Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The end of the (good side of the) Democratic Party as we've known it?

Krugman's blog post of 07/11/2011 reacting to the news that Obama is pushing Joe Lieberman's proposal to raise the eligibility age for Medicare from the current 65 to 67 is short and to the point. This is it in full:

He's Just Not That Into You

Where by "he" I mean Obama, and by "you" I mean Democrats, and everything they stand for:

Obama Offered To Raise Medicare Eligibility Age As Part Of Grand Debt Deal

Terrible policy, disastrous politics. Perfect!
Of course, he means "Perfect!" in a thoroughly sarcastic/disgusted way.

The recognition of how ugly this is percolating through the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. Keith Olbermann recognizes the seriousness of the Democratic President's now-public opposition to Social Security and Medicare. But his impassioned comment on it played too much into Republican frames by making it sound like a charity program; that was the Republicans' whole point in labelling Social Security and Medicare "entitlements," to make them sound to their base like "welfare" that some black person somewhere might benefit from.

Salon's Joan Walsh is trying hard to find reason for hope in all this. But it's a difficult task: "cutting Medicare in any way other than cost-controls will make voters wonder: What do Democrats stand for, anyway? It's gotten harder over the last 30 years to tell." Digby, who has been the best single commentator on all this that I've seen, quotes Ezra Klein to describe the magnitude of the problem Obama has created from the standpoint of the Democratic base: "Keep in mind that Republicans don't actually care about deficits. This is just a game for them. I'm not sure what it is for the Democrats."

Bob McElvaine, who would very much like to be an Obama enthusiast, notes the key disappointment of the last week: "the president placed cuts in Medicare and Social Security on the negotiating table."

And David Dayen gives us a hint at what lies ahead:

Here's how out of control the debt limit debate has gotten on Capitol Hill. The Democrat in the White House is trying to increase the eligibility age for Medicare or effect a Social Security benefit cut, and the Republican from Maine [Olympia Snowe] is trying to stop him.
Or, to go back to Krugman's concise summary, "Terrible policy, disastrous politics."

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