Everyone seems to pretty much agree with me regarding the administration’s announcement that they are going to put Chained-CPI into their new budget: bad policy, bad politics. But I’ve reached a new place with regards to Obama. I now think that there are two things he wants to accomplish in budget negotiations: he wants to raise taxes and cut entitlements. He does not want one more than the other. So this budget isn’t a compromise; it really is what he thinks of as ideal.
Brian Beutler at Talking Points Memo was perhaps the most hopeful with an article titled Bad News Friday. He pointed out that at least this makes everything solid. As he put it, “The question is whether this is a sign that Obama’s willing to go negotiate further toward the right, or whether he’s just re-cementing his final offer.” But that would only be true if Obama’s offer actually moved the Republicans.
This morning I wrote, “When the president tries to actually get something for the concession, the Republicans will rebel, ‘But Chained-CPI is already part of the baseline!'” Well, right on cue (in fact, while I was writing that sentence), Beutler wrote another article, Boehner: Not Good Enough. Here is what John Boehner thinks of Obama’s offer:
Obama is committed to being reasonable and if that requires that he give Boehner 100% of what he wants, so be it!
Matt Yglesias put the point delicately, calling it, “a risky strategy.” But he noted very clearly that the Republicans have already rejected the deal Obama is offering both in a general, philosophical sense and in a specific sense. There really is nothing to be discussed:
And then he notes, “Inside the Beltway, Republicans can say ‘well, look, we disagree about taxes but why don’t we just do these entitlement reforms that even the president thinks we should do.'” And within three hours, John Boehner said:
Jonathan Chait said that this whole thing is not news, but that it was bad politics. The truth is, however, that it is news. As Jonathan Bernstein countered, “The budget is usually the president’s opening offer in the budget game.” The president put cuts to Social Security in his budget. This is the first time that a Democrat has ever done this. That’s news!
But as usual, no one agrees with me quite as perfectly as Digby. In trying to answer why the president wants to cut entitlements, she wrote:
Chain-CPI is his preferred policy. That much is clear. Again, John Boehner:
And you have ask yourself, “Why should this ‘reform’ be held hostage for more tax hikes?” Really! It is clear that Obama really does want these benefit cuts. Sure, he also wants tax hikes. But why should Obama and Boehner not move forward on this one bit of policy they most clearly agree on? I’m beginning to think the Republicans are right when they say that Obama is greedy—that he wants to get everything. We’ve been mistaken to think of Chained-CPI as a concession to get what the tax cuts that he wants. He really wants both Chained-CPI and tax cuts. In that case, he should take Boehner’s offer.
I’m not being sarcastic here. This is what Obama wants. The only way to stop him is to pressure the Democrats in Congress. Please: contact your representatives and make it clear you will not accept any cuts to Social Security. You might add that doing so will fatally wound the Democratic Party for the next generation. Of course, that wouldn’t bother Obama. In fact, he would likely see it as a good thing. It would prove what a transformational figure he has been. Only Nixon could go to China. Only Obama could destroy Social Security.