Damon Silvers, Policy Director at the AFL-CIO, went on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” to talk about the labor movement’s firm stance against cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Silvers detailed this position in a Washington Post interview with Greg Sargent.
“Chained CPI is like the vampire of American politics,” Silvers said. “It keeps being shot through the heart and it keeps reviving. The reason it keeps coming back is because it has billionaires behind it.”
Naturally, the network’s anchors didn’t much like the sound of that. CNBC is one of Wall Street’s main TV mouthpieces, and it is in Wall Street’s interest that Social Security and Medicare are perceived as “entitlements” instead of the earned benefits of workers. After all, they want our politicians to balance the budget and “fix the debt” on our backs, not by raising taxes on their large incomes and investments.
The exchange Silvers had with CNBC anchor Simon Hobbs crystallized this clearly.
Damon Silvers: We’re being really clear. We’re not going to give cover to Democrats who think it’s a good idea to take away economic security from our most vulnerable citizens. We’re extremely clear about that and not embarrassed about it whatsoever. We want a really clear message out there. If you cut social security benefits or medicare benefits to our seniors, to our most vulnerable people in the country, you are going to get no support on it. It only treating them fairly there will be any progress going forward.
Simon Hobbs: Are you as clear on the reality that if you have don’t cut entitlement benefits this country may well go bankrupt?
Damon Silvers: That’s frankly not true. That’s a lie put forward by billionaires who don’t want to pay higher taxes. Social Security is the best funded aspect of our retirement system today and Medicare’s long-term issues are integrated with the long-term issues of our health care system. Neither program is overgenerous. In fact both programs are undergenerous. The only people who believe what you said are people not counting on those programs and who are worried their very large incomes will be taxed.
This isn’t the first time CNBC has been called out on using fuzzy numbers to shill for Wall Street. In July, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who actually served with Silvers on the TARP Oversight Committee, smacked down a CNBC anchor on the history of “too big too fail” banks. CNBC was so embarrassed they removed the clip from YouTube, but you can still watch it on many blogs and Upworthy.
Watch the clip and follow Damon Silvers on Twitter at @Damon Silvers.