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Debtpocalypse, the Sequel?

© Tom Tomorrow

I guess the big question is, do you think Obama compromised too easily? Or did he do what he needed to do to save the country from defaulting? Although I have some sympathy for the former position, which is fairly popular with pundits (including Tom Tomorrow), I have to ask them, what would you have had Obama do differently, and what would have been the outcome? Is the answer they are proposing total stalemate and chaos?



  1. TENTHIRTYTWO wrote:

    I can’t answer for the rest of the talking heads, but for me specifically it is that in my opinion too much time has been wasted trying to compromise with dogmatic theocrats. And too much credit has been given to those who are actively seeking nothing else than the destruction of Obama.

    It is sort of like reading the comics and seeing Charlie Brown trying to kick the football and Lucy yanking it out at the last moment. Except Charlie tried to kick the football this time because if he didn’t, Lucy was going to force America to default on its debts.

    Reading that comic, you could make a valid argument that Charlie did the best he could. Would you rather him have made a stand, not kicked the football, and destroyed the economy? Well, no.

    But you didn’t read the other 759385765 comics where Lucy has repeatedly pulled the football out from him, nor the one where Charlie said:

    “Look, here’s my expectation — and I’ll take Lucy at her word — that nobody, football-kicker or football-holder, is willing to see the full faith and credit of the United States government collapse, that that would not be a good thing to happen. And so I think that there will be significant discussions about the debt limit vote. That’s something that nobody ever likes to vote on. But once Lucy is sworn in as football-holder, then she’s going to have responsibilities to keep the ball on the ground. You can’t just stand on the sidelines and be a bomb thrower.

    And so my expectation is, is that we will have tough negotiations around the budget, but that ultimately we can arrive at a position that is keeping the government open, keeping Social Security checks going out, keeping veterans services being provided, but at the same time is prudent when it comes to taxpayer dollars.”

    Thursday, August 11, 2011 at 5:05 am | Permalink
  2. oregonbird wrote:

    We know that Obama is a great orator – and while he makes majestic sounds, he is being the 2nd most valuable corporate asset that ever put its arse in a presidential chair. Nothing he has (half-way) done will be allowed to stand, we’re losing rights to corporations in the courts and the basics of civilization in federal and state congresses. Looks like class war has been declared, and with the ‘practice’ the army has been up to in university grounds and cities in the southern states, it looks like they know we’ll be Tottenhaming here in the near future. It’s just a question of what sets it off.

    Thursday, August 11, 2011 at 5:11 am | Permalink
  3. starluna wrote:

    Wow, OreganBird. You reached Armageddon in four sentences. Good job. Just to clarify, though, Obama has no influence on the decisions made by the Supreme Court. Indeed, many decisions could have been worse if Obama had been the corporate tool that you make him out to be.

    Clearly, the anti-Obama message machine has been quite successful in getting everyone (but most especially the left) to see Obama as an over-compromising weakling. How easily we forget that revenue was in the plan that he and Boehner had begun to agree to (both times) and was also in the original Senate plan. Was it 50-50 balanced? No, and we all knew that, with the House in the hands of the Republicans, it never would be.

    One of my favorite canards is that the president came to these negotiations too late. What that really says is that Congress is such a bunch of kindergarteners that the President, who I’m pretty sure has a full plate most of the time, has to stop what he’s doing to herd them towards doing their jobs. But we on the left blame the President rather than the Congress.

    My mother-in-law relies on Social Security, and my husband and I are not in the financial position to replace that income had the debt ceiling not been raised and the choice made to delay SS checks. I also live in a city that relies very very heavily on Medicare/ Medicaid payments. My city also relies heavily on direct investments in research and R&D, not to mention federal student loans. So, I am personally relieved that the worse was avoided. I wish it could have been better, but I am afraid that it would require going back in time to the 2010 elections and committing election fraud.

    Thursday, August 11, 2011 at 6:46 am | Permalink
  4. TENTHIRTYTWO wrote:

    I’ll ask a question that is certainly just as oversimplistic as the one in the original post:

    Do you think that Obama correctly judged the willingness of Republicans to drown the economy in a bathtub in order to maintain their dogma?

    I think the answer to that question is, no, he did not.

    Thursday, August 11, 2011 at 7:20 am | Permalink
  5. starluna wrote:

    1032: Did any of us really believe they were willing to do that? Did any of us realize that Boehner was as emasculated as he was by the Tea Party faction?

