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?
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?
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.”)
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.
Would you like President Pawlenty choosing the next two Supreme Court justices?
Would you like President Bachmann…?