It is not clear whether the Boehner plan is a serious alternative or primarily a bargaining tactic to extract more concessions from Mr. Obama. Rob Nabors, the president’s chief liaison to Congress, met with House Democrats on Tuesday and said talks were moving forward.The reaction to the news that Obama is willing to accept a chained CPI continues to grow. While still hedging based on the lack of details as to what Obama actually agreed to, Krugman has come out against the chained CPI as a cruel benefit cut for seniors and an awful move -- cutting Social Security -- for a Democratic president to make. Annie Lowrey has a "Debt Reckoning" sidebar today explaining the chained CPI. It's an index that takes into account consumer substitution of higher-priced items with less costly ones. The example that is always trotted out is that if apples are expensive people will buy oranges, if they're cheaper, instead. A chained CPI is supposed to reflect this substitution. As Krugman says, "What it does mean is that after retirement your payments grow more slowly, about 0.3 percent each year. So if you retire at 65, your income at 75 would be 3 percent less under this proposal than under current law; at 85 it would be 6 percent less."
But privately, he expressed pessimism that Mr. Boehner could sign on to any deal, according to people familiar with those conversations.
Peter Baker has a "think" piece about Obama's response to the Newtown massacre and how likely it is that he will lead a legislative battle to regulate guns. Obama has been taciturn about his plans. The gist of Baker's analysis is that Obama only engages in fights he thinks he can win. He's a status quo leader. Of course there's a lot of work to be done within the parameters of the current system. But if the system is failing fundamentally -- as Newtown clearly showed -- we need a paradigm shift. Last month's election provided the impetus for such a shift. But now -- with pictures of John Boehner leading the news each day -- it's back to the Washington D.C. corporate-occupied-territory mindset.