These days, Republicans in Congress jostle for the right flank like crazed jockeys determined to race as fast as possible even if showboating by the outer rail costs them the prize. They often appear to be paying more attention to upcoming horse auctions (Republican primaries) than winning the purse.

If Republicans’ mix of grit and speed at the expense of strategy has its opportunity costs, the Democrats’ habit of playing follow-the-leader has them tripping over themselves while failing to notice how far they drifted rightward as they try to cajole Republicans to join them in what they still believe to be the center of the track.

Hasn’t anyone noticed that the shortest route is by the inner rail, which is wide open? Especially when it comes to popular social insurance programs, good progressive policy also happens to be good politics. Well, Bernie Sanders has figured this out, but he can’t be everywhere.

Now that the president’s plan to offer up Social Security cuts in his budget has been officially “leaked,” it’s too late to get him to change his mind and time to revolt. There’s not much new to say on the topic of a chained CPI, since even supporters have all but conceded that it’s a benefit cut rather than a technical fix, as Larry Mishel recently noted. But if progressives need a prod to break their habit of loyalty to a misguided but beleaguered president, Dean Baker at CEPR has pointed out that a COLA cut would have a bigger impact on low-income beneficiaries than the recent tax increases in the American Taxpayer Relief Act had on the wealthy. If Democrats go along with this, progressives need to break with the party and follow Senator Sanders’ independent lead.