Having been in the shoes of the team at the White House, I feel for them right now. Every group, business, and constituency in America that cares about tax and budget policy (i.e. most of them) is banging on them to do this or that, or more importantly not do this or that.
The media are hyping the so-called “fiscal cliff” deadline. The folks on Team Obama have just been through a tough re-election campaign and have to be just exhausted. It’s Christmas time and they want to see their families.
They just want the big showdown to be over so that they can catch a well-deserved nap (and maybe even see their kids at Christmas), and get on to the next exciting thing. Having been in the Clinton White House when issues were sometimes maddeningly unresolved for months at a time, I definitely remember the feeling of being so tired of an issue fight that I just wanted it to be over regardless of the outcome, so I am very sympathetic. I can also relate to the feeling of being squeezed by multiple trade-offs in policy, knowing that whatever deal you end up striking with right wing Republicans is inevitably going to have some bad things in it -- been there, done that too.
Just to prove I’m capable of being nuanced (something most of my friends and my wife doubt very much), I also want to say this about the White House proposal: There are certainly a lot of things to like in it from a progressive point of view. They are for example working very hard to preserve Medicaid, extend Unemployment Insurance, and hold other key programs that help the poor harmless.
I appreciate how hard they are working to preserve many of the things we progressives hold dear. The President and his team have a lot to be praised for in this confusing mess of budget negotiations, and I have a lot of understanding regarding what they are going through.
However, not everything we hold dear is being preserved, and I think the Obama team is going down the wrong path, specifically on Social Security benefit cuts. There are two major things that I think are moving them in the wrong direction.