Someone Needs to Remind President Obama Who Won the Election

Barack Obama's inner child?

Barack Obama’s inner child?

In November, President Obama won reelection cleanly and decisively–it was a landslide. Immediately after his victory, Obama appeared determined to stand up to Republican intransigence in the battle over the “fiscal cliff” and the debt ceiling. He “assured a gathering of progressive and labor leaders…”

“I am not going to budge,” he told the group, according to an attendee who relayed material from the meeting on condition of anonymity. “I said in 2010 that I’m going to do this once, and I meant it.”

….two other sources who attended the meeting confirmed the quote. The administration seems to have staked out a firmer position than during the first stand-off over the Bush-era tax cuts, in November and December of 2010, leaving the impression that it won’t sign off on a compromise that doesn’t increase the tax burden on the wealthy as a means of paying down the deficit….

Top Democrats in the Senate have said they would be comfortable letting all the tax rates expire — as they are scheduled to do — at the end of the year, after which they will put together a tax cut bill that would re-establish the Bush-era rates for incomes below $250,000.

As the talks began, the White House emphatically stated that Social Security was not part of the deficit and that cuts in this important program were off the table. But just a few weeks later, the odious New York Post is laughing at Obama for “caving” on Social Security. Why should Boehner negotiate in earnest when he knows his opponent–one of the most powerful men in the world–will eventually give in because of some perverse need to demonstrate “bipartisanship?”

A short time ago Obama gave a press conference in which he admitted,

“I have gone at least half way” to meet Republican concerns, Obama told reporters at the White House after he announced the formation of a special panel to recommend steps to prevent gun violence. “The fact that they haven’t taken it yet is puzzling.”

Obama’s offer includes raising tax rates on income above $400,000; increasing rates on capital gains and dividends to 20% from 15% for incomes above $250,000; and billions of dollars in cuts to health care and other programs.

While Obama has backed off on earlier proposals — including a $250,000 threshold for higher income taxes — Republicans continue to say that the president’s fiscal-cliff plan is flawed.

“It is not ‘puzzling’ to reject an agreement that…fails to remotely meet the test of balance [the president] himself has promised,” said Kevin Smith, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, in a post on Twitter.

He’s sounding whiny again. Why is he so surprised? He’s like Charlie Brown with the football. Obama never seems to finally learn that if he stands strong against Boehner, he not only will defeat the Republicans but also he’ll earn the respect and support of the American people.

Markos has an interesting post at Dailykos that demonstrates this: It wasn’t Obama’s negotiating style that won him reelection. It almost cost him. Markos demonstrates with a chart and timeline that Obama’s approval rating rose and fell dramatically during his negotiations with Boehner over the debt ceiling last year.

President Barack Obama entered the debt ceiling negotiations with a net-negative approval rating. As House Speaker John Boehner became more belligerent and confrontational, Obama soared. The people were firmly behind him! But then he began offering concession after concession, hoping to seem “reasonable” and look like the “adult in the room,” and his numbers simply tanked. That’s a mathematical fact, not opinion.

He didn’t return to net-positive approvals until the Democratic convention this September. People didn’t reward Obama’s conciliatory approach to the negotiations. Rather, they saw it (rightly) as weakness, and reacted accordingly. No one likes a weak president.

Then Markos uses the 2012 exit polls to show that Obama was reelected despite his “leadership style,” because people sensed that the President really cared about their problems.

For those who based their choice on leadership, Obama got killed 61-38. And the president lost the “vision” and “values” questions handily as well. So how did he win? He cleaned up 81-18 with people who voted on which candidate cared about them the most. In other words, voters thought Mitt Romney was an aloof dick and trusted Obama most to look out for them. So maybe he should validate that trust.

Obama isn’t doing himself any favors by drawing lines in the sand and then inevitably capitulating.

Republicans have learned that there isn’t a negotiating stance that Obama won’t compromise. That doesn’t lend itself to smart negotiations. Rather, it creates unbalanced ones, as Republicans simply wait for Obama to cave on his demands. They’ve learned that for Obama, making a deal is more important than what’s in the deal.

Obama with dad

Why does Obama repeatedly do this? I can’t possibly know for sure, but I think he has inner child issues. We all have times when we regress back to a time in childhood when we were weak and had few options. It’s important to learn how to deal with that when it happens.

