How Social Security Was Saved
|By Stangler, Cole|
Progressive groups and their allies in
The release of the White Houses 2014 budget in
In an effort to woo the austerity-now crowd, President
At the time, much of
This year, Obama's 2015 budget includes no mention of chained CPI-a victory that can be attributed to progressive organizers working inside and outside the halls of
Chained CPI reared its head in
D.C. progressives were unnerved to find so many Capitol Hill Democrats receptive to the use of
Lawson was also disturbed by the disconnect between the attitudes of policymakers and the will of the people. Polls from the last few years consistently show that a majority of Americans are opposed to
While groups such as Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) and Social Security Works, in addition to the
That may seem like a no-brainer. But fresh in Lawson's and others' minds was the healthcare-reform debacle. A coalition that had been united in support of the public option gradually buckled under pressure from the
"Progressive groups ... all started off on the same page, but throughout the course of this fight, [power brokers] on the Democratic side would be able to pull people off on certain issues," says Netroots Nations Raven Woods of the healthcare compromise. "There are a lot of reasons why [a public option] didn't win as a policy option, but... an important piece of it was this destruction of the unity that was there initially."
During the 2012 fiscal-cliff showdown, Woods and others were determined to stop history from repeating. So, in
Led by Social Security Works, PDA and the PCCC, the coalition kicked off the New Year by pressuring the Congressional Left to go on record against chained CPI. In the
Grayson and his colleague in the Progressive Caucus Rep.
At that point, Grayson was confident the president's proposal was dead in the water. "The combination of all these efforts on our part made it clear that the proposal was a political loser and would substantially undermine support for the president and anyone else who pursued it," he says.
Of course, it was only a minority of Democrats actively agitating against cuts. But the opposition was amplified by the fact that there was no countervailing Democratic congressional force. All of the enthusiasm for slashing benefits emanated from the
Of course, it wasn't just the work of organizers and left-wing members of
From defense to offense
But the progressive coalition wasn't satisfied with holding the line. A few months into their defense of
In the summer of 2013, the same core of mostly online progressive organizers put out a call for another informal gathering, this time devoted to the question of expanding
The Netroots crew also reached a consensus on how to back an expansion. Initially, some wanted to back a proposal from Sen.
A month later, the blitz was on.
The PCCC sent out a video of the segment to its supporters, and along with Democracy for America, Social Security Works and CREDO, started collecting signatures in support of an expansion. They now have more than 650,000. The
This offense-is-the-best-defense strategy probably helped push chained CPI and the grand bargain off the
Out to further prove her credentials to the Left, Schwartz went on to lead the effort to get Obama to ditch chained CPI in his recent budget. Instead of one of the usual suspects like Grayson, Takano or Grijalva, it was Schwartz's name that appeared at the top of a February letter to the
It is that kind of jockeying that provides evidence of where Democrats want to stand on
What began as a fundamentally defensive fight has now evolved into an offensive one. The PCCC is trying to make
Westlund is talcing on Rep.
Toying with cost-of-living adjustments was supposed to be an easy way to reduce
A few months into their defense of
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