The Cycle | December 12, 2012
>>> two ideas that scare the left have been getting a lot of play this week. raising the eligibility age for medicare and shg called chained cpi. changing in a way that cut social security benefits and saves the government money. the chatter is being stirred by knowledgeable washington journalists saying the obama administration may be ready to include these in a fiscal cliff deal with republicans. whatever negotiations are taking place between the president and speaker john boehner , whatever each side is prepared to give up a a level of security. it's totally possible the white house actually has no intent on messing with medicare or social security benefits. but for the left the chatter is ominous. it's coming from well sourced reporters and we've been down this road before. the pursuit with john boehner in 2011 , obama was willing. there's reason to suspect there's something to all this chatter. and the question then becomes why? why would obama who simply by doing nothing these next few weeks could get the tax hike on the wealthy he's been demanding without touching medicare and social security ? why would he entertain such drastic changes to the safety net ? most likely culprit is the dreaded debt ceiling. here's why. republicans came to these talks with no leverage. the consequences of doing nothing before the december 31st meeting were worse for them than democrats. they looked into 2013 and maybe found something there. they're threatening again to hold the full credit of the united states hostage. joous lick the debacle of 2011 . obama 's official position on this is he won't be blackmailed. and he won't -- but this is a dangerous game. if republicans are serious about pulling a repeat of 2011 , obama can't ignore them. since it will wreck immediate havoc on the economy. white house wants at the very least a long-term extension of the debt ceiling in any fiscal cliff deal. the republicans now see the debt ceiling as their own leverage. they're demanding a steep price to include it. who anyways if obama will ultimately go along with something like this. but it is a talk that there is still one crucial way he's at the mercy of republicans. it leaves him with a tough choice. to pay their price in entitlements or play debt ceiling chicken with them again.