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Hullabaloo


Monday, February 17, 2014

 
Going to the mattresses is exhausting but unfortunately necessary

by digby

Here's an  important primer from George Zornick that explains why progressives are still fighting to keep the Chained-CPI out of the president's budget, even if it is a dead letter:
Obama’s chained CPI proposal from last year would take $9,521 in cumulative benefits from an average 85-year-old on Social Security, even with protections included in the proposal — including a small benefit bump at age 75 and protections for the very poor retirees. 
Already this year, progressives have had to stomach $8.6 billion in food-stamp cuts in the farm bill Obama signed, along with Congress’s failure to extend unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless.
Amid the economic downturn, especially for lower- and middle-income Americans, many liberals say they can’t accept these cuts to Social Security, too. “These are tough times for our country. With the middle class struggling and more people living in poverty than ever before, we urge you not to propose cuts in your budget to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits – cuts which would make life even more difficult for some of the most vulnerable people in America,” the letter from Senate Democrats said.
There is a strategic element here as well. White House officials have explicitly argued in the past that chained CPI isn’t their preferred policy but a concession Obama would be willing to make in exchange for increased tax revenue and new spending on such things as education and infrastructure. 
But many progressives, of course, see it differently. In an election year, and one in which immigration reform will be the main issue anyhow, the chances that Congress passes some sort of grand bargain on entitlements and new spending are somewhere around zero. 
In that context, many progressives think Social Security cuts on the table is a dangerous move. They think this is true in the short term, because as you may recall, the head of the National Republican Congressional Committee attacked Democrats last year when chained CPI was in Obama’s budget. 
They also think it’s unwise in the long term, because by repeatedly making a pre-concession of Social Security cuts year after year, Democrats mainstream the idea and make eventual benefit reductions inevitable. Liberals have been making this argument for years, and the fact that chained CPI keeps showing up in Obama’s budget seems to prove their point.
Also too, with the Villagers giddily celebrating the new comity around the recently passed continuing resolution and debt ceiling hike along with the restoration of the military retiree benefits and the Gephardt Rule, can we really be so sure that they can't get the Chained-CPI passed? I certainly doubt it --- these Republicans certainly seem a kooky as ever --- but who knows? Is it a good idea to keep counting on Tea Party lunacy just so the president can have "credibility" with the deficit hawks?

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