Politico is an inside-the-beltway newsletter that revels in political gossip -- the kind of new media phenomena that reflects the self-inflating, self-referencing character of behavior in the Hall of Mirrors that is Versailles on the Potomac. This outlet receives funding by right leaning contributors, but that said, Politico is a barometer of sorts -- in this case of bad ju ju.
Note, for example -- its description in a recent post of how pressure is building to whack the Pentagon's budget. It will be interesting to see how the Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex (MICC) will wiggle out of the squeeze described in last few graphs. For what it is worth, my guess is that the MICC will move to protect its hi-tech cold-war rice bowls at the expense of its people and readiness. But we are in the middle of at least two wars -- which of course will generate effective counter-pressures, because we "must to protect the troops!" -- and so in the end very little will happen beyond a few cosmetic swipes. This is one of the benefits of perpetual small wars or the perpetual threat of small wars (explained more fully in my essay, The Domestic Roots of Perpetual War. A more extensive discourse on the MICC's game will be found in the soon to be released anthology, The Pentagon Labyrinth, which will be freely available in hard copy as well as electronic form).
So, get ready for a GOP run on Social Security (and Medicare?), which conveniently is not even mentioned in the Politico "report." Obama made Social Security more vulnerable with his recent "temporary" 2% cut in withholding tax. My guess is that little will happen to Social Security in the near term, but the "phony solvency issue" was strengthened by the cut, and we should expect it to be reinforced endlessly in the looming political debate. Liberal economists who recently welcomed Obama's tax cut by arguing that it will clarify the real "pay as you go" nature of economic debate over Social Security may be in for a nasty surprise.
So, without saying so, this superficial report helps us understand how war between the MICC and Social Security is being joined, where the politics of fear (national insecurity versus personal insecurity) will be the weapons of choice. Fasten your seat belt.
Chuck Spinney is an American former military analyst for the Pentagon and has been a fierce critic of wasteful defense spending.