I give up! This morning, Obama announced that he will continue to bargain with himself.
On Wednesday, Jared Bernstein discussed a number of budget items that we face. The most important of which was his argument that Obama should not put Chained-CPI into his budget. Chained-CPI is basically just a way to cut Social Security benefits without explicitly doing it. It allows the cost of living increases of the program to lag behind the actual rate of inflation that seniors face. Bernstein rightly notes that it is just bad negotiating.
What he doesn’t say, but what is clear enough is that the Republicans will take the concession and move on. When the president tries to actually get something for the concession, the Republicans will rebel, “But Chained-CPI is already part of the baseline!” But as I’ve argued before, this isn’t really a sign that Obama is a bad negotiator; it is a sign that Chained-CPI is just a policy that Obama wants. If anything, the concessions that the Republicans in theory will offer are just political cover for the extremely unpopular policy proposals he wants.
This morning, Paul Krugman offered a far more charitable take on what Obama is doing:
I only disagree with the part about why Obama is doing this. The rest is dead on: Obama will get very little credit for doing it and the Republicans will campaign against Democrats in 2014 by saying that they want to cut Social Security.
With friends like Obama, who needs conservatives?