Someone Needs to Remind President Obama Who Won the ElectionPosted: December 19, 2012 | |
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.
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.