Snatching Defeat out of the Jaws of Victory

When it comes to setting up Democrats to give away Social Security and Medicare, the Bowles-Simpson Commission is the diabolical gift that keeps on giving. Long officially defunct, the B-S Commission is a zombie that just won't die. The Gang of Six is the commission's spawn -- same kind of proposal, same needless sacrifice of Social Security and Medicare.

It's sickening that President Obama says he is heartened and energized by the new Gang of Six plan to cut $4 trillion from the ten-year projected deficits, using both steep cuts in Medicare and Social Security, plus tax cuts, as well as near-term budget cuts that will worsen the recession and neuter the government's capacity for recovery investment.

No wonder Obama is heartened. The plan is uncomfortably close to the President's own grand design that House Republicans rejected last week.

Once again, what may save the Obama and the economy from this fate is the refusal of House Republicans to entertain any tax increases -- and the resolve of House and Senate Democrats to resist lumping Social Security and Medicare with a recession-driven revenue crisis compounded by Bush tax cuts. But it gets hard to resist bad policy when your president is determined to make a bad bargain.

As the parentage of the Bowles-Simpson Commission -- Obama himself -- suggests, the president has been on this course for a long while, even before the disastrous 2010 midterms. The McConnell plan now being negotiated with Harry Reid has been disparaged as a second-best that let's both parties duck hard issues, but right now it's our best hope for saving the president from himself. Let's hope the Tea Party is too dumb and too extreme to know a presidential cave-in when they see it.

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