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Here’s to Republican Fireeating

[ 262 ] April 5, 2013 |

Republican extremism and a complete unwillingness to deal with the Kenyan usurper is the one thing keeping us from cuts to Social Security:

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama’s proposed budget will call for reductions in the growth of Social Security and other benefit programs by including a proposal to lower cost-of-living adjustments to government social safety net spending, a senior administration official says.

The proposal attempts to strike a compromise with congressional Republicans on the Fiscal 2014 budget by combining the president’s demand for higher taxes with GOP insistence on reductions in entitlement programs.

The official, who spoke on a condition of anonymity to describe a budget that has yet to be released, said Obama would reduce the federal government deficit by $1.8 trillion over 10 years.

A key feature of the plan Obama is proposing for the federal budget year beginning Oct. 1 is a revised inflation adjustment called “chained CPI.” This new formula would effectively curb annual annual increases in a broad swath of government programs, but would have its biggest impact on Social Security.

It’d be nice if Obama realized for once that the Republicans will never compromise with him unless he completely capitulates to their agenda, with its ever rightward shifting goalposts. Pretending to be a nice moderate Republican is not going to work. Nor should it since if a Democratic president can’t stand up for Social Security, what can he stand up for?

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  1. Nocomment says:

    Ahh, back to business as usual for the “‘bam”.

  2. Tnap01 says:

    With this post you have officially become the Glenn Greenwald of domestic issues

    • ploeg says:

      The post tends somewhat to the underside of Greenwald’s usual 5000-word fugue. The post also avoids wondering what would be different if only a politician like Ron Paul were in charge.

    • Erik Loomis says:

      But wait, according to Glenn, I am the ultimate Obot. I just can’t keep people’s superficial stereotyping of my beliefs straight.

    • cpinva says:

      “With this post you have officially become the Glenn Greenwald of domestic issues”

      how so? is it factually incorrect somehow? both issues (chained cpi, republican refusal to ever negotiate in good faith with obama/democrats) have a factual basis. obama started his 2008 campaign with the whole “post-partisan” mode, has been slapped down repeatedly by the republican house and, like good old charlie brown, keeps running up to kick that football lucy’s holding. nothing loomis said is false, or lacks historical basis.

      what’s particularly irksome is that (per krugman, i don’t agree), SS has zero direct impact on the deficit/debt. the trust fund is sufficient for full benefits for another 20 years, and 75-80% benefits, from withholdings alone after that. a slight tweek can fix it, forever. obama is a smart guy, he should be able to grasp this simple mathematical concept, and yet, he acts like chicken little. i don’t get it.

      • Random says:

        It is factually inaccurate in that it presumes Obama somehow doesn’t know the GOP won’t accept a package that includes revenue increases.

        Fact: Obama knows that the GOP won’t accept any budget that includes tax increases.

    • Random says:

      Like Greenwald, it *does* start from a very false and very insulting assumption about Obama (“Obama is too stupid to realize the GOP won’t vote for tax increases”).

      If you start with the obviously-wrong assumption “Barack Obama thought the GOP might vote for a tax increase” then everything that follows can’t help but also be wrong.

  3. FMguru says:

    Even if the Republicans are dumb enough to refuse to take “yes” for an answer, this sort of thing is going to hamstring Democrats going forward. The 2014 elections are gonna be a blast, with every GOP candidate promising to protect Social Security and Medicare from the draconian cuts that the Democrats are proposing. Did nobody learn anything from 2010?

    Obama just really wants to go down in history as the guy who forged a Grand Bargain to solve The Entitlements Problem once and for all, even at the cost of his own electoral coalition. It’s madness.

    • Dana Houle says:

      My prediction: after Obama leaves office, and we start to get memoirs and historical accounts based in part on interviews of administration officials, we’ll learn that the repeated failures to confront the GOP even if it means a huge conflagration were driven strongly by two people. One would be Axelrod, who was concerned that swing voters didn’t blame Obama for the bad economy, but did feel he failed on his promise to change the way Washington works (a promise he couldn’t deliver on WITHOUT conflict, because the Republicans won’t change as long as they can obstruct without blame). The other–and I think the stronger influence, if my theory is correct–is 36 year veteran of the US Senate Joe Biden. Well after the Democratic takeover of Congress, in one of the 2007 presidential debates, Biden was still extolling the virtues of what he saw as the necessity to build consensus with the Republicans. I think he’s one of those guys–Leahy is another one–who just cannot understand that the Senate and the GOP have changed almost beyond recognition since the days when John Breaux and Teddy Kennedy could work out a deal with Bob Dole and Arlen Specter and John Chaffee and Alan Simpson and, hell, even Orrin Hatch and Trent Lott.

      His irrepressible optimism and malarky-spewing everyman persona make me smile, and I love his family/neighborhood/parish based understanding of and identification with working class people. But I think as much as Obama’s desire to see conflict as a failure of both sides is a problem, I think the greater harm to this presidency has been Biden’s conditioned response from years in the Senate and Sunday show bubble to value compromise and process over partisanship and results.

    • liberal says:

      Completely agree.

      The funny thing is the folks in these parts who seem to think he’s a great leader, as opposed to a mere Clinton retread.

    • JoyfulA says:

      I fear this will make 2014 into a rerun of 2010. How can Dems get everyone out to the polls to oust their crappy GOP congressman when both sides want to cut Social Security?

      • Dana Houle says:

        Social Security had approximately zero to do with 2010. The biggest motivator for the GOP in 2010 was hatred of Obamacare and fear that it would ruin Medicare.

        • FMguru says:

          Well, then it’s a good thing Obama isn’t also proposing cuts to Medicare.

          Oh wait, he is.

          • Dana Houle says:

            Question: we’re now in the fifth year of his presidency, and we’ve had several showdown negotiations. How many cuts have there been to care or benefits to recipients of Social Security or Medicare?

            • FMguru says:

              A distinction that will surely defuse all Republican demagoguery on the Medicare issue in 2014, just like it did in 2010.

              • Brandon says:

                To be fair, it didn’t work in 2012.

                • joe from Lowell says:

                  There’s a reason for that: in 2010, the Republicans were running against cuts that were actually adopted.

                  In 2012, they didn’t bother trying to run against cuts that Obama said he would be willing to accept as part of a deal, but the deal never happened, because you can’t actually run against that.

              • Dana Houle says:

                Oh, so the only material matter here is not the policy, but that Republicans will say bad things?

                Well, thanks for clearing that up.

              • Random says:

                That will have about as much impact on the average voter as arguing that the Democrats are “the real racists” or “the real misogynists.”

            • djangermats says:

              You’re right so far they’ve only passed massive budget and tax cuts

              Taste the progressivism

              • Dana Houle says:

                Yeah, it was Democrats who proposed all those awful things, and also Dems who didn’t propose new revenues. Sure, they tricked the Republicans in to doing it, voted against bad amendments, and acted like they were compromising with the Republicans. But yeah, of course it was all a giant ruse by the Democrats because they’re as bad as the Republicans.

          • JKTHs says:

            Well, then it’s a good thing Obama isn’t also proposing cuts to Medicare.

            Oh wait, he is.

            From what I saw in the article it didn’t look like anything different than what he’s proposed in his own budgets in the past, i.e. eliminating rent-seeking from drug companies in Part D, some provider cuts, higher premiums for high-income folks. Not much to see there.

    • Random says:

      GOP: “Give us 100% of our politically-unpopular agenda.”

      Obama: “Here’s a more politically-popular agenda that compromises between what you want and what I want.”

      GOP: “No. Give us 100% of our politically-unpopular agenda.”

      This helps the GOP in 2014…how exactly??

      • Jay B. says:

        Obama: “Let’s cut Social Security, what do you say guys?”
        GOP 2014: The Democrats proposed cutting Social Security benefits at a time when seniors could least afford them. Don’t trust the Democrats with your future. Social Security is too important for politics.

      • joel hanes says:

        You’re making the mistake of imputing both memory and rationality to the majority of the electorate.

        Random’s comment displays the framing as it will play out

        • joel hanes says:

          Aaargh. Attribution error.

          IMHO Jay B. has correctly predicted the 2014 political dynamic, while Random seems to think that the rest of the electorate is just as awake and thoughtful as Random undoubtedly is.

          Lack of edit considered harmful.

