The White House reached out to multiple progressive groups today, trying to make amends over the tax cut deal, which he will sign later this afternoon.

“The president is trying to build consensus among labor leaders for his compromise tax policy” said Amy B. Dean, a former official with the AFL-CIO labor federation. The administration has “no problem reaching out to the labor movement when they need labor to be part of their electoral coalition. But they quickly forget that labor has a role to play in their governing coalition.”

Obama and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis are scheduled to meet at 2 p.m. in the White House’s Roosevelt Room with labor leaders, in discussions the White House says will focus on jobs and the economy. Among those attending are Trumka; United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard; American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten; Service Employees International Union President Mary Kay Henry, and United Auto Workers President Bob King.

The President reached out to the African-American community today as well.

I think the chart that should concern these groups is this one, from the Washington Post.

The public believes that the President is sincere in wanting to reduce the budget deficit because he is, in fact, sincere in wanting to reduce the budget deficit. He talks about it being in the medium term, but his opponents in the GOP want that to happen immediately, to cancel out the stimulative effects of this bill. John Boehner said today that he would like to cut spending to 2008 levels “as soon as possible.” Congress will have to fund the government early next year, if a short-term continuing resolution passes as expected.

The fact that health care implementation money and money funding the war in Afghanistan was part of the omnibus spending bill which crashed and burned offers even more hostage-taking opportunities for the GOP. And then there’s this rumor, which I’ve heard as well:

Now the Republicans have identified their next hostage: They’re going to threaten to destroy the international financial stability of the United States by refusing to raise the debt ceiling. What are they demanding for ransom? They want President Obama to slash Social Security and Medicare before this next hostage crisis comes to a head in March or April.

As the story goes, the deficit frauds are already teaming up to basically implement much of the catfood commission recommendations and attach that bill to the debt limit increase this spring. The White House has not publicly stated support or opposition to this plan, and so the planning continues, with deficit frauds in both parties, from Kent Conrad to Paul Ryan, teaming up for basically leverage the moment. In the midst of this crisis, the President will muse about not harming the hostages by ruining the full faith and credit of the US government, and austerity will get enacted. It could look a lot like the tax cut bill, in terms of the speed with which it sails through Congress.

Steny Hoyer’s already talking about tax reform, and that might be a part of this as well. But the real blow would come from massive social spending cuts, including to entitlements, in the very near term, canceling out stimulus. People saw the tax cut bill pass and they reasoned that Washington doesn’t care about the deficit. They don’t, but Republicans do care about their job security. And they have to cut spending to prove they can keep it. They also have the imperative to do it to stop the economy from moving and deny Obama a second term.

Money for poor and vulnerable communities is already going out the door before the GOP House even begins. It’s only going to get worse if Obama willingly glides into the trap being set for him.

David Dayen

David Dayen