A growing number of House Democrats are concerned that President Obama's proposal to cut Social Security benefits will haunt the party at the polls in 2014.
Although Democrats have long-championed the retirement program, they say Obama's plan to reduce payments for future beneficiaries through a chained consumer price index (CPI) has weakened their stance and opened the door for Republicans to vilify the president.
The leader of the campaign arm for House Republicans, Rep. Greg Walden (Ore.), on Wednesday called Obama’s plan a "shocking attack on seniors."
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.), the former head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said Walden's comments foreshadow a line of attack the GOP will use on the campaign trail next year. It's a reason, he added, for Democrats to worryAt the Daily Beast, Lloyd Green agrees with Walden:
Even now, the free-market fanatics at the Club for Growth are trying to force Walden to walk back his attack on Obama’s budget.
Walden should ignore the Club for Growth as the electoral map tells a reality that is at odds with free-market fantasies. From 1952 to 1988—from Ike to Bush ’41, the GOP won seven of 10 presidential elections. It built a big coalition based on a middle class that was organically conservative—but not ideologically right-wing.
But during the Reagan years, and since, the Republicans set in motion a changed, more ideological dynamic in which Main Street conservatism was displaced by Ayn Rand libertarianism. Reagan proposed cuts in entitlement spending, and while he was rebuffed, the seed of free-market mania took hold in the party. Since 1992. the Republicans have only won the popular vote once and their share of the Electoral College has cratered.
These days, the GOP offers tax cuts to the rich, religion to the poor, and to the middle class … nothing. Bobby Jindal’s failed attempt to scrap the Louisiana state income tax and hike the sales tax to replace the revenue is a reminder of how removed the Republican policy elites are from everyday reality.
Still, it is not too late for the Republicans to get their mojo back. For starters, they should highlight Walden’s rejection of the Obama budget and in particular, the chained CPI. It’s Barack Obama, not the GOP, that now stands as the would-be destroyer of Social Security’s sacred compact. Spell out again and again and again that while Obama spares poor Social Security recipients from the chained CPI, he nonetheless sticks a shiv into those who are retired and proudly middle class.