I think this section of a recent Politico article perfectly captures how incredibly damaging President Obama’s grand bargain focus has been to Democrats in the mid-term elections. Even in the red state of Alaska Sen. Mark Begich (D) feels the need to run to Obama’s left to win over seniors. This shows just how outside the popular mainstream Obama is on this issue. From Politico:
“It should worry Alaskan seniors,” Begich said in an interview. Raising concerns about the consumer price index, the inflation measure used to set benefits, he added, “Alaskan seniors will see a reduction in their Social Security payments because these Republicans will team up with Obama on chained CPI. Am I worried about it? Yes. Should Alaskan seniors be worried about [it]? Absolutely.
“I think that’s an example where someone might be mad at Obama. But if you’re a senior, and you’re mad at Obama today, you’ll be really mad at Obama and the Republicans because they are going to reduce your benefits,” he added.
For decades Democrats had an advantage with seniors but that trend completely reversed after Obama took office. Republicans now have a noticeable edge with voters over 65. Obama can get away with this in a presidential election because at the same time Democrats have developed a huge advantage among young voters — but it has created a huge problem for Congressional Democrats in mid-term elections that have a much older turnout.
While there are several reasons for Republicans gaining a big edge with seniors during Obama’s tenure, much of the blame has to be put on his aggressive push to make senior citizens’ lives worse by cutting Social Security benefits. Despite the idea being extremely unpopular, Obama insisted on putting chained-CPI in his budget.
It is truly remarkable that a President would knowingly do something to cripple his party’s election prospects that also produced zero policy results.
Photo by Jesse under Creative Commons License