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Obama's Pre-emptive Caving Problem

By The Reverend Published: June 30, 2011

A good negotiator does not start negotiation talks by bending over backwards to please his opponents. That's called capitulation, not negotiation.

In his press briefing yesterday, President Obama laid out his deficit reduction position, and it is a pre-emptive cave-in to the desires of his GOP opponents. A capitulation.

Many highly paid celebrity pundits gave Obama high marks for his "scolding" of his GOP opponents in the briefing....but honestly, I didn't see that at all. What I saw was a president willing to allow Republicans to dictate the terms of deficit reduction. That is not surprising when you take into consideration that from refusing to fight for a public option in health care reform, to the size of the stimulus, to the Grand Compromise cave-in on extending tax cuts for the rich...President Obama has given Americans scant evidence that he really believes in progressive ideas.

In his opening remarks yesterday, Obama made it clear that he accepts the Republican framing on deficits and the economy.....

... one of the most important and urgent things we can do for the economy is something that both parties are working on right now –- and that’s reducing our nation’s deficit. Over the last few weeks, the Vice President has been leading negotiations with Democrats and Republicans on this issue, and they’ve made some real progress in narrowing down the differences. As of last week, both parties had identified more than $1 trillion worth of spending cuts already.

Reducing the nation's deficit right now will do nothing to improve our economy, in fact, as I mentioned earlier this week, focusing on reducing the deficit right now will be counterproductive to improving our still-depressed employment numbers. In his opening remarks yesterday, Obama proved that he is fully on board the great Republican hoax of 2011.

By allowing Republican hoaxes to frame the discussion, to set the parameters....Obama has, once again, pre-emptively caved to the powerful and the wealthy. If the federal government moves ahead and acts, deeply cutting spending based on a hoax, more jobs will be lost....and the economy will further stagnate or go into decline. Cutting huge amounts of government spending means massive layoffs....which means less consumer spending...which leads to even more layoffs. No one has been able to make a credible case, given our current economic situation, which connects deep government spending cuts to more hiring and an improved economy.

In states where government spending has already been sliced by GOP supply siders, economic conditions and unemployment have worsened.

Obama's first mistake, then, is accepting the Republican framing of our economic problems. The Republicans who have done the framing are the most hardened cynics in the country. These professional hoaxers realize that cutting federal government spending right now will only damage our economy further. Although I've witnessed Obama cave several times to conservatives on other issues....it's still kind of amazing to witness his willingness to embrace their talking points on deficits.

Obama is so sensitive to his re-election bid, unwilling to bruise the conscience of independents or moderates who don't even pay attention to presidential press briefings, that he could't muster up enough backbone to utter the evil word..."taxes."

And, yes, we’re going to have to tackle spending in the tax code.

"spending in the tax code"? Because Obama has accepted the hoax GOP frame over "spending", he even calls tax breaks to zillionaires "spending." No courage....and no conviction. What's important about that Obama line is what isn't in it. The president dare not offend the powerful and wealthy titans who will pay for his re-election campaign.....so he didn't even say a word about actually raising tax rates on millionaires and billionaires. Instead....

The tax cuts I’m proposing we get rid of are tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires; tax breaks for oil companies and hedge fund managers and corporate jet owners.

In a time when the disabled and the elderly are being told they have to sacrifice, our nation's richest are being asked.....asked....to forfeit a couple of egregious tax giveaways in the tax code. That's it. That is what Obama describes as being "fair"....

....before we ask our seniors to pay more for health care, before we cut our children’s education, before we sacrifice our commitment to the research and innovation that will help create more jobs in the economy, I think it’s only fair to ask an oil company or a corporate jet owner that has done so well to give up a tax break that no other business enjoys. I don’t think that’s real radical. I think the majority of Americans agree with that.

The richest 1% of our country has amassed more wealth over the last 10 years than at any time in American history. At the same time, average Americans have lost wealth while their wages and benefits have flatlined. Given that situation, asking gargantuanly wealthy multi-nationals to give up tax breaks they should have never been given in the first place while budgets for entire programs for the vulnerable and the poor are being slashed....is what Obama says is "fair." That isn't bold leadership, that's timidity.

Call me naïve, but my expectation is that leaders are going to lead.

Yep, that's what I expected from a President Obama...leadership. What I didn't expect was supply side, Republican leadership.

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