By now you have heard that President Obama has chosen to throw Social Security and the Medicare and Medicaid programs over the side of his proverbial fishing boat as bait to see if he can get Republicans to give him another really lousy compromise, much as he did last December when he gave up billions upon billions of deficit reduction in order to help Republicans preserve tax cuts for billionaires.
And it looks like the President doesn't really lose if you or I get hurt here: in fact, it seems that, in his eyes, it's to his advantage to fight against his own base as he seeks to be "the adult in the room" in the runup to the '12 election.
So we're going to have to find a way to put The Fear on this guy - and I think I've got a plan to force this President to listen.
And it works like this: if this President ain't gonna be moved by our message, we do it by holding the rest of his party hostage.
"You've got to put the points on the board. Good effort and style aren't enough. Everyone loves the Chicago Cubs, but no one expects them to win. Be more like the New York Yankees."
--Greg Swienton, COO of Ryder Systems, advising Army NCOs at a leadership seminar, July 2009.
First things first: let me tell you how the hustle is potentially going to go down.
Republicans are going to try to force Obama to offer up 100% cuts in spending, with no new money coming in to government at all, or they'll let the whole "debt default" thing come crashing down, which looks like The Best Thing To The Tea Party Ever - and based on past history, this is a deal that Obama, around 11:56 PM on August 1st, will be willing to take.
The two most likely ways to cut spending and get results in the trillions of dollars are to change the connection between increases in your future Social Security benefits and the cost of living (which guarantees that you and I will forever be behind the inflation eight-ball), or to cut the payments coming out of Medicare or Medicaid, which is going to stick it, immediately, to medical service providers, the poorest of the poor, your Grandma and Grandpa (or, maybe, you), and the disabled.
It is rumored that both of these approaches have been put out as options by the President. It is also rumored that, in return, he wants some amount of revenue increases - but it's also rumored that he went from seeking a dollar in cuts for each dollar in new revenue to something that looks more like $6 in cuts for every $1 in new revenues - with lots more time available for Republicans to play chicken and get even more.
So if the President is not going to put a stop to all this, I think we, ourselves, are going to have to step up and get it done.
What I'm going to propose is brutal, unfair to many of our friends, and vindictive to the point of risking an even worse situation than we have now, but these are desperate times, and I suspect it's now time for desperate measures.
So here's what I think we have to do:
Now, today, before this gets any farther, we have to call every single democratic member of Congress, House and Senate, friend and foe, and deliver this message:
"I don't care what you ever did for us before, we are not going to let you do this to us now. We cannot stop Barack Obama directly - but we can do this.
We can target Congressional Democrats.
Each and every one of you, as a group.
And with that in mind, you are now on notice: if you allow this President to make a deal that includes any cuts, adjustments, alterations, or anything else, to Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security, and you don't get at least a dollar of new revenue for every dollar of cuts, then you are done.
We will immediately stop giving any Democratic incumbent even one dollar of donations, we will not help you win elections by volunteering, and we will vote for any candidate that's running against you in the next primary.
Even if it's not your fault.
That's how serious we are, and that means you better figure out, right now, how to stop Obama from caving, because now, it's all on you.
If Obama slips on the stairs and his pen accidentally signs the bill, it's now your fault.
If Obama puts his pen back in the desk set upside down, and there's an open window in the Oval Office, and an errant breeze drags the bill across the upside-down pen, it's now your fault.
So what you better do is you better go make sure there aren't any roller skates on the stairs at the White House, and go close the windows, and do whatever you have to do, because now, you, and every other Congressional Democrat...all of you, together, are going to be held responsible for what happens."
And then we gotta stick to it - even if it costs us Jim McDermott and Raul Grijalva and Barney Frank, all on the same day.
We have to show that we will bring even more wrath and destruction than the Tea Party - and we have to be ready to support new Democrats who rise up to oppose the current ones.
And consider this: labor is already making the effort to recruit and train progressive candidates, and there are lots of opportunities to partner with unions who would presumably love to have some new partners of their own.
The next negotiating session between the President and congressional leadership is Sunday, and that means we need to move fast if we want this to work - but Sunday is unlikely to be the last day of negotiations, and after that is when we can really crank up the pressure on Democrats.
Is this unfair to our friends?
But that's too bad, because we have been unfairly taking hits from our friends and Republican bullies alike for three years now - and the only thing that's going to make it stop is if our friends fear us more a whole lot more than they fear Republicans.
And if you don't think this can work, well, guess what? The LBGT community got "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" repeal passed when Republicans said they would never let it get through Congress - and then the LBGT community told Democrats that if repeal didn't pass, the gAyTM was gonna be forever closed.
And then, mirabile dictu, repeal passed, in a lame-duck Congress, even when virtually all observers had said it had no chance.
That is the power of The Fear, and if we want to win this fight, we need to be the ones putting The Fear on our democratic friends, not the other way around.
So get up, grab the phone, and start reminding the nearest Democrat that unemployment, in this economy, really, really, sucks - and there's no reason in the world why they can't be just as unemployed as anyone else.
It's time for hardball, folks - and in this fight, we need to be the ones with the hardest balls.
Because if we're not - the terrorists win.