Progressives Rebel Over Reported Obama Social Security Debt Talks

The progressive group that supported Obama in 2008 is unhappy about potential cuts to Social Security.

By + More

MoveOn.org, the progressive political group that turned legions of young voters on to President Obama in 2008, warns that donors would boycott the Obama-Biden re-election campaign if the president moves ahead with cuts to Social Security in a bid to broker a deal with Republicans to raise the debt ceiling.

[ See photos of the Obamas behind the scenes.]

In E-mails and other communications today, the group leveled the warning. They backed it up with polling that found 76 percent would be less likely to donate to or volunteer for the president's re-election if he cut Social Security, as the administration is suggesting. Worse, if he trimmed Medicare, 78 percent said they'd be less likely to help Obama. [Read Obama's Balancing Act: Be the Scolding Adult.]

And showing that the president is in a pickle with the group, a whopping 82 percent said they'd be less likely to volunteer or donate if the eventual deal doesn't roll back tax breaks for the wealthy.

Justin Ruben, executive director of MoveOn.org said, "The way to deal with the deficit is to reduce defense spending, make the super-rich pay their fair share, and get the economy growing again. MoveOn members, who worked tirelessly to elect the President, could not be more clear: Balancing the budget by cutting Social Security or Medicare benefits is just plain wrong. The President is right to insist on ending tax breaks for corporations and millionaires—and he should be just as adamant in opposing Republican attacks on the middle class and the poor." [ See editorial cartoons about the budget and deficit.]

The full survey results are here.

Other progressives are equally upset. Jim Dean, chairman of Democracy for America, said, “The Wall Street Barons who caused this economic crisis have been getting a free ride for too long, and it’s time for them to pay their fair share, plain and simple. Cutting Social Security to reduce the national debt is like attacking Iraq to get Osama Bin Laden—the two things are not related.”

And Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders noted that Obama ran against cuts in Social Security suggested by then GOP candidate Sen. John McCain in 2008. ““The American people expect the president to keep his word,” Sanders said. [ Check out political cartoons about Barack Obama.]

Release of the poll came after the group emailed members to urge them to pressure the White House to stand firm as he entered another day of talks with the GOP over the debt ceiling issue. The message: "Enough is enough when it comes to cuts to seniors and everyday Americans. It's time for the rich and America's corporations to do their part."

Below is the full email.

From: Justin Ruben, MoveOn.org Political Action

Date: Thu, Jul 7, 2011

Subject: Stunning

Dear MoveOn member,

There are breaking news reports that President Obama is offering to cut Social Security to convince Republicans to keep the country from defaulting on its debts. After months of affirming that Social Security doesn't add to the deficit,and ruling out benefit cuts in the State of the Union, the White House's reversal is stunning.

Eight key Democrat and Republican leaders are coming to the White House today to address the crisis over our country's looming default.

Republicans are dominating this negotiation, because their Tea Party supporters are demanding that they take a hard line. If we want the president and the Democratic leadership to have any leverage in these negotiations, we have to do the same.

We have to make it absolutely clear that a deficit reduction deal that puts the primary burden on seniors and the middle class is unacceptable. It's unacceptable to the very people who vote for Democrats, donate, volunteer, and knock on door after door to get them elected.

Call right now to flood the White House with calls. Tell the president: No deal where seniors pay. No deal where the rich and corporations don't.

The White House: (202) 456-1111.