, Newburyport, MA


April 13, 2013

Obama hugging a political third rail

I had finished with the morning’s news before Big Freddy showed up, shook his umbrella to a close, and shrugged out of his rain gear.

“Good morning,” I said, as he shoved the table in my direction and settled into his side of the booth.

“It is that,” Freddy said. “We’ve been parched for a parade to be rained on, and the tide has turned.”

“And you just shrunk figures of speech,” I said.

“Thank you for that,” Freddy said. “Shrinking’s the word for what our president of these dis-united states is trying to do with our Social Security checks and Medicare benefits.”

“I just read that,” I said.

“Desperation time,” Freddy said. “He’s hugging the third rail of politics. It’s bad enough he wants to tighten the screws on Medicare benefits. He wants to limit Social Security benefits.

“Last November, he was saying Social Security wasn’t the cause of the deficit. Now he wants to trim it more than somewhat by shrinking payouts, and it’s not just Republicans saying no way that’s going to happen.

“Markey, Lynch, and Warren want no part of what he’s proposing, and they’re not the only ones.”

“But Obama’s not proposing direct Social Security cuts,” I said.

“It amounts to the same thing. It’s a slight of hand,” Freddy said. “The federal government calculates the cost of living. It’s been going up, and so have Social Security benefits.”

“So?” I asked.

“So, the government gets to figure how to live on less than what’s been used in figuring the cost of living,” Freddy said.

“Taking away the cake,” I said.

“Well, maybe the frosting on the cake,” Freddy said. “The point is the government gets to figure payouts. But if he gets what he wants, it could be we get less than what we’ve been getting.”

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