It would be hard for me to imagine an explanation in which President Barack Obama gets a good grade for his performance in the debt-ceiling-capitulation, that’s been called a “deal.” There’s no question: the president got snookered by a band of rowdy Congressional freshmen.
Why, I remember the time when first-term members were not even supposed to speak on the House floor until they’d been seasoned enough. Now, these 80 or so Tea Party-afilliated members have re-designed the entire government tapestry.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) who was pushed further and further to the right during the weeks of these on-again, off-again White House negotiations by the Tea Party contingent of his Republican Caucus, declared victory. “It isn’t the greatest deal in the world, but it shows how much we’ve changed the terms of the debate in this town,” Mr. Boehner said on a conference call, according to GOP officials quoted in published reports. He added the agreement was “all spending cuts. The White House bid to raise taxes has been shut down.”
The only victory Boehner got was to keep his job. He flipped and flopped as much as the President. First agreeing to a plan that did include some “shared sacrifice”–as in the burden for closing the deficit gap being spread among the wealthiest individuals and super-rich corporations–and then with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) nipping at his heels, complaining, and complaining, and complaining again that Pres. Obama was not showing any “leadership.”
It’s clear that the only thing Obama could lead the Democrats to do was to capitulate, to surrender, which is exactly what he did.
“Despite Democratic control over the White House, despite Democratic control over the Senate, despite overwhelming opposition from the American people, a small minority of the members of the Republican-controlled House have successfully pushed an extreme right-wing agenda onto the American political landscape,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said in a speech on the Senate floor July 31.
“It is an ideology which believes that, despite the fact that the rich are getting richer, the middle class is shrinking, and poverty is increasing, all, all of the burden for deficit reduction should rest on working people,” Sen. Sanders complained.
“This deal trades people’s livelihoods for the votes of a few unappeasable right-wing radicals, and I will not support it,” said Rep. Raul Grijalva, (D-Ariz.), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Even the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) voiced opposition to the debt-ceiling sell-out.
President Obama urged lawmakers to “do the right thing” and approve the proposed agreement. “Now, is this the deal I would have preferred? No,” Mr. Obama said. “But this compromise does make a serious down payment on the deficit reduction we need, and gives each party a strong incentive to get a balanced plan done before the end of the year.”
This President lost this fight before it started. He was finished when he gave away the farm to win his “victory” with the healthcare legislation. The Republicans labeled the measure “Obama-care” and he was riddled with ad hominem attacks, from sun up to sun down, over the issue. They even successfully labeled this “Obama’s debt crisis,” when it was the reputation of the entire U.S. government–the “full faith and credit of the United States”–which was at stake. Conservative hero Ronald Reagan raised the debt ceiling 18 times. George W. (for Worst in History) Bush raised it seven times. His father George H.W. Bush raised it four times, without so much as a murmur of the impending “catastropher,” or “Armageddon” that surrounded this debt-ceiling increase.
Republicans were clearly emboldened by the way Obama kept folding in the face of their threats. He surrendered last December, extending all the Bush tax cuts; he surrendered in the spring when they threatened to shut down the government; and he has now surrendered on a grand scale to raw extortion over the debt ceiling. On their way out of the White House, they took his lunch money and dared him to not cry about it.If the President got anything he said he wanted out of this very bad deal, it’s that this round of budget cuts and debt-ceiling increases will last until 2013 after the next presidential inauguration, presumably after his re-election.
His re-election strategy is simple: I’m not a radical right wing Tea Party member. “The activist liberal base will support Obama because they’re terrified of the right wing,” Robert Borosage, co-director of the liberal group Campaign for America’s Future told The New York Times. That’s it. “Re-elect President Obama because Obama is not Michelle Bauchmann.”