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:
- It paints Republicans as radically right-wing, unwilling to compromise on even a proposal that many liberals strongly oppose
- 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
- 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.
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