Back in September 2009, I posited that President Obama had reached a crucial moment of decision in his young presidency. (Please see What's it gonna be, Barack?) I asserted that the position the Obama administration took with regard to the inclusion of a public option in the health care reform legislation would determine whether President Obama would be a bold advocate for the people or an appeaser of corporate lobbying interests.
Well, we all know how that turned out. At the time, although I bitterly resented that the most obvious, least expensive solution for health care reform was ignored and discounted and excluded from the debate in an obvious kowtow to the interests of health care insurance providers, I couldn't bring myself to blame President Obama.
But this latest surrender is a bridge too far.
On Monday, President Obama announced a tentative deal with Republican Senators. In exchange for an extension of the Bush tax cuts for the highest income brackets, Republicans agreed to a 13-month extension of unemployment insurance, a reduction in employee payroll taxes next year, and the continuation of a variety of tax credits aimed at lower- and middle-income Americans. To sum up, Republicans agreed to throw bread crumbs to the masses, but only on the condition that their principle constituency, the über-rich, continue to be absolved of any significant contribution to federal revenues.
There is little use in pointing out the Republican hypocrisy on this issue. Yes, the tax cuts pile another $700 billion onto the federal deficit. And, yes, that flies in the face of the supposed fiscal concerns the GOP and their mindless tea-bag zealots shrieked about during the recent political campaign. And, yes, it is two-faced of Republicans to complain about adding the relatively small cost of unemployment benefits to the federal deficit while advocating for extending tax cuts. But, at this point, only a fool would expect anything less than bald-faced hypocrisy from Republicans. It sustains them. It is their lifeblood.
What is most offensive about this "deal," is that President Obama rolled over so willingly. He seems averse to cornering his political opponents and forcing them to take tough votes. If he had taken a stand, as he repeatedly suggested he would do during the campaign, there is no telling how things would have played out. As the clock ticks toward January 1, when the Bush tax cuts are scheduled to expire, all sides would be pressured to cut some kind of deal. But Obama let the Republicans off the hook and scorned the left-wing of his own party.
Add this betrayal to the long list of bullsh*t concessions that Obama, who led unprecedented Democratic majorities in both houses of the 111th Congress, has handed over to the very people who scorn and disrespect him, and who have shown not the slightest interest in compromise.
As my friend, Dave Hauth pointed out, Obama has
- refused to investigate the many overt crimes of the Bush Administration, and has actively worked to squelch such investigations by Spain, Germany and the United Kingdom;
- done nothing to end either of the two unnecessary (and, in the case of Iraq, illegal) wars;
- continued Bush administration Constitutional abuses (expanded warrant-less wiretapping, claimed executive power to assassinate United States citizens);
One wonders how different things would be if Mad Johnny McCain were president rather than Obama. McCain might have had us in a couple more wars by now, but other than that...
It's impossible to know how history will judge President Obama. But the sad truth of the matter is that I don't see a whole lot of difference between him and his imbecilic predecessor.