Maybe Barack Obama really in his heart still believes, despite being depicted as a monkey, the target of an e-mail depicting his parents as chimpanzees, called a liar in the middle of the State of the Union message, described with lynching metaphors by a leading presidential candidate, and a nonstop barrage of obstructionism by Congressional Republicans during the last two-and-a-half years, that he still can negotiate with Republicans; that he's so special that he can part the waters. Maybe he has some deep-seated self-loathing that's so pervasive that he gets some kind of perverse gratification out of being abused by Republicans.
Maybe he's even just doing what he's wanted to do all along -- set himself up for a nice cushy eight-figure job with an investment bank after he leaves office and join the ranks of the very people we elected him to keep under some kind of control.
Whatever it is, it's pretty clear that the poor and the elderly in this country are going to be sacrificed, not by some right-wing Republican greedmeister, but by a Democrat that those very poor and elderly elected:
President Obama is pressing congressional leaders to consider a far-reaching debt-reduction plan that would force Democrats to accept major changes to Social Security and Medicare in exchange for Republican support for fresh tax revenue.
At a meeting with top House and Senate leaders set for Thursday morning, Obama plans to argue that a rare consensus has emerged about the size and scope of the nation’s budget problems and that policymakers should seize the moment to take dramatic action.
As part of his pitch, Obama is proposing significant reductions in Medicare spending and for the first time is offering to tackle the rising cost of Social Security, according to people in both parties with knowledge of the proposal. The move marks a major shift for the White House and could present a direct challenge to Democratic lawmakers who have vowed to protect health and retirement benefits from the assault on government spending.
“Obviously, there will be some Democrats who don’t believe we need to do entitlement reform. But there seems to be some hunger to do something of some significance,” said a Democratic official familiar with the administration’s thinking. “These moments come along at most once a decade. And it would be a real mistake if we let it pass us by.”
Rather than roughly $2 trillion in savings, the White House is now seeking a plan that would slash more than $4 trillion from annual budget deficits over the next decade, stabilize borrowing, and defuse the biggest budgetary time bombs that are set to explode as the cost of health care rises and the nation’s population ages.
That would represent a major legislative achievement, but it would also put Obama and GOP leaders at odds with major factions of their own parties. While Democrats would be asked to cut social-safety-net programs, Republicans would be asked to raise taxes, perhaps by letting tax breaks for the nation’s wealthiest households expire on schedule at the end of next year.
The administration argues that lawmakers would also get an important victory to sell to voters in 2012. “The fiscal good has to outweigh the pain,” said a Democratic official familiar with the discussions.
Yup. Cuts to the social safety net that have been in place for decades and that keep the elderly from living out on the street are going to really be a big seller in 2012, especially in states like, oh, say, Florida, and North Carolina, where there are both a lot of retirees AND a lot of poor people. That's gonna go over BIG.
Americans have drunk the deficit kool-aid, but they don't really understand what the kind of BIG CUTS NOW they seem to be asking for are going to mean. A poll in March of this year showed that while 80% of Americans are concerned about the deficit, they oppose cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security and K-12 education. Believe me, when Grandma has to move into a house where Dad has been out of work for two years and the family income is a third of what it was; where the son has been out of college for a year and is still working at the Piggly-Wiggly for $7.25 an hour because he can't find a programming job; where the daughter who's an A student is living at home and going to community college because the money that Dad and Mom had put away from her college lost 40% of its value during the 2008 financial crisis and still hasn't recovered -- because Grandma can no longer afford her apartment and food after her Social Security checks have been cut, families like that are going to find their concern with the deficit disappearing mighty quick.
Americans don't favor cuts to these programs, but they DO, contrary to the relentless drumbeats of Republicans, favor increasing taxes on the wealthiest Americans, especially when the questions are framed as a choice between just cuts, just tax hikes, or a combination of both:
Several polls ask people if taxes should be increased on people who make more than $250,000. Polls show substantial majorities support the idea. We found majorities of 72 percent, 64 percent, and 59 percent. (Those are from April polls by ABC News/Washington Post, McClatchy-Marist, and USA Today/Gallup, respectively.)
On whether corporations pay enough in taxes, Gallup found that 67 percent said they pay too little.
Finally, we should note one area where we found contradictions on tax increases --in polls that ask people if they favor spending cuts, tax increases, or some combination thereof.
A Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted at the beginning of May found that most people, 52 percent, favored a combination of cuts and tax increases. The NBC/Washington Post poll from April found that number was even higher, at 59 percent.
On the other hand, when you don't give people the option of both, they favor spending cuts over tax increases by significant margins. We found a Reuters/Ipsos poll from March that found people favored spending cuts over tax increase by 56 percent to 30, and a CBS News/New York Times poll from January that put it at 62 to 29.
But then we found polls that asked participants if they preferred cuts to benefits such as Social Security and Medicare over tax increases. In those cases, the results favored tax increases. The CBS News/New York Times poll found that 62 percent favored increasing taxes before Medicare benefits are cut.
The tax cuts that were instituted by George W. Bush in conjunction with his spending spree on two futile have been in place for a decade -- and there are still no jobs. But that isn't stopping Republicans from continuing the trickle-down meme that when the rich have stuffed all the cash into their pockets that will fit, they will start just tossing it on the floor in the form of jobs and let us pick up the scraps. The reality that we're seeing is that when their pockets are full, they just start stuffing cash into the pockets of another jacket.
And yet there is our President -- the one we elected in 2008, along with a Democratic Congress, to protect Social Security and Medicare, to protect public education, and to protect a woman's sovereignty over his own body -- selling us out on EVERYTHING.
Wo which is it? Are we once again dealing with a president who's willing to sacrifice a nation to his primal childhood wounds, or just another greedy asshole who rode a Trojan Horse into the White House?