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Obama, the Grand Bargainer in Chief, Paul Ryan as His Foil

President Barack Obama waits for a heavy rain to pass before crossing West Executive Avenue from the Eisenhower Executive Office Building to the West Wing of the White House, March 12, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama waits for a heavy rain to pass before crossing West Executive Avenue from the Eisenhower Executive Office Building to the West Wing of the White House, March 12, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

“We’re not gonna balance the budget in ten years because if you look at what Paul Ryan does to balance the budget, it means that you have to voucher-ize Medicare, you have to slash deeply into programs like Medicaid, you’ve essentially got to – either tax – middle class families a lot higher than you currently are, or you can’t lower rates the way he’s promised,” the president told me. – President Obama Won’t Balance Budget ‘Just for the Sake of Balance’, by George Stephanopoulos

LAST NIGHT, flipping through channels, I landed on Ed Schultz for a split second, just long enough to hear him say “the President’s got a good heart…” on the way to trying to get Representative Sheila Jackson-Lee to assure him Obama isn’t going to cut entitlements. It confirmed why I don’t watch that show, as much as our household respects Shultz’s fighting tenacity on wages and unions. He actually believes Obama’s philosophy on the grand bargain has to do with his heart and being a good man, which is a fairly juvenile way to analyze our grand bargainer in chief’s economic target.

President Obama’s statement to ABC’s George Stephanopoulos is all you need to hear, though there’s plenty more where that came from on where White House thinking is today. Ryan handed Obama the perfect opportunity to repeat “voucher-ize Medicare,” with a “slash deeply” added for good measure, making whatever the President does sound reasonable and right. It’s been Obama’s tactic from 2010, once he got his ass handed to him in the mid-terms, which set off the contagion of disastrous austerity competitions that Congress continues to debate. If Ryan hadn’t already laid this same budget out in 2012 you could almost believe that after their lunch Obama and Ryan were tag teaming the press and the public, but of course they’re not.

Progressives are pushing back, as are Democrats and other allies, but they see what’s coming unless something unexpected happens pretty quickly.

“I urged him not to cut Social Security and benefits for disabled veterans,” added Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). “He is concerned about the long-term solvency about Social Security, and so am I. But I think he recognized there are different ways to approach it. You can bring more revenue into the program or you can cut benefits. Those are the two ways. At this point, I think he is more inclined to cut benefits, which I strongly disagree with. But I think he also understands that the other way is to increase revenue in a variety of ways.” [Huffington Post]

This is an accomplishment moment for the two term President, who is offering the Democratic brand of austerity up against the Republican brand, with Obama’s approval high enough that not having to worry about another election puts him in the exact place he wants.

Republicans know it’s now or never for Obama. However, if Obama gets his grand bargain what’s left for Democrats to run on in 2014? That’s not one of President Obama’s concerns it seems.

But Obama acknowledged that Social Security and Medicare – big drivers of federal spending – wouldn’t survive without some changes to save money. Obama added that Republicans must first agree to more revenue hikes before the White House would concede on changes to entitlement programs, senators attending the luncheon said. Obama seemed to be opening the door a crack toward a way forward: if the White House is seen as willing to put entitlements on the table, some Republicans may reconsider their staunch opposition to new revenue. [Politico]

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6 Responses to Obama, the Grand Bargainer in Chief, Paul Ryan as His Foil

  1. secularhumanizinevoluter March 13, 2013 at 12:03 pm #

    “Obama seemed to be opening the door a crack toward a way forward: if the White House is seen as willing to put entitlements on the table, some Republicans may reconsider their staunch opposition to new revenue.”

    I understand that the art of governance is the art of compromise…..but only when you HAVE to. There is NO reason to do this…it will enrage the base and guarantee repugnantKLAN/teabaggers repeating 2010 as disgusted voters turn away from the Dems and don’t show up at the polls.

  2. fangio March 13, 2013 at 12:09 pm #

    The man is an embarrassment to the values of his party and to the people who voted for him. I should say the values his party once had. Social security is fully funded and will stay fully funded by raisng the cap and removing people who collect social security but whose wealth and non contribution to it does not make them deserving of its benefits. The defense budget in this country is obscene. Just look at the billions of wasted dollars on the F-35 and the trillion wasted on Iraq. If Obama had any balls he could effect real change and build a real legacy. Instead he has given the republicans the upper hand and his approval ratings are slowly dropping. He’s like a dead man walking, and the opposion can see it.

  3. lynnette March 13, 2013 at 7:00 pm #

    Yes, why can’t the cap be raised on Social Security – before considering cuts? How can Medicaid be cut when it’s supposed to be expanded under the Affordable Care Act? That makes no sense. As for Medicare, there has to be some additional revenue. The electorate doesn’t want these programs cut. That’s what the election was about, wasn’t it? The truth is that there probably should be an increase in taxes for all Americans, which many don’t want to hear. We also need more job growth. I don’t have all the answers but there’s got to be a better way than austerity. I hope progressives push really hard.

  4. Uh-oh March 13, 2013 at 11:58 pm #

    As they say in the intertubes–it’s all kabuki theater. Obama LOVES Ryans
    ‘s plan, because when the grand bargain (great betrayal) happens, he (Obama) can say, “Well this was the best we could do against the Ryan plan–at least it isn’t as bad as that would have been.” In other words, the Ryan plan is Obama’s excuse for messing with SS and Medicare. And I say, BS!

    • Uh-oh March 13, 2013 at 11:59 pm #

      Oooops. Typo alert. Sorry.

  5. jinbaltimore March 14, 2013 at 8:58 am #

    Not one of mine; I voted Stein!

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