Details on the appropriations deal are still hard to come by, but you don’t need the details to know that substantial short-term cuts in domestic discretionary spending will hurt the poor while harming macroeconomic performance. The problem with not agreeing to the deal, of course, is that a government shutdown would also hurt the poor while harming macroeconomic performance. If you genuinely don’t care about the interests of poor people and stand to benefit electorally from weak economic growth, this gives you a very strong hand to play as a hostage taker. And John Boehner is willing to play that hand. …- Matthew Yglesias


by John Lennon

The day after the Democratic budget surrender, the point to remember is that Pres. Obama and Democrats allowed themselves to be taken hostage, because they wouldn’t make the case for Democratic economic policy. It’s why many Americans don’t feel Democrats are fighting for them. Look how health care was handled and the marketing fiasco that resulted. In addition, all people see is the Tea Party railing, while Democrats try to compromise to make them happy. We saw the results of that strategy in the 2010 midterms, followed by extending the Bush tax cuts that set up Boehner’s win on the budget, as well as Paul Ryan’s hallucinations, which has taken the entire economic argument further Right.

So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that without the racial and cultural ties that bind, Pres. Obama continues to struggle with working class white voters. Immediately people like to attribute this to race alone. That’s a mistake.

People who struggle to pay the bills are less interested in the emotional ties to their leaders and their president. While it’s understandable the close alliance Barack Obama has with African Americans, because of being the first African American president, his policies don’t help the middle class. The blue collar crowd, as well as working class whites, have a stark reality right now, so they’re not squishy about their loyalty to a man to which they cannot relate. They’re brutally practical.

That’s not to say racial issues don’t drive some people. In America, the black and brown factor is always hovering, sometimes front and center.

From Ron Brownstein in the National Journal:

The latest Pew Research Center national poll released today underscores how slender a beachhead President Obama has established among whites more than two years into his presidency.

…polls consistently suggest he may struggle to match the modest 43 percent support among whites that he drew in 2008, according to the Edison Research exit poll. In the 2010 mid-term election, according to the Edison exit poll, just 37 percent of whites backed Democrats in House races, while 60 percent supported Republicans-the highest share of the white vote Republicans have won in a House election in the history of modern polling. Obama’s approval rating among all whites in the Pew survey stands at a similar 38 percent.

[...] Obama’s best group in the white electorate remains well-educated women, who tend toward more liberal positions on social issues as well as greater receptivity to government activism. In the new poll, 56 percent of college-educated white women said they approved of Obama’s performance. That’s a slight improvement from the 52 percent of such women who voted for him in 2008…

[...] Obama’s approval rating in the Pew survey stood at just 34 percent among white women without a college education-the so-called waitress moms. Democrats have often had high hopes for capturing those economically-strained, culturally-conservative women, but the new result only underscores their consistent Republican tilt: Obama won just 41 percent of them in 2008, and House Democrats just 34 percent of them in 2010.

It’s also not hard to understand why educated white women have come home to Obama. The Right’s war against women being waged across the country is in their face. When you have your bills covered it’s easier to focus outside your own economic struggle.

However, when you look at the budget deal Obama and the Democrats served up to Republicans on a plate, which Speaker Boehner is rightly boasting is a win for him, you have to wonder if these same educated white women know that Obama just carved another piece out of the wall of women’s freedom. He did it in D.C., with female Democrats in the Senate going along, so maybe no one will notice. After all, D.C. isn’t a state.

On Saturday morning, a tweet on Mayor Gray’s twitter account called both riders a “shameful violation of our right to govern ourselves.” “This is ludicrous. While one rider purports to provide educational aid to children in need, the other takes away desperately needed aid from poor women. Hypocrisy is alive and well in the United States Congress,” says Gray in a written statement. – WTOP.com

This all started with the health care bill, when Speaker Pelosi invited the Catholic Church into the debate, with Pres. Obama acquiescing to Bart Stupak, so that women’s reproductive health became a system of hurdles. It happened during a Democratic majority, so when you compare it to what Boehner got with just a majority in the House it’s stunning. Pelosi served up a main constituent, women, while Boehner went to the mat for the Tea Party budget extremists.

The aide says he witnessed the president say to Speaker Boehner in the Oval Office, “John, I will give you D.C. I’m not happy about it.”MSNBC

Pres. Obama didn’t “give” Speaker Boehner D.C. He handed over the rights of poor women in D.C., using them as a bargaining chip.

But tactically, what Obama wanted to do with the Bush tax cuts, as well as the budget, was get as close to the Right as he can so he positions himself as politically neutered going into 2012. It’s not about principle or governing strategy, because Pres. Obama has neither. All he wants is a second term.

As for the “waitress moms” who are not coming home to Obama, they’re not watching his surrendering triangulation on abortion that has empowered states rights against women’s freedoms. They have a far more stressful reality, with no one they can relate to on the Democratic side, with their financial future looking as bad as it’s been in a long time. The negative Tea Party messaging on Obama works, because there is no positive message that reaches them.

Try thinking of this in terms of how many Democrats and progressives feel about Pres. Obama’s capitulation and compromises.

Working class don’t have the luxury of trusting someone who never delivers hoping it might get better. There’s no loyalty to someone who doesn’t stand up for them through his actions.

Sometimes it reality does get down to are you better off than you were before Obama? Few people are, and when you couple that with the I Can’t Relate To Him factor, support for Obama slips further.

As for Democratic and progressive support for Pres. Obama, after the budget battle, laid on top of every other capitulation and compromise, it’s hard to understand how any progressive can support him since he prefers to adopt Republican economic principles rather than make the Democratic case.

This column has been updated and bumped.