At first glance it appears that the President isn’t very good at negotiation and many Democrats are saying that is still what it looks like after a second look.
But in his defense on this issue of the debt ceiling he was negotiating with a group that some are calling home grown terrorists. He was negotiating with the Tea Party members who were willing to hold the entire nation hostage to their ideas and now are saying that they may not even vote for the deal. They had no problem seeing their constituents lose over $700 billion last week from their retirement and 401(k) funds as the stock market went down in reaction to their unwillingness to compromise. They were willing to let the nation default on its debts around the globe and potentially send the world into a new recession for their view of economic reality which nearly every economist, both conservative and liberal, said is bogus. They are elected officials but appear to be more interested in grandstanding than governing.
One of the self anointed Tea Party leaders, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-MN), who is now on a quest for the Republican presidential nomination, kept urging them to let the nation default and it didn’t matter to her what the deal was. She is emblematic of the Tea Party view. She and they have no plan for the future, no understanding of what default means, or how to deal with the world economy if the US defaults. This is the reality of what rational leaders, the President and both Republican and Democratic congressional leaders are dealing with on the other side of the negotiating table.
What the Tea Party has wrought and legitimate Republican leaders are in some cases repeating is based on the wrong-headed assumption that cutting federal programs and refusing to raise revenue will lead to a better job market. There is absolutely no proof of that anywhere and in fact we know the opposite is true. Ronald Reagan raised taxes eleven times and he and Bill Clinton who followed him into the Presidency oversaw one of the greatest economic booms the country has ever seen. In fact when Clinton left the Presidency he left a budget surplus to his successor George Bush. We also know that then George Bush cut tax rates, started two wars and we saw the economy collapse which it continued to do into the first months of the Obama administration. We also know that during the great depression the federal government spent more money than it took in to be able to rebuild the economy. It was possible to do that because we didn’t need to balance the federal budget.
The nonsense and lies being bandied about with relation to a balanced budget amendment are just that, nonsense and lies. Republicans, especially the Tea Party, think that cutting funds from federal programs is the answer to every problem. In fact some were even willing to withhold funds needed to help the residents of Joplin, Missouri after the tornado devastated their town because they claimed it added to the budget deficit. I use one word to describe that view of the world, insanity.
But now its time to move on! The deal has been cut, and I assume it will pass the Congress, and the President will sign it. So while the President has given in to many of the demands of the Republican Party and their right wing, he has also managed to move this debate to the election. It will be what the 2012 election is decided on.
If Obama wants to win reelection and the Democrats want a chance to retake the House of Representative they will need to put together a message that is both clear and simple so that the American people understand what the realities of the federal government and budget are.
The President will need to craft his message on job development and the rebuilding of our economy and what he sees as the federal government’s role in that. He needs to be able to contrast his views with those of the Michele Bachmann’s of the nation and explain clearly why the economic views that the Tea Party has been espousing will have a devastating impact on the majority of Americans as they try to build a better future for themselves and their families.
The President will have to sound less like the constitutional scholar he is and more like a populist that the people will listen to. Bold strong statements are needed and less of the long detailed background explanations that we have heard from him before.
The people want a President who they believe feels their pain not one who tries to explain it like an analyst. It was one of the great advantages that Bill Clinton always had, he could make people believe he was one of them and actually felt their pain. The reality of that could be that he was more like them. He was a bubba, a philandering every guy that came into office without money and people could relate to him. Barack Obama often comes across as an elitist and people find it hard to relate to that. But I have also heard Obama when his rhetoric soared and he reached people’s hearts. He can move people with a speech when he feels the passion and I hope he can dig deep and bring out that passion more often.
The 2012 elections will be crucial for many reasons. They could make the difference in the Supreme Court with the next appointment; they will suggest to us where the nation will head economically; and they will tell us whether the people are still willing to hear the truth about our nation or just want to buy simple palliatives from those without an understanding of how to build a better future.
I still trust in the people and believe that they know the Tea Party has run its course and understand that they made a mistake when they elected them.