Others take the opposite tack. They say people "shouldn't be surprised" at the president's cuts given all the signals he's given recently. But wrong is wrong, and surprise has nothing to do with it.
And please stop saying that he hasn't broken any promises. In 2007 he said that "cutting benefits is not the right answer." In 2008 he berated John McCain for "suggesting that the best answer to the growing pressures on Social Security might be to cut cost-of-living adjustments or raise the retirement age." Said candidate Obama: "I will not do either."
As of this writing, the White House website still says that the president "believes that no current beneficiaries should see their basic benefits reduced" (which this budget would do).
Other presidential defenders offer something Digby describes as a "Sophie's Choice" for liberals. They're "telling the progressives that a hostage is going to get shot no matter what: Head Start and food inspections today or the elderly, the sick and the veterans tomorrow and they have to choose which one."
"Why," asks Digby, "should progressives bear that responsibility?" For that matter, why should anyone else?
Things fall apart. The center cannot hold.
The self-described "centrists" supporting this move are especially off-base, since the political center hates the chained CPI. A new AARP poll showed that 69 percent of voters "opposed" or "strongly opposed" the chained CPI, while only 16 percent supported it. A December poll found that 54 percent of voters opposed the chained CPI, with 16 percent favoring it.
The president's chained CPI proposal isn't "centrist." It's far to the right of public opinion.
Left, Right and Center host Matt Miller even mocked "liberal" outrage that the chained CPI is only a small reduction on a macroeconomic level. We called those who use this argument the "mohels of moderation": It's just a tiny cut! Why all the yelling?
As Mike Lux says, "your budget represents your values." What is valued in this budget: Compromise at any price? Good press coverage? The approval of Washington's insular "Village," whatever the cost to others?
This budget certainly reinforces false and destructive right-wing messaging: That Social Security should be cut as part of a deficit reduction plan. (It shouldn't.) That government spending hurts the economy, even in hard times. (We know that it helps.) That we can't solve our healthcare-cost problem, so we should shift the burden back onto individuals. (We can solve it, the way other countries have.)
Whatever happens during budget negotiations, the president's proposal is already a huge victory -- for conservative ideology
Obama's defenders say the Republicans have insisted that he propose these cuts before they'll consider them. We're told that this bowing gesture will lead to a beautiful pas de deux -- or to a scornful rebuff which will benefit Democrats at the polls.
That makes no sense. When has one party demanded that the other present its ideas -- especially its most unpopular ones -- as if they were its own? What's next: Will they ask the president to propose their Medicare voucher plan? Call for a flat tax? Join the Tea Party?