    Thursday, August 11, 2011 at 7:31 am | Permalink
  6. David Freeman wrote:

    I still think both sides on the issue of how much blame does Obama deserve are setting up straw-men and knocking them down. Neither side is stoopid but we each argue like the other side is.

    I love Starluna’s posts and agree with most but it’s just not true that “we on the left blame the President rather than the Congress.” I think we are uniformly furious at the irresponsible ignorance of the Tea Party and the opportunistic cowardice of Republican leadership. Only Tea-Partyers think it is all Obama’s fault. But many of us on the left, think Obama has significant responsibility for not using the most powerful bully-pit in the world to expose the irresponsible opposition for what they are. I can’t defend all the hyperbole (some perhaps my own) against Obama but there is a reasonable element of frustration involved. We should tone our criticism down a notch but criticism is deserved and an honest open debate within the progressive movement should be welcomed and encouraged.

    Thursday, August 11, 2011 at 9:04 am | Permalink
  7. TENTHIRTYTWO wrote:

    Starluna: Fair enough. Now let me ask you what I think is a very important question:

    Given what has happened, do you think that Obama has now correctly judged their willingness to destroy the economy? Do you think that he will now treat them like they deserve? Does he recognize that they will indeed stand on the sidelines and be bomb throwers?

    Perhaps it’s just the pessimist in me poking out, but I fear the answer to that question is also, no, he has not and no, he will not. I hope I am wrong.

    Thursday, August 11, 2011 at 9:16 am | Permalink
  8. Dan wrote:

    Get active, Vote in 2012. Use small words and simple phrases to explain things like – “I don’t understand trickle down economics, what good is having supply if no one is buying? I tell you what, take away the rich folk’s money, and they’ll find a way to get it back by finding out what we want to buy and then getting it for us.”
    Make sure your audience feels that you don’t fully understand what’s going on too. Wearing a cap also helps.

    Thursday, August 11, 2011 at 9:27 am | Permalink
  9. Iron Knee wrote:

    tin foil cap?

    Thursday, August 11, 2011 at 11:21 am | Permalink
  10. TENTHIRTYTWO wrote:

    I prefer a beanie with a propellor.

    Thursday, August 11, 2011 at 11:24 am | Permalink
  11. Iron Knee wrote:

    The truth still remains that the founding fathers purposely designed our constitution to make government slow, and to allow a dedicated minority to be able to block legislation they didn’t like. I guess they never imagined that a minority would manage to control most of the media and get enough people elected to Congress so they could hold the entire government hostage.

    Thursday, August 11, 2011 at 11:37 am | Permalink
  12. ZIP-ZERO-NADA wrote:

    Yes, the founding fathers were purposely protecting our fledgling democracy from a purely majority-rules driven legislative branch. But what we’re suffering from now is primarily a divisive two-party system that effectively politicizes and polarizes every single issue in this country.

    Where is the anti-Tea Party? Where is the “Rational, free-thinking, non-partisan, progressive, smart-decision-making, problem solving Party”? Please tell me where to sign up!?!

    Thursday, August 11, 2011 at 1:13 pm | Permalink
  13. starluna wrote:

    What I would like to know is how many calls, emails, etc. the Tea Party reps received from their constituents about this issue. I mean, in the end, what you or I think about them is irrelevant. Whether the people who they supposedly represent are in favor of what they are doing is really all that matters. Only then can I really understand whether Obama’s choices make sense.

    If, for example, most of the constituents of the Tea Party Caucus in the House approve of what they are doing, then the only thing Obama can do is contain the damage, since nothing will change until those people are voted out of office.

    If, however, most of the constituents of these Congresspersons actually oppose what they are doing (and let them know that), only then does it make sense for Obama to even try to use the “bully pulpit” BUT only if the members of Congress are going to act accordingly or at least in their own self interest (assuming they believe their self interest is re-election). If these members of Congress are the ideological warriors that they are made out to be and will do what they want regardless of what their constituents tell them, then we’re back to only being able to contain the damage until the balance of power shifts.

