Progressives are steamed at the news of a possible sellout on Social Security cuts, so let's look at the politics of such a deal. If progressives block it, and the Republicans force the federal government into default, Democrats, the White House and the media will blame the progressives, not the Republicans. Remember how that worked with the public option? "Are you going to be the ones who stop this historic healthcare reform?" Much pressure was brought to bear.
This time, it might be different. (For one thing, the caucus has new leadership.) If pissed-off Democrats let the members of the Progressive Caucus that we'll have their backs if they stand up to Social Security cuts, our support may give them the cover they need. Time to hit the phones!
We won't know for a while what, if any, deal will emerge on the debt ceiling. Or what, if anything, that might mean for Social Security and other entitlement programs. But this much is clear: Liberals are livid that President Obama even raised the possibility of touching them, reports the Los Angeles Times.
Two examples from today: Sen. Bernie Sanders reminded all that then-candidate Obama rebuffed John McCain's proposal to hit Social Security. "The American people expect the president to keep his word," said Sanders. Moveon.org, meanwhile, warned that Obama would have trouble drumming up volunteers for his 2012 run if he didn't keep that promise.
Negotiators better not dismiss such opposition, writes Nate Silver at the New York Times. The debt deal vote is a rare instance in the 112th Congress in which the liberal vote could sway the outcome. John Boehner will have trouble enough getting a majority of Republicans to approve any deal. By Silver's reckoning, he also will need at least 12 of the 80 or so members of the liberal Congressional Progressive Caucus to go along. That makes a big deal on entitlement programs unlikely. In this case, "the views of liberal Democrats are far more than a token issue."
We saw how the caucus got in line for the health care bill. This time? Not so easy. We'll see.