OK, so most of our readers know about the loss of Wiener's old NY-26 seat in a special election to a tea party candidate named Bob Turner. But what you may not know is that a new tactic is emerging that will surely be used against Obama and the Democratic Party in the run-up to the 2012 election unless the President puts out the flames of the fire he has started with his grand bargain scheme---which includes reforms to our social safety nets.
That race in NY this week featured a lot of talk about Israel and a whole lot of analysis about ethnicity and demographics. But one thing very few have noticed was an important piece of standard 2010 messaging.
In two robocalls, Koch promised voters that Turner wouldn’t cut Medicare or Social Security. The weekend before the election, Hikind said the same thing, and bolstered his case by saying Democrats were risking the programs:
Actually, this disastrous election gave the Democrats a few hints. The party tried, and failed, to wound Turner by telling voters he’d provide one more Republican vote to weaken entitlements. That worked in New York’s 26th district, where Democrat Kathy Hochul tore pages out of the Ryan plan and made her Republican opponent eat them. In the 9th, Turner and his surrogates tried to neutralize the entitlement issue by promising not to cut entitlements. In two robocalls, Koch promised voters that Turner wouldn’t cut Medicare or Social Security. The weekend before the election, Hikind said the same thing, and bolstered his case by saying Democrats were risking the programs.
“The president of the United States is now a member of the tea party!” said Hikind. “He said, in his own words, that there won’t be Medicare and Social Security for my children and your children and my grandchildren unless we address Medicare!”
That’s not really a wedge issue – it’s the slow death of a wedge issue. It’s the start of a problem for Democrats, who have gone from attacking the Ryan plans for entitlement reform to vouching support for some undefined “everything on the table” entitlement reform. There might not be any way for Democrats to dodge this, and there's no sign that they want to. And that leaves all of them in the position of Democrats in New York's 9th. Their traditional base, weary of the recession, not sure what Democrats have to offer any more, are ready to be wedged.
"This message will resound for a full year," said Turner in his victory speech. "It will resound into 2012."
And Digby correctly writes: There are zero reasons to believe they won't use this --- to good effect --- against Democrats and the president in 2012. Why would they? It's working.
This is incredible. Republicans and any ghost of Zell "Spitball" Miller that arises with an agenda of their own will have no problem using Medicare and Social Security to their advantage. I've loathed that Obama and his advisers have brought up reforming our social safety nets in these troubled times to appease the deficit hawks even if benefit cuts aren't included. And now it can be used against them. It doesn't matter how dishonestly it's done.
It's not too late though. The President has not come forward and uttered the words to America that could unseat not only himself, but many other Democratic politicians in 2012.