Reacting to President Obama’s apparent willingness to bargain with Republicans to achieve a broad agreement to cut the federal deficit, a group of liberal activists led by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) are signing a pledge, saying that they will not support Obama’s 2012 campaign if he cuts social insurance programs. In an email to supporters, PCCC leadership asked its recipients to tell President Obama:
“If you cut Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid benefits for me, my family, or families like mine, don’t ask for a penny of my money or an hour of my time in 2012.”
In the email, PCCC leaders declared that it was “outrageous” for Obama to consider reducing Medicare spending, and address the rising cost of social security. ”There’s no need for a bad ‘deal,’” PCCC wrote. “If we fight, voters are on our side.”
And, as of today, the petition seems to be working. In an update, PCCC announced that 155,000 people had signed the petition. This is the equivalent of “1/3 of the donors the Obama campaign had this past quarter.” And, as the organization pointed out, many of these people spent their time and energy as well as their money to get Obama elected in 2008. If they do withhold support in 2012, it could be devastating for Obama’s reelection campaign.
Everyone, including Obama, seems to be aware that the stakes are high. Congressional Democrats were “caught off guard,” and senators “expressed concern,” according to the New York Times. ”Depending on what they decide to recommend, they may not have Democrats,” Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat, told the NYT. “I think it is a risky thing for the White House to basically take the bet that we can be presented with something at the last minute and we will go for it.”
The question is whether the “bold progressives” who are signing the petition would actually refuse to support Obama during the 2012 campaign, regardless of what he does to social insurance programs. After all, I know that there is no one in the Republican primary who I would want anywhere near the White House. But it’s also heartening to see progressives, who routinely accept policies that are not as liberal as they would like, standing up and refusing to be disappointed by a president they worked so hard to get elected.
Photo from marcn via flickr.