Sophie's Choice: Sequester Or Grand Bargain?

Do liberals really have to choose between the sequester cuts and the Grand Bargain? Digby explains why not.

Digby on the Sophie's Choice presented to Democrats with Obama's Grand Bargain:

Greg Sargent has frequently made the case that liberals are going to have to choose between the sequester cuts and the Grand Bargain and therefore will need to make the affirmative case for why they are choosing the sequester. (I never get the sense that if they "choose" the Grand Bargain that anyone other than a bunch of loser liberals will demand an explanation.)

And Greg is probably right that if the Republicans are smart enough to take yes for an answer, the liberals in the House will face the wrath of their Party apparatus and the president (and the liberal establishment) if they end up voting against a Grand Bargain. But it is NOT like the health care vote in which they were faced with the choice of walking away from a plan that greatly expanded healthcare for the working poor or giving up a public plan they wanted. That was a choice between two positive outcomes --- nobody was going to lose something they already had.

This, on the other hand, is a choice between two negatives. Essentially, as before, the White House and the Democratic centrists are holding hostages but this time they're basically telling the progressives that a hostage is going to get shot no matter what: Head Start and food inspections today or the elderly, the sick and the veterans tomorrow and they have to choose which one. Why should progressives bear that responsibility? They didn't get us into this mess.

I say they should just say no. Republicans do it all the time and everybody just throws up their hands and says, "well, I guess we'd better figure out something else." They should hold fast and say "the sequester sucks and so does the Grand Bargain and we don't support either one." Most of the progressives didn't vote for the sequester in the first place and bear no responsibility for it. (And even those who did have no obligation to defend the monster that everyone assured them had no chance of ever becoming law.) This is a failure of the leadership of both parties and progressives are not required to betray their most fundamental values and defend any of these ridiculous cuts to anyone.

Just say no. The "sequester vs Grand Bargain" is a phony construct made by man, not God, and there's no reason on earth why any progressive should be forced to own either one. Find another way.

She also points out the compelling case to be made for expanding Social Security, not cutting it.

Now, here's my position: The Grand Bargain (and let's look at the historical definition, in which both sides take highly unpopular decisions in order that voters, in a kind of stalemate, have no one to punish at the polls) is a profoundly undemocratic strategy, and Obama's been angling for it since Day One.

I said at the time of the sequester that it was a setup, something to force Democrats to support Obama's Grand Bargain in order to end the sequester cuts. I thought it was obvious.

I don't think there's any question at all as to the voters' intent, what with Joe Biden swearing on dead relatives and adorable puppies that he would throw his body on the train tracks to protect Social Security and Medicare, and Obama repeatedly orating to adoring crowds that a vote for him was a vote to stop Republicans from "slashing" Social Security. (I said at the time it all depended on how you defined the word "slash.") Voters do not want these cuts.

But the Beltway elites, those chummy millionaires who do the bidding of billionaires, simply do not care what the voters think, or even what they need to survive. They decided they could "handle" those pesky voters, both by a campaign of Pete Peterson-funded astroturf groups, and by the careful use of misinformation.

If that doesn't go against the very spirit of democracy, I don't know what does. And everyone who took part in this charade -- from Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Ed Rendell, etc. to the so-called progressives who will turn on a dime to sell us out -- well, they should be very, very ashamed.

But since they don't hobnob with the likes of us, they will get hearty pats on the back from other rich people. Huzzah!

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