Josh Marshall was indispensable reading when George Bush tried to privatize Social Security in 2005, and I think he has it right this year as well. Republicans will not take a wrecking ball to Medicare and Obamacare without Democratic support. This has nothing to do with the filibuster or reconciliation. Mitch McConnell will ditch the filibuster five milliseconds after it gets in the way of something Republicans really want to do. But as much as Republicans really, really, REALLY want to garrot the New Deal and burn its corpse in a ditch they simply cannot message their way around the wreckage that would cause to their core voting constituencies. Even if you could find a majority in the House willing to sit in gasoline and light a match, plenty of Senators know the score. But Paul Ryan can’t do anything to taxes unless he accepts a huge deficit hike or cuts something meaningful, which means either defense (ha) or the safety net.
All of this makes wavering Democrats more valuable to the GOP than the last parachute on a burning plane. That is a lot more reassuring today than eleven years ago – districts represented by blue dogs have Republican leadership now. The liberal Senator with his finger on the zeitgeist is not Joe Lieberman but Bernie Sanders. It will be a hard sell for someone – especially Donald Trump – to lure today’s Democrats into betraying what you could fairly describe as the granite core foundation of the modern Democratic party.
Republicans are already feeling some heat over this. That means you have a chance to make a difference here. Pick up the phone and turn it up some more. They have all the majorities so they have no cover left for crazy political statements. Every vote will count. I guarantee that calls about this particular issue will get noted with an exclamation point.
You can count on most Democrats to defend the party’s core principles, but I would keep a special eye on any Democrat who shows the slightest sign of selling out. For me that list has to start with Joe Manchin. Look, WV went for Trump by thirty points. Manchin would be crazy not to give Republican ideas at least a very polite listen. Before the election he let it slip that he could well defect if the Senate came down to a 50-50 split. I would recommend that anyone living in West by god Virginia pick up the phone early and often until Senator Manchin releases a firm and unambiguous statement against molesting or privatizing our social safety net in any way whatsoever.
House/Senate switchboard: (202) 224-3121
Guide for first-timers here.