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President Obama started this morning by giving a presser about the supposed 'Grand Bargain' he's looking for since House Speaker John Boehner came out and said he wouldn't agree to a big deal. He said that's he's willing to take heat from his own party over programs and things we really believe in.
"I am prepared to take on significant heat from my party to get something done," Obama said, contending he has "bent over backward" to work with Republicans.
Naturally. Obama made the case on Republican terms that we must tighten our belts if we want to get the deficit under control and so everybody has to be willing to negotiate or a deal will never get done. he won't sign off on any short extensions of the debt ceiling either.
There's been much speculation about how much of his words have matched what he truly believes in and if it's a tactical ploy aimed at the GOP ans Independent voters. I think we're past that point. The absurdity of this whole debate was explained away by Mitch McConnell yesterday on FOX when he said that their goal is not for deficit reduction or job growth, but to make Obama a one term president.
"The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told National Journal's Major Garrett in October.
Fox News' Bret Baier asked McConnell Sunday if that was still his major objective.
"Well, that is true," McConnell replied. "That's my single most important political goal, along with every active Republican in the country."
McConnell told Baier that a "Grand Bargain," where Republicans agree to tax hikes in exchange for cutting Social Security and Medicare benefits, was likely off the table.
"I think it is. Everything they told me and the Speaker is to get a big package would require big tax increases in the middle of the economic situation that is extraordinarily difficult with 9.2% unemployment. We think it's a terrible idea. It's a job-killer."
"Nobody is talk about not raising the debt ceiling," McConnell later insisted.
If this is true then why not have a clean debt ceiling vote and move on from here? I'd say because Obama wants a Grand Bargain to hang his hat on. "Eating our peas,' was the thing I heard that stood out as well as what the media is going to take away from it.
"I've been hearing from my Republican friends for some time it is a moral imperative to tackle our debt and deficits in a serious way," Mr. Obama said. "What I've said to them is, let's go." The president said today he would not accept a smaller, short-term deal. "We might as well do it now," he said. "Pull off the band aid. Eat our peas."
Framing this debate in Republican terms has been a big problem for me as well as many other progressives and it's not likely to change.
We can't read minds, so at some point we have to judge people by their words and actions. This press conference tells us that the austerity crap isn't some bit of political posturing, it's a belief.
Candy Crowley of CNN was going on and on about the Biden deal, on Sunday as if that was the miracle cure for this debate, but there is no movement on that one either.
Joan McCarter writes from earlier today:
The Biden agreement had settled on about $1.5 trillion in cuts, while another $500 billion in cuts would be included if Republicans agreed to $200-300 billion in tax loophole closures. That's balanced, right? The "sticking point," for Republicans, is what it's always been: raising taxes for rich people. Proving yet again that none of this is about the deficit, at least not for the GOP.
For their part, Democrats are repeating the mantra that entitlements be protected.
After the meeting ended, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement: “We came into this weekend with the prospect that we could achieve a grand bargain. We are still hopeful for a large bipartisan agreement, which means more stability for our economy, more growth and jobs, and more deficit reduction over a longer period of time.”
She added: “This package must do no harm to the middle class or to economic growth. It must also protect Medicare and Social Security beneficiaries, and we continue to have serious concerns about shifting billions in Medicaid costs to the states.”
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union,” said the Biden talks identified only about $1 trillion in spending cuts. Democrats would agree to those cuts only if certain tax loopholes were closed, such as tax breaks for corporate jet owners and subsidies for oil and gas companies.
The accusation that those of us who are upset about cuts to Medicare, medicaid and Social security don't care about the programs is especially clever, I have to admit. That will prove to be quite useful I imagine. For Republicans.
"I think it would give the American people enormous confidence that this town can actually do something one in a while," Obama said.
I think the President's goal is exactly what he says it is: to do Big Things.I just don't think it matters much what the substance of those Big Things is.
However, he made a few key statements that give insight into the negotiations.
First of all, Obama said that, without Republicans budging on revenue, “I don’t think something’s going to get done. If their proposition is my way or the highway, I don’t see us getting a deal.” That would hold for a maximalist, grand bargain deal of $4 trillion, or a medium-sized deal of $2 trillion. Obama said that Democrats in the Senate would have to agree to a deal, and that House Democratic votes would be needed to pass any deal. “I will not accept a deal in which I (meaning a rich person -ed.) am asked to do nothing, while a parent out there struggling to figure out how to get a kid to college will have a couple thousand less in student loans.”
Job creation did finally come up when and the president believes that until the deficit is done first, jobs can't move forward:
Obama plainly believes that the only way to manage any kind of pivot to jobs is to take the deficit off the table as an issue first. Obama thinks the GOP will ultimately capitulate to some degree on revenues, but knows full well it will be a bad deal for Dems. By signaling openness to entitlements cuts that will anger the Dem base, he hopes to increase the political price the GOP pays for intransigence on revenues and is hoping to preemptively blame Republicans for the lopsided nature of the ultimate deal. More important, he is putting them on notice that once a deficit deal is reached, they’ll have run out of excuses for opposing job creation measures that require government spending.
I don’t know if this will work, either politically or in terms of job creation, but this is clearly the course he’s chosen.
So what does this all mean? Keynesian economics is dead at this point in time and that's a shame. If it fails I guess Obama can say he tried in good faith at a significant cost to Democratic principles because he's willing to negotiate and compromise, and Villagers will love that, but will America understand?
Full transcript here.