          • joe from Lowell says:

            IMHO Jay B. has correctly predicted the 2014 political dynamic

            It’s the same prediction he made about the 2012 political dynamic when a similar proposal was “put on the table” during the debt ceiling talks.

            Do you remember any such attacks from the Romney campaign, or the down ticket races? I sure don’t.

            • joel hanes says:

              Ah. Then our experiences differ.

              I’m originally from Iowa, and the “Obama cutting Medicare” distortion played prominently in the letters-to-the-editor, teabag chain-email, and talk radio parts of the Iowa races in 2012. A lot of old white Iowans bought it; I’ve had relatives and old school friends use it as a talking point.

              • joe from Lowell says:

                It was certainly something that the right-wing true believers said to each other.

                It played no role in any actual campaigns, though, and had on effect on actual races.

                • Jay B. says:

                  It’s predictable that you can conflate the electorate of a Presidential year election with those of the mid-terms, because that “disproves” your obvious preferred outcome. However, I can “prove” that it DID work in 2010, when the GOP gutted the Democrats. But I’m sure you are in no way being willfully obtuse or anything.

              • Random says:

                Even in Iowa that didn’t have any impact on the race, any more than ‘Democrats are the real sexists’ and ‘Democrats are the real racists’ had any impact on the race.

          • Random says:

            And you’re still wrong.

            The low-information voters won’t register “Obama tried to cut chained-CPI benefits in Social Security”, which is pretty specific. They will register “Obama tried to compromise and the GOP wouldn’t go along with it.”

            • joel hanes says:

              I pray that you are correct.

              The require thought processes, however, do not seem characteristic of the low information voters in my acquaintance.

              Enough on this; we disagree and cannot experiment. I’ll stifle.

    • joe from Lowell says:

      Even if the Republicans are dumb enough to refuse to take “yes” for an answer, this sort of thing is going to hamstring Democrats going forward. The 2014 elections are gonna be a blast, with every GOP candidate promising to protect Social Security and Medicare from the draconian cuts that the Democrats are proposing.

      I remember the same confident predictions being made about the 2012 campaign. They were all wrong.

      Why would this time be different? Why would it be more like 2010, when the Republicans could run against cuts that actually were adopted, than like 2012, when they gave up on even trying to run against cuts that Obama said he’d be willing to agree to as part of a package that was never adopted?

      • Jay B. says:

        Because it’s exactly like 2010 — mid-term election, the Democrats supporting idiotic, painful cuts — and not like a presidential election. I know that everything Obama does is by definition the best possible thing anyone can do, but even for you this is laughable.

  4. Steve LaBonne says:

    Deficit reduction is always, ALWAYS a losing game for Democrats. As we saw in the aftermath of Clinton’s surplus, Republicans, next time they have the opportunity, will just pocket the domestic spending cuts, raise defense spending and cut taxes for rich people. Lather, rinse, repeat.

    • Uncle Kvetch says:

      Deficit reduction is always, ALWAYS a losing game for Democrats.

      A-fucking-men.

      • Dana Houle says:

        I don’t think Team Obama sees this as a political winner in any way. What they’re doing, I suspect, is thinking it’s the only way to keep the Republicans from blowing up the economy and making things worse. The problem with that, of course, is it just keep feeding the GOP intransigence and insanity, and could create problems that will take decades to repair.

        At some point, we either risk blowing up the economy in the short term, or we have conceded losing on many important things for the long term. I think more consideration should be given to the former, but it appears Obama, Biden et al aren’t willing to take that risk.

    • liberal says:

      Agreed. Not to mention that it gives the Republicans the chance to attack the Democrats from the left on this issue, during campaigns. Not that their positions would be consistent, but that hasn’t stopped them in the past.

      • brewmn says:

        Yes, because those attacks on Obama’s “$700 billion cuts to Medicare” were so successful in 2012.

        The American public is stupid, but not so stupid that they honestly believe that they have to fear program-cutting more from a Democratic president than a Republican one.

      • Random says:

        This is just flat-out backwards, sorry.

        1. This move does NOT paint the GOP as willing to protect entitlements.

        2. It DOES paint the GOP as absolutist extremists who embrace an unpopular agenda of protecting the 1% at all costs.

    • Sharon says:

      This. Always this.

  5. Incontinentia Buttocks says:

    Though Obama is (I hope) foolish to believe that the GOP will accept a compromise, the core problem here is not so much his irrational hopes for compromise as it is his commitment to the zombie economics of fiscal conservatism and austerity lite. A Grand Bargain is not only unlikely, but also a terrible idea on the merits.

    • JKTHs says:

      This and the two comments above make me wonder why nobody in the White House seems to understand any of these points.

      • cpinva says:

        “This and the two comments above make me wonder why nobody in the White House seems to understand any of these points.”

        i could go into a deep discussion, full of various and sundry types of quantifiable/subjective analysis, to answer this very resonable question. however, i tend towards the “occam’s razor” approach: they just aren’t very smart. the other obvious answer: they don’t want to.

        • Stag Party Palin says:

          i tend towards the “occam’s razor” approach: they just aren’t very smart. the other obvious answer: they don’t want to.

          A couple of years ago the president of Stanford wrote, in an article about Why Can’t We Fund More Research that one of our problems was Social Security, and as an entitlement it needed to be dealt with. This guy is not stupid, so I think your second argument holds – the question is, WHY don’t they [want to] understand? No understanding of how a healthy society works? No empathy gland? Trapped in his 1% class bubble?

          I mean, this is a nice guy to meet and talk with, but you get the feeling he’s a Bentley with a wheel missing.

          • fledermaus says:

            Because he cares what wall street and corporate executives think about him. There’s Davos invites and World bank appointments to be had after he leaves office. He doesn’t care what you think at all.

            • burritoboy says:

              The president of Stanford already gets Davos invitations. No, much more central to the problem is that his job is essentially to make certain that the mega-donors keep giving buildings to Stanford.

              • LosGatosCA says:

                Sucking up to donors, royalty, oligarchs, etc. It’s a common, timeless, non-ideological problem.

                Why? Willie Sutton said it best about banks donors:

                “That’s where the money (my well being/career/future/standard of living) is.”

                Just tell the donors what they want to hear so that they will know ‘you’re one of their kind.’

                Because not everyone can be born into wealth or marry into the son-in-law business,

        • Random says:

          Occam’s Razor has to start with “Obama knows that the GOP will out-of-hand reject any plan that includes revenue increases.”

          It’s only by leaving out that unarguable fact and asserting the preposterous notion that he is literally the only person in the entire country who doesn’t realize this that you get the conclusion you come to.

      • LosGatosCA says:

        Obama and the White House understand very well what they are doing. They have understood it from day one. It’s their ‘constituency’ that does not understand the White House.

        The ‘unfounded optimism’ is not a problem for Obama and team, it’s a problem for the folks who want to think he’s on their side. No prosecutions on torture, no prosecutions on Wall Street, and safety net cutting proposals at every turn. What’s not to understand here, folks?

        With the economy starting to flag, again, by design, I’m looking forward to the minority party making huge gains in the low turnout midterms in 2014 followed by another, final, pivot to jobs in the last, lame duck years.

        The best hope for Obama’s legacy is that he gets the opportunity to replace Scalia. That’s it. And if HRC replaces him in 2016 – more of the same.

    • Random says:

      One more time:

      Can we all please agree that Obama is aware that the GOP won’t compromise on any plan that includes tax increases?

      He’s only pointed it out almost every time the topic comes up.

      • Jay B. says:

        So why offer up Social Security? How fucking stupid do you have to be if you know that the tax increases won’t pass anyway why include a poison pill for Democrats, unless you actually believe cutting benefits is the right thing to do? If the whole thing is a sham anyway, what does Obama, or anyone, get out of offering up cuts? It’s stupid and bad policy AND immoral.

        • Random says:

          Why would a politician offer a ‘compromise’ that is 100% guaranteed to be immediately rejected?

          That’s a really hard one.

          • Jay B. says:

            You realize that it makes no sense, right? There’s no, none, zero, upside for the President to stand up for awful things. Zero. It’s stupid. There’s ZERO payoff. No one likes it. The GOP doesn’t like it. They will be on the right side of policies just by saying they oppose it, with ZERO ramifications. The AARP is already crucifying the President over this. It’s awful politics and awful policy. And it’s entirely self-inflicted. He never, once, for any reason, had to include cuts in a hypothetical budget that in your own words has no chance to be passed.

