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Obama’s Grand Bargain is Not a “Betrayal,” It’s What He Believes In

“It is safe to say many groups are very concerned that a grand bargain will be foisted on the Congress that goes against what Democratic candidates promised on the campaign trail,” said Roger Hickey, co-director of the Campaign for America’s Future. “And it is clear the president is considering making the grand bargain that he offered to Boehner previously.” – Liberals fear grand bargain betrayal if President Obama wins

THIS HAS always been the problem with the press and President Obama. They just don’t get that what he proposes is what he actually believes in, which inevitably comes out of compromised Democratic principles.

Nothing is a truer example than the coming negotiations for a grand bargain, however it manifests, that puts entitlements on the table, with Social Security one element that should be excluded because it’s not part of the any debt or deficit issue.

Steve Rattner announced the CEO team, which is led by the usual anti Social Security celebrities, starting with Pete Peterson.

“This plan should be enacted now, but implemented gradually to protect the fragile economic recovery and to give Americans time to prepare for the changes in the federal budget,” the “Fix the Debt” campaign says in a statement supported by more than 80 chief executives, including the heads of Invesco, UPS and Aetna. Such a grand bargain “must be bipartisan,” the statement said.

[T]he group seeks to reform Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security and suggest comprehensive, rate-lowering, base-broadening tax reform. The group also advises that Simpson-Bowles recommendations serve as a framework for the plan. (Former White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles is a co-founder of the campaign.)

… Fix the Debt has raised more than $30 million from business leaders, including support from Pete Peterson, whose foundation also backed the Committee for a Responsible Budget’s broad push for deficit reduction. The CEOs will also be pushing out the message to their employees and the rest of the public through townhall meetings and advertising, according to CFRB president Maya MacGuineas, who’s spearheading the campaign.

As Hickey said above, President Obama has already offered up a grand bargain deal to Speaker Boehner, so none of this is a surprise. It’s also not a betrayal, because Obama’s made no secret of his plans.

Progressives missed the chance to make Obama earn their vote by challenging him on entitlements and where his austerity plan will start, something I will never understand. They obviously haven’t learned the lessons from the Tea Party, which begins with knowing when and how to wield the power you’ve got. That starts with your vote. If you won’t leverage your vote you simply confirm that you’ve got nowhere to go and will accept anything. So progressives, as well as unions and other Democratic organizations, are as equally to blame for putting Obama in a position of power to bargain for austerity as he is for adopting it.

If reelected, President Obama will have no fear of retribution. Even if progressives decide to hold congressional leaders to account in 2014, Obama’s focused on legacy, because he’s on the way out. He also has to act quickly, in the first 18 months, before lame duck status sets in and everyone turns to 2016, which won’t take long.

Senator Bernie Sanders is already on this case, as are many others, including unions, though the general mood in the activist wing remains gloomy. It’s understandable, because they neutered themselves by not challenging President Obama on his austerity ideas long before Election Day.

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16 Responses to Obama’s Grand Bargain is Not a “Betrayal,” It’s What He Believes In

  1. jjamele November 2, 2012 at 12:12 pm #

    Depressingly, it’s also more and more what the Democratic Party believes. Austerity for All except the 1%, Social Security Medicare and Medicaid are problems, not solutions, etc.

    The party of FDR is dead.

  2. TPAZ November 2, 2012 at 12:19 pm #

    FDR’s New Deal: R.I.P.

  3. Joyce Arnold November 2, 2012 at 12:46 pm #

    Shortly into Obama’s term, a good number of people, myself included, responded to the “Give him time; he’s being forced; doesn’t have a choice; is doing the best he can” lines with, as I usually put it, “this is Obama being Obama.”

    My guess is that the most recent focus on “Grand Bargain” related to “Grand Betrayal” comes too late to make much difference in the election. Last Tuesday Bill Black wrote “The Great Betrayal — and the Cynicism of Calling it a Grand Bargain,” at Naked Capitalism, which I cited in a post of my own the next day. It’s one of many similar analyses (though earlier ones didn’t use the “Grand Bargain” language, of course) I’ve read over the last almost four years from a fair number of people, both in posts and in comments. People do get it: Obama is doing what he wants to do. By the way, Black has a two part interview about this at The Real News. (sorry I can’t provide links; my computer isn’t cooperating)

    Maybe the current attention will help a little, in that more people on the Left will work to hold Obama accountable, but even if they do, it’s going to have to be what they want him to do, not what he’s saying he’s going to do. Obama will keep on being Obama.

    • TPAZ November 2, 2012 at 1:35 pm #

      “Maybe the current attention will help a little, in that more people on the Left will work to hold Obama accountable,…”

      How do you hold accountable a president in his second term? You Can’t. It’s already been calculated by the CBO that letting all of the Bush tax cuts would solve most of our deficit problem. All Obama has to say is “I am recommending that all of the Bush tax cuts expire because America could not afford them to begin with.”

      • Taylor Marsh November 2, 2012 at 4:41 pm #

        All progressives can do is squeeze people in Congress, but then they’d have to primary those who caved.

