Bargaining Among Thieves, Thugs, Cheats, Liars and Naïfs
Now that he is safely reelected, President Obama is reassembling the crowd of thieves, thugs, cheats and liars he gathered for his first run at a Grand Bargain I, The Betrayal, but this time he is adding a Veal Pen full of naïfs to help him press his case. It’s painful to watch.
The Republicans field the same crowd of thugs that shot down the first Grand Bargain in a hissy fit over tax hikes. Voters threw out some of them, and a bunch more quit. But our President, fresh off a crushing victory, decided to give them one more chance to disrespect him by acting out their infantile fantasies of bravely fighting the Muslim Kenyan Socialist.
Obama thinks the election will encourage the Republicans to act like human beings and remember the needs of their constituents. And they will. Mitch McConnell and John Boehner can be counted on to carry the water of their billionaire constituents and screw the rest of the country. The hyper-rich may have lost the presidency, but their serving-men will fight to destroy Obama’s second term even harder than they did his first, and if the country goes into a second recession, well that’s too bad. The thieves who steal money from every human on the planet want tax cuts, dammit, and they don’t want their precious corporations to pay taxes, dammit, and the odious twins will do their damnedest to accomplish the wishes of their masters.
Across the aisle there are plenty of lame duck Blue Dog Democrats who were always willing to dishonor the legacy of the Democratic Party and screw their constituents in search of some mythical middle ground between themselves and the true believers on the back bench of the Crazy Party. These losers get one more chance to insist that Obama bow to their wishes.
Standing behind the thugs of both parties are their moneymen, the thieves of the tax-evading union-busting consumer-defrauding corporate sector and the cheats from the financial sector. The thieves and cheats did their best to steal the election, pouring hundreds of millions into the Presidential race in support of one of their own, a man sworn to insure that Plutocratic Power would be enhanced, and into defeating a handful of candidates with mildly anti-plutocratic agendas, like Elizabeth Warren and Sherrod Brown. But, their pet legislators will be standing up proud for their side in the lame duck session. Obama wants to negotiate with these losers.
The new member of the team is the naïfs. Obama spent his first term ignoring the people who elected him, especially progressive activists, the professional left, but also all of the members of his coalition who can’t live decent lives without Social Security and Medicare. So, when Grand Bargain I, the Betrayal, came out, it did very badly with Obama’s base. There was a lot of anger and hostility among the professional left, and a lot of it carried over to that base. No one was sorry to see Grand Bargain I pulled from the stores to be replaced by the laughable Supercommittee/Fiscal Cliff.
Fresh off his electoral victory, Obama called in the leaders of groups that supported him and asked them to help him in the introduction of Grand Bargain II, Revenge on the Old. Of course, he didn’t exactly ask them to sign on to cutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Instead, he asked them to carry the message that taxes on the rich should be increased. Practically every sane American thinks that the first step in dealing with the deficit is to hike taxes on the richest among us, the people who caused the Great Crash, who sucked up all the benefits from government action to deal with it, and whose outsized influence kept the government from lifting a finger to help millions of homeowners. So these leaders signed up for this term’s version of the Veal Pen.
Apparently they forgot how Obama treated them during his first term. Or maybe they think that the election gave Obama a new reason to stand firm on the social programs that are critical to the hope for a decent life for their members. And they no doubt agree with the Obama fantasy that the Republicans will return to sanity.
Not one of these people is telling the whole truth about their interests or intentions. Liars all.
The worst part of this idiot bargaining is that the President is really worried about getting the Republicans to actually do the deed. In Grand Bargain I, the Republicans were supposed to pretend to accept tax hikes, none of which were specified. That was intolerable to the worst of the crazies, and Boehner couldn’t deliver the votes. This time, the President is looking for some other idiotic sop to throw to the nutcases to conceal their defeat on the tax hike issue. Charlie Pierce has some sage advice:
The president, and the congressional Democrats, are under no affirmative obligation to make John Boehner’s life easier just because he’s got a caucus full of more nuts than a Wal-Mart fruitcake. The president, and the congressional Democrats, are under no affirmative obligation to arrange for John Boehner’s mellow to stay unharshed just because he’s dependent upon a political “base” that went to the monkeyhouse 30 years ago, pitched a tent, and never left. John Boehner’s political problems are John Boehner’s political problems. They’re not the country’s to solve, and certainly not the president’s, either. Let him solve them himself.
The political wing of the Administration can’t hear this advice. They will let the Republicans take yet another slap at decency and good governance. They will cling to some fantasy of bipartisanship. They will trade away the Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid that are the trademark social policies of the Democratic Party. In return, they get absolutely nothing they couldn’t get by forcing Boehner and McConnell to deal with this next year.
Grand Bargain II, Revenge on the Old, coming to Congress this week.
Photo by kevin dean under Creative Commons license.