Senator Lindsey Graham appears to be excited by President Obama’s recent proposal to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits. As social insurance advocates mobilize in opposition to Obama’s austerity budget there are signs that Republicans are aroused by the thought of screwing the poor, veterans, and seniors with cover from a Democratic President.

Groups are also organizing around the President’s proposal to reduce the cost-of-living adjustments for Social Security. MoveOn.org has launched a “photo petition” on Tumblr, featuring Obama supporters who oppose his proposed cuts.

The AARP, the powerful group for seniors, has also launched a campaign against Obama’s Social Security plans, pointing out that Obama specifically pledged to the group in 2008 that he would not reduce Social Security’s cost-of-living adjustments.

But as expected, there are signs that the President’s moderation are bearing fruit. On Sunday, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican certain to be a part of any big deal on deficits, said he was encouraged by the President’s latest budget proposals. “The president is showing a bit of leg here,” Graham said.

Obama did indeed promise not to reduce Social Security’s cost of living adjustments - a promise he is breaking in this budget. And one is forced to wonder why Graham is so excited by this prospect?

Because if enough of the Democratic Party is foolish enough to follow Obama into attacking their own constituency and the public at large the GOP is going to have a much better electoral map. The public overwhelmingly opposes cutting Social Security and Medicare. It is a losing issue. Nor is it even “responsible budgeting” as Social Security is solvent for at least 20 years as is. But it is the “third rail” of American politics and has burned the GOP numerous times including the 2006 sweep after President Bush tried to privatize Social Security.

So Obama has split the Democratic Party and given the Republicans cover to come out of hiding and stick it to the 99% as they always wanted to but feared retribution from the electorate. And that’s discounting the other Republicans who will slam their Democratic election opponents as supporting cuts in Social Security and Medicare. Good reason for Graham and the rest of the GOP to be excited.

Maybe we should have taken Obama at his word that his agenda would fit a moderate Republican from the 1980s. Reagan lives.

Photo from Senator Graham’s Twitter account