G’mornin’ America: “At some point, I think if you want to be a leader, then you got to lead”

“So we’ve shown ourselves willing to do the tough stuff on an issue that Republicans ran on.”


With those words, Barack Obama set the tone (or set his feet in stone) for his news conference on July 22nd, 2011, after Speaker of the House John Boehner (again) walked out on negotiations to resolve (er, make the “sell” on) the nation’s impending debt ceiling “nuclear option.”

Doing the right’s dirty work for them: President Obama offered to cut Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security by 650 billion dollars so that we can “have a conversation” about how to invest in and “win the future.”

“We then offered an additional $650 billion in cuts to entitlement programs — Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security.”
–Barack Obama at news presser July 22nd, 2011

Jonathan Cohn at The New Republic put the cuts this way:

“And it was a deal that, like Obama’s previous offers, was strikingly tilted towards Republican priorities. Among the provisions to which Obama had said yes, according to a senior administration official, were the following:

Medicare: Raising the eligibility age, imposing higher premiums for upper income beneficiaries, changing the cost-sharing structure, and shifting Medigap insurance in ways that would likely reduce first-dollar coverage. This was to generate about $250 billion in ten-year savings. This was virtually identical to what Boehner offered.

Medicaid: Significant reductions in the federal contribution along with changes in taxes on providers, resulting in lower spending that would likely curb eligibility or benefits. This was to yield about $110 billion in savings. Boehner had sought more: About $140 billion. But that’s the kind of gap ongoing negotiation could close.

Social Security: Changing the formula for calculating [decrease] cost-of-living increases in order to reduce future payouts. The idea was to close the long-term solvency gap by one-third, although it likely would have taken more than just this one reform to produce enough savings for that.”

Presidential Jujitsu 101: Make republicans offers they can’t refuse, knowing they’ll refuse. Make your supporters think you’ve got your fingers crossed behind your back. Then attempt some damage control by giving the left a lesson in conservative economics:

“…If you’re a progressive you should want to get our fiscal house in order, because once we do, it allows us to then have a serious conversation about the investments that we need to make… It’s a lot easier to do that when we’ve got our fiscal house in order. And that was an argument that I was willing to go out and make to a lot of skeptical Democrats…”
–Barack Obama at news presser July 22nd, 2011

My question to you Mr. President is this: Have you gotten to the point where you are willing to lead (as a traditional liberal democrat) yet?

Or is your idea of “leading” telling the left how to think, and then just offering to “talk” about the future? First let’s get the big cuts to entitlements out of the way, then let’s sit down for some decaf to talk about what to do next.

Why, that kind of attitude will really help you get reelected! Not to mention losing the senate to close campaigns in swing states.

Hooray for the jujitsu that provides the cover for all the Obamabots to project their progressive wish lists into your vacuous pronouncements so they can go on their merry way bashing the “principled left” and emoprogs as the root of all that is wrong in American politics when it all goes awry.

Yeah right, Mr. President. Like the right is going to let that be anything more than just talk, talk, talk, hope, hope, hope, and the only change the middle class, the elderly and the poor will see is the pennies, nickels and dimes (and a bunch of lint) left in their pockets as their sacrifices are shared with the wealthy and corporations via their tax breaks.

Anybody else hoping for someone to come along and primary Barack Obama? Or have presidential 2-party politics and primaries truly become worthless? Are democrats fine with a Reagan Democrat at the helm of their party as we witness the emergence of the 21st century neoliberal version of Ronald Reagan, Barack Obama’s self-avowed hero?

I’ll leave you all with some words from President Obama that he wrote recently in USA Today:

“When the future looked darkest and the way ahead seemed uncertain, President Reagan understood both the hardships we faced and the hopes we held for the future. He understood that it is always “Morning in America.” That was his gift, and we remain forever grateful.”

Yes, Barack Obama channeling “Morning in America.” Doesn’t that make you feel warm and fuzzy right now?
Consider this a nice weekend open thread on the brinksmanship coming out of Washington D.C.

And if you want some light weekend reading, here’s the Time article on Obama’s “Reagan Bromance.”

Barack loves Ronnie

Do I detect a legacy in the offing???

  1. Turner

    I wonder who the administration source is for the info you’re passing on. How do any of us know Obama was SERIOUSLY offering all the cuts mentioned? I think the point about jujitsu might be right on, though you don’t seem to have been making it positively.

    Could it be that Obama is offering revenue increases that he know R’s won’t accept in order to torpedo any agreement? By posing as the reasonable man in a food fight, he gains political status and an excuse to invoke the constitutional option to raise the debt limit without any cuts-revenue riders.

    • JC

      Obama himself said that he proposed cutting $650 billion from entitlements. Look it up on the link I provided.

      Does it matter that he is proposing $650 billion in entitlement cuts in the dark of a backroom deal?

      The jujitsu isn’t important. It’s that Obamabots want you to believe that the President has some secret plan to offer up things he knows republicans won’t take, so as to appear to be the grownup “moderate” in the room.

