President Obama is facing a growing backlash from liberals who reject his expected budget proposals to cut Social Security and Medicare.
Members of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare plan to stage a demonstration at the White House Tuesday to get attention for their concerns. "Washington continues on a path targeting middle-class families to pay for our fiscal failures," says Max Richtman, president of the committee.
Among those joining the protest, Richtman adds, will be Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., and representatives of the AFL-CIO, MoveOn.org and the Campaign for America's Future.
Protecting Social Security and Medicare has been an article of faith among liberals for many years, and some on the left see Obama's proposals, set to be formally announced Wednesday, as an act of betrayal designed to appease conservatives in Congress.
Among other groups attacking Obama over the proposed cuts are the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy for America. AARP, a powerful group representing seniors, is also campaigning against Obama's proposed Social Security cuts.
Some liberals want to mount primary challenges against Democratic legislators who support the entitlement reductions. This tactic of challenging incumbents in party primaries is a favorite of the political right, and it has caused some Republican legislators to toe the conservative line rather than face an intraparty challenge. This is the dynamic that activists on the left are now threatening.
Obama advisers say budget concessions to Republicans are designed to break the legislative stalemate over taxes and spending that has bogged down Washington for years. Liberals say he is giving in too easily; some of them argue that these are matters of principle and he shouldn't be compromising at all.
But tension over the budget is only part of Obama's problem with the left. Environmentalists are upset because he hasn't pushed aggressively to come up with a comprehensive program to limit climate change.
And if Obama approves the controversial Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to Texas, it will draw even more criticism from environmental groups. Critics say the pipeline would lead to pollution and the increased use of oil that would eventually make climate change worse.
Ken Walsh covers the White House and politics for U.S. News. He writes the daily blog "Ken Walsh's Washington" for usnews.com, and is the author of "The Presidency" column for the U.S. News Weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, and followed on Facebook and Twitter.