            You, obviously, are a Democratic campaign consultant, because only then would such a stupid fucking thing seem like a good thing to do.

  6. Eli Rabett says:

    Obama suffers from Obama Syndrome

  7. jim, some guy in iowa says:

    i hate when he does this. i don’t think social security means a damn thing to him. *he’ll* never need it

    i’ll look back later and see if someone explained the “realities” obama is facing that i won’t, or how this is all “11/12/13 dimensional chess” that i’m too stupid to understand

    • elm says:

      Is it really 11-dimensional chess to propose something you know the other side won’t accept in order to make it look like you’re willing to compromise? I don’t know if that’s what Obama is doing, but is it really that complicated a strategy?

      He does keep proposing these Grand Bargains, which might suggests he actually supports them. On the other hand, he’s never cut entitlements when it was in his power to do so. If FMguru above is right, then this could be a losing political strategy. But teapartiers actually want to cut (other people’s) entitlements, so can Republicans campaign on defending them?

      If the Sequester is hurting and unpopular during the campaign, Dems can argue that they tried to compromise but Republicans valued ideology over the country.

      Will this work? Is this what Obama is thinking? I honestly don’t know to either question. But, first, if there’s one thing Obama seems to know, it’s how to win elections. And, second, this still seems more like bog-standard 2-dimensional chess to me and not some super complicated Brockian Ultra-Chess or something.

      • liberal says:

        What’s the audience for displaying this “willingness to compromise”?

        • JKTHs says:

          Indeed. This assumes that voters are paying much more attention to politics than they actually are and that the media will actually report the facts rather than resort to false equivalence.

          • Random says:

            This presumes the media will tell the public “Obama tried to compromise and the GOP said no we won’t compromise so long as it increases taxes on rich people.”

            This is Campaign 2014, not policy-making.

        • Steve LaBonne says:

          The WaPo editorial board, of course! How sad it is, then, that they’ll give him no credit for it at all.

          • Uncle Kvetch says:

            The WaPo editorial board, of course! How sad it is, then, that they’ll give him no credit for it at all.

            And when the Republicans tell him to shove his “willingness to compromise” up his ass, it’ll be his fault for being insufficiently leaderish.

            • Random says:

              It’ll be ‘the GOP is full of absolutist who will not compromise with the majority of the US population.’

              2014 isn’t a Presidential election, it’s about Congress.

              • Jay B. says:

                And the Democrats just offered up Social Security cuts. It’s a disaster for 2014. No one gives a fuck about “compromise”.

                • Random says:

                  That’s not actually true according to the polling.

                • Jay B. says:

                  Yeah, we’ll see how this polls.

                  Oh, wait:

                  The AARP reveals that 70 percent of voters age 50-plus oppose the use of the chained CPI to cut benefits, and two-thirds of them—including 60 percent of Republicans—say they would be “considerably less likely” to support a congressional candidate if he or she backed a new way of calculating consumer prices. And 84 percent of voters over 50 say Social Security has no place in budget-deficit discussions, since it is self-financed. [...]

                  I wonder who votes in midterms, anyway. Hmmm. It’s a fucking mystery.

        • elm says:

          The media, mostly. This is the type of thing High-Broderists should like. While individual voters aren’t paying attention now, their opinions are shaped by the media narrative. Plus, they do start to pay attention during campaign season when ads are running. I don’t know how many conservative dems, independents, and moderate Republicans there are to be swayed by this message, but it could be enough to swing a few Congressional districts or even Senate seats in a low-turnout election.

          Again, I don’t know if it’s a good strategy or not. And I don’t know if Obama is sincere or strategic with this proposal. But is it a complicated strategy?

          • Dana Houle says:

            It’s not a complicated strategy, and I think you’re probably far closer to the truth than those saying “Obama just hates people and wants to be known in history as Mr Scrooge because he’s really way to the right of George HW Bush.”

            • jim, some guy in iowa says:

              i admitted i over reacted. i don’t think he hates people

              it just seems we aren’t his constituency so much as the bankers, etc are. it seems like it’s more important to him to keep the bond vigilantes, etc happy

              but we’ll see

            • somethingblue says:

              Oh, I wouldn’t say way to the right. Wouldn’t be prudent.

            • djangermats says:

              ‘He’s playing chicken with social security cause that’s so smart and rational’ being so believable and all

              • Random says:

                He isn’t playing chicken though. He put tax increases on wealthy people in the package. There is a 100% guarantee the GOP won’t accept it.

                • somethingblue says:

                  Just like they didn’t accept the defence cuts in the sequester.

                  Also, let us turn the podium over to Speaker Orange Julius:

                  If the president believes these modest entitlement savings are needed to help shore up these programs, there’s no reason they should be held hostage for more tax hikes.

                • Random says:

                  Yes the GOP accepted defense cuts over tax increases. Exactly correct, you’re starting to get it. They will not vote for another tax hike for ANY REASON and every single person in Washington, including Obama, knows this.

          • djangermats says:

            I love how the bully pulpit gets screamed about onthis site but ‘propose enormously damaging policies to make the media like uus’ sounds rational to you.

            Its like underpants gnome logic minus even the notional profit

            • Random says:

              Your frame is just plain wrong though, he offered up a plan that includes tax increases on top earners. In other words he offered up a plan he already knows will be rejected.

              He’s not reaching out to the media, he’s reaching out to 2014 voters. 2014 is a Congressional election, it isn’t a presidential election.

              Why is this hard to understand?

            • elm says:

              Presidential rhetoric can be effective in campaigning for office. This does not mean that presidential rhetoric is effective in moving public opinion or (even moreso) legislative votes on specific issues.

              Scott’s critique of the Bully Pulpit is a very narrow claim but people are always interpreting to mean whatever dumb ass thing they want to argue against.

        • brewmn says:

          “What’s the audience for displaying this “willingness to compromise”?”

          People you don’t talk to, and who happen to make up a much larger share of the electorate than self-identified “liberals” who follow and comment on left-of-center blogs.

          You don;t have to like it, but you can’t deny it’s been a pretty successful strategy at the national level. The Democrats’ political problems chiefly lie at the state and local levels, including the overrepresentation of red states in the US Senate and the ghettoization of urban voters due to gerrymandering in the House.

          • Steve LaBonne says:

            Show me some polling evidence for this claim.

            • Uncle Kvetch says:

              brewmn is right, insofar as people love compromise and bipartisanship in the abstract. I’m confident that if you asked people in a poll “Should the two parties show willingness to compromise and work together to solve the nation’s problems?”, you’d get something like 80%-90% “yes.”

              Trouble is, ask them if they support slowing the growth of SS benefits, and you’ll get 80%-90% “no.”

              So it’s a bit more complicated than brewmn suggesting.

              • Steve LaBonne says:

                But what I’m saying is, where is the evidence that votes are motivated in significant numbers by this supposed love of compromise-in-the-abstract? Because I don’t think there is any such evidence.

                • brewmn says:

                  As UK noted, bipartisanship/compromise poll incredibly well, so maybe you should offer some evidence that appearing reasonable/bipartisan-curious is a political loser.

                  Or maybe offer some evidence that votes are moved by a candidates’ stand on the issues themselves, because I don’t see a whole lot of evidence for that claim either.

                • Steve LaBonne says:

                  Quite the contrary, I see a lot of exit-polling evidence that 2012 voters were motivated to vote for Obama because they agreed with him more on policy, and zero that they were motivated by his willingness to compromise. I don’t care about what people say when confronted by a meaningless abstract polling question, I care about what they say motivated them to vote. And I reiterate that I don’t think there is ANY evidence that significant numbers are motivated to vote for a politician because he is all bipartisany and stuff.

                • joe from Lowell says:

                  But what I’m saying is, where is the evidence that votes are motivated in significant numbers by this supposed love of compromise-in-the-abstract? Because I don’t think there is any such evidence.

                  The collapse in the Republicans’ approval after the debt ceiling talks.

                  It would be nice if politics wall hopey-changey and revolved around building yourself up, but hammering down your opponents is an important project, too.

                • Steve LaBonne says:

                  That makes no sense. The Republicans were punished for threatening the good faith and credit of the US. That has nothing to do with the matter under discussion, which is whether a politician is rewarded for demonstrating a facility for negotiating with himself.

