In a representative democracy like America, a majority of the population chooses a leader to represent their best interests in negotiations with a hostile opposition party, and they can be likened to a labor representative negotiating for wages, working conditions, and benefits in a labor dispute, but a labor representative’s influence is limited when compared to those who hold real power, the business owners. Today, the American people’s representative, President Obama, meets with business owners who hold enormous power and wield influence over Republicans who control the fate of American workers, and before the meeting even begins, a gang of CEOs laid out an agenda that portends diminished benefits for America’s workforce. In his Inaugural Address, the President assured the people he will fight to preserve their retirement investment, and with overwhelming support from the people, he has the ability to make a strong case against the CEOs proposals.
President Obama meets with chief executives from 12 companies today to discuss immigration and deficit reduction. The CEO list features Goldman Sachs’ Lloyd Blankfein, Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer, Willard Romney’s associate Arne Sorenson of Marriott Intl, Jeff Smisek of United Continental Holdings, and Klaus Kleinfeld of Alcoa Inc, as well as seven other of the nation’s ruling oligarchy. A White House official said “The president will continue his engagement with outside leaders on a number of issues – including his efforts to achieve balanced deficit reduction,” but the gang of 12 have their own agenda, and solid support from the GOP, that is irrelevant to deficit reduction and everything to do with enriching the financial sector and eroding the worker-funded retirement and healthcare system.
Like a labor negotiation, the people overwhelmingly voiced their demands to preserve Social Security that includes increased benefits, eliminating the cap on high income earners, retire at 62, increase the cost of living allowance (COLA), and increase the payroll tax deduction to ensure they are paying for their demands. The CEOs ultimatum is raising the retirement age to 70, reducing Social Security benefits, cutting COLA, and quickly moving both worker-funded retirement programs (Social Security and Medicare) into the private financial sector as the be all, end all, to reduce the nation’s deficit. President Obama will listen carefully to the CEO demands and consider how the people will respond, but according to the latest poll by the nonpartisan National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI), there could not possibly be a sharper contrast between what Americans say they want and changes being proposed by the nation’s corporate leaders and their legislative arm the Republican Party.
The NASI survey revealed that large majorities of Americans (Republicans and Democrats) overwhelmingly want to increase payroll taxes and increase Social Security’s benefits, and agreed on ways to strengthen Social Security — without cutting benefits. In fact, 84% of the people believe current Social Security benefits do not provide enough income for retirees, and 82% agree it is critical to preserve Social Security for future generations even if it means increasing Social Security taxes paid by working Americans. The survey also showed that 71% of Republicans and 97% of Democrats agree that increasing Social Security taxes for wealthiest 5% of Americans by eliminating the income cap is critical to preserve Social Security. One hopes that the President, Democrats, and especially Republican “entitlement” fetishists comprehend that bipartisan desire to sustain and grow Social Security is real, and that the President conveys that message to the 12 disciples of the post-Reagan economic policies that have decimated American workers over the past thirty years.
The CEOs however, are ill-inclined to acquiesce to the will of the people, or their needs, and with no real stake in the deficit, or the nation’s spending (lowest in 60 years), will attempt to control the narrative to get their hands on Americans’ retirement savings (Social Security & Medicare) by parroting the demise of the government program by pushing benefit cuts and raising the retirement age to advance their privatization scam they claim reduces the deficit and brings government spending under control; their control. Obviously, the CEOs and their GOP cohort promote Social Security’s near-term insolvency to garner support for benefit cuts, raising the retirement age, and privatization, and it informs their interest is not the deficit, the program’s fiscal health, or spending that have no effect on the CEOs, but moving all Americans’ retirement investments into their corporate ledgers does.
Social Security and Medicare belong to the American people, and since CEOs have no stake in either, cutting benefits, requiring people to work longer, and leaving retirees in the lurch without healthcare for five years is of no consequence to them. However, they will dictate to President Obama that people work longer and are denied their entire working lives’ investment for 5 years to leave them broke, broken and, if they can abscond with the people’s retirement by way of privatization, an early death. Make no mistake, the CEO mindset has no regard for the American people, and they believe they are the government and Social Security already belongs to them. Goldman Sachs’ Blankfein revealed as much two months ago when he said cutting Social Security benefits and raising the retirement age was mandatory because “we cannot afford them” and “that they (the people) have to start making sacrifices to cut our spending” and the country’s deficit. Blankfein is irrelevant to Social Security spending, and he has no stake in its affordability, but he does want to get his dirty hands on Americans’ retirement investment; that is his only interest.
One understands the President recruiting leading CEOs to pressure Republicans during the fiscal cliff crisis, but bringing them in to discuss deficit reduction when their entire interest is “harvesting” working people’s retirement is curious. The people have spoken through the NASI survey, and their demands speak volumes about preserving and strengthening Social Security without benefit cuts or raising the retirement age that entails CEO strategy to deprive the people and privatize the program.
The people chose President Obama as their representative to fight for their interests, and if they wanted a CEO advocate, Willard Romney would be handing the Social Security Trust to Goldman Sachs. The CEOs are deluded if they believe the President is Willard Romney. Perhaps the corporate world failed to get the message Americans rejected Republican’s thirty year assault on their economic health in November, or that President Obama rejected deficit reduction based on privatizing Americans’ retirement income. The President has proven to be a master at manipulating Republicans to advance his agenda, and with near universal support for strengthening and preserving the most popular New Deal program in American history, there is little doubt 12 CEOs will prove any different.