Don Davis

Obama Wants To Attack The Middle Class? Take Congress Hostage!

Filed By Don Davis | July 08, 2011 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Barack Obama, Budget, Congress, Democrats, economic policy, election campaigns, Hardball, Medicaid, Medicare, Realpolitik, Republicans, Social Security, The Fear

medicare.jpgBy 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?

Yup.

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.

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I've said it before and I'll saying it again: It's time to start primarying these cowards with real progressive candidates. We need to kick the cowards out and start running candidates who actually legislate in concert with the values they run for office on, not based on the level of convenience and benefit to themselves and their party.

Have we finally had enough NOW?

i actually agree with you, a lot, and particularly now, when we do not seem to have the ability to influence the president directly.

members of the house have to run every two years for a reason, and that is so we can go after them - but that said, it's really hard to get a progressive candidacy going, especially when you're running against "mainstream" democrats and republicans alike, and we need to find a way to make that easier.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | July 10, 2011 5:17 AM

There are no 'progressive' candidates in the Democrat Party to run against Obama. If they're Democrats they're financed by the banksters and to a lesser extent by the middle class - teachers, doctors, etc. Their contributions by unions are already beginning to dry up and hopefully that will escalate, ending their chances of winning more elections. That can't happen too soon.

The Democrat Party and their cousins the Republicans have been owned by the rich since the end of the Civil War. Those in either party who think their vote counts for as much as the votes of the owners and managers of Goldman Sachs, BP, Xe, (Blackwater), BofA and others are simply and totally unaware of political reality.

Prior to elections environmentalists, unionists, GLBT folk, feminists, people of color and others can expect a pat on the back form the latest iteration of the lesser evil. Soon after the elections they can expect a stab in the back.

That's been happening as regular as clockwork since the Compromise of 1877.

Attempting to reform the Democrats or the Republicans is as silly and futile as attempting to reform Congress or the vatican. Both parties are owned and the current ownership isn't about to give them up, fight or no fight. Forget the lesser evil frauds and on Tuesday, November 6th, 2012 vote socialist, vote left or just sit it out. Instead of worrying about which right wing candidate wins concentrate on building mass movements to win our agenda.

The Right understands that in order to get its way they have to organize both inside and outside the electoral process: not only do they have to elect sympathetic candidates, they also have to keep the pressure on them to live up to their promises. The Left -- to the extent the U.S. even has one -- is terrible at that; over and over again we've helped elect Presidents like Carter, Clinton and now Obama expecting them to be change agents all by themselves. I'm all for threatening Democratic Congressmembers in party primaries and cutting off donations and volunteer time -- but we have to go beyond that and build a massive street movement that threatens to make this country ungovernable if it keeps moving ever farther and farther Right. We need to learn from the success of the Tea Party and do the same thing ourselves!

to tell you the truth, the right's infrastructure very rarely displays itself as street movements - but it does extremely well at setting up the conversations that become "street talk", which is why deficits matter right now, and, before that, a mosque at ground zero mattered right now, yadda yadda yadda.

but that said, the right also has this huge funding advantage, and the left has no heritage foundation or cato institute or freedomworks or us chamber of commerce equivalent with long-term secured funding and lots of money to develop intellectual arguments and get them disseminated in "all the right circles".

so that means we are going to have to get in the street, unless we can get lots of cash - but there's also a middle alternative: let's make it so uncomfortable for republicans and reluctant democrats to appear in public...that they have to hide.

cameras and youtube and embarrassment, combined with a bit of street theatre, might be a way to overcome some of the organizing problems inherent in large-scale street actions, and it helps you keep a core group of supporters active over a long term, as opposed to getting a big group together for a big action several times over a period of time.

i'll actually be a nwroots today in seattle...and dennis kucinich and jay inslee will be there as well...and you know what?

if we get lucky, i'll have video of me putting this same question to them.

stay tuned...

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | July 10, 2011 5:40 AM

Your post is pretty good Don, except the part about relying on Congressional Democrats to make a scene or Obama to pay any more attention to them than he does to us.

The problem with Obama is that it's déjà vu all over again.

In December 2008 and the first weeks of January 2009 Obama strong armed Congressional Democrats, working hand in glove with Bush who was strong arming Congressional Republicans to pass TARP, until then the greatest example of grand theft in the history of the world. Goldman Sachs contributed almost a million dollars to Obama.

In 2009 Obama formed a millionaires government. "WASHINGTON — At least eight of President Obama's 14 Cabinet secretaries appointed so far are millionaires, most own homes worth far more than the national average, and at least half already spend much of their time in the nation's capital, financial disclosure reports and property records show. Matt Kelley, USA TODAY 2009

In March of 2010 Obama's health care scam passed, promising hundreds of billions (in the long run trillions) in grants in aid for the sole purpose of making private insurance companies much, much richer, sabotaging the fight for single payer and socialized medicine, refusing federally funded abortions and including a disgracefully racist provision to exclude imported workers from health care. Almost 30 key lawmakers helping draft landmark health-care legislation have financial holdings in the industry, totaling nearly $11 million worth of personal investments... Washington Post 2009 Obama got double that, $20,175,303.00 as opposed to McCain who took in $7,758,289.00. Center for Responsive Politics

Now, in July 2011, Obama is about to betray the 80 year long war to provide retirement and medical insurance for working people. Once again he plays a pathetic lap dog for the banksters and the Republicans. There are no crises in SS and Medicare and there would be no crisis in federal finances at all if the rich were taxed as they should be - at a 90% rate, as they were during the Truman and Eisenhower years and if Obama's six (and counting) predatory wars of aggression were ended. The war budget is over a trillion a year.

Social Security and Medicare are not handouts like TARP or his fake recovery and health care bills. Those funds are based on employer/employee contributions. If Obama doesn't know why they're described as the third rail of American politics he's about to find out.

As a group, Congressional Democrats are as corrupt and controlled as Obama. Kucinich is often touted as their best but he voted for the health care scam. Last year when Obama insisted they vote to retain Bushes tax cuts for the rich they obey. When they're told to vote for funds to murder civilians and GIs in Obama's six wars, they obey. When they're told not to push repeal of DOMA or passage of ENDA, they obey even though they had the votes to do both.

Fleas can be taught nearly anything that a Congressman can. Mark Twain