        • Anna in PDX says:

          I have always wondered this. Always. I would like to think they aren’t just trying to impress the sociopathic Masters of the Universe like Jamie Dimon but that seems to be the simplest and easiest to grasp answer.

          • Random says:

            That is neither a simple nor easy answer, nor a correct answer. They’d throw him and any other MOTU under the bus if they thought it would get them more votes than they lost.

      • jim, some guy in iowa says:

        i’m kind of calmed-down now

        um, yeah, i see the logic. it’s weird, though, because i guess i really would like to see the guy go toe to toe for once and it seems like social security is the place to do it. being willing to offer cuts means settling for the status quo is acceptable. and i agree with atrios, and the others who say social security should be *expanded*

        and, as sort of a catch all response, i see dana houle’s post about biden’s influence being a problem here. i’d say he might enable obama’s desire to compromise… but this is a top down strategy

      • tt says:

        But teapartiers actually want to cut (other people’s) entitlements, so can Republicans campaign on defending them?

        Yes? That was exactly the Romney/Ryan 2012 strategy. They didn’t win, but that’s not because they were abandoned by the Tea party.

        • The other people thing is important. Baggers support things like Ryan’s plan that would double the cost of their positions on my generation (we don’t get the goodies, but we get to pay for everyone 55 and up to get the status quo). Anything that cuts their benefits? Get yur gubmint hands off muh Medicur!!!

          • tt says:

            The vocal advocates for weakening social security are the Paulists, the beltway “moderates” (Obama included) and the drown government in the bathtub types. Actual Republican voters, in my experience, are motivated by fantasy social programs which take money from hard working Americans to buy Cadillacs and steak for “urban” people. In the many versions of this fantasy I have encountered, social security has never featured, which makes me think that Republicans will never suffer electorally for defending it (though it may have a small cost in some primaries).

      • daveNYC says:

        It’s not 11-dimensional chess, it’s just stupid. Proposing bad compromises to look all bipartisan while assuming the Republicans will turn them down because they’re wankers rates up there with buying a pile of MBS because a nationwide downturn in housing will never happen.

        Or to be less hypothetical, look at the sequester.

        • Random says:

          He’s not ‘assuming’ the GOP will turn them down. He already ‘knows’ the GOP will turn them down. As does everyone else. It’s not 11-dimensional chess, it’s normal political campaigning.

          Frame your opponents early, frame them often, and frame them in a way that is consistent with established perception of them.

          • joel hanes says:

            He’s not ‘assuming’ the GOP will turn them down. He already ‘knows’ the GOP will turn them down. As does everyone else.

            I seem to remember that this is the exact calculus that informed the sequestration proposal: everyone knew that the DoD cuts would be so toxic to the GOP that they would never call Obama’s bluff.

            The GOP called Obama’s bluff; sequestration happened.

            • joe from Lowell says:

              The assumption built in the sequester was that the Republicans wouldn’t go for defense cut. They ultimately did.

              However, the assumption build in here is that the Republicans won’t go for upper-income tax increases. On that score, we have the 2011 debt ceiling deal.

              Do you really think the Republicans are going to agree to tax increases on upper-income earners?

            • Random says:

              Exactly my point…the GOP would rather cut defense than increase taxes. They WILL NOT raise taxes for any reason, period. If they do that they cease to exist as a political party and 2014 will be a cakewalk for the Dems anyway.

              • LosGatosCA says:

                And that comment has almost nothing to do with how proposing Social Security cuts will impact the Democratic base’s enthusiasm in 2014.

                2010 is looking to repeat itself in 2014.

                “2014 will be a cakewalk for the the Dems” ranks right ip there with ‘we’ll be greeted as liberators.’

      • Random says:

        The audience would be ‘the majority of US voters’ who do, in fact, want a fiscal compromise that emphasizes tax increases for the wealthy over entitlement cuts. The GOP is NOT going to go for ANY plan that includes tax increases for the wealthy.

        We already know this and so does Obama. He’s more aware of it, in fact, than anyone posting here.

        • Jay B. says:

          The majority of people who actually vote in midterms disagree with your political thesis:

          The AARP reveals that 70 percent of voters age 50-plus oppose the use of the chained CPI to cut benefits, and two-thirds of them—including 60 percent of Republicans—say they would be “considerably less likely” to support a congressional candidate if he or she backed a new way of calculating consumer prices. And 84 percent of voters over 50 say Social Security has no place in budget-deficit discussions, since it is self-financed. [...]

  8. scott says:

    So, if we were calling Paul Ryan a hollow-eyed granny starver for his eagerness to cut the social safety net, what should we call Obama? Because he seems pretty motivated to do it, too. Jesus. By the Oscar Wilde definition, I guess the Republicans really are our true friends because they’ll stab us in the front, while our fake Democrat “leaders” ask us for our money and votes and then stab us in the back. 30+ years of constant appeasement and this is where we are – a Democrat wants as his “legacy” making it harder for old people to scrape by, inevitably contributing to more of them dropping dead before they had to.

    • Incontinentia Buttocks says:

      The sad thing is that the Lesser Evil Party, whose leadership is hell bent on cutting Social Security (Nancy Pelosi, e.g., says that chained CPI would strengthen Social Security, not cut it), is less evil in part because its cuts to Social Security and Medicare would be less devastating than the Greater Evil Party’s.

      Lesser Evilism may be a grim and, in the long run, suicidal business, but it’s really not very complicated, especially in the short run. As a voter, you have two choices: vote to slash the safety net or vote to slash it more deeply (though neither party is going to be particularly honest about its plans….can you blame them?).

      That is unless the basic dysfuntionality of our goverment manages to preserve the status quo (truly the Least Evil, in this case).

    • cpinva says:

      “a Democrat wants as his “legacy” making it harder for old people to scrape by, inevitably contributing to more of them dropping dead before they had to.”

      if this were an actual conscious strategy, i could almost appreciate it. from a strictly economic perspective, it helps reduce the surplus population, reduces the drain on the trust fund, and eliminates a group competing for low-wage jobs with the kids. win-win-win

      sadly, i don’t think it even falls into “conscious strategy” area.

    • joe from Lowell says:

      So, if we were calling Paul Ryan a hollow-eyed granny starver for his eagerness to cut the social safety net, what should we call Obama?

      A bluffer?

      Because he seems pretty motivated to do it, too.

      Tell me, does he “seem” more or less motivated than the last three times he pulled this stunt?

  9. JKTHs says:

    He’s just negotiating with himself to practice for when he negotiates with Republicans.

  10. Ed K says:

    Obama’s a card-carrying neoliberal. This isn’t compromise, it’s part of his core belief, as is his embrace of Bill Gates style ‘education reform,’ ‘market-based’ solutions for everything else, and an expansion of the security-state.

    Pretty much with Atrios on this one.

    • joe from Lowell says:

      You can tell how core this belief is to him, because he’s never allowed any policy doing so to go into effect, and actually singled out entitlement benefits for protection in the debt ceiling deal.

      • Ed K says:

        Thus he’s proposing it, rather than threatening to veto it. And he’s flirted with this repeatedly.

        More to the point, ‘he doesn’t really mean it, he’s being forced into it’ is a shit excuse when you’re dealing with a man who has a fucking veto-power and more than enough support in the Senate from a bunch of politicians who actually want to get re-elected to sustain one over this and a great many other things.

        Apologies are better when they’re at least plausible.

  11. Meh, I still can’t get too worked up over this, given that it’s transparent that the Republicans will never go for it. It’s not even that they’re too extreme to make a deal, it’s that, given their current base of support, they don’t even actually support cuts to Medicare/Social Security in the short run, so this is a double whammy of positions (tax hikes on the rich and short term SS/Medicare cuts) that they’ve made clear they won’t vote for. The simplest answer for all of this is still that the White House is trying to get good press to focus the narrative of deficit reduction/fiscal responsibility/whatever it is the rubes think they want these days against the Republicans.

    • JKTHs says:

      Well this plan itself also won’t get approved because it’ll include the universal pre-K etc. The point is, if this is the starting point where is it going to end up? Hopefully nowhere, but that’s by no means certain

      • somethingblue says:

        Ezra Klein & Evan Soltas:

        Obama’s third offer from December is, in this set of negotiations, his first offer. The question is what his final offer will be.