      But when it comes to presidential politics, everything is taken out of context and amplified to the nth degree. Obama just proposed cutting entitlements $650 billion–without as much as as a single hearing or townhall to sell it to the public. You think that isn’t going to dog him all the way to the polls next year (along with any dem who has to vote for a plan like that)? You think that republicans aren’t going to capitalize on his statement to cut medicare and social security?

      Read the poll I linked to. Over 50% of Montanans said they’d be less likely to vote for Obama if he signed cuts to entitlements into law. Over 60% of Montanans said they’d be less likely to vote for Tester if he voted for entitlement cuts. The verdict is the same in other swing states.

      If you’re a democrat, you can’t be happy about any of this…

      • Turner

        You’re right about him saying that about cuts. He’s not being serious, though. He knows, having heard from Pelosi et al, that he would never be supported by D’s if he KEPT those cuts on the table. He was simply making the point that he, unlike the R’s, was ready to give away things his own party would punish him for.

        It’s a bargaining ploy only. If he could’ve winked over his shoulder at other D’s, he would’ve.

        He’s got the R’s right where he wants them: looking extreme and even treasonous.

        • JC

          “It’s a bargaining ploy only. If he could’ve winked over his shoulder at other D’s, he would’ve.”

          And what makes you so sure of that?

          And how is that going to help him pass a debt ceiling increase?

          If right-wing republicans think that Obama’s offers are just a “ploy” what is their incentive to do other than what they want–which is to blow up the government?

          I don’t see any rationale in thinking that Obama is just “funnin'” them. I think he is finally showing his true conservative creds.

        • mr turner: what we heard from democrat party when obama took single payer off the table: don’t worry it’s just a negotiating tactic. obama won’t cave on public option though……..

          the public is fed up with party-speak judging by these numbers… http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/07/23/unfavorable-ratings-for-both-major-parties-near-record-highs/

  2. Ingemar Johansson

    This is what I heard.

    Boehner claims they’d agreed to $800B in new taxes, Barky breaks word and demands $1.2T

  3. Turner

    Actually, in Obama’s phone call to Beohner, he left a message saying he wanted to discuss another $400 billion in revenues and if Boehner had any objections. That was on Thursday.

    Boehner didn’t call him back to discuss the $400 billion. Instead, on Friday he claimed that Obama had “moved the goal posts” by “demanding” further revenues.

    Boehner was lying.

  4. This situation is a gdmess. Boehner walks out yesterday. He came out after today’s one hour meeting saying he was seeking 3 to 4 trillion in cuts.

    both sides are desperate and stubborn. Not a good case for reasonable discussion.

    The finance sector is quite clearly calling for revenue increases, having turned back the deal that was supposedly struck about mid-week. And for one, I’m in agreement.

    Boehner? 3 to 4 trillion in cuts? Insane.

    Those revenue increases can come in cuts…they can come by eliminating unwarranted tax breaks for any hundreds of special interests.

    America is being dismantled.

  5. The escapee

    Here’s the Democratic strategy for hope and change: achieve long-term progressive goals by means of frequent short-term betrayals.

    Works for me!

  6. Ingemar Johansson

    Best comment so far.

    “You can’t trust him to tell the truth. He lied about the circumstances of his mother’s death to get Obamacare passed. He lied when he said that if you like your health care plan you can keep it. He lied about death panels. etc.etc.etc.

    You can’t trust his judgment. Stimulus money was used to give weapons to Mexican narcoterrorists. His high speed internet for every household proposal came in at $7,000,000 per household. He promised that if we passed the stimulus, we wouldn’t see 8% unemployment. Obamacare killed job creation.

    You can’t trust his temperament. He’s a spoiled little man-child who has been affirmative-actioned through everything his entire life and thinks that if he just pouts and threatens to hold his breath until he passes out, everybody and everything will give into him.

    Fasten your seat belts. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.”

  7. Obama voted against raising the debt ceiling under President Bush –

    • JC

      Yeah, Bush and his republicans in Congress were quite the debt-pushers and ceiling-raisers, weren’t they?

      Let’s see, what pushed the debt during Bush? Oh yeah, unfunded tax cuts, 2 wars and a bad prescription benefits deal for Medicare.

      Take away all that spending, and Bush could have continued on with the budget surpluses of the late 90’s.

  8. Pete Talbot

    If only the Dems could message like the Repubs. Unemployment is the issue that needs to be tackled, as the American public said in poll-after-poll just a few months ago.
    But the right has made such a stink over the deficit and debt ceiling that the public has started to believe them, and the polls now list debt as a top issue.

    Meanwhile, nothing is being done about unemployment as all congressional energy is focused on cutting debt.

    The Republicans are in control of the spin. They’ve taken a less-important issue and put in front-and-center in the American mind. And the Democrats (and media, to a certain extent) are complacent. It’s disgusting.

  1. 1 Capitulate to Austerians? Invoke the 14th? Or Time for New 3rd Party Movement? « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] people, myself included, believe that the current turn of democratic party ideals to one of austerity in the face of […]

  2. 2 Thus Continues the “Great Unravelling”? « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] other entitlement programs “like” Medicaid and Medicare. So that is the tradeoff, and one that Obama signaled during the debt ceiling “crisis”. You give us some revenue, and we’ll start […]

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