“We are still on a complete fighting posture because we knew we had to win the politics in November and then on the economy in December,” Jones said. “For the progressives who threw ourselves on hand grenades for the president over the past 24 months and especially the past six months, we are not going to be happy at all if he turns around and takes a chainsaw to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security in pursuit of some misguided so-called grand bargain.”

This puts negotiators, mainly those inside 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., in more than just a small bind. During negotiations with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) in the summer of 2011, the White House was willing to agree to cuts to Medicare, changes to the program’s eligibility age, and deductions in Social Security benefits, even without demanding an end to the top-rate Bush tax cuts. A year and a half later, progressives are saying, essentially, don’t make that deal again…

Some moderate Democrats are up for reelection in 2014, making them reluctant to cast tough votes. But they already passed the president’s preferred tax cut package (raising rates only on incomes above $250,000) and the election results showed that they can run on a no-apology, Democratic platform and win.