    It seems to me that we are entering a new era in terms of the power the President has to control the message. The mechanism by which the bully pulpit is effective is the mass media. Which, in today’s era, is largely TV. We all complain about how biased almost all TV new sources are, so the ability of the president to use this particular mechanism to get his message out is seriously compromised. In the speech Obama made the day when he told the public to call their members of Congress, I thought he had pretty clearly called out Congress for making this problem worse. However, you only saw that if you watched it on CSPAN or the Daily Show or the NewsHour. Without the mainstream mass media, the bully pulpit is nothing more than rickety music stand in the middle of an empty, roofless church.

    I do understand the frustration. I see it all the time in the immigrant rights community who truly believe that the President needs to be spending all of his political capital on immigration reform. And among those in the environmental movement who think that the President should be spending all of his political capital on restoring our battered environmental protection system. And among those in the veterans and active duty military community who are tired and just want these wars to end and for our veterans to get the care and the benefits they deserve. And they, more than any other group, are justified in their frustration since that is one of the few enumerated Constitutional responsibilities of the President.

    But the President has no political capital if we don’t invest in his power. I don’t know what it takes. I hope it doesn’t mean that I have to register as a Democrat. It probably has a lot to do the way congressional districts are drawn and the problems created by the Citizens United decision. But I also suspect that every time we fall for the “Obama is selling us out” line, we actually reduce whatever ability he has to get anything done. Especially since his ability to get anything done relies fairly heavily on Congress.

    Thursday, August 11, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Permalink
  14. Iron Knee wrote:

    Thanks Starluna for making the point that the bully pulpit only works if the president has enough political capital, and he only gets that from us if we support what he is doing, and make sure other people know about our support.

    If you tune out because “Obama isn’t doing enough”, you are just giving more power to that minority that is actively fighting against your interests.

    The same thing applies if Obama does something you don’t like — let him know.

    The problem is that in the modern political world, not only is money speech and corporations are people, but corporations are people with LOTS of money. So they have WAY more influence than real people, especially since our representatives need that money in order to get reelected.

    Corporations are also spending money to purposely make real people disillusioned, since that gives them more power. We have seen political parties and campaigns pay people just to make disparaging comments on blogs like this one, so it would not surprise me in the least if at least some (not all) of the people spouting false equivalencies and things like that are paid trolls.

    Thursday, August 11, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Permalink
  15. TENTHIRTYTWO wrote:

    I found this yesterday and sadly realized that it describes politics in America more accurately and succinctly than anything I’ve ever seen before. I believe it is a paraphrasing of an Upton Sinclair quote:

    It’s amazing how difficult it is for a man to understand something if he’s paid a small fortune not to understand it.

    Thursday, August 11, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Permalink
  16. ebdoug wrote:

    Dan: In very few words, you hit the nail on the head. I love reading something I agree with completely.

    christian Science Monitor did an Article on The concervatives (magazine). Apparently we went through all this in the 1960s.

    And it may have been there, there was the chart on the countries that taxed the most. of the top 15 taxers, 8 reported a high quality of living. We are at 59%, one of the high quality.

    Thursday, August 11, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Permalink
  17. Patricia wrote:

    I regards to the bully pulpit: yes, the balkanization of the media has a lot to do with why we can’t come to some consensus on public matters. NPR did an short piece of the effect this morning. I have spoken with people on the far laft and far right and the consistency between those two camps is that they NEVER (their words) listen to anyone that they don’t already agree with. We are a nation of people isolated in their respective bubbles. I don’t know how you can get past that!

    Thursday, August 11, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Permalink
  18. Arthanyel wrote:

    Starluna – in partial answer to the “how many calls did the Tea Party reps get”, unfortunately they mostly ignore the constituents that don’t agree with them. They were elected by a majority of the voters in their district, and unless the calls come in at better than 2 to 1 against something (and they didn’t from their districts) they ignore the other side. That’s true of most politicians but it especially true of the freshman “outsiders” of the Tea Party since they feel they were sent on a mission and they aren’t going to let anyone distract them from it – if their constituents care, they can vote them out (or back in ) in 2012.

    Thursday, August 11, 2011 at 7:05 pm | Permalink
  19. starluna wrote:

    Arthanyel – I’m inclined to believe you. I guess I would like to see some numbers. I know from my own work with politicians that they do actually keep count. But I’ve never been able to convince them to make these numbers public. It would help with really understanding the behavior of people.

    More to the point, what you are saying does make containing the damage one of the few really viable options for both the President and moderate members of Congress.

