To this day, I cannot honestly tell if President Obama has been offering up things like chained CPI to Republicans because he is hoping to put them in a box and make them look completely unreasonable, knowing full well they're never going to go along with tax increases in exchange, or if he is cynical enough to think that going after the benefits of the elderly and the poor are going to go unnoticed by voters if they are willing to negotiate with Republicans, destroy the Democratic brand on New Deal social safety nets and marginalize the progressive base of the Democratic party.
The most generous read is that he's playing a dangerous game of politics and forcing Republicans to defend policies which are extremely unpopular with the public and putting himself out there as the "reasonable" middle in the hopes that most voters aren't watching the Kabuki theatre well enough to follow along. The worst is that he actually believes cutting benefits to seniors is some "balanced" approach to reducing our deficit when we've got record income disparity in America.
I am equally as perplexed and as irritated that Rep. Chris Van Hollen didn't give former Bush OMB director Sen. Rob Portman some pushback on this Sunday's Face the Nation when he played the Social Security-is-insolvent game, pretended that it adds to the deficit, when it doesn't, and conflated Social Security with Medicare and Medicaid.
They have their own set of problems that have nothing to do with Social Security, but everything to do with the fact that America has a healthcare crisis (whether it's government programs or private insurance) that Portman and his ilk in the Republican party refuse to do anything to remedy.
If Portman would like to "educate" the public, how about we start by not allowing him to lie to them?
It's also really disheartening to watch someone like Portman come on the air and fear-monger over deficits when the administration he worked for is largely responsible for the one we have now and not have that brought up to them. Every time one of them complains about that "Obama deficit," these charts should be shown on the air to rebut them.
Sadly, we're putting up with not just the media, but the Democratic leadership that isn't interested in challenging most of the GOP's lies when they come on the air. If anyone would like to contact Rep. Van Hollen's office to ask him why he's not willing to challenge Republicans when they lie about Social Security, here is his office's contact information.
Full transcript below the fold.
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