The PJ Tatler

On Sacred Cows, Harold Ickes, and the Debt Ceiling Talks

Longtime Democrat strategist Harold Ickes’ recent activities may give the game away as to what the Democrats will and won’t consider in the debt ceiling debate. Ickes, who came to prominence during the Clinton years, is today lead partner in the Ickes & Enright Group. They’re a typical Beltway PR group, though given their Clinton connections, probably more connected than most. Among their current clients is Priorities USA. Priorities USA recently ran a spate of pro-Obama ads that attacked the Republicans on Medicare in several states. Priorities USA and Priorities USA Action together intend to spend about $100 million on re-electing Obama. That’s in addition to whatever Obama and the DNC raise themselves. Ickes’ group has also been involved in lobbying for an outfit called Bay Bridge Strategies, on health care and Medicare.

None of this is illegal, and I’m not suggesting that it is. It’s all too typical of Washington these days. And given the tenor of the debate, and given Ickes’ connections and the way his groups are grafted onto the Obama re-elect effort, how likely is it that Obama or the Democrats will give an inch on entitlement reform that impacts Medicare? Pelosi said this morning that she won’t budge on that. Obama even went so far as to claim that 80% of the public is sold on tax hikes in the debt deal (they’re not). And there’s just too much money at stake for Ickes et al, and in turn too much re-elect support at stake for Obama.

Entitlement spending is just a little too sacred — and lucrative — for the Democrats to seriously countenance.