Sen. Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) statement today about the deficit has started a round of speculation about what it means for the prospect of a grand bargain. What I think is more interesting is what it says about what has become of the Democratic brand right before the election. From his Schumers’ office about his speech:

“A 1986-style approach that promises upfront rate cuts to the wealthy is almost guaranteed to give middle-income earners the short end of the stick,” Schumer said. “The reason is, in order to raise enough money to both reduce tax rates and cut the deficit, you would need to slash deductions and credits on a far greater scale than we ever did in 1986. Middle-income earners would not be spared.”

Schumer pointed out that it was a contradiction for some in his party to oppose a lower rate for top earners in the debate over extending the Bush tax cuts, but then endorse the same concept when it is dubbed “tax reform.”

Instead of luring Republicans to the table on a grand bargain with the promise of lower tax rates for the wealthy, Schumer said Democrats should be prepared to offer to make significant reforms to entitlements.

(emphasis mine)

This comes a week after President Obama’s debate answer and his campaign’s clarification about Social Security. Taken together what you basically have is the Democrat Party effectively saying it will not defend Social Security a mere four weeks before an election. While the Top Democrats are promising not the “slash” Social Security too much, they are clearly stating they are willing to cut Social Security benefits.

Going into the election I know what the Republican brand is; it is lower taxes and fewer services. On the other hand, Democrats have decided to make the alternative choice: higher taxes and fewer services.

Democrats are basically asking people to vote for them so they can force the Republicans into doing something unpopular. Is it any wonder than when Obama offered this message at the first debate his poll number took a nose dive?