Tags: Barack Obama | Economic- Crisis | | Obama | debt | deal | Tea party

Obama's Base Says He Caved to Tea Party

By Dan Weil   |   Monday, 01 Aug 2011 12:07 PM

This year started with conservative Republicans accusing President Barack Obama of trying to turn the country socialist. Now the criticism is coming from the left, with liberal Democrats alleging that Obama is allowing conservatives to turn the country into tea-party nation through the debt/deficit negotiations.

Barack Obama, tea party, Democrats, RepublicansThose negotiations between the White House and congressional leaders from both sides of the aisle produced an agreement to raise the $14.3 trillion debt limit by at least $2.1 trillion through 2012 and slice $2.4 trillion or more from government spending over the next decade.

So why are Democrats so upset? Because Obama caved in to Republican demands on some key issues. Perhaps most importantly, the deal includes no tax increases, despite the president’s previous insistence that taxes must rise for the wealthy and for corporations as part of any accord.

Here’s how The New York Times sums up Obama’s approach: “One thing is clear: under pressure from congressional Republicans, President Obama has moved rightward on budget policy, deepening a rift within his party.”

And here’s how The Wall Street Journal puts it: “The deficit-reduction deal bears the unmistakable stamp of tea-party conservatives. . . . [It] has plenty of elements for both liberals and conservatives to dislike. But because of Republicans' political leverage, it was played out from the beginning largely on their turf.”

Just look at how Obama has approached the debt/deficit particulars in recent weeks. In his unsuccessful effort to implement greater deficit reduction than is called for in Sunday’s agreement, he offered much bigger cuts in spending, including entitlements, than he did in tax increases on the wealthy and corporations.

And the magnitude of Obama’s proposed spending reductions exceeded that of even some Republican proposals. He sought smaller decreases in military spending and more in health care than a bipartisan Senate group that included one of the body’s most conservative members.

Moreover, despite a still lofty employment rate of 9.2 percent, Obama has ignored liberal pleas for a major jobs initiative with billions of dollars for public works projects. Instead he is hewing to the Republican line of lower taxes with his proposal to extend a temporary payroll tax cut for all workers — the wealthy and non-wealthy alike.

Obama isn’t even trying to hide the fact that he gave in to Republicans. When he announced the compromise blueprint Sunday night, Obama asked rhetorically, "Is this the deal I would have preferred?" His answer: "No."

Liberals, of course, were even more upset. "This deal does not even attempt to strike a balance between more cuts for the working people of America and a fairer contribution from millionaires and corporations," said Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

The irony is that Obama’s retreat didn’t placate tea partyers in the House anyway. Many of them oppose Sunday’s agreement.

“The Republicans won, and they don’t know how to accept victory,” Robert Reischauer, director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office under Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, told the Times.

Obama’s surrender raises the question of how it will affect him politically. Hard-core liberals won’t abandon the president, “because they’re terrified of the right wing,” Robert Borosage, co-director of the liberal group Campaign for America’s Future, told the Times.

But “I believe that the voting base of the Democratic Party — young people, single women, African-Americans, Latinos — are going to be so discouraged by this economy and so dismayed unless the president starts to champion a jobs program and take on the Republican Congress, that the ability of labor to turn out its vote, the ability of activists to mobilize that vote, is going to be dramatically reduced.”

Perhaps more important is how independent voters react to Obama’s actions. They were the segment that put him over the top in 2008, and he will need their support again to prevail next year. Watch for their reactions.

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This year started with conservative Republicans accusing President Barack Obama of trying to turn the country socialist. Now the criticism is coming from the left, with liberal Democrats alleging that Obama is allowing conservatives to turn the country into tea-party nation...
Obama,debt,deal,Tea party
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2011-07-01
 

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