I still don’t think there’s going to be a grand bargain coming out of the Catfood Commission II. Republicans summarily rejected the first offer from Democrats, and vice-versa. Committee members may be thinking about their reputational risk, but there’s only three weeks until a solution is needed, which doesn’t leave enough time. What’s more, the above-linked article’s premise is all wrong; nobody gives a crap about the deficit in a time when there are 14 million people out of work. No politician will suffer from failing to cut back the social safety net or failing to raise taxes, even. Only the elites will see failure from the Catfood Commission II as a betrayal. And elites aren’t very popular these days.

But that elite pressure should explain why the committee is going after retirement insurance.

As a critical deadline for the supercommittee nears, Social Security appears to be on the negotiating table.

In private conversations, and now in public, the idea of changing the social program as part of a deficit-reduction deal is gaining some traction — a move that has been politically unthinkable for years […]

In a brief interview with POLITICO on Monday, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the co-chair of the panel, said she was “not going to talk about the details of any package, but I can tell you that everybody on the committee is serious about finding a way forward.”

Asked specifically about Social Security, Murray said, “Everything is on the table, and we’ve made no decisions.”

I don’t have to tell you about how Social Security never contributed one penny to the deficit. It holds a surplus of $2.6 trillion, and the elites just don’t want to pay off the trust fund because that might mean higher taxes on rich people. A bargain was made 30 years ago to build up the trust fund and pay for the baby boomers’ retirement, and now they want to renege on that deal and take the money out of the hides of old pensioners.

I assume that the effort here is to move to chained CPI, which will lead to a reduction in benefits. It’s also a regressive tax increase. If the leaders in Washington think that a public already out in the streets over inequality, Wall Street greed and corporate control of government will meekly accept that, they’re just wrong.

Of course, members of Congress won’t really have to worry about their benefits getting cut. That’s because they’re mostly fabulously wealthy and won’t be burdened as much as the other 99% by a more meager Social Security check every month.

Members of Congress had a collective net worth of more than $2 billion in 2010, a nearly 25 percent increase over the 2008 total, according to a Roll Call analysis of Members’ financial disclosure forms.

Nearly 90 percent of that increase is concentrated in the 50 richest Members of Congress.

Even among Congress, income inequality rules, and the ultra-rich get all the benefits.

Again, the smart money is on a crackup rather than a policy recommendation from the Gang of 12. But if a benefit slash to Social Security comes out of there, you can guess the reason why.

David Dayen

David Dayen