Pausing Amid the Political Hysteria…

As President Obama negotiates with Democratic and Republican Congressional leaders on the critical issues of raising the debt ceiling and reducing the Federal budget deficit, each breathless (and very sketchy) media report on the progress of those negotiations has been received in the Progressive Blogosphere with hand-wringing, whining, and melodramatic condemnations.

The President, it appears from all this premature carping, is ready to sell out Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, your home mortgage interest deduction, the public schools, and FDR’s White House portrait to appease the all-powerful, Tea Party/GOP who are willing to sacrifice the full faith and credit of the U.S. Government on Grover Norquist’s anti-tax altar.

With the debt ceiling deadline approaching in less than a month, it’s more doom and gloom for Democrats. Obama, we hear from disenchanted liberals, is just GOP-lite. We need to mount a primary challenge. Or vote Green Party in 2012.  Or just stay home.

Because that worked so well for disappointed progressives in the 2010 mid-terms, right?

Because handing the House of Representatives over to Speaker John Boehner and the militant Tea Party jihadists sure showed those spineless Democrats a thing or two, didn’t it?

Aren’t you glad, you jaded bloggers on Daily Kos, TPM and The Huffington Post, that President Obama doesn’t have Nancy Pelosi to appease in these debt ceiling negotiations?

Oh, that’s right. If Nancy Pelosi were still the Speaker of the House – there wouldn’t even be negotiations over the debt ceiling.

It would be a pro forma vote of approval just like it’s always been.

Now, let’s get back to these White House negotiations over the debt limit. I’m pretty sure that, in order to avoid disaster, a Grand Bargain will be reached that will gore just about everyone’s ox to some degree.

But even if President Obama was not a man with liberal inclinations (and I think he’s shown that he is), he is a successful politician. He can see that an overwhelming majority of voters would rather see taxes raised on millionaires and billionaires than have their Social Security and Medicare benefits get cut.

And that’s true across party lines – especially among independents.

John Boehner can read those polls, too. But, even if Boehner wanted to strike a Bob Dole-like bargain with Obama to raise taxes on the rich (or what I like to call “restoring tax fairness”) in exchange for entitlement reforms that reduce waste and save money but don’t screw working people – he can’t do it. Because he’s got Michele Bachmann and the Tea Party Visigoths willing to wreak havoc on America’s credit rating in order to protect Exxon Mobil’s government subsidies and low tax rates on capital gains and other passive income for billionaires like the Koch Brothers.  (Euphemistically referred to as “the job creators.”)

The Visigoths are shown here doing to Rome what the GOP is doing to the U.S. MIddle Class.

So, the Republicans have their backs to wall in these negotiations, too. And President Obama knows it.

Of course, if scoring political points were all our President cared about, he’d be taking a much harder line in public – and that would win him praise from progressive bloggers and pundits yearning for a hard-knuckle approach. But that’s what you do in an election campaign – not when you’re trying to govern. (Remember how well the tough guy, no compromise, jam it down their throats approach served the country when that nasty little bully George W. Bush was in charge?)

President Obama is serious about bipartisanship. He always has been. And, in this case, bipartisanship may just mean giving the GOP enough rope to hang themselves in 2012.

So, let’s just see how this debt ceiling brinksmanship plays out. It’s the best drama of the summer. And I’m sure it won’t have an entirely happy ending for anyone.

But, if Obama has to make some concessions you don’t like, please remember this…

Would you rather President Romney – who made his millions buying US companies and out-sourcing the jobs overseas — were presiding over such critical White House  negotiations in the summer of 2013?

Would you like President Pawlenty choosing the next two Supreme Court justices?

Would you like President Bachmann…?

I’m sorry. I’ll just stop there. I don’t want to add any more crazy to this summer’s political hysteria.


Filed under Politics

6 responses to “Pausing Amid the Political Hysteria…

  1. Ron

    Ron here. Got this Forward Email today:

    Congressional Reform Act of 2011

    1. No Tenure / No Pension.
    A Congressman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they are out of office.

    2. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security.
    All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people. It may not be used for any other purpose.

    3. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.

    4. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.

    5. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.

    6. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.

    7. All contracts with past and present Congressmen are void effective 1/1/12.
    The American people did not make this contract with Congressmen. Congressmen made all these contracts for themselves. Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work.

    If you agree with the above, pass it on. If not, just delete.

    You are one of my 20+. Please keep it going

  2. sydney

    Oh Dear, I needed that voice of reason, thank you.

  3. Colorado Mom

    I agree, Sydney.

  4. Barbra Zuanich-Friedman

    Hi, Paul….thanks for that clear, lucid, description of what’s probably going on in the brain of our President…to have to face the Republican lunatics in the House and their right-of-right counterparts The Tea Party members on a day to day basis and have to find ways to communicate to the American public just what nuts he’s having to attempt to negotiate with must be a hell he never expected back in 2008…I’m glad Nancy is out there making it very clear what can and can’t be done! I love your blogs!

  5. Reid

    Sorry, folks, I simply can’t agree. I am one of those who thinks of Obama as more or less a Republican with some pretty frightening tendencies to megalomania. He is by any measure you chose to use a war criminal for attacks he authorized that killed non-combatants in Pakistan and Yemen. He is also a war criminal because he has authorized the use of torture both at home and abroad. He has invaded three sovereign nations (Pakistan, Yemen, and Libya) without a declaration of war while bypassing the War Powers Act. He has enthusiastically embraced and renewed the Patriot Act, the most egregious attack on civil liberties in our country’s history. He authorized ongoing attempts to kill an American citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki, for purported terrorist activities that have not been proved (and which, even if they had, would not allow him to singlehandedly declare a death sentence on him). His administration has been more vindictive and vicious toward whistleblowers than any administration in history. He has demonstrated that he is willing to drag this country into a prolonged recession by caving into know-nothing conservatives on non-issues like the deficit. He has expressed a willingness to abandon Medicare and Social Security as it has existed up to this point. He has not fulfilled a single one of his campaign promises. Gunatanamo is still open. What, my friends, is to like?

    • While I don’t see megalomania in Obama, I share many of your criticisms. I am not aware that he’s authorized torture at home and abroad, although I think the treatment of Bradley Manniing walks up to the edge. We had an agreement with Pakistan that we could act on their soil, and I thought Obama was wise not to tip them off to the Bin Laden raid. (Sometimes, there ARE bad guys who need to go.) The action in Libya was internationally legal because of a UN resolution. It’s not clear that it falls under the War Powers Act. The deficit isn’t a non-issue — though it was proven in FDR’s time that you don’t reduce Federal spending while you’re still in a recession. At least Obama is trying to get some measure of tax fairness. I’d love to see what Obama would have done this year without a GOP House — or a less-Blue Dog Senate. Do I think Obama is the ideal progressive we hoped he would be? No, I don’t. But he’s not a Republican by any stretch. It’s a tough job in a nasty world and he’s dealing with idiots and religious zealots on Capitol Hill.

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