In the closing weeks of the campaign I was privately approached by a number of voices for the Democratic base who were extremely concerned that President Obama, if reelected, might sell them out on issues of fundamental importance. I urged them to maintain their strong support for the president, avoid public criticism shortly before an election we could have lost with catastrophic consequences, and worry about this later.
They did, to their eternal credit. The president won. Liberals won. Labor won. Defenders of Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and the safety net won. Champions of fairness for women won. Because of them, the Democrats won. And today many of these people are deeply and profoundly worried, far more than media reports suggest.
While I admire Paul Krugman, and usually agree with him, he is far too casual when he downplays the danger of America falling off the fiscal cliff. I believe there will be a solution. There must be. It would be a catastrophe for the economy if there is not.
There are ways to save money on entitlements that reject direct cuts to benefits, reject hidden cuts to benefits through manipulations in cost-of-living adjustments and reject raising eligibility ages. Entitlements should be part of a broader agreement but MUST involve savings that reduce costs while maintaining fairness. Champions of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security won the election. Those who would attack or privatize these programs lost.
Let the Norquist pledge rest in peace. Let those who have the most do their part. Let government by gridlock end. But let the president and all Democrats remember that it is not a fair trade to trade a minimal sacrifice by those who have the most and have profited enormously in the last decade, in return for heaping more pain on the backs of those who endured pain during the last decade. That is not a fair trade. That is not the idea that won the last election. It is the idea that lost.
My hope and expectation is that the president fully understands this. Many of those who worked their hearts out and won the last election are increasingly concerned today, a concern that would be ignored at great political peril.
Tuesday, 27 November 2012