All hail John Boehner and Mitch McConnell, whose manueverings since the disastrous November elections have brought us to this key point: revealing to all of America that Democrats have their own insane, inflexible, and ideologically indefensible caucus.
That group, of course, is the "Don't Ever Touch Entitlements in Any Way" Caucus, chaired by the venerable Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. As reported by the Boston Globe:
“In short, ‘chained CPI’ is just a fancy way to say ‘cut benefits for seniors, the permanently disabled, and orphans,’” Warren fired off in an e-mail to supporters. She related the experience of her brother, David Herring, a military veteran and former small business owner who lives on monthly Social Security checks of $1,100. “Our Social Security system is critical to protecting middle-class families,’’ she wrote, “and we cannot allow it to be dismantled inch by inch.”
There's also the always reasonable labor leader Richard Trumka, who described the proposed cuts as "wrong and indefensible." And don't forget the lovely Alan Grayson, who seems more worried about his political future than the merits of the proposal:
"It was pretty clear up to this point that the Republicans were the party in favor of cutting Social Security, cutting Medicare, cutting Medicaid, and the Democrats were the party against it," Grayson said during a conference call with reporters. "Now with the president's proposal, we face the threat we'll be stigmatized as the party that kinda is for it, kinda against it."
As the Huffington Post reports, 30 House Democrats have signed a letter vowing to: "vote against any and every cut to Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security benefits -- including raising the retirement age or cutting the cost of living adjustments that our constituents earned and need." (Emphasis mine).
The narrative of Washington, D.C. since the rise of the Tea Party has been to portray Republicans as ideological madmen who won't ever agree to make a deal for America's best interest.
But let me be clear: Democrats have their own crazy caucus, and this motley crew is causing a massive headache for our reasonable, pragmatic President.
The President and a portion of his caucus have accurately assessed the big picture, which they seem to sum up as follows:
America is aging, and our economic growth is stagnant. To preserve discretionary spending priorities, we must prevent entitlement spending from crowding out all other budgetary options. The only way to do that is cut a deal on Medicare and Social Security.
That's not a terrible way of thinking about our next 20-30 years of budgetary concerns. This problem is what drives so much of the President's push for the fabled Grand Bargain to deliver entitlement reform and put our country on sound fiscal footing.
But a substantial portion of Democrats will never vote to cut entitlement spending. They are just as inflexible as the worst elements of the House GOP, and it's great they are finally forced to go on record for being the loons they really are.
I've criticized Republicans for being unwilling to ever compromise on taxes. You can't negotiate with people who refuse to even accept the idea of a bargain, and such peopel shouldn't be running a country. I support efforts to drag the GOP to the center, and I don't see why we should be attempting to primary Republicans for the act of governance.
So to see Democrats saying similarly stupid things in public should be a wake-up call for American voters.
And this is only happening because GOP leadership forced the Senate and President Obama to put their names on a budget. McConnell and Boehner have managed to expose a huge intra-party war that Democrats have tamped down since the Clinton era, but the years of Democratic peace and tranquility are about to end.
If the GOP works with Obama to pass Chained CPI (that means stop talking, Rep. Greg Walden), you'll see Democrats being primaried in 2014 and the party's base taking a sharp turn to the left. You'll see Occupy Wall Street back with a vengeance. You'll see the looniest elements of the left wing on full display.
And if it requires a few minor tax increases to get some moderate entitlement reform and to help begin the splintering of Obama's grand electoral coalition, I'm all aboard.