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There's no deal yet, but it's clear that benefit cuts to Social Security beneficiaries was part of the White House's latest offer to Republicans.
A few points, however:
The White House claims that chained CPI is something the GOP is pushing. So then why is it part of a White House offer that John Boehner rejected? If this is a final offer, with specific stimulus and an extension of unemployment benefits and all manner of other details, then it might be palatable. And I mean might. But at this stage? It's a capitulation, and the way Boehner has orchestrated it, he makes Obama propose the cut, and the then he gets to reject it!
So every time Republicans talk about Democrats wanting to cut Social Security, this time they won't be lying.
What's bizarre about all this craziness is that Obama has all the cards. He won the election, and did so handily. ABC polling shows that only 26 approve of the way Republicans are handling the fiscal cliff negotiations, while 65 percent disapprove. Meanwhile, respondents approve of Obama's handling 45-43.
Obama has the GOP on the ropes, on the losing side of public opinion from taxes, to Social Security, to Medicare, to pretty much everything being discussed.
And rather than go in for the kill, get the deal that his election mandate and popular opinion demands, while dealing the GOP a lethal body blow, he's seemingly going out of his way to bail them out of their self-imposed predicament. Unfathomable!
Of course, there's no deal yet. This may all be a master head fake. But Obama's negotiating history doesn't inspire confidence. Last time around, he might've felt constrained by the 2010 election losses. This time, he seemed to have a bit of a swagger about him. But no more, these concessions don't speak to a self-confident president, rather than one who is still more obsessed with making a deal, whatever the costs, than with what is in that deal.
The White House has said it—Social Security isn't a factor in the deficit. So why make it part of any deal on the deficit?