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I voted for Barack Obama in 2008 because, like Travis Smiley, I believed Barack Obama was the right person in the right place, at the right time to lead America, but it didn't take long for me to realize that Barack Obama was just another spineless pragmatic politician lacking the backbone to take on the special interest, like Wall Street, that came close to taking America down the drain in 2008.
I voted for Barack Obama again in 2012 not because I believed he would reach his potential of being a great leader, but only because I felt he was a better choice than Mitt Romney.
I realize Barack Obama had a mess to deal with after taking office in 2009 and we were with him and had his back. Many of us were excited that we now had a President that was willing to fight for real healthcare reform and take healthcare out of the hands of the money grubbing insurance companies. However it didn't take long for some of us to find out Barack Obama had no real interest in real healthcare reform.
It was May 31, 2009 when I realized Barack Obama had no real interest in real healthcare reform. I was at Indiana University Southeast shooting video of Congressman John Conyers speaking about healthcare reform when John Conyers had this to say about President Barack Obama: " We seem to be getting an inordinate amount of reverse advice giving. Well, listen to Amy Goodman. She's got the tapes of him (Barack Obama) making some of the most brilliant remarks in Support of HR 676 that anybody has ever made, but he ain't making them now." My heart sunk when I heard those words from Congressman John Conyers because I knew real healthcare reform was off of Barack Obama's agenda. May 31, 2009 wasn't a very good day for me and it worsened as I heard John Conyers through the headset attached to my video camcorder say this: "What kind of healthcare are we going to get?" I'm here to predict you get the kind of healthcare you deserve, not the kind you ought to have, not the kind that you want, but it's all going to depend on you."
So here I was May 31, 2009 knowing real healthcare reform wasn't on Barack Obama's agenda and I also knew that most of my fellow progressive friends weren't in any mood to hold Barack Obama's feet to the fire, on real healthcare reform. Yes there are those that will defend Barack Obama and say the "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act" is real healthcare reform, but I'm here to tell you it's, as Travis Smiley might say: "weak as pre-sweetened Kool-Aid" nothing but smoke and mirrors, a subsidy for private health insurance companies and entrenches the centrality of private health insurance companies.
I understand that folks see things differently, but what I don't understand is why progressives aren't willing to hold Barack Obama's feet to the fire, why they seem content to let him snuggle up with the folks in the DC beltway and let him off the hook when he fails to stand up for the people that elected him!
New York Daily News
Records show that four out of Obama's top five contributors are employees of financial industry giants - Goldman Sachs ($571,330), UBS AG ($364,806), JPMorgan Chase ($362,207) and Citigroup ($358,054). Read more.
When Obama was elected, in 2008, many of us thought we would see some of the Wall Street folks that nearly destroyed America prosecuted and in jail by now. But as we all know that hasn't happened. Why? Where is the outrage from my progressive friends?
It goes without saying, of course, that when this line of discussion is initiated by liberals about Obama, there is a serious double standard at work. Simply put, if a Republican was president right now and hadn’t prosecuted a single banker and had appointed a scandal-plagued Wall Street defense lawyer to head the SEC, liberals would be — rightly — screaming bloody murder on Twitter, on Facebook, on blogs and on cable television. Read more.
Gone are the days when many of us thought Barack Obama would hold the George W. Bush administration accountable for illegal torture and their lies leading to the Iraq war. Yes just more, as Travis Smiley might say: "weak as pre-sweetened Kool-Aid" from the Obama administration.
I agree with Travis Smiley when he says this about Barack Obama He’s the right person in the right place, at the right time." But, I feel, Barack Obama has failed to step into his moment and that's sad.
So here we are July 22, 2013. Barack Obama is six months into his second term. He doesn't have to worry about running for president again and this is the perfect time for him to step into his moment, fulfill his potential and become a great leader. I'm hoping Barack Obama will succeed in reaching his full potential, but I'm not optimistic about it.
The bottom line? It has not worked in over four years of trying and will never work. Republicans are going to hate Obama and refuse to not only work with him but offer any balance in deficit reduction because they quite simply are not going to allow themselves and their ilk any sacrifice whatsoever.