    • Jesse Levine says:

      And exactly what good press would that be? That the core of the Democratic party is furious with him? Should be a hell of a 2014 campaign

      • joe from Lowell says:

        Given all of the angst over the last few times we went through this charade, shouldn’t the 2012 elections have been your “hell of an election?”

        No no, I’m sure it will be completely different this time.

        • Jesse Levine says:

          Let’s see. Apparently we have gone from, “he never said it” to “he doesn’t really mean it” to “he won in 2012 even though he campaigned for cuts”. I admire your steadfastness in the face of reality.

          Which campaign works better for you in 2014?

          “The Dems wanted to cut social security and raise taxes and we wouldn’t let them do it” or

          ” We voted for the budget cutting social security in the hope that we could raise taxes too”

          Crappy policy, crappy politics.

          • joe from Lowell says:

            When, exactly, were “we” ever at “he never said it?” Or at “he won in 2012 despite campaigning on cuts?” Link? Quote? Or are you just making shit up? That’s usually the sign of someone who’s winning an argument, in my experience.

            Which campaign works better for you in 2014?

            Having failed so miserably in your predictions about the politics of this issue in 2012, you don’t exactly carry a lot of weight in your predictions about how it will play in the elections. Just as a reminder, your prediction that the Republicans would use his offer to attack him was completely wrong, and he walked out of those negotiations with a forty point approval advantage over the Republicans. I’ll take more of those “crappy politics,” thanks.

            • Jesse Levine says:

              Gee, Joe, I must have missed where he campaigned on cutting Social Security in 2012.

              • joe from Lowell says:

                What the hell are you talking about? Do you even know anymore?

                You accused me of changing my position. I pointed out that two of the positions you accused me of arguing have never, ever come from my keyboard.

                Did you follow me that time, or should I break it down ever farther?

                • Jesse Levine says:

                  In December you said he never proposed cutting SS. About ten people gave you the cites. Then you said it was only a gambit. Then today you implied that the “charade” was part of the 2012 campaign. Forgetting all of that, how will the Democrats run in 2014 if they support the President’s budget? That’s the issue.

  12. actor212 says:

    He won re-election! What the hell is his problem? Good grief, the country wants HIS agenda, not theirs! Run with the fucking ball, Mr President!

  13. cpinva says:

    some day, i hope i get the opportunity to play poker with obama, i could use the cash.

  14. somethingblue says:

    Shorter Very Serious People: Chained CPI isn’t a cut. It’s just an adjustment that more accurately reflects the cost of living. Also, the President deserves credit for his willingness to offer up serious cuts to entitlements, even though it makes his base scream.

    • Uncle Kvetch says:

      Also, the President deserves credit for his willingness to offer up serious cuts to entitlements, even though because it makes his base scream.

      There. That’s better.

    • JKTHs says:

      Shorter Very Serious People: Chained CPI isn’t a cut. It’s just an adjustment that more accurately reflects the cost of living. Also, the President deserves credit for his willingness to offer up serious cuts to entitlements, even though it makes his base scream.Take that, you damn hippies

    • wengler says:

      Everyone knows that renting a cardboard box under an overpass is much cheaper than a nice warm house.

  15. Marc says:

    From the NY Times:

    “Besides the tax increases that most Republicans continue to oppose, Mr. Obama’s budget will propose a new inflation formula that would have the effect of reducing cost-of-living payments for Social Security benefits, though with financial protections for low-income and very old beneficiaries, administration officials said. The idea, known as chained C.P.I., has infuriated some Democrats and advocacy groups to Mr. Obama’s left, and they have already mobilized in opposition.”

    Do we have any information about the “financial protections for low-income and very old beneficiaries”? This could change my opinion of what he’s doing. Isn’t the big problem what it does to the people who rely on SS the most?

    • JKTHs says:

      I’m not exactly sure but it’s always been part of the offer so it shouldn’t change your mind of what you thought of it previously.

      • joe from Lowell says:

        it’s always been part of the offer

        We don’t actually know this. During the debt ceiling discussions, when Obama allowed that the topic was ‘on the table,’ they didn’t release details because the discussions remained on the level of principle.

        IIRC, it wasn’t until the fiscal cliff talks that the proposal was written down in detail.

    • Sharon says:

      More than half of the people on SS rely on it to cover their retirement costs. Going forward, it will be the only income most people will have for the balance of their retirement. The people who have 401ks have about 120k in them and most people don’t even have that to rely on.

      This is a short sighted proposal that is stuck in the late 90s in terms of their understanding of most people’s retirement situation.

      • Richard says:

        The estimates I’ve seen are that going to a chained CPI will means about a $350 dollar a year reduction in SS benefits in about ten years. If there is protection that this decrease will be matched by subsidies for the lowest one third of SS beneficiaries so that there is no net effect, this may be a tempest in a teapot argument.

    • Lawnguylander says:

      Don’t bother us with questions like that. Nobody cares about positive changes so we’re pretending they’re not there.

  16. djangermats says:

    Obama and the pub bird managed to get their vicious austerity cuts passed I’m sure they’ll find a way to accomplish this shared goal as well

    • joe from Lowell says:

      Yeah, which vicious austerity cuts were those again?

      You do know that the federal budget is increasing every year, even as military spending drops, right?

      • Jay B. says:

        The ones in the sequester he proposed. Didn’t take a genius to know the GOP would let the cuts take place and then bitch about them.

        • joe from Lowell says:

          Apparently, it was so easy to predict that you didn’t.

          Jay B, Genius in Hindsight.

          • Jay B. says:

            Of course I did. And it’s not like I was some on-the-edge genius about it. It was a stupid move borne of desperation because the Administration sought to negotiate with terrorists. You had to be completely in the bag over the infallibility of Obama (which, come to think of it, defines you to a T) to think that the GOP would suddenly say “OMG! You mean you really will cut all the things we’ve been pining to cut for decades! I better come up with a ‘serious’ counteroffer. Christ, the Speaker said he got 98% of what he wanted. You think he was kidding? The Administration, in their endless need to be “sensible” torpedoed the recovery and gave the GOP ammunition to cut popular programs with barely a fingerprint on it. At least now they have come out in favor of Social Security cuts. That’ll turn the GOP right around.

      • djillionsmix says:

        “Yeah, which vicious austerity cuts were those again?”

        Wow, senior moment much?

        • joe from Lowell says:

          Apparently so. I can’t seem to remember you answering the question.

          Are you going to try to actually argue your case, or are you cool with just posturing the way you imagine that someone who can argue their case might?

    • janastas359 says:

      Remember when the Dems held the presidency and both houses of congress and they opted for austerity instead of stimulus?

      Wait,you mean that didn’t happen?

      • joe from Lowell says:

        I remember that; it was just after the Republicans used their control of the White House and Congress to pass a health care reform bill based on subsidized insurance for the poor, extensive regulation of insurers, and an individual mandate.

        Bullshit talks, money walks. Words speak louder than actions. I’ve got those right, don’t I?

      • djillionsmix says:

        “Remember when the Dems held the presidency and both houses of congress and they opted for austerity instead of stimulus?”

        no i remember the pile of tax cuts they passed that failed to offset state-level budget cuts

        but keep using that as an excuse for legislation that the president proposed and then signed

        • Lawnguylander says:

          You mean like expansion of the EIC? Pure treachery!

        • joe from Lowell says:

          Damn Barack Obama for not controlling state budgets! What a sellout!

          Again, what legislation was that?

        • janastas359 says:

          I’m going to take your argument seriously here for a minute. The original comment was:

          Obama and the pub bird managed to get their vicious austerity cuts passed I’m sure they’ll find a way to accomplish this shared goal as well

          Which states that Obama secretly likes the idea of austerity, shredding entitlements, etc., as a matter of personal preference.

          Admittedly, my response relied on my reader understanding sarcasm, so perhaps you simply didn’t understand. When Obama’s party controlled the legislative and executive branches, he pushed for stimulus, not austerity. You responded with:

          no i remember the pile of tax cuts they passed that failed to offset state-level budget cuts

          Now of course that wasn’t all of it, or even most of it, but that’s beside the point. Here, you’re essentially conceding the point that when Dems had complete control of congress and the presidency, they went for stimulus.

