The Dem leadership steps right on the third rail

The Dem leadership steps right on the third rail

by digby

Obama had better hope that Boehner can get almost every Republican to sign on to his offer or we're going over the cliff. Pelosi and Wasserman-Shultz are on TV channeling George Orwell saying that this Chained-CPI "strengthens Social Security" but the rest of their caucus is rebelling. Bold Progressives has the story:

A defiant Congressional Progressive Caucus — which has 75 Members in the House — pushed back, releasing a statement declaring:

Members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) are standing up against a proposal to cut Social Security benefits by changing the way we calculate inflation…Tying Social Security to chained CPI is a benefit cut and members of the CPC will not vote for a deal that cuts the benefits that millions of Americans rely on.
This Progressive Caucus statement follows similarly bold statements from individual Caucus members in the preceding 36 hours. Some are below (emphasis added):

Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), CPC co-chair:
"Chained CPI makes life harder for millions of retirees, weakens Social Security and doesn’t reduce the deficit by a penny. It’s a Beltway fig leaf that I will never support, and I call on my colleagues to make their feelings known as soon as possible before this becomes yet another piece of conventional wisdom that makes things worse.”
Click over to read the whole story. I don't know how many other Dems will back the President if he manages to get Boehner to accept the plan, but it's not going to be as easy as it's been in the past. Most of these people understand that SS and medicare are the third rail even if the White House has forgotten it:

"I was out there on the street with him that day," recalled Jim Jaffe, Rostenkowski's longtime press secretary. "When you see the video with the old lady chasing him down the hill, I was there. It was a wonderful media moment."

It was not so wonderful for Rosty, as the powerful chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee was known. The moment, nearly 21 years ago to the day, was captured in an iconic video clip that has served ever since as a warning to lawmakers about the way seemingly good intentions in Washington can go very bad back home.

The Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act, first unveiled by President Ronald Reagan, became law in July 1989. The measure provided seniors on Medicare with protection against catastrophic medical expenses and coverage of prescription drug costs. The benefits were to be paid for exclusively by the elderly receiving them, with high-income seniors paying an extra premium surtax.

Soon after Congress passed the law on an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote, Rosty returned to his district. It was there, after a fairly civil meeting with seniors resentful over having to pay higher taxes for coverage they either already had from a former employer or didn't want, that he was accosted by an angry mob of Social Security recipients.

As the Chicago Tribune reported the next day, Aug. 19, 1989:
Congressman Dan Rostenkowski, one of the most powerful politicians in the United States, was booed and chased down a Chicago street Thursday morning by a group of senior citizens after he refused to talk with them about federal health insurance. Shouting "coward," "recall" and "impeach," about 50 people followed the chairman of the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee up Milwaukee Avenue after he left a meeting in the auditorium of the Copernicus Center, 3106 N. Milwaukee Ave., in the heart of his 8th Congressional District on the city's Northwest Side.

Eventually, the 6-foot-4-inch Rostenkowski cut through a gas station, broke into a sprint and escaped into his car, which minutes earlier had one of the elderly protesters, Leona Kozien, draped over the hood. Kozien, one of more than 100 senior citizens who attended the gathering, said she had hoped to talk to Rostenkowski, her congressman, at the meeting.

But Rostenkowski clearly did not want to talk with her, or any of the others who had come to tell their complaints about the high cost of federal catastrophic health insurance. "These people don't understand what the government is trying to do for them," the 61-year-old congressman complained as he tried to outpace his pursuers.
"This was a setup," said Jaffe, who can be seen in the video ducking into the backseat of the car. "They were standing with made-for-television signs about how he had sold them out."

They repealed the law.

That was 25 years ago, but you'd think they'd at least remember the Tea Party protests which were also mostly seniors, but I guess memories are extremely short on Capitol Hill.

Remember, Social Security doesn't contribute to these deficit numbers. The Democratic leadership is just doing it to appease a bunch of cold hearted conservatives. And if they succeed the supporters of those col-hearted conservatives are going to blame it all on the Democrats. Brilliant.