The deed is almost done.
Last week, Jason Easley wrote for Politicus that the President knew House Republicans would never accept his budget offer, even though it included the one thing they said they wanted – chained CPI. Well, today, even Republican Joe Scarborough is outraged over Republicans attempting to justify their rejection of the President’s budget by diminishing the value of Chained CPI.
On Morning Joe this morning, Scarborough called the Republican reaction ‘shameless’ and ‘pathetic’, going so far as to say that if President Obama walks from these talks, no one can blame him.
Watch here via NBC:
Transcript via NBC (with slight modifications, emphasis mine):
Joe Scarborough: I’m worried about long-term debt and I’m worried about my party being responsible. Bring up what makes me so angry, I don’t know what to do with myself.
Chuck Todd: Talking about the great Walden comment. A member of the house leadership. The guy trying to keep republicans in charge of the house head of the RCC and he attacked the president from the left. He was harsher than I think Sanders was. What was the exactly quote? He was an affront. Essentially say the entire change of the CPI, which a whole bunch of other republicans support including John Boehner and including a whole bunch of senate republicans. He seemed to telegraph that they were going to run against the president.
Joe Scarborough: let me just say now. Anybody, any republican, any democrat that runs against responsible rational solutions to take care of our long-term debt is selling out our children, is stealing from the next generation. It’s generational theft and for republicans to do this is beyond shameless. They did it in 2010.
And to tell the president — we have been busting his chops for months, put it out there. Be responsible. The president has finally — he just tips his toe in the water and Greg Walden comes swinging. This is shameless. I know Greg. I like Greg. But I’m just telling you, any republican — you know what? I got to talk to Phil Griffin. I got to see if I can start a pack and I can Bloomberg these republicans and democrats that demagogued this.
Mika: the answer is no.
Joe Scarborough: This is pathetic.
Chuck Todd: It did expose a couple of things. You see how poorly these polls. They are looking at polls and you’re driven by polls. The idea of changing social security is unpopular with seniors. It is unpopular. The republicans wanted the president to do this in part because they thought it would splinter his party and create a rift between him and some liberal democrats but they supposedly said they want it for this. If republicans want to deal with the president, don’t condemn this. Don’t condemn it. You can’t blame him if the White House says, we’re out.
Joe Scarborough: If they do not, is a Greg Walden is wrong and this is not the position of the House leadership and the nrcc officially and that they are going to discourage their candidates from doing this, I say the president should walk away. It is shameful. I cannot condemn this enough. I’m going to be as tough on this issue as I’ve been on the president for not having the courage to talk about entitlements. Republicans, you better speak out gets this right now. Forget the politics. This is about the next generation. This is about generational theft and it is absolutely hypocritical.
Joe is so ticked off because the President gave Republicans exactly what they wanted, and now they say it’s nothing. Paul Ryan (R-WI), House Republican budget guru, complained that Chained CPI isn’t entitlement reform, it’s just “clarifying a statistic.” This is after Republicans said last December that of all entitlement reforms, what they most wanted from Santa was Chained CPI. (Chuck Todd suggested what we all already knew; Republicans forced Obama on Chained CPI in order to weaken the support for his budget with his own base.)
Then, in a bizarre moment of Romney-esque pandering, a member of Republican House leadership, Rep. Greg Walden, called Obama’s Chained CPI offer an attack on seniors. This from the party pushing Paul Ryan’s budget. The President extended a hand offering what Republicans like Joe Scarborough want; an attack on the social safety net, in this case, Social Security. (Social Security is in its own trust, and even Ronald Reagan agreed it had no business being in budget talks.) When even Joe Scarborough can see how ridiculous House Republicans are being, they’ve pushed the boundary of the absurd too far.
What Joe still won’t admit to himself is why. Why are they doing this? Republicans are in a no-win position. They have to either raise taxes or walk away from something they’ve always supported.
House Republicans cannot raise revenue. They are not allowed to. They signed a pledge to Grover Norquist and their Koch funded purpose is to protect the rich and corporations. To raise revenue would be to kill their entire purpose in the House, and thereby lose the backing of their funders. After all, the Koch Brothers can get any old puppet to run for office. If they can get some of these folks elected, they can get almost anyone elected. It’s easy to sell empty talking points dressed up as a freedom fighter to the conservative base when you have Fox News in your back pocket.
When your opponents are saying you’ve done enough and no one would blame you if you walked away, you’re winning. CPI was on the table, and now it’s being publicly rejected by Republicans. It’s looking like a no on Chained CPI, with bonus points to Obama for trying to compromise. Color me totally not shocked.
Your move, House.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.