    Thursday, August 11, 2011 at 8:15 pm | Permalink
  20. ebdoug wrote:

    If you read “the Bridge” about Obama and before that understand it was both sides of the aisle who wanted Obama to run, you understand it is because he brings people together to dirty word “Compromise”. That is what he is all about. Extrame left and right are going to hate him for that. Congress knows where he is coming from.

    Friday, August 12, 2011 at 7:26 am | Permalink
  21. Arthanyel wrote:

    Starluna – it is common practice to keep count of all constituent feedback. They also typically rank the feedback – generic form emails from some sponsored site get the lowest ranking, then personal emails, then personal letters, then phone calls, and finally in person visits. The impact is about one order of magnitude greater at each level, so if you visit your representative in person and tell them a compelling story about how something impacts you and your family, it has about 10,000 times the impact of a generic form email.

    That said, most politicians focus on getting re-elected and if they see a clear trend in their constituents’ opinions it does move them – but they also know that only a tiny fraction actually contact them, so they factor that in, and the Tea Party freshman are less concerned about re-election than the average politicians. My junior senator and my House rep (both Democrats) are the ones that gave me the “2 to 1” ratio from scuttlebutt in Washington so I can’t vouch for its accuracy – but it sounds about right.

    In business we say that unless your customer is unhappy with their current service it takes a 30% price advantage or about a 5x features/functionality advantage to convince them to switch. If they are unhappy you can be about on par. I am guessing the same is true for incumbents which is why the easiest way to unseat one is to make people unhappy.

    Friday, August 12, 2011 at 9:40 am | Permalink
  22. TENTHIRTYTWO wrote:

    I repeat, dogmatic theocrats.

    Friday, August 12, 2011 at 1:16 pm | Permalink
  23. Ernest wrote:

    I would have let the tax breaks expire last December.

    He did not have to do anything. Just let the republican created beast die in the sunset. No action was necessary.

    Everything we have gone through in the past months was a monster of his own creation. It was a GOP law and it was to die on terms the GOP agreed to 10 years ago.

    I am now convinced the he is and always was a GOP quisling.

    He will not get my vote next time.

    Obama = George Bush III ?
    Da Kine ? Kumakaia ?
    Kū ho’i kāu hana i ka Mākaia.

    Friday, August 12, 2011 at 11:18 pm | Permalink
  24. Arthanyel wrote:

    Ernest – you missed everything else that happened. Obama only wanted to extend tax breaks to the middle class as a stimulus, and he and Democrats wanted unemployment extensions to help longterm unemployed as well as some other stimulus steps. Republicans were adamant they would do no such thing unless the tax cuts on the rich were extended. So Obama made a deal that got both sides the things they felt were important.

    Obama is not a GOP quisling. He is a president that understands it is better to get something done that you want and that makes progress rather than getting nothing done while standing on ideology.

    Saturday, August 13, 2011 at 3:05 am | Permalink
  25. Ernest wrote:

    Arthanyel –

    By arguing for the continuation of the tax breaks for those earning under $250K, the door was deliberately left open for the extensions for the rich. All the tax breaks should have eliminated, we then would have had a clean slate. Instead of fighting about the debt ceiling, Obama could have been pushing harder for those stimulus programs starting last January. As I said nothing needed to be done, it was all going to happen automatically. As for the size of the original stimulus package, I remember reading that it was his decision to implement a smaller one than what was necessary.

    I am also still waiting for all those Wall Street, war crime and torture investigations to start. Instead we are told to put the past behind us. Ford pardoned Nixon for similar reasons. Many of the actors in the Reagan through Bush administrations were complicit in various ways with the Nixon administration. If we do not get any accountability today, I am very afraid for the future of this country as the crimes that are being ignored today are much greater than those of the Nixon period. It all comes down to precedence and the ability of the powerful to stretch the envelop even farther with each passing decade.

    Incidentally, I am one of those long term unemployed and uninsured. Since I was a contract worker, I could not draw on unemployment. I have survived by depleting the IRA that was supposed to used 10 years from now.

    Come retirement I will be totally dependent on Social Security, and guess who took the first step that is going to compromise my future even more.

