Obama's CPI Chains:
Let's give people credit for a brief moment when they are not motherfuckers. So President Obama proposes his latest great-and-mighty Idea That Won't Go Anywhere: a budget that's a mix of some tax increases, infrastructure spending, and spending cuts in other areas, including changing how Social Security benefits are measured, from CPI-W to chained CPI (no, the Rude Pundit won't explain it. Go somewhere else for that). Chained CPI will end up cutting benefits to seniors to the tune of $130 billion over ten years, so, yeah, it's a shitty way to try get some street cred as Compromiser-in-Chief. But entitlement cuts are something that Republicans have been slavering for, and chained CPI in Social Security pleasures them. Well, most of them.
Sure, one way to look at Republican Representative Greg Walden's comment to CNN's Wolf "Who Dares Touch the White Mane?" Blitzer that Obama is "trying to balance this budget on the backs of seniors" is that it's the usual GOP chicanery (see the "Obama is cutting $700 billion from Medicare" non-debate from 2012). But Walden, the chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee, was immediately kicked in the balls by the senior-hating right, with the Club for Grover Norquist's Wallet's Growth condemning him. But give Walden points for consistency. On November 15, 2010, on Fox "news," he was asked about cutting Social Security, and he said, "Look, there's a lot we can cut before we get to Social Security. How about not raiding the Social Security funds to begin with? I mean, there are lots of things we can do, but there is so much waste across the government, every agency, every program needs to be evaluated." Indeed, the Rude Pundit searched for a time when Walden said he supported chained CPI and instead found Walden fairly consistent, at least when discussing cuts to Social Security. Walden is actually going against his leadership. John Boehner wants the chained CPI vote outside of any larger budget deal.
President Obama's Rose Garden address introducing his budget yesterday ended with one of the most pathetic moments of this awful year. He had promised throughout that, no, really, this budget is really, really good and serious and "not controversial" with "not a lot of smoke and mirrors" and with ideas that he didn't think were "optimal," but that he'd accept if he the other side would really, really make a deal. It was depressing, seeing Obama have to constantly state that he has good intentions. Then he concluded by saying, "And if we can come together, have a serious, reasoned debate -- not driven by politics -- and come together around common sense and compromise, then I’m confident we will move this country forward and leave behind something better for our children." He didn't even sound as if he believed the words coming out of his mouth then, like a great actor doing a role in a shitty movie just because he owes some child support.
Michael Tomasky lays out pretty much what the Rude Pundit is sure is going to happen: "First the GOP is going to say no no no no no, because Obama’s budget calls for $580 billion in revenue (by the way, it proposes $2 in cuts for every $1 in revenue, for a total of $1.8 trillion in deficit reduction). The sequestration cuts are going to continue. Then will come mid-May, when Congress needs to raise the debt ceiling again. The Republicans will probably extract more cuts there. But as they will never accept more revenue or do anything to give Obama a political victory, we will just keep limping along through this year and into next with Congress funding the operations of government on an ad hoc basis."
But Tomasky thinks that this failure and the failure of Democrats to win back the House of Representatives will unleash a truth-telling Obama who will say what we really need: a hike in the taxable income cap. That hope is almost as unreasonably optimistic as Obama believing that offering entitlement cuts will bring Republicans to the table on revenue increases.
It's just disheartening as hell to watch Obama constantly believing that somehow, through some persuasive magic of moderation, he can bring Republicans back into the act of governing. It's predictable but funny, less like Charlie Brown trying to kick the football that Lucy yanks away and more like when Charlie Brown would try to fly a kite, but that goddamned kite-eating tree would gobble up his good intentions and leave behind nothing but limp string.