Obama needs to learn to remind himself that he’s no longer a small child abandoned first by his father and then by his mother–sent away to be raised by his grandparents. That must have been very difficult for him, but he’s not that sad, lonely little boy anymore. He’s the President of the United States, and those of us who voted for him need him to act like it.

Cutting Social Security and backing off the $250,000 income level for those who must pay more taxes is unacceptable. Not only will caving on these issues hurt seniors, disabled people, and force middle class and working class Americans to pay more than their share, but also giving in to Boehner’s demands will hurt Obama’s legacy and the Democratic Party as a whole. As David Johnson of The Campaign for America’s Future points out, “Social Security is Still the Third Rail,” and cutting it would be “political suicide.”

We JUST had an election where the public (not to mention Every. Single. Poll.) overwhelmingly said no cuts to Social Security or Medicare, and raise taxes on income over $250K. That ought to mean something. But the “word” out of DC is that a deal is underway that cuts the Social Security COLA and increases the income level subject to a higher tax from $250K to $400K.

Senators and Representatives who are thinking of touching the “third rail:” How many constituents are calling your office today to say, “Yes, I want you to cut the Social Security COLA”?
Cutting Social Security makes no sense, and is bad politics because it hurts people. Old people depend on this meager benefit and by law Social Security can not contribute to deficits. But never mind the numbers, look at the social and political effects of a deal that cuts the Social Security cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) immediately after the public voted not to do this.

The social effect: Does our society care about people, or just about money? Cuts in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security hurt PEOPLE. Raising tax rates on the wealthy is just money. What does it tell the public about our society if their government cuts Social Security benefits immediately after we have an election in which the public overwhelmingly votes against cuts in Social Security or Medicare, and to increase taxes on $250K and up? This reported deal raises that $250K to $400K, reduces military cuts, and ignores that the same amount of money could be raised in ways that actually help the country and economy, like a Financial Transaction Tax.

The AARP has come out strongly against applying the chained CPI to Social Security.

“Adopting the chained consumer price index for Social Security benefits will take $112 billion out of the pockets of current Social Security beneficiaries in the next 10 years alone, and is neither fair nor warranted.

“Social Security is currently the principal source of income for nearly two-thirds of older American households, and roughly one third of those households depend on Social Security for nearly all of their income. Half of those 65 and older have annual incomes below $18,500. Every dollar of the average Social Security retirement benefit of about $14,800 is absolutely critical to the typical beneficiary.

“The Chained CPI is a stealth benefit reduction that will compound over time and cut thousands of dollars in retirement income for current beneficiaries. A typical 80-year-old woman will lose the equivalent of 3 months worth of food annually. The greatest impact of Chained CPI would fall on the oldest, eventually resulting in a cut of one full month’s benefit annually. This dramatic benefit cut would push thousands more into poverty and result in increased economic hardship for those trying desperately to keep up with rising prices.”

Labor unions are also warning Obama to “Back off Social Security.”

The AFL-CIO is pushing President Obama to back off from Social Security benefit cuts in the “fiscal cliff” negotiations.

The nation’s largest labor federation sent an email Tuesday to activists asking them to email the White House and lawmakers and oppose the changes to Social Security that the president has offered to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) in deficit-reduction package.

“Boehner has been talking to President Obama about cutting Social Security Cost-of-Living Adjustments (COLAs), which are especially important to keep inflation from eating away the benefits that seniors and people with disabilities depend on,” said the email, signed by Damon Silvers, the AFL-CIO’s director of policy.

“Email President Obama, your member of the House of Representatives and your senators to demand they reject House Speaker Boehner’s proposal to extend tax cuts for the rich and that they oppose COLA cuts and any other cuts to Social Security, Medicaid or Medicare benefits, regardless of who proposes them.”

These are the people who worked in the trenches to get out the vote and get Obama reelected despite the weak economy and high unemployment. But Obama the people-pleaser only seems to care about what the Republicans think of him. He probably knows intellectually that he’ll never get them to like him, but he just can’t help it. It’s as if Boehner somehow represents Barack Obama, Sr., the man who abandoned a little boy decades ago.

Obama needs to listen to the people who got him where he is and stop worrying about pleasing the people who hate him. He needs to listen to the AARP, Labor, and other progressive groups. It’s not too late to withdraw his latest offer–after all, Boehner has already rejected it and moved on to “Plan B.”