So instead of fighting like he should and using the bully pulpit to inform the American people and let them decide the right and wrong of it in 2014 the President is not only waving a white flag, he is also sacrificing those who have nothing to sacrifice. Hence the "chained CPI" proposal in his budget. This "proposal" offers up way too much and receives absolutely nothing but a bloody nub in return. It seems the President could learn sooner or later.
Fortunately although the President is all too willing to throw all the wrong people under the bus in an attempt at some "grand bargain" and seems determined to tarnish his legacy as yet another President who simply did not care about the working class some within his party seem determined not to follow him down this path of Republican idiocy. At least we hope so.
That is why today the White House has sent an "expert" to capital hill to try and sway House Democrats to give up the fight and fall in line behind President Obama and the Republicans in once again asking the wrong people for sacrifice:
Senior White House economic adviser Gene Sperling defended the budget eloquently, according to several Democrats in the room, but did little to convince critics of chained CPI of its merits.
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However, even as we once again received a stab in the back from the President we fought so hard to reelect it seems hopefully that at least some Democrats may refuse to throw us under the bus, for now:
"For me, there's no question. If this is a negotiation on budget issues, trying to deal with deficits, then Social Security has never added a single penny to the deficits of this country or to the national debt," Rep. Xavier Becerra (Calif.), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said immediately after the meeting.
"So if you're talking about making cuts to seniors, to disabled folks, to children, to widows [and] widowers, to help take care of deficits, please don't tell me to consider Social Security. The chained CPI is a cut to benefits - earned benefits - to all those folks who paid into the system.
"I don't see the value of including it in the budget," he added.
And of course he is right. Social Security has never added one penny to the deficit and in fact are earned benefits paid for by the people the President would follow Republicans in stealing from. The very folks who have sacrificed over and over and have nothing left to give. The very folks who hoped Obama would fight for them.
Besides the fact that Obama and the Republicans are determined to squeeze blood from a turnip for Obama one fact remains. A "grand bargain" which includes the "chained CPI" is not going to save his legacy. It will create a legacy in which many folks who admired him initially will see him as weak, uncaring, and idiotic. I mean honestly what President was ever remembered favorably for stealing from hard-working Americans all while being one of the most weak and ineffective negotiators in American history?:
"I'm not interested in negotiating with myself," Becerra said. "So the last thing I'd want to do is be putting on the table for cuts the benefits that my parents earned when they worked all their lives."
President Obama is right in the sense that his legacy is definitely at stake. What he needs to realize and soon is that legacy is never going to be made by Republicans who would hate him no matter what he offered them. That legacy will be made by those of us who really need him to fight for us and while Mitt Romney scared us more many of us are beginning to see that he is just as determined not to fight for us as we were not to elect a man like Mitt Romney to the White House.
Obama should bear in mind that his legacy is quickly becoming the lesser of two evils and that being the lesser of two evils will indeed make many of us see him for what he fought for. Evil.
But Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman, told reporters Wednesday afternoon that the president's request shattered hopes for a grand bargain. "I think we should rationalize our expectations to getting a down payment on that problem."
Ryan said, "Fixing the [deficit] problem requires fundamental entitlement reform, and the president and Senate Democrats have shown absolutely no indication of being willing to do so."
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When in fact President Obama has already cut the debt by close to $2.7 trillion and those cuts have been far from "balanced":
Where does the $2.5 trillion come from? Several sources: savings from the 2011 Budget Control Act, lower spending levels enacted in temporary government funding resolutions since 2010, and the fiscal cliff deal passed at the start of this year.
In fact, the latest savings estimate is actually closer to $2.7 trillion, according to Marc Goldwein, CRFB's senior policy director.
Of that amount, $1.57 trillion comes from spending cuts, $690 billion from increased tax revenue and $430 billion from interest savings.
And of course the Prince of Orange John Boehner now seems to be suggesting that they should just go ahead and steal the Social Security millions of people that do actual work have earned off the top without any tax increases to balance them out, and Paul Ryan has dismissed these huge sacrifices from folks who simply cannot afford it as a "symbolic step":
Ryan called Obama's offer of the "chained CPI" formula, which would change the way benefits are adjusted for inflation, a "symbolic step."
"I don't see it so much as fundamental entitlement reform as clarification of a statistic," he said.
