Two days ago I dissed Washington Post's Editorial Page Editor, Fred Hiatt, for attacking President Obama for dropping the proposal to change the COLA index for social security to the chained -C-CPI-U measure, that would reduce future benefits by an estimated 0.3% per years. I said he had "lost his cookies." I shall not reiterate the arguments there, but now note that he has doubled down today in a signed column on the matter entitled "Is there Change Obama Can Believe In?" This column does cover other issues, mostly Syria where Hiatt complains that Obama has not supported "free markets and democracy" there, while not remotely addressing how difficult and complicated that issue is. He also lists a boilerplate set of issues that he says Obama is supporting, but dismissively notes that these are popular, with some of them even supported by Republicans.
However, he starts with his complaint about Obama dropping the chained index proposal, which clearly has him really upset (those darned cookies). He quotes Obama from 2009 and also from 2010 stating that (from 2009), "To preserve our long term fiscal health we must address the growing costs of Medicare and Social Security." He does briefly admit that "Defenders would say that...he's done his bit for entitlement reform with cost-bending measures in Obamacare." Hmmm, "bit"? In fact, the change in the medical care cost curve (which also affects Medicaid) has completely transformed the future deficit outlook, drastically reducing those projections. The few percents impact the chained index change would make would be utterly trivial by comparison, but this is not good enough for Hiatt.
Two further points. One is that he is all upset that supposedly in 2011 for political reasons "Obama cold-shouldered the fiscal commission he appointed..." That would be the Bowles-Simpson one that Hiatt as a deep-dyed Washington VSP just loved to bits. However, as Dean Baker has repeatedly noted, that commission never issued a formal report. Why? Because some of its GOP members, led by Paul Ryan, refused to sign off on it because it (eeeek!) contained tax increases. There never was a formal report, and what Hiatt is referring to was a statement put out by Bowles and Simpson, but that document never had any official backing from the commission. Getting worked up about Obama's reaction to it is a joke, and, of course, until recently, Obama was offering the essence of the deal, this chained index proposal if only Republicans would accept some tax increases. But, they have said no, so why is Hiatt getting so indignant that Obama has pulled back on his offer?
The other is the idea that somehow Obama got elected to propose this. In fact, during the primary campaign against Hillary, he shifted his position to one of strictly defending Social Security as it stood and stands. Thus, for all Hiatt's whining, Obama has returned to his position during his initial run for president: to preserve and protect Social Security as it is. Hiatt and his fellow VSPs need to drop their silly hysteria over the Social Security issue, the sooner the better.