Special Process

by digby

It's clear to me that as even if the Obama administration now realizes that social security is a mine field at the moment (and thus canceled their plans for a social security summit) and have decided to frame the issue as "entitlement reform is health care reform," Steny and his Blue Dogs are going to give him trouble.

Kent Conrad says he's going to look at social security too as part of the budget process. They need a "special fast track process" to solve all these looming problems.

Funny, nobody's talking about defense spending.

Oh, and by the way, I've taken quite a bit of shit from people for talking about this social security stuff. ("You're being hysterical, just calm down" and "just trust Obama" being among the nicer criticisms.) And yet, I read in that TPM post linked above, that "the left" raising some hell was the impetus for them canceling the social security summit. I'm certainly not taking personal credit for that --- I mostly scream into the void. But the fact that some members of the left (but not all, by any means)raised some alarms about this Peterson business may have helped stave off something that the administration was rolling with without thinking too much about.

I don't think this is over. The SS destroyers see this crisis as an opportunity and they aren't going to give up. But it's also clear that if liberals make some noise they can have some impact too. It's what we're supposed to do.

Update: Speaking of pressure:

Dana Bash: We certainly have seen a lot of stories about Republican pressure from President Obama to rein in spending, but the truth is that a lot of his agenda depends on his keeping conservative Democrats happy.


On the wall of her Washington office, congresswoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin displays pictures from her youth in South Dakota, a constant reminder that she's a Democrat with conservative roots, especially when it comes to spending taxpayer money

Herseth Sandlin: Government can't solve everybody's problems. And if government can't afford to do it, then it's not good for anyone especially the next generation who may have to foot the bill.

Bash: That's the mantra of the Democratic blue dog coalition

Herseth Sandlin: Yes, I inherited the blue dog ..

Bash: which Herselh sandlin leads, it weilds a lot of power with its 50 members, many newly elected Democrats who come from conservative districts. before voting for the president's 780 billion dollar stimulus package, Herseth Sandlin and other Blue Dog democrats met privately with White House officials and made a demand.

Herseth Sandlin: ... we ned a seat at the tableandwe will support traditional Democratic priorities so long as they're paid for

Bash: We rode along with her to the White House, with the president's fiscal responsibility summit. Driving down pennsylvania Avenue, she insisted his event and his new promise to reduce the deficit were the direct result of pressure from conservative Democrats in congress to keep his promises.

Bash: Do you feel like that was a result of the lobbying that you and your fellow Blue Dogs have done?

Herseth Sandlin: Yes I do. Based on the meetings we've had, on the conversations we've had on the meeting we had a week and a half ago...

Bash: She realizes that cutting spending to cut the deficit won't be easy, but warns Democrats will pay politically if they don't do it.

Herseth Sandlin: I don't think it's going to happen in a month or a year, but perhaps over the course on one presidential term we'll start to see the change.

Bash: That may be the hope, but Wolf, House Democrats just released a four hundred and ten billion dollar spending package left over from last year that has an increase in spending and also a hefty amount of ear marks, pet projects, from Democrats and Republicans.

Herseth Sandlin says she wants to support traditional Democratic priorities as long as they're paid for. Yet tax hikes (and defense cuts) are never discussed as part of that equation.

Liberals would be foolish to ignore the Blue Dog agenda and assume that the administration is on our side. These people have a powerful card to play -- "bipartisanship" --- and they are going to want to play it down the road. Liberals should never make it easy for the administration to take what they are offering. The Republicans are weak and there's no good political or policy rationale for allowing them to form a coalition with these conservative Blue Dogs and reposition themselves as the middle. (Luckily, we have the future Republican presidential club vying for most suicidal at the moment, so that gives the liberals some breathing room.)

Update II: Jesus H. Christ. Did the word go forth from Chuck Todd that every MSNBC anchor had to have several segments on how the stock market crash is Obama's fault? (Or it's the surest sign that he's failing?)

It's either that or one can only conclude that their own portfolios have started to worry them and so they have a personal stake in all this. Hence, fulminating about how Obama had better turn the stock market around right quick.

Chris Matthews is getting out the pitchforks as we speak while Howard Fineman opines that we really need to cut back on the spending so the markets can feel confident.


Update III: Jane has the excerpts of he social security questions in today's press conference with Gibbs.