Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Obama the Magician

The thing hurting Obama the most with progressives is speculation.  If a report comes out that is negative against Obama, it's assumed to be true.  Why?  Apparently, because of all the other reports that were speculated to be true.  And if it's possible that Obama's doing something as bad as Republicans, then we should take it for granted that it's as bad as what Republicans would do.  Why?  Because of all the other reports that are imagined to be true.

But what happens when the dust settles, and it turns out that the initial report was wrong?  I don't know.  By the time that happens, they've moved on to the next thing that Obama might be doing wrong; and the past wrong is added to the giant pile of wrongs, none of which are revisited once the truth is known.  And if you have one report that says Obama likes kittens and another report that says he eats them, we'd be fools to not add kitten eating to Obama's list of sins.

And one of the worst things Obama can do, apparently, is to negotiate with Republicans.  It's taken as a given that he's a horrible negotiator who gives Republicans everything they asked for, all in the name of kumbaya bipartisanship.  And that's assumed because Obama refuses to insult Republicans, but instead, pays lip service to bipartisanship and Republican sincerity.  Even subtle jabs at Republicans are treated as compliments, because they weren't rude enough.

And no matter how good the deal looks for us after the fact, it was already assumed to be yet another defeat; which is to be added to the heap of defeats Obama handed us, very few of which can be discussed in any actual detail.  And that's because these are only "defeats" if you assume it was ever possible to get everything we wanted. 

So getting insurance for millions was worthless because we didn't get a public option, which was never going to be the public option progressives were imagining they were getting anyway.  They had their pony plan.  Obama didn't deliver a pony.  End of story.  Sure, his plan looks nothing like what McCain/Palin would have given us, but he gave them everything they wanted.

Who Rolled Whom?

And so it is with the recent brouha over the government shutdown budget talks.  It was taken as a given that Obama was being rolled and should have bluffed by calling the Republican's bluff that they weren't bluffing about.  And it should only be assumed that we got the worst deal possible, while giving them everything they asked for.  Why?  Because that should always be assumed, even though it's never happened.  Apparently, if Republicans get anything, it means they got everything.  It's as if words just don't mean anything.

But...if recent reports are to be believed, it appears that Republicans got rolled; as $38.5 billion in spending cuts only consisted of $14.7 billion in actual cuts.  The rest of the cuts were achieved with smoke & mirrors, including the removal of funds that weren't going to be spent anyway.  And that makes sense, as Republicans really aren't that bright; and Tea Partiers especially so.

A month ago I wrote a post I never posted about Obama's strategy in proposing spending cuts as he did, and how it'd paint Republicans in a bad spot.  My thinking was that because Obama already came up with all the low hanging fruit to cut, Republicans would be in a bad position because they wouldn't be able to come up with much else to cut; and the whole thing would be a trap for them.  But I never posted it because it wasn't done and I never got back to it. 

After the deal was cut, I revisited that post to see if I should go ahead and post it, now that hindsight could judge the wisdom of it.  I didn't, because it wasn't totally spot on and I was a little ashamed of it.  But with these new reports coming out, it appears my shame was misplaced.  Republicans really couldn't come up with much else to cut.  At least not the $60 billion they were demanding.  Apparently, they couldn't even get half that.  Yet, Obama and Democrats score the points for getting the deal cut, while Tea Partiers gnash their teeth that they didn't get everything they wanted.

Granted, now is not the time to be taking $14 billion out of the economy.  If anything, we should have added more.  Like the time Obama got us over $500 billion in stimulus that boosted the economy and added millions of jobs.  But...the Republicans had real leverage against us and that simply can't be vanished away; no matter how bold of a blogger you are. 

I was unhappily willing to accept $38 billion in cuts.  I'm happier at $14 billion.  Could Obama have done better?  Maybe.  And maybe tiny ponies will fly from my butt and give me $14 billion to spend.

Perspective: What Republicans Really Want

And finally, I'd just like to put this in perspective.  Many progressives insist that Obama's given Republicans everything they wanted.  But of course, if you want to see what Republicans want, look at the Ryan Plan.

What do Republicans want?  They want $3 trillion in taxcuts for the rich.  They want to take $3 trillion in spending from the poor and needy.  They want to destroy Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.  That's what Republicans want.  How much of that has Obama given them?  Nada.  Yet, Ryan is considered one of their moderates, and not representative of the true power behind the party.

What else do Republicans want?  They want war with Iran and other countries.  They want to ban abortion.  They want to kick out all the Mexicans.  They want to deny you birth control.  They want to outlaw gay sex.  They want us to return to the Gold Standard.  They want a Christian nation with biblical laws.  They want to end public education.  They want to fund Christian schools.  They want to destroy unions.  They want to end labor laws. 

I could easily go on and on.  You get the point.  These are some of the things Republicans want and Obama hasn't given them any of it.  So anyone who tells you that Obama is a sucker who has given Republicans everything they want is full of shit and I refuse to be nice about that.  It's totally and completely full of shit.  They are lying.  Period. 

It's all just hyperbole designed to get you to hate Obama just as much as they do, while the rest of us are stuck doing the heavy lifting; trying to defend reality against pony plans and speculative reports.  Fortunately, while they're a loud group, they're just a small subset of the left; while the vast majority of liberals and/or Democrats continue to support Obama. 

Obama's critics on the left might call themselves the base, but that's just another disagreement they're having with reality.


Betsy said...

I've been waiting for you--thanks for waiting until the real figures came out--and thanks for taking the time to write about it.
What I really would like to know is why everyone on TV, left right and "middle" was saying how the Democrats got pwned before they knew anything?????

Betsy said...

Dr. B, I have a question for you (as opposed to a general question for the world). I have been thinking that there is no way the Repubs can actually do anything to the debt limit but rail and scream about it. Of course Obama knows this. Now, what will he do? Look moderate as he always does, or at some point maybe privately say, sorry guys you know you can't do a damn thing so go to Hell. I know we want him to do this publicly but he seems to know that the general public does NOT want him to do that. (Why I don't know--but the public doesn't know much). Do you think my basic premise is right about the debt limit really being off limits and all you hear around it is just jabber for political points? If so, then what I see happening is just what Obama always does, and once again those of us who would like him to put on the boxing gloves will be disappointed. Personally I enjoy a really skilled politician like him as opposed to the chowderheads that are Republicans nowadays. (I sure feel sorry for him as a human being though, I hope he enjoys this sort of thing, because I think it would kill most people and some of the opposite side are hoping for that strain to break him down). Those that aren't hoping for a bullet of course....

I got off topic--please share your thoughts about the debt limit. I'll check comments in case you don't see your way clear to writing a full post.