          So, perhaps you can answer the question: If Obama is so committed to cutting entitlements and austerity, why did he push for the opposite of these things when he had a greater measure of control over congress? I understand that some people think this President is the worst thing ever, but maybe, just maybe, he’s responding to dealing with an implacably hostile House? Maybe that’s it?

  17. Random says:

    Fact: Obama definitely is aware that the GOP won’t negotiate with him on any package that includes a tax increase.

    Fact: Obama just offered up a plan to the GOP that includes tax increases.

    Conclusion: The people who think they would beat Obama in a poker game aren’t nearly as good at poker as they think.

    • Domino says:

      Fact: Obama gains NOTHING and only stands to LOSE HOUSe AND SENATE ELECTIONS by proposing Chained CPI.

      If this is as calculated as you are implying, why in the bloody hell did he include and immensely unpopular policy position? Obama managed to put himself in a rare “gain nothing/lose a lot” proposition.

      Atrios put it best a while ago – Dems will only lose if they aren’t the party people trust on Social Security.

  18. joe from Lowell says:

    It’d be nice if Obama realized for once that the Republicans will never compromise with him unless he completely capitulates to their agenda, with its ever rightward shifting goalposts.

    Have you considered the possibility that the guy who knows a great deal more about politics than you, and has the successful record to show it, actually does understand this, and is counting on it?

    You have to be really, really committed to thinking that the Columbia/Harvard/University of Chicago law professor/POTUS is both stupid and incompetent at politics to incorporate “Obama doesn’t understand Republicans” into your thinking.

    • Anna in PDX says:

      I think he really does want to cut entitlements. He keeps offering social security cuts and grand bargains and at some point someone might call his bluff. He has said repeatedly that he wants to “fix” entitlements by cutting them. I don’t think he is playing 11 dimensional chess. On the contrary, though I voted for him / donated to his campaign / support many of his initiatives I think he is NOT ON MY SIDE on this issue and needs to be called out for it. He’s just not all that liberal on this issue. Do you think he is just playing the republicans? On what basis?

      • joe from Lowell says:

        at some point someone might call his bluff

        Have you seen the “someone” he’s talking to? You’re saying that, at some point, the Republicans might agree to a deal that raises taxes on upper-income earners. These Republicans. Maybe “at some point” there will be a Republican Party that would be willing to do that. Do you really think it’s this one?

        Do you think he is just playing the republicans? On what basis?

        The one time it looked like the Republicans might go for such a deal – when he was talking to Boehner during the debt ceiling talks – he raised his demand for tax hikes from $1 trillion to $1.4 trillion. It is difficult to look at that as anything but a poison pill.

        When he agreed to the debt ceiling deal, he insisted that entitlement benefit cuts be excluded from the deficit reduction package, while agreeing to cuts in other areas. Actions speak louder than words, and when it came time for money to talk, he refused to pull money out of entitlement benefits.

        • Anna in PDX says:

          But Joe, what is the political upside for him including these cuts in the first place, since they are wildly unpopular? This is the part I don’t get – unless it is actually a policy he supports.

          • joe from Lowell says:

            Look back at 2011. The Congressional Republicans, who had just won an election big and were setting the national agenda, dropped into single-digit approval ratings, and the frame that they were obsessed with rich people’s taxes, to the exclusion of taking care of the public’s business, became set in concrete.

        • Random says:

          Thank you for pointing this out.

          The GOP literally cannot raise taxes on upper-income earners. Everyone in DC knows this, including Biden and Obama.

          There’s about a million posts on this thread including the original blog post that all start from ignoring this fundamental fact and then go even further off the rails from there.

          • joe from Lowell says:

            Everyone in DC knows this, including Biden and Obama.

            The weird thing is, everyone on this thread knows this, too, in every circumstance except this one. Something about this topic drives that rather blindingly obvious fact right out of their little heads.

    • djangermats says:

      Such a great record of success, as long as you ignore or rationalize all the failure

      • joe from Lowell says:

        He got himself elected President of the United States and passed the most extensive legislative agenda since LBJ.

        You have to keep changing your handle because you discredit yourself with such regularity.

        Your opinion about his political skills is not actually as compelling as you seem to think.

    • Murc says:

      Well, let’s assume he does know what he’s doing. What exactly is the plan here?

      Obama commits himself and by proxy the political party he leads to cutting one of the cornerstones of the New Deal, promoting it as a positive good. However, he includes some poison pills in the proposed deal such that the Republicans will never go for it. The Republicans denounce the plan as communism and vote en masse against it, but use sound bites and quotes from it as proof Obama and the Democrats want to cut social security when running for re-election.

      End result: nothing really has gotten done except the Democrats proposed a plan cutting social security and the Republicans killed it. The benefits of this appear dubious to me, especially since it’ll involve months of sturm and drang.

      I’m willing to be persuaded otherwise, tho.

      • joe from Lowell says:

        but use sound bites and quotes from it as proof Obama and the Democrats want to cut social security when running for re-election.

        Didn’t that just not happen – rather dramatically not happen, contrary to the confident assertions of some – in the 2012 election?

        I can understand people thinking in 2011 that this might happen, but we have a record now.

        • Murc says:

          Okay, fair enough. Suppose I’m wrong there. What about the rest of it?

          I’m just curious about the end game here. I’m going to infer from your comments here in the thread that you think the endgame is ‘make Republicans look bad.’

          I’m not sure simply making Republicans look bad is worth publicly committing the Democratic Party to cutting one of the cornerstones of our increasingly frayed social safety net. I would prefer for us to be positioned as the robust defenders of that safety net, wanting it to be expanded and strengthened.

          I also kind of thing he could get the same results by proposing strong progressive legislation, then gradually walking it back to less and less progressive legislation. That would achieve the same thing (Obama magnanimously compromises over and over in an attempt to reach comity the Republican reject in spittle-flecked rage) without committing Democrats to bad policy and, more to the point, making it acceptable to BE a Democrat committed to bad policy.

          • joe from Lowell says:

            What is “the rest of it?” The threat of Republican attacks was the entirety of your comment.

            I’m going to infer from your comments here in the thread that you think the endgame is ‘make Republicans look bad.’

            You shouldn’t infer that from my comments. You should infer it from the actual record we have from the debt ceiling episode.

            publicly committing the Democratic Party to cutting one of the cornerstones of our increasingly frayed social safety net.

            Holy question begging! You think that making an offer in a negotiation – negotiation, a process in which you agree to things that aren’t your own goals – means the Democratic Party will be committed to that as a policy? What makes you think they can’t just shake the Etch-a-Sketch?

            I also kind of thing he could get the same results by proposing strong progressive legislation, then gradually walking it back to less and less progressive legislation. That would achieve the same thing (Obama magnanimously compromises over and over in an attempt to reach comity the Republican reject in spittle-flecked rage)

            You’re forgetting the importance of first impressions. If Obama comes out of the gate with a left-wing plan, he won’t ever get that credit for being willing to compromise/avoid the blame for being the intransigent one who killed a deal. Any concessions he makes after that won’t erase that impression; they’ll just add “He’s weak and in retreat” to it.

            • JKTHs says:

              This isn’t an offer in a negotiation though, it’s his own budget. I don’t know how much of a difference that will make for political purposes but I would think it would.

              • joe from Lowell says:

                The President’s “own budget” is an offer in a negotiation. The President doesn’t get to implement “his budget” as the White House draws it up. Especially when the House is controlled by the opposition, the budget process is a big fight and/or negotiation.

            • Murc says:

              What is “the rest of it?” The threat of Republican attacks was the entirety of your comment.

              It was not. It was also me wondering what, precisely, the plan of the Obama Administration was if their goal WASN’T to pass a budget cutting social security.

              You shouldn’t infer that from my comments. You should infer it from the actual record we have from the debt ceiling episode.

              … you’re saying that if I want to determine what you think about something, I shouldn’t try and draw inferences from your own words? Because that seems… odd.

              Holy question begging! You think that making an offer in a negotiation – negotiation, a process in which you agree to things that aren’t your own goals – means the Democratic Party will be committed to that as a policy?

              Well, if it’s proposed as part of “we don’t want to do this, but it’s a negotiation, you have to give a little to get a little” I suppose you’d be right.

              However, if it’s proposed and then backed up with “We think this is good policy!” then I would, and I think rightly, interpret that as committing the Democrats to cutting social security.

