Saturday, February 23, 2013

Know When to Hold 'Em

John Boehner and his fellow GOP Congressmen are trying to make President Obama look bad in light of the looming sequestration.  They keep bleating that he hasn't put any plan on the table for dealing with the mess they have created but which they say was all his idea.  Meantime they have been off on yet another vacation.

Two errors here. The President does indeed have a plan on the table.  More accurately it's on the White House web site or can be found other places on-line by googling.  (Apparently the GOP hasn't caught up with googling yet.)

The second error is the claim that President Obama is responsible for the approaching sequestration.  Gosh, Speaker Boehner, we all remember that in the summer of 2011 you and your cute pals in the GOP House caucus were going to let the USA default on its debts and send the world into a tizzy.  Unless.....

The "unless" was institution of a fail-safe mechanism that would assure you and your chums, Mr. Speaker, of a major reduction in the government deficit.  If the two sides in the House didn't come up with a mutually agreeable plan for deficit  reduction, what we now know as "sequestration " would take effect.  It was a Doomsday device straight out of "Dr. Strangelove."  A meat axe cut of all departments and programs except Social Security, Medicare, food stamps, veterans benefits, etc.

And just to be sure you GOPhers were on board for bargaining by being willing to raise some taxes on the wealthy, half of the cuts are to come from the defense budget.

That was eighteen months ago.  And for that time, both sides seemingly ignored the sequestration issue.  The Doomsday machine just quietly ticket away in the closet while the two parties went out campaigning.  They seemed to think that the election would decide what approach to take on deficit reduction:  cut spending or increase revenues or do both.  As it turned out, the American people voted by a 5 million vote margin for Obama and thus for his constantly reiterated plan of using both spending cuts and revenue increase.

And there is no doubt that this is what the American people want.  Two major polls this week  -  one by the impeccable Pew Research group  -    show that such is the case by SEVENTY-FIVE per cent.  Even a majority of Republlican voters say this is the approach they want.

But the GOP refuses to accept that Obama has won the issue and that he has won election, that the Democrats increased their margin in the Senate and reduced their deficit of seats in the House by about one-third.  Indeed, the House Democratic candidates out-polled the GOP candidates nationally by ONE MILLION votes.  But for GOP gerrymandering, the Democrats would have easily taken the House majority.  The GOP, treating its gerrymandering as if it created a representational reality, keeps insisting it won the election because it still controls the House.

What are these guys smoking?

On the basis of their gerrymandered House win, the GOP House members refuse to meet the Democrats one-third of the way and agree to a 2 to 1 ratio of spending cuts to revenue increases. Instead, they want President Obama to jump in and start saying what he proposes to cut come March 1. They want him to set out a "plan" to make sequestration less noxious.

And he won't. That's a fool's game, and Obama is not a fool. He's actually quite a good strategist.  He isn't going to put his fingerprints on the pain the GOP has devised.  Remember autumn of 2008 when Lehman Brothers had collapsed and the entire financial structure was fatally freezing up?  John McCain announced he was halting his campaign and heading to D.C.  He called on Obama to join him in some half-baked run-to-the-rescue.   Quite correctly, Obama ignored him, going to D.C. only after Bush asked both to attend a meeting at which Bush announced what HE was going to do.

Don't rush to save the other guy's a_ _.  Hoover urged FDR to come help him out between FDR's election and the inauguration (then held in March).  FDR declined.

Play your own position.  Don't rush in where you have no real authority.  Let the other guy own his mess until, by law or other reason, the mess is legitimately yours to resolve, along with the power to do so.

Let the American public rightfully go on blaming the GOP for what's coming in a week.  The blame is already on the House GOP by over 10 points in last week's polls.  They created the sequestration; they could end it by a simple vote to do so.  Or they could bargain to replace it with spending reductions AND revenue increases.  Instead Boehner has announced he won't meet with Obama any more.

Just keep on holding 'em, Mr. President.  You're doing fine.  And let's see how long the GOP is willing to continue protecting the super-rich from taxes while lines grow longer at the airports,  meat goes uninspected, military workers get laid off in droves in Texas and Georgia and Virginia.

Yeah, Mr. President, just keep holding 'em.                


  1. I generally agree...except real people will be hurt by the sequester. That's the tragedy of it, and I think that's why the Democrats always seem to cave in on these things, while Republicans just don't care.

    1. You're absolutely right, Scott. But a real leader has to keep the effort going even when it's a tough slog for the troops. We can never beat the GOP at being ruthless, but we have to let some of the result fall on their heads. We can't keep bailing them out so that they can go on using their lies and failed policies to make life hell for the rest of us. As for the sequester, it's a dumb idea and a cruel one for those who will lose their jobs and benefits, but if Obama caves in and agrees to instead cut $85 billion from Medicare this next nine months, a lot of our most fragile citizens - the old and ill - are going to get hurt very badly. Many could die or suffer needlessly. The only real choice Obama has now is not to choose.