Once More, With “Chained CPI” Madness, Some Liberals Caught in “Sky is Falling” Mode

I said it before, and I guess I have to say it again; folks on both extreme ends of the political spectrum seem to have an amazing inability to think about more than one thing at a time, and they seem incapable of considering two related concepts at the same time.  We should expect this lack of critical thinking from the far right, but a similar level of cognitive dissonance has  increasingly become a feature of liberal politics, and it’s coming from people who should know better.

As I noted about a year and a half ago, the debt ceiling situation brought out the loon factor on the far left more than anything in years. We were given the choice between a few cuts in Social Security and default, and a significant and loud contingent of lefties actually chose default, despite the fact that allowing default would actually do more damage to Social Security than the cuts the GOP had proposed.

The same thing has happened again, when discussing the “fiscal cliff” negotiations. Some lefties have gone absolutely insane over the inclusion of a “chained CPI” codicil in President Obama’s latest proposal to solve the “fiscal cliff.” I see so many arguments on the left, in which reasonable liberals shrug over it, and others scream about gloom and doom and insinuate that such a proposal would be nearly impossible to kill.  So many libs have excoriated Obama over this proposal, it started making me laugh a few days ago. Some have even suggested that Reagan was to the left of Obama on Social Security, which is historically ignorant.  I also found myself amused by the lefties suggesting that Obama holds all of the cards in this negotiation, and he shouldn’t give the GOP anything, and just let the country go off the “cliff.”

All of that is so insane, it’s difficult to know where to start when decomposing this silliness.

First of all, no legislation is impossible to kill, if you manage to gather the support to kill it.  If it’s “impossible” to kill legislation like the “chained CPI, then why did we scream about Romney’s election? It’s not like he could actually kill Obamacare, right? See what I mean by cognitive dissonance? Certain progressives worry mightily about the GOP killing legislation we like, at the same time we act as if everything that’s passed is etched into the marble of the Capitol Building and can never, ever be changed. Ever.

I should also point out that something as esoteric as the method the government uses to calculate inflation is incredibly easy to modify, as evidenced by the number of times the measurement has been tweaked over the past 30 years.

Just as importantly, why don’t more liberals understand that the “negotiations” between Obama and Boehner are essentially meaningless.  To avoid the “fiscal cliff,” which the GOP created, the House and Senate must agree on a bill and send it to Obama for a signature.  Everything the President and the Speaker agree to is open to debate and vote by both the House and the Senate.  Put simply, the proposal to use a “chained CPI” to calculate inflation could be there for a few reasons.  It could be there because Obama really wants to use it and thinks it’s a great idea. It might also be there to get Boehner and the GOP House to agree to something else. And it could be there because the Democrats in the Senate have already rejected it several times, and he’s confident the Senate will want to “save” Social Security and reject it again.

You should also know that the “chained CPI” doesn’t only apply to Social Security benefits. It would also apply to other parts of the government, including defense appropriations.  So, to characterize this as some sort of attack on Social Security demonstrates a lemming-type mentality that is truly frightening, coming from our side of the political aisle.

We really need to stop all of this knee jerking. When it comes to politics, Obama has shown himself to be smarter than us. Could you get a black man elected president twice, even in the face of massive obstruction by the Republican Party?

We won in 2012, but it wasn’t a thoroughly decisive victory. It was a good start, but we have a lot more to do. We have to blow out the Republicans in 2014, which means we can’t spend the next two years obsessing over every tiny detail in every proposal made or supported by a Democrat, especially the president. We have to be on the offensive, supporting everything we can, on a broad level, not hemming and hawing about every detail of every proposal.

Here’s an idea; instead of whining and crying about an inflation measure that won’t have a profound effect on Social Security, anyway, how about making hay out of the fact that the Republicans pushed us to this “fiscal cliff” in the first place? Doesn’t that make more sense? As I have said repeatedly, we should be shutting down the far right, and we’re not. Instead, we’re fighting over a proposal that probably will never become law, at the same time we’re turning what is actually a small drizzle into a flood of biblical proportions.

It’s not like President Obama keeps selling us out. Oh, I know, the far left is always accusing Obama’s of “caving,” but they can never point to an instance where the GOP got much of what it wanted at all. When Boehner said he got “98%” of what he wanted in the debt ceiling deal, he was lying. Even if you didn’t understand that then, you should look at the “negotiations” now and get that. Even the deal to extend the Bush tax cuts got us an extra year of unemployment, and a number of other measures to help the poor make it through. And make no mistake; the GOP Congress would have extended them, anyway. The debt ceiling “deal” to avoid default actually put the GOP where it is right now, with its back up against the wall. Obama did that, not the far left. OBAMA DID.

We’ve had a teabagger House for two years, and yet they’ve done almost no real damage. The worst thing you can say about them is that they’re unproductive, which is probably a good thing, given their ideology.  Obama did that, by playing politics to near perfection.  As I said a year and a half ago, at the end of the debt ceiling debacle, he’s played politics to near perfection. That so  any “political junkie” progressives don’t understand that is frustrating.  Just because you know every detail about a bill or a proposal doesn’t make you smart. It doesn’t make you a “high information voter.” Understanding WHY a politician makes a proposal, and what he or she gets as an end result is what makes you smarter, politically. Being able to look at the entire playing field and see all of the moves makes you a “political junkie,” not knowing the names of everyone on the Supreme Court.