Take Social Security off the table, Mr. President.  Go back to your original stand on taxing incomes over $250,000. Your place in history and the well being of the American people depend on it.

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53 Comments on “Someone Needs to Remind President Obama Who Won the Election”

  1. ANonOMouse says:

    good post BB and spot on!!!

    • bostonboomer says:

      Thanks, Mouse!

      • RalphB says:

        Thank you BB! Wonderful post. Abandonment issues may be the killer for a “tough” Obama but I hope he hears enough from us to make the difference!

      • bostonboomer says:

        I didn’t mean to sound disrespectful. Lots of people have speculated about this problem he has. He has a deep need to please people who reject him and dismiss those who support him. He could really use some therapy.

      • RalphB says:

        I don’t think you were disrespectful at all. I agree with you 100% and, on top of it, I think Bill Clinton had a case of the same problem for most of his administration.

      • bostonboomer says:

        George W. Bush too. Why do we keep electing presidents with daddy issues?

      • ANonOMouse says:

        I’ve met too many people, including many in my own family, who work their butts off to please those who are or who have rejected them, while basically ignorning those who really care for them. Is their a name for this disorder BB?

      • bostonboomer says:

        I don’t think it’s a disorder. It’s just human nature. Have you ever read about Attachment Theory? I think that’s the basis for these needy behaviors. In AA, we called it “people pleasing.”

    • Fannie says:

      Agreed, it’s time he listened to US, and turn off the GOP. Listen to us, those who voted for you.

      • dakinikat says:

        The Congress is raising a stink and so are people so maybe he’s trying to elicit enough public outrage to tell Boehner he tried but it isn’t going to fly …

        it’s possible it’s a bargaining strategy right now if he’s put behind his first term behavior

      • Sure hope you are right about that Dak, but I really never have had much faith in Obama anyway.

    • Propertius says:

      I disagree. This isn’t about Obama’s inner child or his need to substitute Boehner for his absent father. It’s about Obama appeasing his real constituency, the big money donors. In the debates, he said that his position on Social Security and Medicare was “substantially the same” as Romney’s. You just weren’t listening.

      These are the people who worked in the trenches to get out the vote and get Obama reelected despite the weak economy and high unemployment.

      And you’ve served your purpose.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Excuse me? I was listening. Don’t presume to speak for me, please. BTW, I didn’t canvass for Obama either.

      • maddie says:

        Agree, Propertius. I don’t know why anyone here should be surprised. He said Reagan was the President he respected most during his 2008 run in the primary against Hillary. He is who he is. He hasn’t changed. He was selected to do what he is doing. Nothing more, nothing less.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Who here is surprised? Drive by commenters who never moved on from the 2008 primaries? We are the ones who have to push politicians to do what we want. If you want to sit back and whine and complain, take it back to your usual hangout.

      • ANonOMouse says:

        The comments of the drive-by commenters sound like a bunch of sour grapes to me. Disliking Obama in 2008-2009, disagreeing with some of his decisions and opposing some of his actions doesn’t negate the fact that his position, on almost everything, is infinitely better than the opposition. Hillary lost, MOVE THE HELL ON!!!!

    • Propertius says:

      For what it’s worth, BB, I think you had it right the first time:

      Well, in the first place he is incredibly arrogant, haughty, full-of-himself, and entitled. He appears to have almost no empathy for other people. On the other hand, he is very good at using people as long as he wants something from them, and then throwing them under the bus when he no longer needs them. For starters, just ask Rev. Wright, Rev., Pfleger, the members of Trinity United Church of Christ, “former” advisors Samantha Power and Austen Goolsbee, Jim Johnson (former VP committe member), whoever created the “Great Possum Seal,” the “progressive” bloggers who supported him unstintingly for months, and his own grandmother. In fact Obama has added a new cliche to the American vernacular, “He (or she) wasn’t the person I once knew.”

      – Boston Boomer, July 26,2008

      • HT says:

        And your point it what today? Prop you keep doing this. Why? So you can be proven right? Wrong move, really wrong and tacky move and furthermore, no one other than you cares.

  2. RalphB says:

    TPM: Did Boehner Just Pull The Plug On Fiscal Cliff Negotiations?

    In response to President Obama’s extensive comments about the fiscal cliff at the White House Wednesday afternoon, House Speaker John Boehner left himself little if any room to continue negotiations.

