So okay. Since I’ve been on my annual end of year winter stay – cation, I’ve been able to fully follow the Fiscal Cliff Reality Show. There has been a lot of talk among Progressives about what was wrong with the deal and that the President is a terrible negotiator. Well, I want to point out the things that I think President Obama actually did right.
Over the curvy cliff for more:
1. The President used the full weight of his office to advocate for a deal. The President met personally with House Speaker John Boehner and behind closed doors to work a deal before Christmas. I believe that the President did so in good faith, although Boehner was more interested in saving his Speaker job, thus the offering of his own Plan ‘B’. The President didn’t give up though.
2. The President cut his vacation short to continue to advocate for a deal. The President came back to Washington on the 27th and met with all House and Senate leaders to work a deal. Furthermore --
3. The President used his bully pulpit to its full power to advocate for a deal. President Obama was on television making statements about the need to get a deal done and that going over the cliff was not an option because of the damage it would do to the economy and to those most vulnerable – the unemployed and poor who could least afford substantial tax increases and those who depend on certain tax deductions to reduce their taxable income, such as EIC. And yes, I’m fully aware that the Bush Tax Cuts was maintained for incomes over $250,000 ($400,000/$450,000) and that the SS payroll holiday cut of 2% was not maintained, resulting in a reduction of take home pay. However, the President has repeatedly stated in his remarks that everyone would not get what they wanted. That was a point he stressed and made very clear.
4. The President sent in the Vice President to force Reid and McConnell back to the table. The President’s ‘ace in the hole’ is Joe Biden, once a Senior Senator himself, he is known for getting the deal done. The failsafe position was allowing a straight up or down vote on the Senate’s amended House bill, thus allowing each individual lawmaker to vote his or her conscious and not cower under political party group think or ridiculous pledges made to unelected officials.
Everyone wanted to go off the cliff.
The GOP wanted it because it was the only tool it had to maintain its fragile coalition of discipline to all principles right wing. Speaking of the right wing, the Tea Party faction wanted it because it would have been a ‘badge of honor’ for them – we defied the President. We humiliated the President. We forced the country to capitulate to our steadfast principles.
The Democrats, especially Progressives wanted it. I admit that I wanted it too because I believed that the President’s position would have been strengthened and he could have dealt with the looming debt ceiling issue – the real fiscal cliff, as part of the deal. However I have rethought my position.
The media wanted to go off the cliff. I can’t think of a better way to extend the mainstream media’s drunk with lust over ratings – especially since the manufactured horse race to the White House Show was over. So they moved on to the Fiscal Cliff Show and I’m sure that they are thinking of the title for the next Washington crisis – Debt Ceiling Armageddon?
Everyone wanted to go over the cliff -- except for President Obama and those who correctly reminded me and all of us of the real consequences to them if this deal was not done when it was done. Because this deal got done, the next battle – the deal ceiling – will not involve UI and EIC, which has been extended far out into the future. Also, the President in this deal, got a great number of his appointments confirmed by a 100 vote Senate without them needing to be there. No confirmation hearings will be needed for them. No languishing posts. Government officials can get to work on the WH’s agenda full throttle.
What the President did right, in my opinion, was effectively manage this self-made, self-imposed, manufactured crisis. The President used the full weight of the White House to make the House come back into session by calling its bluff – the Senate did come back and put forth a deal that the House had to take action on. So the House had to be called back in session to do so.
Rep. Eric Cantor attempted and failed miserably, to garner GOP votes for an even more ridiculous bill that the Senate warned would be DOA if it passed. When Cantor could not get the votes, the amended House bill by the Senate was put up for an up or down vote – which is what the President wanted all along.
In doing so, the President effectively stop giving the Tea Party mice milk and denied them the cookies. In other words, they were denied the ability to become more brazen and emboldened if the Fiscal Cliff had occurred. The President understands, as I do now, that there are factions of the GOP who simply will never deal. They will never compromise and they cannot be reasoned with.
What happened in the end is that all members of Congress were forced on this occasion, to be individually accountable for his or her own vote. No hiding behind party caucuses. No hiding behind Norquist pledges. They were forced to do something that they hadn’t done in a long time and that was to actually govern.
Where we go from here, I do not know, but the optics will certainly be interesting. The GOP has been broken wide open for the time being and while Boehner told Reid to go ‘f’ himself, he also made the BIG MISTAKE of telling Governors Christie, Cuomo, Malloy and the people in the States of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to go ‘f’ themselves too. Oops. Wrong move dude. They may be blue states and one with a red governor, but they are also money states, as the wingnut nutty Rep. Peter King so aptly reminded Boehner of yesterday. Even a clock is right twice a day.
I would like to think that we may be on the verge of a new frontier. A frontier that involves a new majority in the House of Democrats and Republicans voting to get things done. I won’t hold my breath on that, but it’s not necessarily out of the realm of possibilities either.
So all in all, I think the President should be given some credit for his management skills. No 11-dimensional chess and no bungling or squandering opportunities.
He was being the President.
Updated -- What pray tell, I made the rec list??? What? What? Heh. Well, I thank y'all for your support.
Also I forgot to add this: After the the deal was done, the President with the Vice President in tow addressed the WH press core. He said that he was glad the deal was done and thanked the Congress for getting it done. He also said and he repeated it with measured emphasis that he wasn't going to deal with kind of mess again. He used the word 'drama' as in he doesn't want any more of it going forward. Given that the President has already shot this off to Mr. PaTurtlehead, stay tuned for more developments.
Update 2 Thanks to Mahakali Overdrive, I was reminded that this deal also had clean energy incentives in it that were preserved. From Senator Bernie Sanders:
“This agreement preserves incentives for the development of clean energy by encouraging companies that are creating jobs in America and helping reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming. That is a win-win for our economy and our environment. In Vermont and across the country, hundreds of wind manufacturing plants already are producing wind turbines, and the industry is providing jobs for 75,000 American workers. The fact that we have doubled wind generation since 2008 is an American success story. Extending the Production Tax Credit means we can continue the tremendous growth in wind and other safe, clean, renewable sources energy that must be developed if we are to reverse global warming.Also thanks to Senator Sanders for saying that it was the GOP bidding for chained CPI.
“This agreement also is a major victory for Social Security recipients and for disabled veterans. Despite an eleventh-hour bid by Senate Republicans, the final bill does not include their proposed change in how cost-of-living adjustments are calculated. As the founder of the Defending Social Security Caucus and the incoming chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I am proud that organizations representing seniors and veterans worked together to block the switch to a so-called chained CPI as a way to cut future benefits for more than 55 million Americans.
“Social Security has not contributed a nickel to the deficit, has a $2.7 trillion surplus and can pay all benefits owed to every eligible American for the next 21 years. It makes no sense to balance the budget on the backs of seniors and the disabled. I will continue fighting to make sure cuts in Social Security are not part of any future budget deal.”