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One of the interesting aspects to the chained CPI story has been how little we’ve heard from Democrats about it. Not much going on in the ol’ RSS reader about Democratic reactions to the idea, so I went ahead and searched to see what top Democrats and key Obama allies had to say about it. The answer, it turns out, is nothing. Harry Reid, who one would figure would be a key figure in making any deal happen, said nothing. No statements of any kind. Max Baucus, another person who one would figure would be key in a grand bargain, also said nothing. One of Obama’s closest Senate allies, Claire McCaskill, has similarly kept mum. And Steny Hoyer, #2 House Democrat and one of the biggest grand bargaineers in all of D.C., chose not to mark the event of the President’s new budget with any sort of formal remarks. He has, in fact, gone nearly a month without issuing any statement on the subject, which is pretty amazing, and shows the lack of intensity in finding a deal within D.C. but outside of the White House. In fact, just about the only left-leaning senator to chime in so far has been Bernie Sanders. He is, unsurprisingly, not a big fan of Obama’s idea.

Now, to be sure, it’s easy to read too much into this. And you could argue that these folks quietly support Obama’s bargain in concept but don’t want to get nailed for saying it publicly. Could be! But I’m not sure that fits best. That might account for, say, Max Baucus, who is up for re-election next year and would be in trouble from both sides if he enthusiastically supported and worked on the project. But not for the others. I mean, Hoyer isn’t going to be primaried like ever (though that wouldn’t be the worst idea I’ve ever heard), and it’s actually more noticeable that he isn’t commending the president for his serious, bracing vision than if he’d put out a pro forma statement that said nothing. Is he afraid the whip job would be imperiled if he gave it a hearty cheer? Or could it be even too far for him? One wonders.

I don’t know what it means, but my guess is that the highly vocal intramural resistance to chained CPI has not gone unnoticed by officeholders. My working theory is that there’s significant Democratic resistance to this idea, but keeping quiet avoids breaking with the White House over a deal that will most likely never come to pass in any form. This is perhaps why Obama feels the need to go so far to the right with his proposals, as there’s not much support on the left for this kind of bargain. Of course, there’s not much support for it on the right either. In any event, the pattern is pretty interesting.

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