    Saturday, August 13, 2011 at 11:00 am | Permalink
  26. ebdoug wrote:

    Ernest=Obama had one chance to get health care and START through Congress. That was when both houses of Congress were Democratic. He knew as is history shows at the midterm election, the other party takes over at least in one house. He could never get health care through after that. So he had to “compromise” by allowing the tax cuts to continue for two more years. for 100 years, Presidents from the Roosevelts, Nixon, Clinton, tried to get health care through. This happened just last year that Obama got it through. He had to sacrifice to get it.
    2008 I paid no tax on my 20K income because it was from dividends. My tax client with 12K is a tax payer. I want the tax cuts to expire at the end of next year. I want to pay more taxes so I send support to anyone running for office who supports letting them expire. 2008 I paid out $13K for health care insurance, medicines, etc. Fortunately, I had a rich mother, but I would not qualify for any discounts or insurance if I hadn’t had a rich mother. As the law stands, now or in 2014 (I don’t know because I’m now on medicare, people with just unemployment are going to be able to get government health insurance. And blue states give huge discounts on Medicines.
    Are you really going to not vote for Obama so that there is a chance that one of the Wingnuts will get in? Read the books about him if you can get to a library (bike or walk so you don’t pay for gas) Find out where he stands.

    Private companies create jobs. Republicans support these jobs-and they are overseas jobs so the Republicans can get richer.

    Government (more taxes from the rich) create jobs. Better care for our elderly, ect. I’ve worked in private nursing home as the charge nurse. You would not want your worst enemy in one. They aren’t out to care for your loved one, they are out for profit. Government and church run nursing homes are the best.

    My experience with my tax clients was that the unemployed ones were depressed. work is necessary to ones well being.

    Saturday, August 13, 2011 at 11:16 am | Permalink
  27. Ernest wrote:

    Ebdoug and Arthanyel –

    The circus that has been occurring is totally of Obama’s making (and even more anciently Pelosie’s taking impeachment off the table 5 years ago).

    How much more simple does it get. Let the tax breaks sunset, or you can intervene and stop the law.
    Obama decided to intervene and totally screw up a process that would have resounded to the benefit of the poor, the middle class, the retired, the handicapped etc. over and over again. Yes there would have been more suffering in the first 3 months, but I guarantee that fearful politicians would have responded very adequately in that time. And many many more people are now going to suffer because of the cowardess of those who only seek to get re-elected.

    How does caving in on single payer and caving in to negotiating with drug companies even before the true negotiations have even begun count as a success. Obama only succeeded in setting up a battlefield where “tactical” withdrawal was viewed as a “victory”, but it was not a success (there was some court ruling just yesterday). I am sorry, but I do not view a Mit Romney plan for health care as a victory on a national level. It is an indication of our failure as a nation due to “compassionate conservatism”.

    And in the mean time I am also eagerly awaiting for the renewed limitations (promised but not forthcoming) on the National Security State that the Obama Administration is trying to ram down our throats.

    How about the torturous imprisonment of an American citizen called Jeffery Manning at the marine brig in Guantamino within in the borders of this nation (sic).

    Look I realize the concept of compromise, since that is what I have argued for in the past 35 years for, among my compatriots. I have only seen this country skew farther to the right, not because they have greater numbers, but because they have been more gifted at sealing elections.

    Finished pouring my soul fourth.


    Saturday, August 13, 2011 at 10:49 pm | Permalink
  28. Arthanyel wrote:

    Ernie – I feel your pain, but giving up a position when it has been proven to be loser is not caving. Single payer was dead. Joe Lieberman killed it. Doing things require some Republicans to agree, so if you can’t get any agreement from them your ideologically pure position is pointless – just as the Republicans experienced with Cut Cap and Balance and a host of other issues.

    And I aghree Obama could be doing a far better job – I just don’t see how letting a Republican win the White House is going to help anything you are concerned about.

    Sunday, August 14, 2011 at 12:48 pm | Permalink
  29. Ernest wrote:

    For your review and comments.

    A slue of What can Obama do now suggestions from noted progressives posted at firedoglake.


    Sunday, August 14, 2011 at 7:33 pm | Permalink
  30. Arthanyel wrote:

    Ernest: Thanks for the link. I agree there are many things Obama could do that would be progressive and helpful, and he isn’t doing them. And I agree that his staff (and he) has been more concerned about politics than about making a difference. But he is still a better choice than any Republican.

    And some of the suggestions on the link – like recess appointments – he actually can not do because the Congress won’t recess, specifically to STOP him from making recess appointments.

    I made a comment on another post here – Obama needs to start articulating and pushing his own plan with some details and the sooner the better.

    Monday, August 15, 2011 at 10:38 am | Permalink