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Is Obama On The Brink Of Cutting Social Security? The Dangerous Game Over the Debt Ceiling

The administration floated the idea of cutting Social Security, then denied it just as quickly. What's really going on with all this debt ceiling brinksmanship?

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At the same time, Congressional Democrats have made it very clear that the consequences of default would be catastrophic, which makes it difficult for them to reject even a terrible deal.

And, setting the politics aside, that's what we're talking about – a terrible deal. Making deep cuts to public spending in the middle of a grindingly slow, largely jobless “recovery” is crazy enough. Messing with Social Security and Medicare, which add nothing to the deficit for at least the next 13 years, is a concession too far, and one that would result in real pain for American seniors. And giving in to Republican hostage-taking, again, will only lead to more stand-offs down the road, more demands. A budget for 2012 has to be passed in the coming months.

We would not be at this difficult juncture, however, had the administration not embraced inherently conservative narratives about the deficit months ago. During Thursday's presser, Carney said, “Often you get a situation here where one side thinks something is a very, very important issue and a big problem that needs to be solved, and the other side doesn’t even accept the premise that there’s a problem. And that’s just not the case here.”

But it is the case – outside of the Beltway, the vast majority of progressive and middle-of-the-road economists agree that putting the economy back on track and getting people back to work by spending money over the short term is the only rational way to reduce the deficit over the longer term.

Ultimately, trial balloons are a way of gauging public reaction to proposals, so this is a good time to react. If you oppose balancing the budget in the middle of a downturn by making cuts to popular programs that help the elderly and the most vulnerable just so the wealthiest Americans can keep their taxes low, then let your representatives know. You can contact members of the House here, and your senators here. And you can send a message directly to the White House here.

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