By Glenn Young
In the last two years we have seen President Obama maneuver brilliantly in negotiations with the right wing crazies on two major occasions; over raising the Bush Tax Cuts in the lame duck session of Congress, and in the fight over the tax ceiling. His own base does not understand how successfully he has been, and in order for his success to continue he must continue to be like that old Buddhist saying of “those who know don’t say, and those who say don’t know.”
One basic point to begin, which also seems to be greatly missed by his base, if not the American people in general; we are a republic and not a monarchy. The president has very little power under our Constitution in creating laws, especially when the Congress is controlled and dominated by the “other party.” So those who keep trying to insist that Obama is not demanding enough from Congress, not offering laws and such, simple do not understand that anything President Obama asks for overtly is actually quite “dead on arrival” with this Congress. No matter what President Obama asks for, the Tea Party Republicans will simply not allow a progressive jobs bill to pass. If fact what every the President asks for will be held up for ridicule and attacked endlessly. Therefore … at this time it is best that Obama shows what he knows by not saying.
Do we really think that if President Obama demands something from this Congress that he will get it? How silly can one be? The Tea Baggers have blocked almost every progressive candidate for any federal post, and every progressive piece of legislation introduced. They continue to pass provocative bills to try and make Obama look like a crazy fascist communist Muslim wild taxer, completely out of touch with the American people and who is trying to have government take over everything and to increase taxes on everyone. And what ever Obama says or does not say is framed in these terms by Fox and Rush and the whole right wing blogosphere. Do we really think they would act differently if only President Obama attempts to scare them or stomps his foot? Come on base, quit being so naive … the Tea Baggers want to destroy Obama not play nice with him or never mind be cowered by him.
So to give the right less “ammo” to shot at the President, it is often best right now, for the President Obama to “say nothing” --- which, according to this Buddhist saying means he knows everything. (OK not everything, but he knows what he’s doing.)
And we see his great brilliance in the in the Health Care debate, and the Bush Tax cut debate and in this recent debt ceiling debate, Openly the President said little, except … Congress do your job. And by not saying “his plan” he gave the Republicans little to shoot down. (Which is how the Clinton plan failed … they gave too much detail and the plan was destroyed – Obama gave outlines and said come to consensus … and we got a law passed.) The right is often blasting Obama for “not putting out a plan” when in fact the President is not suppose to “put out a plan”, but based on our Constitution, to only really give a vision, and let Congress do its job of being legislators.
Here is really another brilliant approach of the administration that simple is not understood by the Democratic base, who have been use to the “imperial Republican presidents” attempting to limit the powers of Congress. One of the most progressive things that President Obama had done is give up some the imperial powers sort and gained by recent presidents and to tell Congress” to do its job.” We use to call that the balance of powers that is the hall mark of our nation and constitution. President Obama is attacked by both the left and right and misunderstood by the center as being weak for not creating internal bills and attempting to bully congress; but in fact, he is being both strong and brave by giving up powers, and attempting to reestablish our cherished but greatly beaten up Constitutional required balance of powers. (And again, with this Congress, anything President Obama asks for is basically dead on arrival.)
Ok but back to the two points raised here; the fight over the extension of the Bush tax cuts and the debt “crisis.”
To begin with, every economist left right and center say we should never raise taxes in a recession. And at the time of the debate on the extension of the Bush Tax cuts we were in or just coming out of a whopper of a recession, called the “Great Recession” no less. (Remember that?) Therefore it would have been economically wrong to end the tax cuts at that time. So President Obama’s works behind the scenes to create a deal through a hostile Congress to get all kinds of things he (and the Democratic base) wanted (FICA tax cuts, extension of unemployment benefits, home buyer tax credits, and extensive new stimulus) all in exchange for not eliminating the Bush Tax cuts on the rich. But, he (without saying so) never intended to end the tax cuts then, because it truly could have be disastrous for the recovery. He therefore, without saying so, gained all kinds of things no one thought possible to get through Congress at the time by not doing something he never intended to do. Those who say don’t know, and President Obama did not say his intensions and played the Republicans like the proverbial fiddle.
But his base didn’t get it. They said he caved … and the President could not come out and say … look you idiots, I couldn’t go against every economist and end the tax cuts now … look what I got for you for nothing. If he came out and said that overtly, he would lose the ability to play that game again. And he did play the game again with the debt ceiling crisis.
Look closely at the deal. Look at what the Tea Party members wanted and look at what they actually got. They wanted massive cuts now … and the deal actually has very few cuts now (less then 30 Billion); while the deal appears to have more then a trillion in cuts most are pushed deep down the road (back loaded as the lingo goes) Therefore, if the country comes to its senses and the Tea Baggers lose big in the next election, this crazy attempt to end government will also end with very little impact now..
Also, the Democratic base has for decades demanded huge cuts in the military, and for the first time in memory, that is exactly what President Obama got in the deal. Half of the cuts are scheduled to be in military spending and the future cuts that will be enacted if no deal can be made by the “12” mini-Congress, is heavily loaded on the military.
The Democratic base demanded no cuts in Social Security and Medicaid and Medicare and despite what the Right wanted, right now there are none. If anyone got the devils sandwich,,, it was the Right wing of the Republicans. They didn’t want a debt ceiling rise, and we got one. They wanted massive cuts now and got almost none, they wanted to protect the military and lost big time.
And again, they wanted no new taxes, but in reality … at this point neither does the President (and every one of his economic advisors). The right wanted no new deficit spending ,,, and we will continue with massive deficit spending, hoping to use that spending to simulate the economy; just what every progressive should want and just what President Obama delivered.
Again, he can’t say so … because if he does, he’ll never be able to use this tactic again.
What the President has so successfully done, by not saying what he was doing, and not making his “plan” the focus of attention and by demanding that Congress does its job … he has forestalled the things he could forestall of the worse of the possible impacts of the Tea Baggers and has set up the next election for us to correct the massive mistake of the last election where in the off year election the tea baggers won so many seats and have come to dominate the agenda.
Despite what the Tea Baggers wanted, by using the Constitutional powers of the President and by using Buddhist approaches, President Obama has made it possible for us to fix this problem. We need to do so by recognizing the great success of the President and not see what his is doing is selling out, but protecting us against the worst fate. He has done his job…he has finessed the Right wing for now; it is now time for Progressives to do their jobs and quit grousing, understand the real role of the presidency and how little has actually been lost… vote the tea bagging bums out.
Give our President a progressive congress and then he’ll be able to what we all want … until then he will have to show what he knows by not saying.