I guess Byron Tau thought he had to make it look like Big Labor is really, really mad at President Barack Obama and the White House so he could make Obama look like he's a moderate on economic and fiscal issues. Thus his Sunday morning post's headline: "Labor targets Obama over proposed benefit cuts."
Of course, they aren't "cuts" at all, though they are being portrayed as such. All Obama has done, according to information which appears to have been conveniently leaked (perhaps in hopes of killing the idea) to the New York Times ahead of his very late President's Budget, is "propose a new inflation formula that would have the effect of reducing cost-of-living payments for Social Security benefits, though with financial protections for low-income and very old beneficiaries, administration officials said." Despite the weakly descriptive language at the Times, monthly Social Security and other checks would continue to increase under the proposal each year inflation occurs -- just not by as much.
The Times did not specify how much this move might reduce future spending growth in government entitlement programs, but relayed a claim that the President's budget "would reduce projected annual deficits by $1.8 trillion over 10 years." The fact that there's no hard number for what the new inflation formula would mean hasn't kept Big Labor from being infuriated:
Bad Policy: President Obama's Budget Cuts Social Security and Medicare
... AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said the "chained" CPI is wrong-headed policy.
"Millions of Americans remain out of work and the job market is especially devastating for young people. Young people ages 20-24 are facing 13.3% unemployment rates. Without the prospect of good jobs in their early and crucial earning years, these young people will bear the cost of these proposed cuts in Social Security."
In a time of rampant income inequality and stagnant wages, a blow to retirement security is the last thing we need.
It's unconscionable we're asking seniors, people with disabilities and veterans to be squeezed of every last penny when corporations and the wealthiest 2% are not paying their fair share of taxes, despite soaring profits.
Trumka's "young people hardest hit" comment is a howler, as the entire system in its current form is self-evidently unsustainable and is on track to not be there in any meaningful form when today's young attempt to retire several decades from now.
The headline at Tau's post at Politico is misleading at best (I guess we could go down the road of violent imagery inherent in the use of the word "targets," but I'll resist). Big Labor hasn't pulled its support for Obama or Democrats in general in any meaningful way since ... well, I can't remember when. They're not about to now. If they "target" Obama over this, with whom are they going to replace him?
The headline's proper term should have been "criticizes," "sharply criticizes," or something on the order of "blasts."
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.