In a few months, the recommendations of the Obama administration Deficit Reduction Commission will voted on by Congress during its lame duck session.
Since the commission conducts its business in secrecy, we do not yet know what these will be.
However, if recent reports can be believed, they are to include cuts in Social Security benefits and an increased retirement age.
If so, they will fly in the face of the opinions of the majority of Americans who, according to polls, oppose cuts in benefits and believe the retirement should remain where it is.
In an ideal democracy, we would could be confident that our congressional representatives will shoot down the heartless and irresponsible recommendations likely to emerge from the commission.
But for those of us the twentieth Congressional District, there is reason to be concerned.
In a response to a letter from one of his constituents, Rep. Scott Murphy refused to commit himself to protecting existing benefit levels and retirement age.
Rather, he mentions only “strengthening” Social Security, a coded reference to cuts in benefits, wrongly seen as necessary to address the Social Security trust fund “crisis”.
As competent economists have observed, there is no crisis: Social Security in its present form will be able to pay out full benefits until 2037. To avoid subsequent reductions in benefits, all that is necessary is minor tweaking to the system-perhaps by eliminating the cap by which millionaires make the same contribution as school teachers.
Unfortunately rather than listen to his constituents, Congressman Murphy evidently prefers to listen to insiders such as billionaire hedge fund magnate Pete Peterson who has committed $1 billion from his personal fortune to an eccentric crusade to gut what remains of the New Deal safety net.
Murphy is facing a tough challenge in November from Republican Chris Gibson.
He cannot afford to take stands which will put him at odds with his constituents.
We overwhelmingly support keeping Social Security, the crown jewel of the New Deal, just as it is.
And so should Congressman Murphy.