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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.