President Obama has promised not to cut Social Security and Medicare, and there is no reason to doubt his word. What you’re seeing with the “chained CPI” is a political maneuver he’s used several times before. It gives Senate Democrats a platform, so they can get up and promise Seniors that they would NEVER allow any cuts to Social Security, and it also gives them something they can withdraw during the negotiation. The GOP will pull something from their proposals, such as they are, and Democrats can pull the chained CPI.

Again; the key to progressive political success is to evaluate RESULTS, not to obsess over every niggling little detail.  Be discerning,  curious and skeptical, but most of all, stop going crazy over every little thing you hear about. Train yourself to look at the bigger picture. Look at overall strategy, and realize that not everything a politician does is as it seems.

The bottom line is; we get the government we elect. If you don’t want the current incarnation of the GOP to have as much pull as they do, stop allowing teabaggers to be elected. That means you’d better start appreciating the Blue Dogs and stop trashing them.

As I said a year and a half ago, we have to get better at politics. This is becoming embarrassing.

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  1. “Bash”? I’m simply pointing out that getting so crazy about something which a) is not part of any formal negotiation and may never even appear on a bill; b) is probably, at worst, a trial balloon; c) which has already been rejected by the Senate multiple times and d) can easily be overturned later; is just silly, politically speaking.
    If your expectation is to be “argued into a different mindset” by the opinion of a “pundit” you don’t even know, I’d recommend something other than politics as a hobby. This blog is me expressing my opinion, supported by facts, nothing more. I challenge those I disagree with, to be sure, but it’s largely because, in most cases, their opposition isn’t fact based.
    For example, bmull’s “retorts” actually prove the point of the argument I made. Nothing’s been passed, and even if it did pass, it’s not exactly etched in marble; the method for calculating inflation can be undone.
    My point is, all of this hand-wringing over minor shit like this just makes us look bad, and makes us look less credible at election time. Perhaps you’ve noticed, but progressives have largely been on the sidelines for about 40 years. THIS is why.
    BTW, if you’re going to attack me for “name-calling,” it’d be more effective if you don’t start your inane rant by calling ME “Mr. Above it all.” It might be a bit more effective.

  2. 13. Chained CPI isn’t part of any formal proposal that has even been included as part of a bill.
    14. You just proved the point of the entire article.
    Pavlov would appreciate your response.

  3. I certainly hope that Mr. “Above it all” will respond to at least some of the retorts by bmull. However, I’d just like to know why Mr. Shook feel it necessary to bash those of us who disagree with him on this topic? Do you think that we’ll just hang our heads and kick gravel in our deep disgrace for not aligning exactly as Milt Shook demands? Using name-calling certainly has soured me to Mr. Shook’s validity as a pundit. Thanks, but no thanks. I’ll go where I can be argued into a different mindset without the juvenile name-calling.

  4. bmull #12 mm leading ? as in Bluedogs,,, #7 ,, retirement <<< ? @ diabled Vet benefits 11, Boehners own Party wouldn't take the Presidents offer nor that of their spineless leader

  5. 1. Social Security has been, and should always be, separate from the general budget mess. The chained CPI cut extends the life of the trust fund 4 years and does so in a regressive way. Where is the paired dedicated revenue that will extend it even further? What is the other side offering?
    2. Please cite data showing how going over the fiscal cliff would do more damage to Social Security than chained CPI?
    3. Reagan *was* to the left of Obama on Social Security, as evidence by the 1983 deal being balanced and confined to social security: http://www.ssa.gov/history/1983amend.html
    4. What does Romney have to do with this? He probably would have supported Chained CPI, but unlike Joe Biden he didn’t campaign on a promise not to change Social Security.
    5. The CPI has never before been modified for a blatantly political purpose but only in accordance with broadly-accepted economic principles. This is another terrible precedent.
    6. It is foolish to count on Obama having an 11-dimensional chess plan to ditch Chained CPI at the last moment. If Obama played 11-dimensional chess we’d have a public option.
    7. What defense appropriations other than retirement benefits would be affected by Chained CPI?
    8. “Chained CPI” is not a tiny detail. See http://www.nwlc.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/cuttingsocseccola.pdf
    9. Democrats aren’t going to “blow out the Republicans in 2014” by breaking their promises on Social Security.
    10. I don’t want to change the subject and talk about the “debt ceiling” fight, but the chance that Boehner would actually let the U.S. default on its debt is comparable to the chance he would set a nuclear bomb off inside the Capitol, and the effects would be the same. People who take that kind of threat seriously are dupes.
    11. There are already enough Democratic Senators on record supporting Chained CPI for it to pass if a majority of Republicans get behind it. Only Harry Reid can block Chained CPI from getting to the Senate floor, and he says he’s still thinking about it–so now is a great time for defenders of Social Security to go crazy.
    12. Blaming chained CPI on “teabaggers” is absurd when leading Democrats also “strongly support” Chained CPI.

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