Obama’s “Grand Bargain” Idiocy

Obama NopeMost of my liberal friends get mad about how much I complain about Obama. I understand this. Obama is a damn good President by historical standards (which doesn’t say much) and he is infinitely better than what the Republicans have on offer. Yet I can’t shake the idea that Obama doesn’t much believe in liberal principals. What’s more: I think he doesn’t really care about me and everyone else who doesn’t have $8 million in assets.

Digby has written about a recent interview of Obama by the Des Moines Register. In it, Obama is again talking glowingly about a “grand bargain” where the Democrats give up $2.50 in spending for every $1.00 that the Republicans allow in raised taxes. There are so many things wrong about this, I want to scream. Now I’m think that I would not vote for Obama even if I lived in a swing state.

There are two fundamental problems with this “grand bargain”: the bargain itself and future legislation. On its merits, this is a terrible deal. The people in the upper class (the top 20%) get 54% of all the income in the United States. (The top 1% get 21%!) So this “bargain” makes the rich pay for 29% while the poor and middle class pay 71%. What a fair bargain! Way to go, Mr. President!

The other problem—which is arguably even worse—is that it will be pretty easy for Congress to cut taxes at a later time. They’ve done this a lot and there is no reason to believe that they will not continue. But the lost Social Security benefits? The lost Medicare benefits? These will be gone for good. So even if this “grand bargain” were equitable now—at it’s not—it would be inequitable soon enough and forever more.

Fortunately, Matthew Yglesias points out something important: liberals are not going to continue to take this shit. The President and his allies think that all they have to do is make a deal with the Republicans and the Democrats will fall in line. However, the political calculus has changed:

But the closer we get to the actual fiscal cliff the less sense it makes as a genuine bargain for people who think Social Security and Medicare cuts are bad on the merits. That’s why you see things like AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka loudly hopping off the grand bargain bandwagon. It’s not clear to me how much this substantively matters. The left-wing of the Democratic caucus rarely gets its way on anything. But the political system has an enormous inaction bias built into it, and objectively speaking the incentive for liberal wing of the Democrats to sign on to a grand bargain is vanishing fast.

Indeed. Liberals have to ask themselves, “Do I really want to gut two of the greatest accomplishments of modern liberalism just for the sake of Obama’s legacy?” Because that’s what it comes down to. Debt is not killing us. Someday we will have to get it in line. But not today. Not in the middle of a depression. Not on the back of our social safety net. No way, Mr. President!

Update 24 October 2012 (1:28 pm)

The Des Moines Register article filled a whole segment on Martin Bashir. Were they talking about this issue? Of course not! No Serious Journalist cares about these matters. Why would they? They’re in the upper class.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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