    Here’s the key piece of Boehner’s brief comments from his appearance before reporters in the Capitol:

    “Tomorrow the House will pass legislation to make permanent tax relief for nearly every American — 99.81 percent of the American people,” he said, referring to his own so-called Plan B. “Then the President will have a decision to make. He can call on Senate Democrats to pass that bill, or he can be responsible for the largest tax increase in American history.”

    Fuck the tan man! Let’s go over the cliff.

  3. Brava, this post is perfect BB…

  4. RalphB says:

    Paul Krugman. This is the complete post because it should be spread far and wide.

    That Old Sick Feeling

    Here we go again — or so I find myself fearing.

    Obama’s fiscal deal offer was already distressing — cuts to Social Security, and a big concession, it turns out, on taxation of dividends, retaining most of the Bush cut (with the benefits flowing overwhelmingly to the top 1 percent). It wasn’t clear that the deal would have gotten nearly enough in return.

    But sure enough, it looks as if Republicans have taken the offer as a sign of weakness, as a starting point from which they can bargain Obama down. Oh, and they’re not giving up at all on the idea of using the debt ceiling for further blackmail.

    In other words, all of a sudden it’s feeling a lot like 2011 again, with the president negotiating with himself while the other side enjoys the process.

    So Obama needs to draw a line right now: no further concessions. None. He’s already given too much.

    Yes, this probably means going over the cliff. So be it: it’s less bad than the alternative.

    And if Obama does try to make more concessions, Democrats in Congress need to let him know that they’re not behind him, that he cannot count on their votes.

  5. Obama and Pelosi are going to throw us under the bus, the question is why do we keep believe either one? He betrayed us on Health Care, now he is compromising with Social Security and raising the Medicare age. I asked my sister who voted for him both times how she was going to afford the health insurance premiums at age 64 or 66?

    I will not forget how Obama lied about including everything, “Everything will be on the table.” but blocked Single Payer and the Public Option, then took away the dog bone of the Medicare Buy In. For those of you that are on Medicare and Social Security you are safe, with the exception of the CPI, for others like me, we have to figure out what to do for work until age 67 for Medicare and 70 or 72 for Social Security.

    Oh, and TIME named him ‘Person Of The Year’ again. Salt in the wound.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Raising the Medicare age is no longer being considered. If enough people raise hell about this, SS will be off the table again too. I haven’t heard any discussion of raising the age for SS to 70 or 72. ???

      • That is what Boehner is pushing for and Obama says he legislates like a Republican. Who brought him to the party the GOP? I guess Obama will promise to save Social Security and Medicare and bring down premiums in la la land. He is a speech guy, who doesn’t give a crap about working people and Pelosi was born RICH.

        I am glad seniors have their benefits, and Medicare, but for the rest of us, it SCREW YOU POLICY that isn’t working. Look for people to loose interest in 2014 elections.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Link for the Social Security age of 70-72, please? Boehner is no longer pushing to raise the Medicare age because the pushback was angry and overwhelming. That trial balloon is gone. But I’d sure like to know where you heard about raising SS age to 70s.

  6. Allie says:

    I’ve always thought Obama was just as conservative as his owners – he’s certainly Chicago School, right? He wants to be one of the Big Boys – the wheeler dealer financiers who rule the world. So he has to be taken seriously by THEM, not us. And it is a Boyz Club, make no mistake.

    And as long as we’re speculating – he seems to adore the memory of his alcoholic polygamist father and detest his white mother, which I find understandable if not relatable. Kids often adore their fathers however distant. But a mother who is distant and who then abandons the child would be hard to forgive. Add to this being brought up in a society that is essentially misogynist, and we have a politician who calls full-grown professional women, “sweetie”.

    I also think that’s why his stimulative measures disproportionally help men and his proposed safety-net cuts would disproportionally hurt women.

  7. RalphB says:

    Jon Chait: Boehner’s Plan B Fails; Inmates Running Asylum

    And the conservative revolt shows something important: Boehner does not have control over his own caucus. Obama is trying to cut a deal with Boehner, and he may succeed, but in all likelihood such a “success” would lead to a reprise of the 2011 negotiations, when House Republicans threw the deal back in Boehner’s face. Obama better be planning to negotiate something in January.

    Obama should not waste one more minute negotiating for a deal which cannot be made. Looks a lot like Cliff-mas time to me :-)

    • bostonboomer says:

      Obama should pack up and go to Hawaii and leave Boehner to stew in his own juice.

