February 20th, 2014
03:07 PM ET
9 years ago

A depressing 'House of Cards' analogy on chained CPI

Washington (CNN) - Thought bubble: The White House removing chained CPI from their budget arguably shows that Washington is even more cynical than "House of Cards."

The plot lines are similar between today's headlines and the first few episodes of the second season of the Netflix show, in which lawmakers raise the age of retirement to 68. Specifically, Democratic leaders push a Republican proposal to raise to the retirement age through Congress even after Republicans, out of pique, abandon negotiations.

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The thinking in the show isn't that Democrats think raising the retirement age is the right thing to do (that's just gravy). No, they want to isolate Republicans.

In real life, the entitlement reform of the analogy is chained CPI.

What's chained CPI? It is tying Social Security cost of living growth to the slower moving inflation rate. It wouldn't slow growth as much as the "House of Cards" idea of raising the retirement age. But it would slow growth.

So it turns out the real-life politicians aren't so smart or devious or whatever you think as they are in the show. They're not as effective either.

You don't see Joe Biden and Barack Obama doing the big policy move despite their lack of a political dancing partner. Instead they're dropping chained CPI from their budget proposal.

If you take a wider view, there is an example of Democrats pushing through a Republican idea without any help from Republicans: Obamacare.

The main tenets of that law – a market-based insurance industry where insurance companies have to cover everyone in exchange for everyone getting covered – were Republican ideas back in the 1990s. But by the time Democrats were pushing them in 2009, Republicans had abandoned them. Democrats pushed Obamacare through the Senate and House without any Republican support.

And note to Frank Underwood, the Svengali vice president in "House of Cards," it backfired on Democrats in the next election.

The show, by the way, is being devoured in D.C. at such a pace that an informal survey of the CNN Washington newsroom suggests the Internet can't keep up during prime time.

Next thought bubble: House of Cards' treatment of Senate procedure is downright criminal. You'd never see the Senate Sergeant at Arms actually clap the majority leader in cuffs and force him to vote.

Filed under: Congress • White House
soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Where's Our $24 Billion?

    Great news for seniors. Thank you President Obama for dropping "chained CPI" Social Security cuts from the budget.

    February 20, 2014 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  2. BJ

    "If you take a wider view, there is an example of Democrats pushing through a Republican idea without any help from Republicans: Obamacare."

    Leaving aside the policy issues – there was a majority of Dems in the House. Not the case now. So it is impossible for him to do it with just one party.

    February 20, 2014 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  3. Mark Buehner

    "You'd never see the Senate Sergeant at Arms actually clap the majority leader in cuffs and force him to vote."

    That's a lot more likely than Democrats agreeing to raise the retirement age or take on the teachers' unions. Thats what makes me laugh about that show, they demonstrate how reasonable' the Dems are to compromise with examples that in real life the Dems would NEVER consider.

    February 20, 2014 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  4. Malory Archer

    Fair is Fair

    Malory Archer


    Biden, are you for real. Obama Disaster Care is unworkable and Anti-American.....


    My older daughter and her husband are paying $200 a month LESS than their previous plan for a much more comprehensive gold plan, and that's AFTER they added their newborn to their new plan. Additionally, their deductible has gone from $15k a year to $3k. They're going to use half of their $2400 to increase their contributions childrens' college funds, then they plan to put 25% in savings and the remaining 25% toward stimulating the economy!

    My younger daughter with a preexisting condition who couldn't get insurance at ANY price prior to the passage of the AHCA is paying a $58 a month for a silver plan with a $650 annual deductible.

    Perhaps you can enlighten me on how that is in ANY way "unworkable" of "Anti-American" ' cause I fail to see what the problem is, other than you're no longer going to be able to expect ever-increasing on your immoral health insurance stock.
    For someone who whines about people giving "anecdotal evidence", you sure did just serve up a heaping helping. Can we have a side of fries with that?


    When have I EVER "whined" about anyone giving "anecdotal evidence"? Oh, that's right – I HAVEN'T. For that matter, I don't recall in all my years ever reading a post from anyone on EITHER side of the aisle who "whined" about such a thing. Do you always make up lies when the truth is too much for you to handle?

    February 20, 2014 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  5. Sniffit

    The "reasoning" in this article is so broken as to be laughable.

    Dems clearly pushed the ACA, incorporating the idea of an individual mandate, because that's the best that could get through. It cost them political capital with their base, who saw it as a copout on single-payer and as influenced by insurance lobbyists, etc. And it cost them heavily with everyone else, who it either alienated or enraged. It cost them massively in the 2010 elections. Clearly, the maneuver of "we're going to pass your proposal so you get blamed for it when it causes problems" wasn't at all involved there because the fallout was fairly predictable all around.

    As for the chained CPI proposal, that was also nothing like the example in the show. Again, Obama enraged his base for "negotiating with himself" and "giving something up for nothing" and all it did was embolden the GOP/Teatrolls to try to push for even more. It was taken out because the deficit has shrunk immensely and the offer wasn't accepted last time.

    The fact of the matter is, both situations show that the GOP/Teatrolls just cannot take yes for an answer on ANYTHING if it means they must say yes in return about something. They are desperately clinging to relevance and facing a demographic Armageddon that has them scrambling like a kicked anthill to come up with a way AROUND changing and adapting to a new world and reality that they just don't like and don't want to live in and wish they could rewind.

    Anyway, the author of this tripe either explained itself so poorly in the writing of this article that it should be taken down for a total rewrite OR the author just got overexcited about a broken half-idea it had, but it really wasn't/isn't susceptible to being communicated in a cogent manner in the first place and never will be.

    February 20, 2014 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  6. Rudy NYC

    DC politics is turning into a barbarian's paradise.

    February 20, 2014 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  7. tom l

    I'm just shocked that Mallory got through an entire post without using the words "ilk" or "rethugs". Just remember that she's the same person who denies ever calling anyone any names....

    February 20, 2014 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  8. Rick McDaniel

    The Congress, doesn't do much of anything that is actually SMART!

    February 20, 2014 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |