That was fast. Yesterday we suggested that the chained-CPI cut in President Obama's budget, which was presented as a gesture to Republicans, might instead be used to rebrand Democrats as "the anti-Social Security party."
It took them 15 minutes.
A GOP official quickly called the chained CPI a "shocking betrayal of seniors." That's a replay of the Republicans' 2010 campaign, which used a "Seniors' Bill of Rights" to paint Democrats as the anti-Medicare party. That strategy helped them retake the House, and could be at least as effective in 2014.
This not-so-shocking "shocking" comment is further proof that it's political suicide for Democrats to support the chained CPI, a combined tax hike and Social Security cut in Obama's new budget.
It's too bad more Democratic commentators aren't fighting the good fight on this one. Even when they voice their opposition, as Rachel Maddow did last night, they seem to get the politics wrong.
It was hard to understand why so few pundits seemed to understand that President Obama was walking into a trap. Republicans want the chained CPI. But they've never been reluctant to use policies they support as a club to bludgeon any opponent foolish enough to agree with them.
That's even more true when the policy in question is as wildly unpopular as the chained CPI, which they've verbally supported in this year's talks -- but which only the President has included in a budget. It's officially a Democratic proposal, not a Republican one. Whether or not the chained CPI is ever enacted, today the President gave them the perfect opportunity to attack him as an opponent of the elderly.
Obama officially released his budget at 11 am in the Rose Garden. At 11:15 a Republican politician called it a "shocking attack." That must be a new land speed record.
Walked Right Into It
Rep. Steve Israel, head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, is joining Obama in playing right into the GOP's hands. As noted yesterday, his campaign strategy distances Democrats from their party's signature programs and most popular positions. That's the perfect set-up for Rep. Greg Walden, who is Israel's Republican counterpart.
Walden spoke to Wolf Blitzer on CNN after the President's budget announcement and said this:
"(The Obama) budget really lays out kind of a shocking attack on seniors, if you will. And we haven't seen all the detail yet, and we'll look at it, but I'll tell you, when you're going after seniors the way he's already done on Obamacare, taking $700 billion out of Medicare to put into Obamacare, and now coming back at seniors again, I think you're crossing that line very quickly here in terms of denying access to seniors for health care in districts like mine, certainly, and around the country."
In case anyone has lingering doubts about what the GOP has in mind, Walden also said this: "I think (Obama is) going to have a lot of pushback from some of the major senior organizations on this and Republicans, as well." (emphasis ours)
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