"...More than anyone, Mr. Cantor drew the House Republicans bright red line in the negotiations, which was that the final deal couldn't raise any taxes. Significantly, that line held in the end." (Gerald Seib...WSJ)
Is it possible in the debt ceiling "compromise" a similar observation could be made about President Obama's performance in the last months of the debate? Can you think of any bright red lines he established and held? A commentator on CNN said he would love too buy a car from Obama. "...He would demand $50,000, and I would offer $10,000 and he would say fine it's yours."
I listened to John Rothmann defending the President after the deal was closed. Obama was being hammered by callers with many saying they feel betrayed and will not consider voting for Obama again. John's defense was the Republicans are worse and Obama is better than one of " them" getting into the White House. If ever there was a definition of damning with feint praise. The bar has been lowered so far in relation to Obama, we are left with, "...well at least he's not as bad as they are." Now that is a campaign them to be proud of.
Of course, John is right. If a regressive, and all the GOP candidates are radically regressive, were to occupy the White House, whatever is left of the social safety net would dissolve. Obama has made two good appointments to the Supreme Court. He has ended "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and his justice department will not defend the Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibits same sex marriage. His appointees to the National Labor Relations Board have returned some balance to an entity that formerly rubber-stamped anything employers wanted to the detriment of working Americans. His health care reforms and financial services reforms could turn out to be landmark pieces of legislation, but they are in danger because of Obama's seeming aversion to fight for anything even as his opponents try to kill both measures through death by a thousand cuts. Recently, the big automakers agreed to fuel economy standards of over 54 miles per gallon by 2025. The EPA is about to issue new pollution rules aimed at dealing with climate change chemicals. There are more examples, but none of this would have occurred with a regressive in the White House.
It is just so painful to watch Obama in action. The pattern is so easy to see now. The other side stakes out extreme positions and Obama gives away much of the fight before it even starts, enabling the other side to control the terms of the debate. Once he abandoned the single payer concept for health care, the reform debate was doomed to niggling around the edges of any real reform and the health insurance companies were saved. In the debt ceiling debate, Obama did draw some lines in the sand. He said he would not accept a deal which did not raise new revenues and wouldn't accept a short-term solution. Once again, his lines in the sand are brushed away by one wave. In this "compromise" Obama gave much and got very little in return. The jury is still out on whether independent voters will reward him for being the only adult in the room come November 2012. It may not make any difference if his actions have so alienated his base they stay home like they did in 2010.
The corporate media says the extremes on either side of the political spectrum are upset with the deal. They have to portray the outcome this way to obfuscate the truth. Those of us who call ourselves progressive are not extreme and yet the deal abandons most progressive principles. In order to get our fiscal house in order, I am willing to accept a change in eligibility rates for Medicare and Social Security. The income cap on Social Security should be removed with the wealthy continuing to pay a percentage of their income into the system no matter how much they make. Requiring anyone who has health insurance to use it first before Medicare kicks in would be an idea worth looking at. Lowering corporate income taxes while raising personal income tax rates is also a viable idea. None of these are extreme positions. They are quite in the middle. However, because Obama refuses to control the debate...because Obama refuses to draw more extreme lines in the sand...because Obama seems incapable of fighting for hat he believes in, or more importantly what we elected him to believe in, these positions are labeled extreme by the very same people who voted for the Ryan budget which would have ended Medicare, made the Bush tax cuts for the uber-rich permanent, and would have shredded what was left of the social safety net. Talk about extreme.
How sad and dispiriting is the argument you must vote to re-elect the President because at least he isn't as bad as "they "are. One of the most glorious moments in 2008 must have been going into a polling booth and voting "for" someone rather than holding your nose and voting for the lesser of two evils. How often down that happen anymore in our elections? In 2012, you cannot afford to stay home or make a protest vote. You saw what happened in 2000. Does anyone believe President Gore would have left the nation in the shambles the way President Bush did?
There are still battles to fight. The President has been seduced into fighting for more trade deals with South Korea and Columbia, which will cost more Americans their jobs. This special congressional commission charged with finding another $1.2 Trillion in spending cuts will not increase taxes so cuts will fall on the middle class again unless you oppose it. (They don't want this commission to work because if it fails, "automatic" cuts occur while preserving the lowest personal income tax rates since 1950) AT&T cannot be allowed to merge with T-Mobile. It would destroy competition and drive cellular phone rates to the roof.
I don't get to vote. However, if I could I would vote to re-elect the President because the alternative would be a disaster. (Just say President Bachman or Romney out loud a few times). I am just sad President Obama has ended up resembling Bill Clinton and not Franklin Roosevelt.