Why Liberals Need To Calm Down When It Comes To Obama’s Budget Proposal

calmdownLiberals have been up in arms over President Obama’s budget proposal.

Trust me, I get it.  There has been quite the liberal fear campaign against it.

Well, I’m here to tell you to take a deep breath and calm down.  This is what happens when you let knee-jerk reaction and emotion drive your opinion.

Since the Summer of 2011, soon after Republicans held the debt ceiling hostage, Obama took a new strategy when it came to dealing with them.  He puts the decision on them.  He makes them look radical and out of touch.  He makes them look unreasonable.

He did it with his jobs bill in 2011.  He took the rhetoric Republicans were pushing about jobs needing to be a focus, presented his American Jobs Act, and let Republicans sink when they refused to pass it.  He did it with the extension of the payroll tax in December 2011.  He did it more recently with the “fiscal cliff” (where he also had offered a chained CPI in his first proposal).  Now he’s doing it again.

His first proposal is meant to stir anger in liberals.  Get them going.  Get them outraged.  You know why?  Because that’s a great tool for him to say, “See, I proposed something that angered even my own base—and still Republicans were too busy playing politics to accept my deal.”

He knows Republicans won’t accept this deal.  Hell, why would they?  It calls for tax increases for the wealthy and spending for programs that help the poor—two things Republicans have overwhelmingly opposed in the past few years.  But what are they supposed to do?  For years they’ve slammed President Obama for not proposing a budget (which is a lie)—now he’s proposed one that can’t be mistaken for anything radically left-wing, because it’s actually angered liberals.

Now they’re stuck.  Obama proposed a budget, and it’s pissed off liberals.

But they’ll never support it, because he’s the one who proposed it—Obama knows this.

So now much of the public perception, especially from Democrats, is “Obama made a radical right-wing compromise, selling out liberals” and Republicans now have to try and spin that into “We’re not the radicals, Obama is the left-wing radical who refuses to compromise.”

But now Obama has forced their hand.  For weeks they’ve been warning of the evils of the cuts made by the sequester, and now Obama has proposed a compromised budget which would solve most of those problems.  Now they have to stall, then eventually reject, this proposal.  But come back with—what?

If they respond with a budget proposal that removes those tax increases, Obama simply scoffs and removes the chained CPI from his proposal.  If they come back with one that greatly reduces those tax increases, Obama still pulls the chained CPI proposal from his budget.  See, the chained CPI is his chip in this budget proposal that he’s going to yank if Republicans even slightly pull back on any of his proposed tax increases.

He knows the level of increases he’s proposed aren’t anything Republicans will agree to, but he knows the sequester is the tool for which he can use to get them to vote on some of his tax increases–without including the chained CPI.  The chained CPI is just the tool he’s used to show he’ll make a very unpopular choice, even within his own base of support.  Which eventually shows Republicans aren’t really serious about compromise.

This has a few uses:

  1. It paints Republicans as radically right-wing, unwilling to compromise on even a proposal that many liberals strongly oppose
  2. It may force Republicans to vote for tax increases for the second time this year, something that will anger their base and divide their party even further
  3. Nothing may get passed and that still paints Republicans as the party that simply won’t work with President Obama no matter what he proposes, and further emphasizes the incompetency of Congress since Republicans took control of the House in 2010

And that’s where I think a lot of this is headed.  The Republican Party is a mess right now.  The Tea Party, meant to take the Republican Party to new heights, instead is tearing it apart.  The base, the right-wing radicals who comprise most of the Tea Party Republicans, are uncompromising in their outdated ideology.  However, nationally they’ve grown very unpopular, and they’ve made the party as a whole seem horrifically outdated.

So Republican politicians have a choice to make:

  • Work with Obama, angering their base, which may cost them their jobs during Republican primary elections
  • Pander to the base, appearing more radical to the general public, and risk losing their jobs in the general election to a Democrat

It’s really a no-win situation for many of them.

Obama sees this and is driving the national view that Republicans are not acting in the best interest of the American public, right into the 2014 elections.

He’s offered them what they’ve been pushing for–and Democrats have opposed–and they still won’t support it.  It’s a brilliant set up:

  • Pass the bill as-is, which raises taxes—and would send their party into even bigger turmoil
  • Push for less tax increases, or none at all, which would remove any talk of a chained CPI
  • Propose a budget which includes nothing of which Obama wants, and show Republicans really have no desire to compromise
  • Do nothing, and have a bill which Obama can tout as a fair compromise die in the House—which again would paint themselves as the party that simply won’t work for the American people

Either way, Republicans simply can’t win.

President Obama knows this, and he’s betting he can play Republicans all the way to the 2014 elections—where hopefully Democrats can take back power in the House and gain a filibuster proof majority in the Senate.

Then it will be up to Democrats to get out and vote, so we can make damn sure that happens.

About Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is from the Dallas-Fort Worth area and has a degree in Political Science. He is a co-founder of Forward Progressives, and author of the popular Right Off A Cliff column. He is also the founder of the Right Off A Cliff facebook page, on which he routinely voices his opinions and stirs the pot for the Progressive movement. Follow Allen on Twitter as well, @Allen_Clifton.

  • http://www.facebook.com/yshuaben.moshe Yshuaben Moshe

    And all of the evidence is that Obama is a Conservative democrat that really doesn’t like these programs. He’s made cuts in both of them, recently. So, to try spinning this is just not logically correct. The correct attitude is to be infuriated that Obama and other Dems would even consider such a proposal. Remember, Democrats hold 2/3rds of the Working Government. They don’t need to pander any more to the right, which they have been since that god-infuriating Clintoon was POTUS. Go ahead and give the store away, though. Who cares about the elderly and impoverished, right? I mean, its not like Rural areas don’t rely on this type of subsidy to survive or anything, do they (insert random sarcasm face here)?
    Idiots all of you. Its like accepting workfare by Clintoon.

  • iamemen

    I think Obama has very lame and sold out advisers, but those are his peers. It’s the blob, the ambitious politicos who are angling for the K street or Wall Street, or “Defence” job. They are the occupiers of the USA and they are too big to fail, because all the government watchdogs are owned. Where is the passionate humanist who stands up for social programs in the face of the Koch beast? Record highs on Wall Street? Record bummers for the poor. No one is fooled.

  • jdecp1


    Some commentators on this web page seem to believe that Mr. Obama is
    just very cleverly trying to “trap” or somehow “unmask” the GOP with his
    budget proposal to cut Social Security and Medicare. “But,” they say,
    “Mr. Obama knows that the GOP will never accept raising taxes on the
    wealthy, as a quid pro quo, so the safety-net cuts aren’t real after
    all,” goes this fanciful scenario.

    If this were true, how does one justify needlessly threatening and “playing with” widows, orphans, seniors and the disabled with such a disingenuous offer?

    Realistically speaking, how does it make ANY sense whatsoever for the
    president of the United States to come off looking to the world like a
    trickster who isn’t bargaining “in good faith”?

    And what would those offered cuts really mean if the GOP were to strategically accept some tax hikes on the wealthy to gain political credibility and turn registered Democrats and independent voters, alike, against Dems in
    2014 for voting to shred the safety net?

    Just think about this: if the GOP accepts some tax increases, then how can Mr. Obama pull the “gambit” of safety-net cuts “off the table,” without blowing his political credibility and looking like a welsher and an incompetent?

    When understood in this way, we can see how this imaginary scenario
    that Mr. Obama is just being strategically clever by offering safety-net
    cuts is simply pure nonsense.

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