Fiscal frauds

Okay, if this isn’t the clarifying moment we’ve been waiting for, nothing will ever be.

This afternoon on CNN, GOP Rep. Greg Walden, the chairman of the NRCC, opened fire on Obama’s budget by claiming it is an assault on seniors:

“I’ll tell you when you’re going after seniors the way he’s already done on Obamacare, taken $700 billion out of Medicare to put into Obamacare and now coming back at seniors again, I think you’re crossing that line very quickly here in terms of denying access to seniors for health care in districts like mine certainly and around the country,” he said on CNN Wednesday afternoon.

This makes it all but certain that Republicans will use Obama’s Chained CPI proposal to attack Democrats in the 2014 elections for cutting Social Security. Brian Beutler points out that this vindicates the warnings of those on the left who predicted this would happen.

I think this certainly could matter in 2014, but it’s too early to say for sure whether it actually be all that big a problem. As I noted below, the White House thinks 2012 shows that Dems can successfully litigate against Republican arguments on entitlements. Either way, we’ll soon find out.

But I wanted to focus on another aspect of what this attack from Walden tells us.

For one thing, it directly contradicts what GOP leaders themselves said earlier today. Remember, John Boehner and Eric Cantor effectively endorsed Chained CPI by claiming we should proceed with those cuts while not raising taxes. Boehner said Obama “deserves some credit” for embracing it. But now the NRCC chair is calling it an assault on seniors?

You could not illustrate the farcical nature of the GOP position on all this more perfectly.

Let’s step back a bit. Late last year, Boehner and Mitch McConnell explicitly called on Obama to agree to Chained CPI, with McConnell even claiming that Chained CPI and Medicare means testing “would get Republicans interested in new revenue.”

But now that Obama has included those things in his budget, Republicans are not only still unwilling to contemplate new revenue; the chair of the NRCC is signaling that Republicans will us it to attack Democrats for “coming back at seniors,” just as they did in 2012 and 2010. In other words, even as Republican Congressional leaders continue to claim we need to cut entitlements, the chair of the committee charged with electing Republicans to the House is simultaneously making it all the harder for this to actually get done by signaling that Dems will pay a heavy political price if they agree to actually do anything along those lines.

Folks should acknowledge and call out how truly farcical and deeply unserious this really is.

Greg Sargent writes The Plum Line blog, a reported opinion blog with a liberal slant -- what you might call “opinionated reporting” from the left.
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Greg Sargent | April 10, 2013