Democrats weren't too pleased this week with a trial balloon from the Obama White House that cuts (but we won't call them that) to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid may be on the table in debt ceiling talks. To preserve tax cuts for America's nouveau aristocracy, sacrifices must be made, right?
Reps. Raul Grijalva and Keith Ellison, co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, penned a letter sent to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi opposing any plan that targets the social insurance safety net. They will be gathering signatures to present a unified front against such cuts in any deficit deal.
Email appeals to push back against Washington have flooded my in box. Here are just a few. Greg Sargent suggests that the deal could be finalized by Sunday night, so take your pick and TAKE ACTION:
Now, you might expect those groups to respond angrily. Then the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee joined in with an urgent appeal of its own: TELL THE GOP NO SOCIAL SECURITY AND MEDICARE CUTS WHILE PROTECTING TAX BREAKS FOR MILLIONAIRES. (Given their mandate, the DCCC elides any mention of Obama's involvement.)
From Huffington Post's Sam Stein:
WASHINGTON -- Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chair Steve Israel warned lawmakers on Friday that he would have trouble recruiting candidates for office if the party caved on Medicare during the debt ceiling negotiations.
The comments came during a closed-door caucus meeting. Multiple sources confirmed the remarks, describing them as "impassioned."
Israel, who as DCCC chair is charged with getting members elected, brought up the electoral implications. Democratic lawmakers have tried to draw a distinction between cuts to Medicare benefits and those that could be applied to health care suppliers. But officials -- including, presumably, Israel -- have worried that any changes to Medicare would dull the criticisms Democrats have levied against Republicans for attempting to turn Medicare into a voucher program.
POLITICO quotes Texas Sen. John Cornyn, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, saying just that: “It dilutes their argument that the mean old Republicans are going to end Medicare as you know it.”
I made a similar point to a peeved NC Democratic strategist Friday afternoon. Sacrificing these signature Democratic programs could depress Democratic turnout in 2012 worse than the GOP's legislative efforts at vote suppression. In North Carolina, it could hand the governor's mansion over to Pat McCrory.
David Dayen sums up his reaction, saying, "This is really the President pushing his own party into the trenches to be shot."
At dkos, BrooklynBadBoy analyzes Obama's curious governing style. He sees an institutionalist with no political ideology who abhors politics -- he prefers working out agreements behind closed doors to getting out front and rallying public opinion behind a goal. "He's a doer of stuff, but not any particular stuff."
Therefore, if you want to influence Obama:
1. You'll need to get yourself in a high position with some major clout from major institutions.
2. You'll need to not have any particular views that you're not willing to abandon in search of consensus.
3. You'll need to not have any political goals.
4. You'll need to operate in secret.
In other words, you need to be Tim Geithner.
(Cross-posted from Scrutiny Hooligans.)