        Act Blue & some progressives have shown themselves more than capable of putting up a serious challenge. They might not win, but that’s no reason not to fight.

  4. jinbaltimore November 2, 2012 at 1:47 pm #

    He didn’t say he admired Reagan for nothing.

    • Jane Austen November 2, 2012 at 3:33 pm #

      jinbaltimore – you are absolutely right. And that’s the one thing that stuck with me from the first campaign and what Taylor wrote about way back when. If anyone ever thought that Obama was a true Democrat they should remember he rarely if ever referred to FDR and the New Deal (and if he did I missed it), and I rarely if ever heard him refer to LBJ and the Great Society or for that matter MLK. Those great icons were missing from his campaign in 2008. If I am wrong, please let me know. But he never struck me as a Democrat which is why I held my nose when I voted for him. And why I changed my political affiliation to Independent.

  5. DaGoat November 2, 2012 at 1:52 pm #

    Assuming the definition of compromise includes both sides giving in on something they value, this begs the question – on what positions that are important to Democrats are they willing to compromise?

  6. james richardson November 2, 2012 at 2:10 pm #

    I think my criticisms of Obama have been fair, and I make a difference between those with legitimate praise for him and the Obamabots. But if he does this… I just don’t know what it would take for his supporters to stop supporting him. What are the “dealbreakers” for them? Will they heap praise on this move as well? I honestly don’t know where the line is for his supporters.

    • Taylor Marsh November 2, 2012 at 2:22 pm #

      It doesn’t matter whether people support him once he’s reelected.

      The biz community is going to come down like a ton of bricks, so the corporate Dems, who are taking the place of the Blue Dogs dying away, will jump in, because “the left” and progressives don’t have any clout.

      The media is already convinced of the economics, because they can’t buck biz either, plus the fact they don’t understand the math of a robust economy fixing *most* of the problem.

      Sanders & a lot of people are going to push hard, but unless PEOPLE rise up it will be tough.

      The best hope of stopping this was long before reelection. Progressives didn’t have to primary Obama to put pressure on him.

      • jjamele November 2, 2012 at 2:32 pm #

        Taylor, this is what I’ve been saying to myself whenever I hear a so-called “Progressive” say “we have to get Obama re-elected, then we have to push him to be Progressive.” Once Obama is re-elected there is no carrot OR stick to use with him. He’s acted for four years like he didn’t need us, and he’s about to prove himself right. As arrogantly dismissive as he’s been of progressivism when facing a second term, imagine how “open” he’ll be to progressive “pressure” in a second-and final-one.

        • Taylor Marsh November 2, 2012 at 2:58 pm #

          Progressives don’t know how to wield power, use it or deploy it. Huge mistake that will follow them & haunt them into Obama’s 2nd term.

          The gay community showed how it’s done on DADT, but that was something whose time had come & very different. Still, kudos to them.

  7. casualobserver November 2, 2012 at 2:48 pm #

    “PRINCETON, NJ — Americans are more than twice as likely to identify themselves as conservative rather than liberal on economic issues, 46% to 20%.”

    Obama ignores you with good reason……….Gallup says you self-identify as 20% of the population and what’s the consensus prediction for Tuesday for Jill Stein? 1% maybe?

    You don’t think a couple of Sept/Oct polls with Stein at even just 5% would have resulted in Obama promising you guys the moon to come back to him?

    • Ga6thDem November 2, 2012 at 8:22 pm #

      And you know what? if you ask ten self professed conservatives what a conservative is you’ll get ten different answers. People are calling themselves that because conservative means whatever you want it to mean.

  8. Taylor Marsh November 2, 2012 at 2:55 pm #

    To repeat once again, I am NOT endorsing, nor voting for, Obama, Romney, or Jill Stein, though more power to the people who are.

    Why ANYONE would care the number of people voting for a third party is beyond me, simply because the deck is stacked against anyone outside the big 2. So on that, get a frickin’ clue.

    As for economic issues, I absolutely guarantee you Americans are with those of us who want to save entitlements, including Social Security and Medicare, “Economic issues” is a broad target and once specifics start getting ticked off for cuts even Tea Partiers want their entitlements. That’s been proven time and time again and will be again, especially if they’re cut.

    They’ll throw out the bums who do it, after Obama has no more elections to run in.

    • james richardson November 2, 2012 at 3:10 pm #

      I’ve read all the articles dissing 3rd party votes, saying true change has usually come from within the system. And those dissers usually get their way on election day. But they’re the ones saying change has to come from within the system. Then they’ve got to get off their ass and produce the change that they say can only come through them. It would be one thing if they were using their electoral gains to practice what they preach. But they just sit on their hands with their gains and then get pissy when you call them on it. If they’re so bitchy about all the interest in 3rd party candidates maybe they should look in a mirror.

      And to casualobserver, when polled on individual issues, devoid of political labels, people overwhelmingly side with the “liberal” ones. Liberals have found no good way to act upon that though, which is either sad or pathetic (see paragraph one).

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