One-quarter of all voters in the 2010 Elections who wiped out the Democratic Majority in the House of Representatives were 65 or older. Two thirds of all voters in that election were over 45.
This is how they view "Chained CPI" according to a new poll from AARP:
But seniors, a group with a disproportionately high voter turnout, are, unsurprisingly, opposed to the idea, according to a new poll from the giant seniors lobby AARP. Two thirds of 800 registered voters over the age of 50—66 percent—said they would view their own member of Congress less favorably for backing chained CPI. (The share among only Republicans was 60 percent.) The very idea of using Social Security benefit cuts to reduce the deficit was opposed by 84 percent of the over-50 crowd, according to the poll from AARP, which opposes chained CPI. And 73 percent strongly oppose the ideaOf course, the "Over-50 Crowd" aside, the President's Budget proposal doesn't seem to be gaining a lot of traction with the Liberal Democratic Base, either:
“President Obama’s plan to cut Social Security would harm seniors who worked hard all their lives,” said MoveOn.org’s executive director Anna Galland. “That’s unconscionable. It’s even more outrageous given that Republicans in Congress aren’t even asking for this Social Security cut. This time, the drive to cut Social Security is being led by President Obama and Democrats.”President Obama is known for many things, but political stupidity is not one of them. The '"Over 50 Crowd" is the key constituency in any election, even moreso a midterm election. So antagonizing that constituency is a lot different than antagonizing the liberal base. The argument, therefore, that the President is deliberately snubbing the Progressives in his Party by proposing a chained CPI in his official Budget misses the point. He's snubbing the whole Party. Following through on this proposal would electorally doom the Democratic Party. Period. That is why Social Security is the Third Rail of American Politics. Touch it and you will be burned. In this case, the numbers actually suggest that the Democratic Party would be drowned in a sea of gray anger.
Stephanie Taylor of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee accused Obama of “proposing to steal thousands of dollars from grandparents and veterans” and threatened to subject any Democrat who votes for a Social Security benefit cut to a primary challenge.
“You can’t call yourself a Democrat and support Social Security benefit cuts,” Taylor said in a statement. “The President has no mandate to cut these benefits, and progressives will do everything possible to stop him.”
Jim Dean, the chair of Democracy For America, called the reports a “profoundly disturbing shot across the bow for the progressives who called their neighbors, spent weekends knocking doors and donated millions to reelect [President Obama].”
Likewise, the argument that he is angling for some type of "legacy" is unlikely for the same reasons. No politician has ever left much of a legacy for himself by destroying his Party in the process. So there has to be another explanation, since the President (despite the views of some here) has never been in the business of destroying the Democratic Party. He has a lot of friends in the Democratic Party. I'd venture to say most of his friends are in the Democratic Party. Probably his wife's friends, too. The Democratic Party is his family. You don't drown your family, unless you're some kind of a nut case. President Obama is many things, but he is not a nut case.
Finally, the argument that the President is in thrall to the Pete Petersons and the Alan Simpson's and all the Billionaires who want to get their hands on the Social Security Trust Fund just doesn't seem realistic either. It's a few Billionaires versus tens of millions of infuriated seniors and near-seniors marching to the polls in 2014--or deliberately staying home, which is worse. Maybe that works in the mind of a gerrymandered Republican Congressman--not so much for an entire political Party, and certainly not the Democratic Party. As quaint as it may seem, votes still matter.
So what is the explanation? That the President is committed to achieve some "Grand Bargain" with the GOP because the next President negotiating these issues could be a Republican and by golly, he's in the best position to cut a deal to save these programs and make sure that doesn't happen? Maybe. But it's hard to believe this President thinks he can achieve anything with this crop of GOP half-wits, who vehemently block everything from his lower Court appointments to his Secretary of Defense, who openly plot to eviscerate his single greatest legislative achievement, the Affordable Care Act, who opposed and threatened to filibuster the meekest hint of new gun legislation, who regularly demonized him with racial slurs, sabotaged his economic initiatives, and routinely heaped an unprecedented degree of vocal contempt and dehumanizing rhetoric at him since his election as the nation's first African-American President.
So no, I don't think any of these arguments make a lot of sense given that Obama has shown himself to be one of the most astute politicians in a generation.
And that leaves us with the feint, a proposal that Obama really believes would go nowhere and in any event would never be permitted to become law by a Democratic Senate, even if he is the one to take the heat for proposing it, in the name of satisfying whatever interests are pushing him in that direction, or possibly because he perceives a need to placate the Beltway "consensus" with some affirmative action. The political consequences to the Democratic Party are simply too obvious and blatant for me (at least) to believe he would disregard them. But if it is a feint (And I think it probably is) it's one that he never had to make. Americans are hurting right now. There is no clamor among Americans for "deficit reduction," certainly not one that motivates them to march into the voting booth. Americans right now are trying to survive. Many of them only until the next paycheck. They think their Congress is made up of a bunch of assholes, and they're right. The frustration of seeing nothing getting done bothers them. But that doesn't mean they think the Republicans have any good ideas. On the contrary, they don't think much of any Republican "ideas." The last election was a referendum on Republican "ideas."
The people want jobs, affordable health care, and a secure future for their children. They don't want more tax breaks for Corporations and Millionaires.
Inside the Beltway they don't get that, but outside it's painfully evident.
So imagine if instead of a feint to placate whatever elusive, imaginary voting bloc there is out there that prioritizes deficit reduction over the well-being of our population, Obama instead came out strong for the defense of all benefits and entitlements. Saying he would not compromise and the GOP could go fuck themselves. That they don't care about deficits, they don't care about Seniors or future generations, and in fact they don't even care about Americans anymore.
That is what he should do. Because someone needs to stand up to these Tea Party assholes and inform them that they are not worth taking seriously--about anything, least of all, their views on Social Security or Medicare.
Americans are waiting for that person to show up.