Chained CPI: Irresistible Force and Immovable Object

So today MoveOn is launching protests at Democratic congressional district offices around the country against the administration’s Chained CPI proposal, and members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus are asking the president for a sit-down meeting to discuss the issue. More than a hundred House Democrats signed an earlier letter warning Obama not to include Chained CPI in any budget negotiations (he has, of course, at least twice). And it’s much easier to find extremely angry opposition than any even mild support in the left-of-center precincts of the commentariat and blogosphere.

It kind of makes you wonder how this will turn out in terms of Democratic politics. Obama’s not going to just reverse himself on Chained CPI after offering it in early “grand bargain” discussions and then in his FY 2014 budget. He’s probably already done about everything he can to mitigate its impact on the very old and the very poor via limitations and offsets. And everyone already understands that his budget (and probably, for that matter, “grand bargain” talks with Reublicans) ain’t going anywhere in Congress. But on the other hand, progressive anger on the subject is genuine, has strong elite and grassroots support, and isn’t going to just go away, either.

I know a lot of readers think the solution is for Obama to be beaten into submission on this issue, but seriously, is there any face-saving way out of this collission on either side? The only one I can think of is obvious: some other political threat coming along that leads liberals and the administration to put this conflict aside and make common cause. If there’s another, please feel free to offer it in the comment thread.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.