“He is, in his gut, a fiscal conservative. There is a Blue Dog Streak in him.” – David Plouffe in The Price of Politics, by Bob Woodward
IF YOU haven’t read Bob Woodward’s latest book, The Price of Politics, you may not appreciate the documents below fully. We’re about to see Obama’s “excessive pragmatism,” as Larry Summers calls it, in stark relief. But you do get an idea of President Obama’s biggest legacy project, which began in 2011. They don’t call it the “grand bargain” for nothing and he’s the one pushing it, not Republicans.
Many people think of it as a “Nixon to China” moment, but it’s not.
Obama has always been fixated on Ronald Reagan and what he did, because that’s the president that impacted, impressed and embedded most in his mind when he was coming up. So, the grand bargain is about a Ronald Reagan – Tip O’Neill moment. An “I saved Social Security” for future generations deal, which will likely include a nod to the business community, whose “fiscal cliff” is the bookend meant to push the “grand bargain” to manifestation, in the mother of all Obama – Wall Street make-up sessions imprinted for history.
Maybe then we’ll get the jobs the middle class deserves.
Bill Kristol has already paved the way for the wealthy tax cuts, so Democrats only have to give on entitlements to make it all possible.
If President Obama pulls this off, and if Obamacare is implemented and works, something that is still unknown, please pardon me if I take a moment to applaud the efforts, if not the outcome. You don’t have to like the politics to appreciate the dealmaking.
Keep your eye on where Jack Lew lands. He cut his teeth as a budget technician, as Woodward labels him, in the office of Speaker Tip O’Neill. He was a staunch supporter of Hillary Clinton, but may be headed to high ground in Obama 2.0.
But wait, there’s more.
Not only did Team Obama get progressives to stand down in the run up to the 2012 election, with activists shrugging they couldn’t possibly ask Obama to outline his plan on entitlements, but they’re going to watch as the boss uses OFA to push through a wider conservative economic legacy.
Obama’s not going to make the mistake on the budget talks that he did on health care. He’s going to go “beyond the beltway” to make his case. From the New York Times today:
And with the election campaign over, the campaign for the Obama legacy begins: Mr. Obama will keep his grass-roots organization in place to “have the president’s back,” as its members like to say, on the budget negotiations and other issues in the second term.
Disagreeing with Obama’s economic conservatism, his intent would complete what his neoliberal godfather Bill Clinton started. The result could have as lasting an impact on the Democratic Party as Clinton’s economic and job creation did in the ’90s, solidifying the most powerful tag team legacy in modern political history, with Republicans having no rival.
If you can’t beat Republicans on economics best them by becoming the New Republican Party, complete with “kill lists” and drone strikes that would make the Gipper proud. The Reagan coalition may be dead on the right, but it’s very much alive with the New
On “Meet the Press” on Sunday, this is how Bob Woodward described the documents below.
“This is a confidential document, last offer the president — the White House made last year to Speaker Boehner to try to reach this $4 trillion grand bargain. And it’s long and it’s tedious and it’s got budget jargon in it. But what it shows is a willingness to cut all kinds of things, like TRICARE, which is the sacred health insurance program for the military, for military retirees; to cut Social Security; to cut Medicare. And there are some lines in there about, “We want to get tax rates down, not only for individuals but for businesses.” So Obama and the White House were willing to go quite far.”
This is serious stuff for the Republican Party, whose only legacy right now is the wing nut travesty of 2010, which led to the emasculating of the GOP in 2012.
With no election in Barack Obama’s future there’s nothing to stop him now.