Today may mark a nadir in the often strained relations between President Obama and the “professional left,” as Robert Gibbs derisively called the progressive movement, which has been pushing for months to prevent Obama from endorsing cuts to the social safety net. When the White House released its budget today, it was clear the president hadn’t listened to the increasingly urgent threats and pleadings from the people who helped elect him, as his spending proposal includes a change to the way Social Security benefits are calculated, called the chained CPI, as well as changes to Medicare.
The cut is anathema to liberal activists and lawmakers, who have gone all in to oppose the cut, warning Obama would face a “huge backlash” from his own base if he endorsed it. Now they’re threatening primary challenges against any Democrats who vote for their president’s budget.
“You can’t call yourself a Democrat and support Social Security benefit cuts,” said Stephanie Taylor, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a group which endorses liberals in primaries, sometimes against establishment picks. “The president is proposing to steal thousands of dollars from grandparents and veterans by cutting cost of living adjustments, and any congressional Democrat who votes for such a plan should be ready for a primary challenge. Social Security is the core of the progressive and Democratic legacy. The President has no mandate to cut these benefits, and progressives will do everything possible to stop him.”
This of course, was followed by Boehner rejecting the plan because the budget also includes tax hikes.
Needless to say, the push back on the left has begun and the Obama Administration has responded with it’s usual excuse for the hippie punching.
It’s the same dynamic the President has used for years. He throws out something that by all rights, the GOP should grab with both hands even though it pisses off his base…
No, scratch that. Because it pisses off his base! So he can say, “See how reasonable I am that I’m willing to anger my core of support. Now let’s make a deal.”
And the GOP, who can’t afford to piss off their base because…well.. the base is all they have left, declines the offer. Thus making themselves look like a bunch of inflexible assholes.
It’s a war of attrition.
The more the President looks reasonable, the more people he has on his side. The more the GOP looks like a bunch of swinish jerks, the more their base will boil down to a pure broth of evil Randian crazy.
So you may be saying to yourself, “Richard, does this mean we shouldn’t be freaking out?”
Well..no. You should.
Because one of these days, the GOP is going to realize what he’s doing. (Which granted, seems unlikely now since this current version of the GOP has a denseness that would make a diamond look like a cleaning sponge. But the possibility exists.) And they are going to take whatever cockamamy deal that Obama decides to throw out.
At which point, it would be a very good idea to make sure everybody on our side of the fence knows what a lousy idea it is.
I understand why the President is playing chicken. I just wish he wouldn’t do it in our car!