Yeah, President Obama put on a show yesterday. What, apparently, only MSNBC's Cenk Uygur, myself, and the folks at Firedoglake bothered to examine was the substance behind the bluster. And, behind the bluster lay nothing but surrender to the demands of Republican terrorists. I was most reminded of the baseball manager who charges the umpire after a close call only to say--shouting and gesturing wildly--"I'm not here to argue the call, I just have to look like I'm arguing the call so my guys will think I'm behind them 100%! Do me a favor and go with it, will you?"
The President began the budget conversation by calling for a ratio of $3 in spending cuts for every dollar of tax increases. By the time Cry-baby Cantor walked out of the Biden talks, the ratio had already been reduced to a ratio of 5 to 1. When the President had his "Give 'em Hell" presser Wednesday, he was ostensibly arguing for a ratio of roughly $11 in spending cuts for every dollar of tax increases. Whatever his intentions in referring to it repeatedly, the President seemed for all the world to be drawing the line at the tax exemption for corporate jets. Except, even there, he flatly refused to draw a line.
Concessionary bargaining destroys the power of a union in the same way that cancer destroys the body.--Shamus Cooke
What the President, I suppose, views as being reasonable is seen by everyone else as weakness. Is it any wonder Henry Waxman's informal poll of congressional Republicans found that, “To a person, they said the president’s going to cave”? And to those of us on the left, its impossible not to wonder if Obama is a man completely lacking in core beliefs and principles. Is there nothing this man will fight for? Would he, literally, surrender his first born in pursuit of the mythical unicorn of "bipartisan agreement"? I think he might. I really do.
It is impossible to defeat an ignorant man in argument.—William G. McAdoo
Perhaps Obama simply doesn't understand that he's dealing with economic terrorists. They are not reasonable people. They do not care what happens to America. And they've already told you this. McConnell said upfront that the GOP priority is making Obama a one-term President. Given the chance to clarify--jobs? economic growth? the War on Terror?--Mitch reiterated that all the Republicans cared about was the failure of President Obama.
As recently as this past weekend, Senator Kyl said the only way this debt ceiling impass ends is if Obama gives in to Republicans 100% (which, he assured Chris Wallace, he will).
But it's even worse than that. Senator DeMint has already told you that (just as with healthcare), even if you give Republicans everything they want, you STILL won't get Republican votes to raise the debt ceiling.
Naive, Mr. President? Hell, no. I'm beginning to suspect you're dense.
The reason you don't negotiate with terrorists is because they don't care if the whole world blows up. And, if you're ever forced to negotiate with terrorists, the only way to do so is to not care about blowing the whole thing up yourself. If they are unreasonable, you have to be even more unreasonable. If they are stubborn, you have to be even more stubborn. If they are reckless, you have to be even more reckless.
Example. When Cantor walked away, you say, "This is my final offer--$400 billion in tax increases. If you're not back at the table by noon tomorrow, that number doubles. Not back by Friday, we move to 2 trillion in tax increases and only $400 billion in spending cuts. After the weekend, ALL spending cuts are off the table."
What have you got to lose, Mr. President? They've already told you they have every intention of blowing it all up anyway. Your best case scenario right now is that Democrats slash Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, pick up some useless pocket lint and then make up essentially ALL of the votes for the package (with the odd Republican, as with healthcare). That's not just weak and cowardly (and terrible politics), it's bad for America.
There is no more hard core belief of being a Democrat than the social safety net. You either believe in Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid or you don't. Those are your choices. And neither Obama nor the vast majority of Democrats in Congress today believe in Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid. If they did, they would FIGHT for them. They may not want to kill the programs outright as Republicans do, but they've got no problem at all cutting the shit out of them. The dead giveaway is that they'll dress it up as "reform" or "strengthening" or "streamlining". But those are cuts. And cuts are cuts are cuts.
Pat Buchanan was arguing on MSNBC today that Republicans will not give in on taxes because, in essence, it's something they believe deeply in and their base would punish them if they did give in. But the other (unspoken) part of that argument is that Democrats WILL give in on Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security because, fundamentally, they DON'T believe in them all that deeply and because the Democratic base WILL NOT punish their representatives for betraying their core principles. And, if that is true, then we are well and truly fucked.
Show me a guy who’s afraid to look bad, and I’ll show you a guy you can beat every time.—Lou Brock, baseball player
Yes, Obama was combative Wednesday. But he was already reduced to fighting for pocket lint. The President has already surrendered any notion of a genuine compromise. He's already surrendered every Democratic principle and any possible policy victory. What he's still clinging to is the hope of winning the appearance of a victory. Hey, I got a shiny penny from Mitch McConnell and all I had to give him was the keys to the store, the clothes off my back and every bit of dignity I had left. That's what was behind all that bluster. That's the President's bottom line. Just as it was with healthcare, the President is willing to surrender all to those who are destroying America just so long as he can make the empty claim: "I passed healthcare reform."
You can take one of three paths to resolve the debt ceiling impass. 1) Draw a line on what you'll accept and stick to it, 2) Declare the debt ceiling itself unconstitutional and the congress irrelevant and go on about your business or, 3) Give Republicans every thing they want in the hopes they might share their pocket lint...which they won't, by the way. Given that the first two options require a modicum of courage, we can easily conclude which way Obama will go. If you watched a little closer than most of our worthless media did on Wednesday, you could clearly see the white flag of surrender waving.