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?