Symbolic of what? The greed and uncaring idiocy of people like Ryan and Boehner that got our country to this point in the first place? Or symbolic of the fact that the modern Republican does not give a damn about anything except figuring out how to bankrupt the whole country because of course their sorry, greedy asses are covered?
Once again we call for President Obama to end this madness. Do not offer these Republicans one damn thing except a fight for our country and a fight to defend people who need a champion not a "grand bargainer". Rescind this foolish offer made to petty, selfish people who were never going to compromise in the first place and let them know in no uncertain terms that you will not allow them to continue raping this country with their greed and callous idiocy.
If nothing gets done and no "bargain" is accomplished let the American people decide in 2014 who really is to blame. In the end if this President continues down his current path he is in danger of becoming one of the weakest, most disastrous Presidents in history. I hope for the sake of America he wakes up soon and realizes he is bargaining with the devil.
Obama's plan for the budget year that begins Oct. 1 calls for slower growth in government benefits programs for the poor, veterans and the elderly, as well as higher taxes, primarily from the wealthy.
Obama proposes spending cuts and revenue increases that would result in $1.8 trillion in deficit reductions over 10 years, replacing $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts that are otherwise poised to take effect over the next 10 years.
Obama's plan includes $580 billion in new taxes that Republicans oppose. There's also a new inflation formula, rejected by many liberals, that would reduce the annual cost of living adjustments for a range of government programs, including Social Security and benefits for veterans.
Obama made no mention of the effect his budget would have on Social Security and other social safety net programs. That idea drew a hostile reaction from some of his most ardent political backers.
And indeed as always with Obama it seems as if he is much more willing to alienate his base and those who really need him to fight for them in a failed attempt to reach some "grand bargain" with those who care nothing about anyone but themselves:
The AFL-CIO, the nation's largest coalition of unions and a staunch supporter of President Barack Obama, blasted Obama's budget proposal on Saturday in an email to supporters that urges them to sign a petition opposing cuts to Social Security and Medicare.
Liberals have made known their opposition to Obama's proposal since reports started emerging on Friday. At highest issue is the proposal known as Chained CPI, a means of cutting Social Security and other entitlement programs by using a different inflation measure that won't rise as much. It would have its biggest effect on Social Security.
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The AARP also ripped into Obama's Chained CPI and informed it's members exactly what that meant to them:
The acronym is easy: CPI stands for consumer price index, a formula that looks at how the prices of stuff we need (food, for example) change over time. It's used to make cost-of-living adjustments in programs such as Social Security, veterans benefits and food stamps.
How much could payments change? Estimates show that under the chained CPI, your cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) would be about .3 percentage point below the plain old CPI. That works out to $3 less on every $1,000, which doesn't sound like much - except that it keeps compounding over time.
Look at it this way: The COLA for this year was 1.7 percent. If your monthly Social Security check was $1,250 last year, it increased to $1,271.25 this year.
With the chained CPI, you would be getting $1,267.50 - or $3.75 less a month and $45 less a year. Again, that might not seem like a big reduction, but if the COLA is the same next year, the difference increases to $7.61 a month and $91.32 for the year.
Paul Krugman has explained why this is quite simply a stupid idea:
Does it make sense in policy terms? No. First of all, there is no reason to believe that the chained index is a better measure of inflation facing seniors than the standard CPI. It's true that the standard measure arguably understates inflation for the typical household - but seniors have a different consumption basket from the young, one that includes more medical expenses, and probably face true inflation that's higher, not lower, than the official measure.
Anyway, it's not as if the current level of real benefits has any sacred significance. The truth - although you'll never hear this in Serious circles - is that we really should be increasing SS benefits. Why? Because the shift from defined-benefit pensions to defined contribution, the rise of the 401(k), has been a bust, and many older Americans will soon find themselves in dire straits. SS is the last defined-benefit pension still standing - thank you, Nancy Pelosi, for standing up to Bush - and should be strengthened, not weakened.
So what's this about? The answer, I fear, is that Obama is still trying to win over the Serious People, by showing that he's willing to do what they consider Serious - which just about always means sticking it to the poor and the middle class. The idea is that they will finally drop the false equivalence, and admit that he's reasonable while the GOP is mean-spirited and crazy.
Oh, and wanna bet that Republicans soon start running ads saying that Obama wants to cut your Social Security?
