs emergency, but we get deficit commissions instead of jobs commissions?)

The public hates it but the elites are pushing ahead with their campaign anyway. If you remember the "run up" to the Iraq War, opposing voices were simply shut out of the discussion. All the "serious people" were explaining why we had no choice but to invade Iraq. And all the headlines were about the terrible threat that Iraq posed to our very existence. Seriously, it wasn't just stories about how Iraq was going to drop a nuke on us any second now. Do you remember the smallpox scare?, where you couldn't listen to the radio, read a newspaper or watch TV without hearing about all the terrible ways Iraq was going to attack us?

The Simpson/Bowles plan is part of a pre-arranged agenda to gut the middle class and further enrich the wealthy. The media machine is working to convince DC politicians that the public wants this done. They scare people with headlines about the terrifying things that will happen because of deficits. The only viewpoints you hear are the cutters and gutters. Those presenting the ideas the public favors - like the plan offered by Deficit Commission member Rep. Jan Schakowsky that cuts the deficit but actually strengthens Social Security -- are not heard. And keep telling people how popular and necessary this is.

Result? If you are a politician in DC, you really have no way to know how the pubic feels because all you see are headlines like today's Washington Post, telling you a consensus is forming.

Posted: December 07, 2010

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