              Call me crazy, but I think if the leader of a political party comes out in favor of something AND makes strong statements about being favor of it not just politically, but as a matter of policy, it can be interpreted as committing the party to that course of action.

              Of course, we haven’t even seen the budget yet. It seems pretty clear at this point it’ll contain cuts to social security, although I remain hopeful we’ll be pleasantly surprised.

              • joe from Lowell says:

                A White House budget proposal is part of a negotiation.

                • Murc says:

                  Yes, but it can also contain things that, you know, the White House wants and is committed to enacting into policy. You know, policy goals? The reason that politicians theoretically have jobs?

                  The venn diagrams of “thing we actually want to do” and “things in what we propose” do overlap, you know. Not everything you offer up in negotiation are things you actually want to have happen, but that doesn’t mean NOTHING is.

      • JKTHs says:

        Yes I’m confused as to the benefit of this over, ya know, not proposing these things. It’s not like he’ll get credit for it anyways from the WaPo types and it’ll keep shifting the Overton Window rightward.

        • joe from Lowell says:

          Yes I’m confused as to the benefit of this over, ya know, not proposing these things.

          Did you not notice how it worked last time, with the Congressional Republicans’ approval dropping into the single digits?

          It’s not like he’ll get credit for it anyways from the WaPo types

          Avoiding blame is just as important as getting credit. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, by the WaPo types turned pretty harshly against the Republicans over their intransigence.

          and it’ll keep shifting the Overton Window rightward.

          But it hasn’t shifted the Overton Window rightward, after several iterations of this. It produces a big pushback from the retiree lobby, which has served only to remind everyone about what the term “third rail” means.

          • Anna in PDX says:

            See now this I disagree with. The overton window has not moved leftward and “all the serious people” keep saying there is a crisis, and this position agrees with that framing and perpetuates it. How can you argue that it does not perpetuate rightwing framing?

            I did read your answer to my “so what is the political upside?” saying “it makes the Republicans more unpopular” – well OK – but it also makes people in general pretty worried about Social Security being cut by the time they retire. Seems a cruel and counterproductive way of doing it if the only point to it is to make the other side look worse than they already look.

            • joe from Lowell says:

              I didn’t say the Overton Window had moved leftward. I refuted the claim that it had moved rightward. It hasn’t moved at all.

              How can you argue that it does not perpetuate rightwing framing?

              Now you’re talking about the long-term deficit? Before, you were talking about cuts to entitlements, about the Overton Window moving on that. That was the window that hasn’t moved.

              Now, to talk about the long-term deficit: the window hasn’t moved on that, either. It’s a problem that needs to be addressed. We should reduce the federal deficit in the out years, when the economy is stronger. That’s such a “right-wing” position that it was being pushed by the left throughout the Bush years, is argued by Paul Krugman, was the basis of the deficit-reducing elements of the Affordable Care Act, and is based on Keynesian economic policy. You’re right that Obama is endorsing the “frame” that we should take action to curtail the deficit starting in a few years. He’s right; we should.

              As for your last paragraph: politics ain’t beanbag.

              • Anna in PDX says:

                No, I was talking about social security only, not the overall deficit. I am a keynesian and don’t agree it is a crisis necessarily, either, particularly if austerity is an answer. But that’s a different conversation.

                I must seem a bit naive to you, thanks for patiently answering me. This particular political issue just infuriates me.

                • joe from Lowell says:

                  Sorry if I misunderstood your point.

                  The conflation of long-term deficit (actual problem) with the sort term deficit (no problem), the conflation of Social Security financing (very small, far-off problem) with Medicare financing (big problem), and the rest of this dishonest framing infuriates me, too.

      • Random says:

        “Obama believes the GOP won’t accept any compromise plan that includes tax increases for millionaires” isn’t an assumption. It’s far, far, far, far, far more likely than not.

        I don’t want to accuse people of being naive here. But you really, really do have to let your emotions run away without your brain to believe that Obama somehow thought the GOP would agree with this proposal.

    • mds says:

      The political acumen on display leading in the 2010 midterms was pretty awesome, come to think of it. And in the 2014 midterms, when Congressional Republicans run on “Keep government’s hands off your Social Security,” Democrats will be able to retort, “The President was only going to cut Social Security if he could also raise taxes … and you wouldn’t let him do either one.” They might as well just give Nancy Pelosi the gavel back now.

      • joe from Lowell says:

        You mean running on the merits of stimulus spending?

        Once again: first black POTUS, defeated Hillary in the primary vs. internet comment guy.

        Some people take one look – just one look – at Barack Obama and assume he’s stupid.

        And in the 2014 midterms, when Congressional Republicans run on “Keep government’s hands off your Social Security,” Democrats will be able to retort, “The President was only going to cut Social Security if he could also raise taxes … and you wouldn’t let him do either one.”

        You were completely wrong about this prediction when you so confidently made it in 2011, but I’m sure this time will be completely different.

      • Anna in PDX says:

        Yes, you are saying sarcastically what I keep saying plaintively. Why is it such a smart tactic to include a poison pill very openly that people would hate if it ever happened? We’ve seen that the R’s will pivot on this issue unashamedly and point to the fact that he actually included it. Unless he is *for* the policy for reasons of his own, I don’t understand why he’s doing it, because I don’t see a political upside in espousing a very unpopular stance, even as a bluff.

        • joe from Lowell says:

          Why is it such a smart tactic to include a poison pill very openly that people would hate if it ever happened?

          Because they won’t hate it when it doesn’t happen. We just saw this during the debt ceiling talks.

          We’ve seen that the R’s will pivot on this issue unashamedly and point to the fact that he actually included it

          No, we haven’t. They very noticeably, contrary to the confident predictions of some, did not do that in the 2012 campaign, after Obama included a similar offer in the debt ceiling talks. As it turns out, “He said he’d be willing to do something that we want to do but it never actually happened” isn’t an effective attack ad.

          This is different from the ACA Medicare spending cuts, which were actually adopted, so the Republicans could actually run against them.

          • Anna in PDX says:

            Well, OK. This conversation seems to be going nowhere. So I will rephrase. Whether or not it has a political downside, and you are arguing that it does not, fine, let’s concede that for now… what is the political *upside*? Why is he doing it?

            • jim, some guy in iowa says:

              i wonder this too. to me, putting social security on the block, even if you put conditions on the actual chopping that you know will never be met, is shifting goalposts to the right. i see no value in that

            • joe from Lowell says:

              See my answer to JKTH just above.

              Or, look back at how this played out in 2011. Keyword “Single digit approval rating for Congressional Republicans.”

              • jim, some guy in iowa says:

                so it’s basically taking a page out of the republican handbook, where the nra scares the shit out of the gun nuts and nothing gets through the congress, only this time it’s obama scaring the shit out of the old people so that things stagger along theway they have been?

                well, politics ain’t beanbag, as the man said. hope you’re right

            • Random says:

              In 2014 voters go to the polls to vote for Democratic or Republican reps/Senators, not the Executive.

              Going into that campaign the GOP Congresspeople will already be framed as ideological absolutists who place tax cuts for the wealthy above the national good.

              Which has the advantage of reinforcing a notion most people already buy into.

              Good luck trying to sell voters on “The Democrats want to cut your Social Security but not the GOP”.

      • joe from Lowell says:

        A good way to tell when someone doesn’t know anything about politics: they discuss the outcome of an election held in the worst economy since the Great Depression in terms of the President’s messaging strategy.

        Barack Obama isn’t clutch. You can tell by how few RBIs he has.

        And just as a reminder, Mr. Political Acumen: Obama’s messaging strategy during the 2010 campaign was to draw sharp contrasts between the parties on economic policy.

        • Murc says:

          … huh?

          When did I bring up the 2012 election?

          The insults seem uncalled for. You could at least make the effort to treat me with the respect I treat you.

          • joe from Lowell says:

            You could at least make the effort to follow the little lines so you know what comment is being replied to. Unless you’re also posting as mrs.

            Or, Farley could make the effort to install a comment system that is less likely to produce such misunderstandings.

  19. djangermats says:

    Having a republican house and senate is gonna own, I can’t wait for every republican to be able to run on ‘Obama wants to raise your taxes AND cut social security!’

