Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Obama Grows A Spine After Discovering GOP Won’t Compromise

President Obama is threatening to veto any debt-reduction plan that doesn’t include increased taxes on the wealthy and corporations. His new aggressiveness is based on a finding that many in his frustrated base knew all along: today’s GOP is too extreme to respect his willingness to compromise. Instead, they took it as weakness, especially his preemptive compromises. Wasn’t it enough when Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell stated that his driving goal was to make Obama a one-term president? Or when the Republicans, during the debt ceiling negotiations, were ready to drive the economy off the cliff to avoid raising any revenue from some of the wealthiest people on earth? Obama’s new stance will not result in Republican willingness to bend. But it will further define both who the Republicans are and sharpen the choice before the American people:

Faced with falling poll numbers for his leadership and an anxious party base, Mr. Obama did not just propose but insisted that any long-term debt-reduction plan must not shave future Medicare benefits without also raising taxes on the wealthiest taxpayers and corporations.

He uncharacteristically backed up that stand with a veto threat, setting up a politically charged choice for anti-tax Republicans — protect the most affluent or compromise to attack deficits. Confident in the answers most voters would make, Mr. Obama plans to hammer on that choice through 2012, reflecting the fact that the White House has all but given up hopes of a “grand bargain” with Republicans to restore fiscal balance for years to come.

...Mr. Obama also seems to have given up on his strategy of nearly a year, beginning when Republicans won control of the House last November, of being the eager-to-compromise “reasonable adult” — in the White House’s phrasing — in his relations with them.

...Indeed, Mr. Obama’s new tack in pressing the deficit-reduction framework and $447 billion jobs-creation plan that he wants — not trimmed to draw Republicans’ votes — reflects the conclusion he has drawn from the past 10 months: Republicans will oppose almost anything he proposes, even tax cuts.

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