The script is well worn. President Obama floats a proposal on the debt ceiling and the budget that appears to give away too much to the GOP. The Democrats howl that Obama is betraying principles to get the GOP to make a deal. Then when the GOP predictably says "no" to the alleged White House's betrayal concessions, the Democrats howl even louder that the president is hurting himself, the party, and worst of all minorities and the poor that will suffer the most from the meat ax hacking away of spending on vital programs.
Obama's plop on the bargaining table of formula changes for Social Security, Medicare hikes, and reported willingness to defer tax and revenue increases to get a deal loudly set off the alarm bells. Obama quickly scrambled to assure Democrats that he would continue to hold the line as best as he could against the GOP obstructionists. But the Democrats are disingenuous at best and hypocrites at worst for taking no blame for any cave to the GOP that they accuse Obama of.
The Democrats had an iron-clad majority in the House and senate for nearly two years after his election. A majority of voters demanded more not les spending on jobs, infrastructure projects, urban investment, housing foreclosure relief, the tightest possible clamps on Wall Street casino speculating, a wind up of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the end of the Bush tax cuts for the rich. A serious effort to cut spending on the wasteful wars and tax cuts and prime the economy would have made a major dent in the debt and deficit load, boosted the economy, and hiked revenue. If the Democrats had fought a hard and relentless fight for any one of these reforms, much of the pounding that Obama is now forced to take for trying to get the best deal he can out of a GOP that is using the debt fight as a cover to dump him in 2012 would have been rendered moot. This didn't happen. And the GOP quickly sniffed political blood in the Democrat's step back from Obama at every critical point.
Democrats now make the case that they are fighting to stiffen Obama's spine against the GOP and that Republicans stepped back from Bush when it was clear to many that he and his presidency were miserable failures. The analogy won't fly. Bush was discredited and loathed. The public blamed him and the GOP for two failed, flawed, costly wars, for making a shambles of an economy, the endless chain of sex and corruption scandals, and an unprecedented giveaway to Wall Street. It took nearly eight years and two terms for Republicans up for reelection to figure out that Bush was a political plague to be avoided at all costs. Unlike Bush, Obama has a string of impressive economic and legislative initiative accomplishments that have been impressive, even more in that they came in the teeth of the most vicious and vile opposition from a GOP that has made it clear in word and action that their sole goal is to make Obama a one term president.
The compromises that Obama has been forced to make to get any kind of budget deal says less about Obama's political worth than that of many Democrats. The health care reform gave warning of that. Democrats endlessly ticked off the ways that health care reform could help poor, working class and middle class by the elimination of pre-existing conditions, subsidies for the poor, broader coverage options, and coverage for millions of children into adulthood, and cost containment measures. Then when Obama to get a health care reform deal through made crucial compromises, they accused him of gutting health care reform. Then there was the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. Democrats again endlessly ticked off the ways that they benefited a handful of taxpayers that hardly need the savings, don't spend it anyway, has been a major deficit booster, and a tax giveaway to the wealthy elite that did not appreciably hike demand, business or job expansion.
Then when the GOP turned the issue around and threatened to block Obama's initiative to fund unemployment insurance extension, funding of some education programs, if he didn't agree to maintain the cuts, many House Democrats again accused him of caving to the GOP. When Obama had the temerity to take Democrats to task for wanting perfect instead of what was political doable, he was again roundly raked over the coals.
It's charitable to chalk the Democrats oft times cut and run from the president up to their political rage at his insistence on getting what he can squeeze out of an implacable foe bound and determined on his political destruction. But when far too many Democrats have consistently cowered at, and conciliated the GOP, while repeatedly second guessing the White House, then it's no wonder that Obama has been hung out on a GOP limb. And worse has to take Democratic heat for it.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on American Urban Radio Network. He is an associate editor of New America Media. He is host of the weekly Hutchinson Report Newsmaker Hour on KTYM Radio Los Angeles streamed on ktym.com podcast on blogtalkradio.com and internet TV broadcast on thehutchinsonreportnews.com
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