      • RalphB says:

        An early start to Christmas vacation would make lots of sense to me. It’s the only reasonable thing to do at this point.

      • ANonOMouse says:

        I agree. Leave the tan man to stew himself into a dither at the 18th Hole Bar. Fuck the tan man!!!

    • RalphB says:

      Dave Weigel: Boehner: Gone in 51 Seconds

      John Boehner’s “press conference” on the fiscal cliff started at 12:15:00 p.m. At 12:15:11, he characterized the White House’s latest “cliff” offer as “$1.3 trillion of revenue to $850 billion in spending reductions,” which “fails to meet the test that the president offered the American people.” At 12:15:30, he said that Republicans would vote tomorrow to restore top tax rates on only the top $1 million of income, affecting 0.19 percent of taxpayers. Obama, said Boehner, could “call on the Senate Democrats to pass that bill, or he can be responsible for the largest tax increase in American history.” At 12:51:51, he was finished, walking away from microphones as reporters shouted “come back!”

      The “Plan B” tax plan, which has been sold to Republicans for roughly 30 hours, does nothing to the cuts mandated by sequestration. It’s a gigantic punt, one with largely PR implications — blaming Democrats, not Republicans, for a standoff and a 2013 recession. Republicans are fairly, disturbingly confident that today’s polls are (to borrow a word) skewed, and that economic damage will be blamed on the president. As one Republican told me recently, voters would not look at a bad economy and call it the “House Republican recession.” They’d call it the Obama recession.

      So, why is Boehner promising the vote tomorrow? Because it’s not clear that “Plan B” can pass. At 3 p.m., Tim Huelskamp and other House Republicans will appear at the National Press Club to denounce “Plan B.” Steny Hoyer, the Democratic whip, has promised to whip his conference against Plan B. If that holds, Republicans can only afford to lose 22 votes and narrowly pass the plan. (In the next Congress, they can only afford to lose 16 votes.) This is yet another bluff, one that suggests a real artery clog in “cliff” talks.

  8. Joanelle says:

    This is way off topic and maybe I’m wrong, but the most recent spate of articles about the Benghasi attack seems to be aimed at insuring that Hill (can’t) will not run in ’16. Bolton is on a tear trying to crush her credibility.

    • bostonboomer says:

      They’re sure trying. I don’t know if it will work. She couldn’t micromanage every department at State. She can also ask the Republicans why they voted against funding for security for foreign service officers.

    • RalphB says:

      That was to be expected as surely as night follows day. Chances are it won’t work but they won’t stop trying, ever.

    • Fannie says:

      I still wonder why Steven was 400 miles off his compound on 9/11…………….The Marine Security Guard Force are used for “building” not firing……..and I understand there are only 6 marines……………..so I found my old movie “Rules Of Engagement” ………….Samuel Jackson and Tommy Lee Jones………….let me see how that compares to Libya.

  9. bostonboomer says:

    Nancy Pelosi says Chained CPI isn’t a benefit cut, even though it significantly lowers benefits.

    She says it will “strengthen” Social Security. Pelosi, of course, will not have to live on Social Security since she is one of the .1 percent.

  10. ecocatwoman says:

    While I agree with the Charlie Brown/Lucy analogy, I also think your description of the prez’ behavior toward Boehner resembles that of a woman in an abusive relationship. I can almost hear, “he says he loves me”, “he has promised he will change”, “he brought me flowers”, “he said he was sorry”. Just change those to: “he said he wants to negotiate”, “he wants bipartisanship”, and so on.

    I’m just glad that some Dem members of Congress seem to have grown a set & have learned to yell NOOOOOOOOOOO. Boehner is between a rock (the Teabaggers in the House) & a hard place (a much larger group of Dems standing firm). Maybe Michelle should step in & take over the negotiations with Boehner. I have a feeling she would have him whimpering in no time.

    • RalphB says:

      I suspect you’re right about Michelle. She doesn’t seem to have the issues he does.

      • NW Luna says:

        I bet Michelle knows you do not start negotiating by giving stuff away.

        Spineless DINO. Can we re-boot him in campaign mode somehow?

  11. The evening reads will be a bit late tonight…I am watching Double Indemnity….ya baby, suppose I write that post later…

  12. Fannie says:

    Rules of Engagement was a great movie too……………it sure pisses you off.