Weatherdem's Weblog

Bridging climate science, citizens, and policy

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President Obama Still Can’t Negotiate

The President this morning had important statements on what the group to be led by Vice President Biden will do in the wake of the Newtown terrorist attack.  After his announcement, the press asked many questions regarding the fiscal curb negotiations.  Here is a gem of a response from President Obama (emphasis mine):

I have gone at least halfway in meeting some of the Republican concerns.

Did Americans vote for President Obama to go more than halfway in meeting Republican concerns?  They did, even if they didn’t consciously think about it beforehand.

This is a frightening admission.  The start of fiscal curb impacts won’t start for another two weeks and Obama has already given up more than half the field to his opposition.  How many football games would you win if you let the other team start at your 45-yard line?  In the last four years, Obama’s defense hasn’t kept Republicans out of the end zone when he should have been scoring his own points.  How far will Obama yield just to satisfy his own intense desire to make a deal with anybody, no matter how ridiculous they are?  The American people are on the record rejecting Republican fiscal proposals, yet Obama continues to add them to his own proposal.  If the stakes weren’t so high, it might be entertaining to watch how this unfolds.


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How Much Of The Big 3 Will Obama Give Away Just To Make A Deal?

We heard plenty of rhetoric from Obama super-supporters leading up to the November election: how we had to vote for Obama because crazy ol’ Mitt Romney would destroy the country.  It turns out Democrats are just as eager to scare-monger as Republicans are when it comes to protecting those in power from accountability.  Largely left unsaid was what Obama would do if re-elected.  I argued with many friends about this topic.  I saw what the first-term was all about: taking progressive policies off the table prior to negotiation, negotiating for too long, yielding concession after concession while not getting anything of equal value in return from Republicans who only wanted to see him lose the 2012 election.

Now that Obama has been reelected, a political “crisis” that Obama and Congress purposefully created for themselves needs our attention.  The fiscal curb is approaching.  For a couple of weeks, Obama made a good show of touring the country and showing voters how smart they were to vote for him, because he wasn’t going to capitulate and concede on tax cuts for the obscenely rich or the Big 3: Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.  Social Security doesn’t add to the deficit because it has a guaranteed revenue stream.  Medicare and Medicaid could be made solvent for decades with minor adjustments that have nothing to do with things Republicans think they do.

I had no doubt we would see the following.  Obama made the following proposal yesterday: in exchange for extending middle-class tax cuts, raising the debt limit, extending unemployment benefits, and new spending on infrastructure, he would continue Bush’s high-income tax cuts for income up to $400,000 and would cut Social Security benefits.  That’s $1.3 trillion in revenue for $850 billion in spending cuts.  Obama has already given up on raising taxes for incomes over $250,000.  And he threw Social Security under the bus.  For nothing in return.

Mark my words: the Big 3 will take massive hits.  And unlike in 2005 when the country resisted a Republican President doing it, a Democratic President will do it in 2012.  Republicans will successfully get even more spending cuts in programs that need only slight tweaks while raising the income limit that gets subjected to a return to tax rates under Clinton than is present in this offer.  How do I know?  Speaker Boehner quickly rejected the President’s offer.  Why?  Because it ensures that Obama will continue to foolishly engage with the Speaker in closed-door meetings instead of speaking in front of the American people.  If he did the latter, as was his initial strategy, Boehner would have to agree to the President’s proposal.  Because Republican plans consist of everything Americans don’t want to see: slashing unemployment insurance, tax hikes on the middle class while the rich walk away untouched, cuts to the Big 3, etc.

And here is why that will happen: Barack Obama wants his legacy to be defined by his ability to make deals with Republicans.  The specific details don’t matter that much to him.  He wants to be perceived as someone who gets things done, regardless of who came up with the idea in the first place.  Health care?  Let’s try the Republican plan Mitt Romney got through in Massachusetts.  Climate Change?  Let’s try the Republican plan from the 1990s.  Budget balancing?  Let’s try what Republicans have wanted for decades: no social programs and lots of defense spending.

The best part?  We’ll all do it together!  Yay!  Be happy, Democrats!  You prevented the world-ending Mitt Romney from being elected and now your party’s President will dismantle the most successful programs that kept millions of Americans out of poverty in the 20th century.  Because we all had to vote for the lesser of two evils.  Phew, disaster was narrowly avoided, wasn’t it?

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President Bush’s Budget Cuts Target The Working Poor, Middle Class & Students

Read that lede again.  What was your first thought?

If you’re a liberal, it was likely, “Of course President Bush’s budget would target those populations.”

If you’re a conservative, it was likely, “WeatherDem is Bush-bashing again.”

Well, I wrote that lede on purpose to get you to think about your first thought.

Why?  Because the budget I’m talking about is actually President Obama’s.  The rest of the lede is completely true.

Now, if you’re a liberal, you’re probably questioning why I’m Obama-bashing.  And if you’re a conservative, you’re probably congratulating yourself on telling everybody back in 2008 that Obama wasn’t who he said he was.  And if you’re a teabagger, you’re probably grabbing your gun and looking for the nearest Democratic politician to assassinate.

What I want to say is this: This is why I and other liberals were saying back in December that Obama shouldn’t have accepted the crap deal he ended up with in the lame duck session of Congress.  This is why President Obama shouldn’t have pre-capitulated on welfare for the rich for 2 years while accepting only 13 months of unemployment insurance extension.  The START treaty?  It would have been passed this session, regardless of who was in control of which chamber of Congress.  DADT?  The Democratic-led Congress should have passed it much earlier in the session, especially if it was such a necessary thing to do.

The biggest problem with the totally awesome “deal” that President Obama accepted was the Bush tax cuts, now the Obama tax cuts, were not paid for.  They haven’t been paid for since their inception.  Because making sure they’re paid for would require drastic cuts somewhere else in the budget – to the tune of $858 Billion in two years.  Which is exactly why the “oh-so-liberal” President Obama is now proposing to cut programs that help the working poor, help the needy heat their homes (witness the brutal winter most of the U.S. has experience this year and tell me that’s a moral thing to do), provide access to graduate-level education programs and even undermine the same kind of community organization programs that catapulted Obama to his career.  All of which will help the budget out by … oh, look at that … only $100 Billion per year.  Which means there are still $350 Billion in cuts yet to come.  Sweet.

The rich don’t need more welfare checks from the government.  The working poor, middle class and students do need some assistance.

So I hope those folks who were arguing the President had to take the only deal he could possibly ever get are satisfied and pleased with the results.

If this is “Winning The Future“, I’d hate to see what losing the future looks like.