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Tonight We Saw Why It’s Basically Impossible To Cut Entitlements
The sub-sub-plot of the day was the story that the GOP had proposed attaching a Chained CPI requirement to a fiscal cliff deal. Basically, this means that the annual cost-of-living adjustment in Social Security would be lower than it is now.
Liberals hate the idea because it’s a benefit cut.
And now as the GOP isn’t pushing it anymore either (for now). John McCain went so far as to call it a “losing hand.”
The thing is, if there’s ever going to be a politically palatable cut to Social Security, this is probably it, since it’s pretty technical, and nobody will get what it is, and it doesn’t sound like a cut.
As Phil Klein points out, if the GOP can’t even get behind this tweak, there’s very little hope for anything substantive in the big picture.
There are two big stories with entitlement cuts.
One is that politicians are open to them in theory, but then don’t want their fingerprints on the weapon when it’s time to do the deed.
The other is that it’s usually Republicans that end up killing entitlement tweaks. Every time DC gets close to a “grand bargain” (something which Obama would clearly be willing to sign off on), Boehner or his caucus kills it.
And that makes sense. If you’re the party of fighting deficits, then you have a lot of lose politically by taking deficit reduction off the table in the form of actual progress.