themcglynn.com

06 Dec

Obama: From A “Manchurian Republican”? to Telling the House Dems to Surrender

Is Obama a “Manchurian Republican”?

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Thus begins Levees Not War’s latest letter to the president. More riveting excerpts below. We suspect it will get more attention from you, gentle readers, than from the Oval Office.

We posed the Manchurian question in a letter written in frustration after Obama’s failure to stand up firmly against extension of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2%; his silence amid chatter about curtailing or privatizing Social Security and Medicare; his chronic lack of any definite, robust job-creation plan for Main Street (Wall Street’s been taken care of); and, the hottest-burning frustration just now, his repeated capitulations to our Republican tormentors and his . . . captors? Friends? BFFs?

The letter was sent after his post–midterm election summit meeting last week with McConnell and Boehner—the meeting that had been scheduled earlier but was abruptly canceled by the GOP leaders because of unspecified “scheduling conflicts,” a slap in the president’s face. Once the “no compromise” Republicans deigned to meet with the chief executive, he apologized for not having reached out to them more in the past two years. (We don’t know yet whether he crawled in to that meeting on his hands and knees; the White House press office has not replied to our inquiries.) Just the day before the meeting, Obama had announced his cynical decision to freeze federal workers’ pay for the next two years in order to save $5 billion—less than the U.S. spends in Afghanistan every month. Does he not realize that taking away these workers’ income, besides being morally wrong, also reduces their spending power and thus sets the economy back even further? (This is why unemployment benefits are stimulative to the economy generally.) Politically astute, too: what a way to win federal workers’ votes in 2012. What will he do when Republicans actually shut down the government, as they’ve been chattering about doing for months now? Find “common ground”?

Alas, the president was not at home to read our letter as it rolled off the White House fax machine because he was off on a secret visit to the troops in Afghanistan. He left town even though Congress was in the middle of voting on whether to extend the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts—a decision that, if the GOP has its way, would add $700 billion to the deficit over the next 10 years. Was he there to tell the troops the war’s over and now the federal deficit will be reduced by some $70 billion per year? Just kidding. (Iraq is at least another $65 billion or so per year.) (Congressional Research Service figures.)…………………………………………………………………………..

No one seems to know where Obama is going, what his purpose is anymore. It’s pretty clear that his response to the midterm “shellacking” is not going to be a return to basic Democratic party principles, and he’s still not interested in being the Democrat in Chief. As Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne Jr. has written, “Obama seems to have decided that showing how conciliatory he can be is more important than making clear where he stands. . . . Obama’s party is in this fix because neither he nor  congressional Democrats could agree on what to do about the Bush tax cuts when they held the initiative—and now Democrats have no idea where Obama will go next” (“Where Is Obama Going?“). He continues to spend more time appeasing Republicans—whose sole, stated object is to make him a one-termer and to win infinite tax cuts for the upper 2 percent of America than standing up for the middle class he promised to defend…………………………………..

White House finally gets tough on tax cuts — with House Dems

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As Tim Geithner, Jacob Lew, and Max Baucus “negotiate” with the Rethugs, in secret, on a deal whereby the Rethugs will get a two-year tax extension for the greediest, richest Americans, and the White House gets an extension of unemployment benefits, the WH now wants House Democrats to get their white flags out, yell uncle, and get with the program.

The fact that House Democrats voted overwhelmingly last week to only extend tax cuts for the middle-class, and not for the wealthy, the fact that Obama convincingly said over and over again there wouldn’t be any tax cuts for the wealthy, now becomes irrelevant sidebars. (The fact that the President, and his “catfood” commission, proclaim Armageddon over huge government deficits, gives way to the rapacious, insatiable greed of the wealthy, again.)

The White House remained fairly unengaged until last week. And, then, after not lifting a finger to jawbone errant Senate Democrats, and persuade moderate Republicans, the WH finally gets involved in secret negotiations with the Rethugs. And now House Democrats are supposed to lie down and play dead, and accept Tim Geithner’s “compromise.”

Obama finally gets tough — with House Dems

The topic, according to a source close to outgoing (but still in charge) House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, was how to cajole liberal Democrats in the “lower chamber” into accepting the results of the deal President Barack Obama and Senate Republicans are trying to cut.

So spinelessness at the WH is now followed by an arrogant hubris, that President Obama and Tim Geithner know best what a “compromise” should look like. It would be an understatement to say that if Obama, Geithner, et al., have learned anything at all in the last two years, they certainly have learned how to compromise — in spades…………………………………………………….

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