Bernie Sanders has long been a fighter for working people and Progressive ideals in the Senate. Needless to say he was less than impressed with the Obama "compromise":
Millions of working people, seniors, disabled veterans, those who have lost a loved one in combat, and women will be extremely disappointed if President Obama caves into the long standing Republican effort to cut Social Security and benefits for disabled veterans and their survivors through a so-called chained CPI. In 2008, candidate Barack Obama told the American people that he would not cut Social Security. Having him go back on his word will only add to the rampant political cynicism that our country is experiencing today.
If Obama is serious about dealing with our deficit he would not cut Social Security - which has not added one penny to the deficit. Instead, he would support legislation that ends the absurdity of one out of four profitable corporations paying nothing in federal income taxes. He would also help us close the offshore tax haven loopholes that enable large corporations and the wealthy to avoid paying $100 billion a year in federal taxes.
And after all this alienating of his base, after asking seniors, disabled veterans, the poor and their children to sacrifice yet again what did Obama achieve with all this "reaching out"? He is pulling back a bloody nub just as we predicted. The Prince of Orange John Boehner came out with gnashing of teeth:
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Friday that President Obama was holding needed entitlement reforms "hostage" after the White House said that its budget, to be released next week, will propose cuts to Social Security and other programs.
"If the president believes these modest entitlement savings are needed to help shore up these programs, there's no reason they should be held hostage for more tax hikes," Boehner said in a statement. "That's no way to lead and move the country forward."
Boehner said Friday that Obama should not "make savings we agree upon conditional on another round of tax increases."
"At some point we need to solve our spending problem, and what the president has offered would leave us with a budget that never balances," Boehner said. "In reality, he's moved in the wrong direction, routinely taking off the table entitlement reforms he's previously told me he could support."
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The Prince of Orange is not alone. It does not matter how much sacrifice Obama offers up for the most vulnerable in our society the modern Republican Party is still determined to ensure one thing. They will not sacrifice one penny to the debt they ran up and the economy they crashed. Obama's bloody nub is the fact that Republicans simply insist on the fact that the budget will be balanced on everyone's backs but their own:
On the budget, Mr. Obama has tried both strategies - negotiating personally with Speaker John A. Boehner on a "grand bargain" for taxes and entitlement-program reductions, and when that failed, letting Congress try, which also failed. Now, with the bipartisan effort moribund, the president has decided he has no option but to publicly take the lead to revive negotiations with hopes of drawing some Republican support.
So the budget he is sending to Congress will embody his last compromise offer to Mr. Boehner in December. For the first time, Mr. Obama is formally proposing to reduce future Social Security benefits, if Republicans will agree to higher taxes on the wealthy and some corporations.
Republican leaders already have rejected the overture, based on early reports about it. But Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, said on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday that Mr. Obama is "showing some signs of leadership that's been lacking. I'm encouraged."
Sadly the grand total of one Republican, Lindsey Graham has even said one positive thing about the President's offer. And of course that is all dependent upon the President throwing millions of the most vulnerable Americans under the bus for his "grand bargain".
That is why we are encouraging the President once again to do what he has needed to do all along. Stop trying to compromise with the most selfish, unpatriotic folks in America who care nothing of anyone but themselves. They have shown they will crash our economy with their greed and block recovery in a shameless attempt to win elections. An attempt that by the way failed miserably. They care nothing of anything except padding their pockets at the expense of the rest of us.
If Obama is really concerned about creating a legacy he should give up making it the President who achieved a "grand bargain". Instead he should make his legacy the President who finally stood up the the greediest and least patriotic among us and fought for those who really, desperately needed someone in power on their side for once.
President Obama needs to stand up and fight these Republicans tooth and nail for every inch of America. They have no interest in compromise, they just want to pad their pockets with the destruction of America. The President should use all his power to defend all of us for once, not be complicit in the further destruction of the middle-class and the raping of the poor that Republicans enjoy so much.
So my message to the President is this. Quit "reaching out" and pulling back a bloody nub. A majority of the country voted for you and need you to fight, not compromise. Millions of Americans including your base would stand behind you proudly as you embarked upon a campaign to fight those that destroyed our livelihoods. Our only question to you is, are you ready to fight yet?
Barack Obama 12:30 am