    • joe from Lowell says:

      I remember when you couldn’t wait for them to run that attack during the 2012 campaign.

      No no, this time will be completely different. Exclamation point.

      • Random says:

        What he’s saying doesn’t even tie into any existing frame about the Democrats. They aren’t known for their hostility to Social Security.

        The GOP on the other hand is known for their absolutism and their commitment to low taxes for rich people above all other considerations.

        Frame early and frame often.

        • joe from Lowell says:

          Exactly right.

          Contrast this to the success of “Obama wants to cut Medicare to pay for Obamacare.”

          “Democrats want to take from you and give it to those people” is a frame that already exists, and the Republicans were able to use it successfully.

    • Random says:

      ‘The Democrats want to cut your social security’ is not a political message that is going to fly.

      ‘The GOP are absolutists who are 100% committed to tax cuts for rich people’ is a political message that is going to fly.

      • Jay B. says:

        Social Security cuts > Tax increases on the wealthy

        GOP wins, easily, on this.

        • joe from Lowell says:

          Then why did their approval collapse into the single digits when this played out in 2011?

        • Random says:

          That’s not what has happened any of the last several times this debate played out. Every time we do this two things happen:

          1) SS and Medicare don’t get touched

          and

          2) The GOP’s numbers go down.

          • Paula says:

            You have to admit that Obama’s been sociopathic about this tactic.

            I read this thread a couple of hours ago and am now having a good chuckle about this headline:

            http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/06/us/politics/obama-budget-is-dismissed-by-gop-and-attacked-by-left.html?_r=0

            I mean, this is LITERALLY the third time its happening. The last two times the Republicans were made to look like asshats and nothing got cut. Now the same freakout is happening.

            You can’t blame people for continually freaking out, but at the same time it’s proven that Obama’s assessment of the GOP lack of rationality on hiking taxes is completely correct.

            • Random says:

              I most certainly don’t admit that Obama’s been ‘sociopathic’ about this tactic.

              “Insincere” yes. If he was a sociopath he has had more than ample opportunity to slash those programs to the core and hasn’t done so in 5 years.

      • mds says:

        ‘The Democrats want to cut your social security’ is not a political message that is going to fly.

        It gets made slightly more aerodynamic when a Democratic president goes on record as supporting Social Security benefit cuts.

        ‘The GOP are absolutists who are 100% committed to tax cuts for rich people’ is a political message that is going to fly.

        And they’ll make this case … how? By pointing to the way the GOP refused to raise taxes even when the President offered to cut Social Security?

        “Remember how Democrats cut Medicare to fund Obamacare? Now they want to steal your Social Security money to finance more of their reckless spending.”

        I’ll repeat Anna in PDX’s question, so that someone with all that acumen can actually answer it for a change: What is the political upside to declaring Social Security benefits on the table, and thereby implicitly accepting the Pete Peterson frame that they have anything to do with our current debt and deficit situation?

        • jim, some guy in iowa says:

          he answered that. it mobilizes the base and makes the republicans look bad. obama keeps doing it because otherwise the base would get complacent. it’s one of those really neat times where cynicism actually has a neutral, instead of its usual negative, effect

          • somethingblue says:

            I feel like I’ve wandered into a copy of Animal Farm.

          • Anna in PDX says:

            Just depressing. I do understand this answer. If it is really what Obama is doing it seems kind of disgusting. I have studied political science and I know politics is like sausage making and all that. But this is really a strange and cruel policy – keep threatening to starve granny – and perpetuates not only the rightwing framing that social security is in a crisis which it is not, but the overwhelming impression that the writing is on the wall and there will eventually be nothing left to save – that it will probably not be there in 20 years, which will actually make people stop caring about it. There’s a point where people just sigh and give up.

            • jim, some guy in iowa says:

              yeah, i agree, pretty much. all this effort to stay where we are when what we need is to try to move forward

              • Random says:

                I would like to move forward too, but the knee-jerk Obama-haters decided to stay home in November 2010 and this is what we’re stuck with as a result.

                • Steve LaBonne says:

                  Zombie lie alert! This bullcrap has been debunked about a million times.

                • Random says:

                  Okay, I guess there’s more Republicans than Democrats, somehow, even though the polling consistently says otherwise.

                • Anna in PDX says:

                  I think there are just fewer voters from Dem demographic groups who vote in midterm elections. Those of us who care a lot about these issues vote every time. There is no reason to assume we sulk in off years. I remind my kids to vote in midterm elections, they think it is a stupid hassle, but they get excited about the presidential elections; I have to think this attitude represents most of those who don’t vote in midterms.

                • jim, some guy in iowa says:

                  personal anecdote from 2008 caucus: the traditional democrats, the people who showed up to caucus for dean and kerry and gore and so on and so forth, mostly caucused in 2008 for hillary clinton, john edwards, even bill freaking richardson. know what? the vast majority of obama people had never been seen at a caucus before and they weren’t seen again until 2012. in ’10 all the usual local suspects worked their asses off and our good local candidates mostly lost to tea party idiots who had the momentum that year.

                  so, far as i’m concerned you can put your whiny little meme about ‘dems disaffected with obama cost us 2010′ where the sun don’t shine. waht a load of *shit*

  20. joe from Lowell says:

    It gets made slightly more aerodynamic when a Democratic president goes on record as supporting Social Security benefit cuts….“Remember how Democrats cut Medicare to fund Obamacare? Now they want to steal your Social Security money to finance more of their reckless spending.”

    It was understandable why someone might think this in 2011. Since we now have the record to look back on, there is no sensible reason why anyone would think this today. It’s time to get working on understanding why your facially-plausible hypothesis failed so completely as a prediction.

    I’ll repeat Anna in PDX’s question, so that someone with all that acumen can actually answer it for a change

    I answered this question above, about an hour ago.

    • joe from Lowell says:

      I’ll repeat Anna in PDX’s question, so that someone with all that acumen can actually answer it for a change

      You know, instead of repeating yourself, you could have just read the answer I gave an hour ago.

      • Anna in PDX says:

        Thanks for answering me – I do appreciate it. And maybe you are right in which case he is banking on me reacting just like I am reacting, so I am doing the right thing by freaking out on the internet about social security – yes?

        • joe from Lowell says:

          Freaking out about Social Security is absolutely the right thing. Freaking out that Barack Obama is a neoliberal Manchurian Candidate only serves, to the extent it has any effect, to strengthen the Republicans’ position, since this is a zero-sum, two-party game.

          Think back to the ads the AARP ran about Medicare during the 2011 version of this movie. They didn’t talk about Obama at all; they talked about policy and the benefits of the programs. That is the helpful pushback I’m talking about.

        • Random says:

          Definitely anybody halfway-cognizant pol (which probably includes the guy who beat Hillary, McCain and Romney) knows full-well that you are going to call your rep and demand they protect SS from any cuts. That’s another benefit of doing this.

  21. joe from Lowell says:

    Remember the Iraq War pundits?

    Remember how annoying it was that people whose predictions and analysis turned out to be so astoundingly wrong just kept holding forth as voices of authority?

    I hear the Republicans have a really powerful argument about Obama cutting Social Security. Man, those 2012 elections are going to be hell.

  22. kris says:

    If Obama is using this as a negotiating strategy while “knowing” the republicans won’t go for it-this makes it a sociopathic strategy, where the welfare and financial security of old and sometimes indigent people is used as a bargaining chip for some minor (if at all) political gain. If he actually believes that this is a good idea, it just makes him stupid and corrupt. Either way, what he is proposing is contemptible, and he has provided the rhetorical grounds for future dismantling of the entitlement programs (a democratic president proposing this means that the democrats can no longer be trusted to protect these policies, which means that when someone else proposes this in the future, people are going to think that it is now normal to do such things).

    Also, if one looks at his record on prosecuting financial crime and the people whom he has hired in his administration, it does not take a genius to figure out that his interests are more closely aligned with the wealthy than with people who may need social security in their old age someday.

    • Random says:

      What bargaining chip? Obama isn’t bargaining with them. That’s obvious. Passing this budget would destroy the GOP as we know it, 2014 would be a cakewalk if the Republicans were to vote for it.

  23. [...] is a terrible idea, not only on the merits but on the politics. It isn’t going to convince Republican fireeaters to bargain in good faith because their ultimate goal is to destroy his presidency, not run the [...]

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