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Opinion: Obama’s budget illustrates system’s faults

Kevin Griffin

Kevin GriffinPresident Barack Obama’s budget “compromise” demonstrates the political system’s faults.

American political culture is filled with many myths and untruths that distort our view of political reality. An example would be the faulty claim made by certain conservatives that Obama is a socialist.
We need look no further than the president’s budget proposal to see how ridiculous this claim really is.

Obama’s 2014 budget proposal includes sizable cuts to Medicare and Social Security.

CNN reports that Medicare will be cut by $400 billion over 10 years, while social security is to be restructured to a chained Consumer Price Index, according to the New York Times.
Chained CPI is a method of indexing Social Security to inflation in a way that will reduce benefits by slowing the increase in benefits over time, according to Business Week.

Combined with a previous debt deal, the Obama budget will reduce deficits by $4.3 trillion in the next 10 years.  As of now, 80 percent of that is accounted for with budget cuts, the New York Times reports.

Putting aside the very important matter of Social Security’s solvency and focusing on what this means politically, one can easily how representative this is of our nation’s political decay.

After all, this comes from the president who was ostensibly re-elected to stand up for the middle class and underprivileged.

Obama has justified these cuts by saying that the initial compromise was needed to get Republicans to agree to tax cuts.

In his first proposal, the president makes a major concession – one important to many of his supporters in his initial offer.

While this could be dramatic for those would suffer from program reductions, it also shows how dysfunctional our political system is.

In a better system, there would be sincere voices from across the political spectrum that would give individuals of all political persuasions a chance to have an impact on government.

If you want to see strong voices standing up for the interests of working-class people or civil liberties, or other important issues, your options seem limited.

It looks as if Obama’s plan will not get much from this conciliatory gesture.

His own constituents on the left dislike it, and the Republicans, based on statements from House Speaker John Boehner, are not really satisfied either.

The hopes expressed last year that a second term for Obama would signal “real change” are slipping away, and true reform in important areas appears to be stalled.

Griffin, a freshman journalism major from Madison, is the opinion editor.

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