By now it must seem that all I read is The New York Times. That’s not true. I mainly read the Times’ editorials and the reader comments (especially the reader recommended comments) because I do think that the editorials/op-eds are actually more informative and honest than “all the news that’s fit to print.” But that’s the subject of another blog post.

One commenter in particular* is the subject of my most recent “blog crush,” though she’s not writing a blog per se. Her name is AnnS and she’s apparently from Michigan and holds multiple degrees in social/historical/political/economic fields, with a specialty in The Great Depression. She responds to most of the articles that I read, and is one of the top recommended commenters on every post. She should be writing for the Times, but I think she might be too honest for them.

Today, David Brooks wrote a column in which he claims he explains one-on-one conversations he has had with people in the Obama White House about policy – specifically that he, as a professed moderate (really he’s a neoconservative) Republican, was concerned about all the spending and the resulting taxes, and Brooks says that these Obamatons (Brooks’ word for them) told him, privately, things that make them seem much  more conservative than I think most people view them to be.

Of particular interest to me in this article was the part in which Brooks claims that some Obama staffer actually told him that Obama is “extremely committed to entitlement reform and is plotting politically feasible ways to reduce Social Security as well as health spending.”

Excuse me?

Obama is committed to reducing Social Security and health spending?


AnnS was the first commenter that responded to this particular sentence in the story. I was going to respond to that one myself, but, as I’ve said AnnS says it best:


March 06, 2009 6:29 amLink

“He is extremely committed to entitlement reform and is plotting politically feasible ways to reduce Social Security as well as health spending. ”

That makes NO SENSE!

The average Social Security Retirement benefit is $1100.

The average Social Security Disability benefit is $900.

Federal poverty level for 1 person is about $902 a month. Anything less than $1353 per month for 1 person qulaified them for Food Stamps.

Out of $900 -1100 the person must pay for food, housing, transportation and health care – Medicare.

Medicare premisum for Parts B & A are around $140 a month. To cover the 20-50% copays of Medicare, a Medigap policy must be purchased – usually around $150 a month. Medicare does not cover eye (except things like cataracts) or dental. That means a health insurance bill of about $350 a month PER person plus drug copays.

If those fools thinnk they can reduce that $900 -1100 of Social Security with medical costs that take up 35%+/- of income, they are delusional.

If they turn it into means testing, anyone who receives Social Security will be scorned as “Welfare bums and trash” and when, one day, the Republicans are in control, it will be slashed.

If this is an example of planning and policy by Obama and his Wall ST economics team, we are in serious trouble. It is illogical, politically explosive and damaging to those who need Social security in retirement – and that means all those whose 401ks have sunk like a rock will need it now too.

— AnnS, MI”

One thing I would add to AnnS’s commentary is that it makes Obama into a liar. Based on what he promised during his campaign, to be even considering ways to reduce government spending on health care (when he said that he wants to create a single-payer, read government-payer, system) is to do a complete 180.

And while it would be a “change” it would most certainly not be a “change we can believe in.”

*There’s also Butler Crittenden who I think will be my next blog crush. He’s right:

Perhaps Mr. Obama would be a ‘liberal crusader’ if he could, but first there’s the broken economy he inherited. So we’ll have to wait until his second term to see what he’s really made of. The economy should be OK by then, but the glaring inequities will still exist. Especially if you’re reporting accurately (and I assume you are) that ‘education, welfare and all the Democratic stuff’ will be reduced from 4.6 percent to 3.1 percent over the next decade. Education alone needs to go up significantly to provide even the least chance of reducing inequality and training us for the new millennia we’re just beginning.”

I guess it was wrong for progressives to interpret “change” as a pendulum swing from right to left.