How lame-brained can Obama be? (Can a Progressive Democrat like myself say that about a president I chanted for and believed in?) In capitulating to right-wing pressures that he extend Bush-era tax cuts, he chose to meet only with Republican leaders -- including Senator Mitch McConnell who previously boasted that his only policy objective was to deny Obama a second term.
No one from the Democratic caucus was invited to the behind-closed-doors meeting (what happened to transparency and inclusiveness?) where Obama gave in on the Republican's most cherished goal of advancing the interests of the wealthiest Americans.
The Republicans cynically cornered the president by offering the bait of an extension of unemployment benefits so he would feel less guilty about acceding to a $900 billion dollar giveaway. They knew he couldn't resist protecting millions of Americans who are on the brink of financial ruin.
His roots in community organizing make him easy prey for these hardened, hardball players who think nothing about sacrificing the well-being of millions of Americans in pursuit of the interests of the privileged few.
Obama's extension of all the Bush-era tax cuts was coupled with a "holiday" for a portion of payroll taxes. That 2 percent cut is supposed to stimulate the economy by putting a few dollars into workers' pockets, but that rationale is, again, a sop to Obama's emotional plea that he had to agree so he could support working families who are suffering during the recession.
In truth, the deal the Republicans forced Obama to accept needed to be worked out behind closed doors. It stinks on so many levels.
In numerous interviews since he agreed to the tax deal, the President has been talking about revamping the entire tax code. Strategically he hopes that taking the big picture will shut down the opposition in his own party. With a "wink-wink" he's saying, "Guys, calm down. I approved the tax breaks for the rich because we're going to throw out the whole tax code. So it doesn't matter."
But it does matter. Because his talk in the last two days about reforming the tax code is just so much talk. It doesn't mean anything because it may never happen.
For Republicans and right wingers the tax break deal is a win-win on many levels. The rich continue to be protected. Obama continues to look weak. The Democrats suffer a crushing humiliation because they were excluded from the meeting where their leader gave away the farm.
More importantly, Grover Norquist, the man who famously said, "I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub," sees where all this is going.
Extending the Bush era tax cuts sticks a rocket up the derriere of the deficit. Kaboom!
In order for the government to continue functioning, the debt limit has to raised and that has to be agreed to by the new Congress. The Tea Party helped elect members of Congress who will fight to prevent that with the great possibility that the government will have to shut down.
Think it can't be done. Remember Newt Gingrich in 1994.
Remember also the 2 percent cut in the payroll tax. That will weaken Social Security, which is funded by the payroll tax.
With a monstrous fiscal crisis made even more dire by the extension of those tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans, Republicans and Tea Party advocates will be screaming to cut back on "indulgent" entitlements like Social Security and Obamacare.
In a time of financial crisis, Social Security will become even more vulnerable to attack.
So let's be clear about the big picture. Obama's "compromise" is a double-whammy. Mitch McConnell and his fellow Republicans get to repay their wealthy donors AND they will be able to use the increase in the deficit as a club to further attack governmental programs that aid practically everyone in the country, except those in the wealthy, privileged elite.
Obama keeps hoping that he can meet the Republicans in the middle. The health care battle should have taught him a valuable lesson. They don't play fair. They make agreements and then break them. They are Lucy to his Charlie Brown. They are always going to pull away the football just as he's about to kick it.
So the Democratic members of Congress have to do something out of character. They have to stand up to the Republicans on their own. They have to reject their own president's point of view. They have to protect the country from the insidious, Machiavellian duplicity of the Republican leadership.
The Democrats in Congress have to save Obama from himself and VOTE NO on the tax proposal he has proposed.
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