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Obama’s 2011 Grand Bargain Detailed in Documents Obtained by Bob Woodward

President Barack Obama stands with Vice President Joe Biden in the Green Room of the White House prior to delivering a statement on the economy in the East Room, Nov. 9, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

“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.

It will make you understand what I wrote after Obama’s emotional talk with his troops in Chicago, how it’s always about him, no investment in Democratic Party principles or that legacy.

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 “Left” Democrat.

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.

What it will do for progressives and the activist wing is another matter, but at least you were warned (again and again).

With no election in Barack Obama’s future there’s nothing to stop him now.

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16 Responses to Obama’s 2011 Grand Bargain Detailed in Documents Obtained by Bob Woodward

  1. jinbaltimore November 12, 2012 at 6:12 pm #

    and just to add irony to injury, and speaking of Ronald Reagan:

  2. Joyce Arnold November 12, 2012 at 6:16 pm #

    So, Obama is making his conservatism even more crystal clearly obvious. This began before his 2008 run, but as you say, he has no more election concerns, so now is the time to move forward, with the Democratic Party by and large following Right along. But almost certainly, at some point, there will be cries of, “But how could we have known!?”

    • Taylor Marsh November 12, 2012 at 6:20 pm #

      Hey, I was reporting on it back in ’07, his interview with Stephanopoulos always the tell.

      On another note, isn’t the picture above by Pete Souza amazing? What a look on the President’s face; Biden’s isn’t bad either!

  3. jinbaltimore November 12, 2012 at 6:24 pm #

    Oops! Sorry to have missed that post, Taylor and much thanks, then, for bringing it back. If only there was some way to get it playing on a repeat loop, I don’t know, during commercials for The Voice? Dancing with the Stars? Pro-football games?

    • Taylor Marsh November 12, 2012 at 10:38 pm #

      No worries, it made the rounds, with it hitting my email inbox. It was easy to distribute.

  4. fangio November 12, 2012 at 6:41 pm #

    Maybe those tears were tears of joy for the conservatism he could now finally unleash.

    • Taylor Marsh November 12, 2012 at 10:45 pm #

      Now, now… let’s not be cynical.

  5. angels81 November 12, 2012 at 6:59 pm #

    Taylor, I have one question… Is this the grand bargain that Obama put on the table to republicans when everyone already knew that it was dead in the water? Didn’t everyone know that no matter what Obama put out there republicans would refuse?

  6. Pilgrim November 12, 2012 at 8:42 pm #

    Something I’ve been wondering about…

    Does anybody know if Mr. Obama made any reference in his post-election speeches to thanking Bill Clinton for all he did to help him?

    • Taylor Marsh November 12, 2012 at 10:44 pm #

      No, but President Obama’s 2nd call on Election Day, I believe after Romney’s call to him to concede, was to President Bill Clinton.

      A personal call from Obama seems enough to me, though others may disagree.

  7. Taylor Marsh November 12, 2012 at 10:42 pm #

    angels81 November 12, 2012 at 6:59 pm

    I assume from your question you haven’t read Woodward’s book on the debt deal. It’s cheap as an eBook, so I suggest it.

    Of course, Woodward does shift around trying to figure out in his own narrative Obama’s “progressivism” versus David Plouffe’s belief about his “gut,” but so does most everyone else, so I suggest it nonetheles.

  8. TPAZ November 12, 2012 at 10:49 pm #

    For those of us who could see this coming, let’s not gloat. When the time comes for Mr. Obama to pull the knife across the throats of blind and obedient Democrats, let us quietly place a bucket below our brethren chins to catch the blood. Once their politically dead corpses populate the floor, let us mop up their blood, too, without smiles or tears, afterwards, dragging their bodies outside to unmarked mass graves to rot for all of eternity, dusted lightly with lime, and allowing history to cover the freshly dug holes and these Democrats ignorance about power and puppet politicians.

  9. Jane Austen November 13, 2012 at 7:59 am #

    Please, someone, tell me how social security can even become part of the Grand Bargain if it is and always has been considered a fund outside the budget. After all, didn’t President Reagan tell us that social security was not part of the deficit? I just don’t get this.

    • jinbaltimore November 13, 2012 at 8:44 am #

      You’re right, Jane, but this was the point of Wall St. investing so heavily in Obama. Payment is due.

  10. Jane Austen November 13, 2012 at 11:01 am #

    jnbaltimore – what would happen if the people asked for an independent accounting of social security since its beginning? I’m just curious. I’d like to know what happened to all that money that was supposed to be going into the fund, especially from the baby boomers. When my dad was alive, this was his particular peeve and therefore he did a lot of research on it and he had come to the conclusion somewhere in the early 2000s that there had been a lot of hanky panky played with social security and that it was going to be dismantled with the very argument that they are giving us now – it’s going broke. I find it interesting that Americans aren’t screaming about it since we all pay/paid into it. Something smells really rotten.

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