Asymmetric Warfare


There is one very simple reason why Obama and the Democrats keep getting rolled by the Republicans in these budget negotiations, and why they almost certainly will continue to do so. The Republicans are holding the US economy hostage, and they absolutely do not care if they kill it.

Comments

  1. Ben P says

    Things are often deeper than they seem.

    The first round of budget negotiations over the debt ceiling last year when a lot of liberals thought “Obama blinked” and gave the republicans the spending cuts they wanted. Two things have since developed that put a new frame on that.

    1. By delaying tax increases and other things to the “fiscal cliff” Obama was successfully able to play the long game on republicans and got through at least some of the tax increases that republicans would never have otherwise agreed to. The “sequester” negotiations have been somewhat of a failure on that premise, but I think an even longer game will show them out. When people realize the impact of budget cuts, they will find someone to blame.

    2. Republicans walked away from those talks thinking they had extracted an agreement for $100 billion in spending cuts from Obama and Jacob Lew, his negotiator (and the new Secretary of the Treasury). After everyone went home and did the math, it turned out that the cuts were actually less than $30 billion.

  2. fuckesatonne says

    There are two problems with your argument, Ben P.

    The first is that Obama made a huge mistake in assuming that the Republidickes would cave on the sequester. Why on earth was it reasonable to assume that the few grown-ups in the GOP would seize the day on this issue when they have been clearly unable to do so for the last few years? Obama should have used all his leverage to extract a full deal to eliminate the fiscal cliff, cancel the sequester, and install a permanent debt limit solution. Now he has almost no leverage to do the latter two.

    The second is that the fiscal cliffe deal was really terrible. Everyone says taxes were raised only on those making $400k, but in fact payroll taxes were raised on everyone. And $400k is not the limit Obama wanted or campaigned on (it was $250K). Basically, with pretty much every principle that Democrats hold dear, Obama compromises it away. In my view, everything he has done in the last couple of years has been an utter and complete failure.

    Of course, that failure is not his alone. The real problem is that Democrats do not have a hard-line, uncompromising left-wing faction that is anywhere near as large and powerful as the Republidicke Tea Party asshats. The Tea Party congressdickes are worried about challenges from the right, not the left. Dems are safe in their stodgy districts. Almost by default, this makes the Tea Party steadfast and the Dems as solid as sandcastles. And because the agreement of the Tea Party faction is required for the House to pass anything (if Boehner wants to keep his job), it is essentially their policies that get implemented.

    Completely fucked up if you ask me. Obama needs to deal with the yapping tea party the way you treat any obnoxious dog: by kicking it in the face and making sure it knows who’s the fucking boss. (Which, by the way, is how I treat attacking pitbulls, except I use a large sticke, not my foote.)

  3. Ben P says

    Completely fucked up if you ask me. Obama needs to deal with the yapping tea party the way you treat any obnoxious dog: by kicking it in the face and making sure it knows who’s the fucking boss.

    And how exactly do you suggest he do that?

    Politics is the art of the possible. Given that the house is controlled by Republicans and Republicans have the political power to filibuster anything they wish in the senate, Republicans have a lot of power in Washington. This is true regardless of how mind-numbingly stupid you think their constituency is.

    Otherwise, I’m really curious as to how you think Obama could possibly show republicans “he’s the boss.”

  4. fuckesatonne says

    I already told you. Obama had the opportunity to use the prospect of the Bush tax cuts expiring on EVERYBODY to force the Republithugges to accept a deal. All he had to do was wait them out. As week followed week in January with the Repubs being intransigent and the tax hike taking a huge bite, there would have been ENORMOUS pressure on Repubs to take whatever deal O offered.

    But no. That would have required Obama to be aggressive for once in his wussy life. He preferred to believe that his re-election meant that he’d automatically have leverage in all his future dealings with the tea snots. This will be catastrophic.

    Being accomplished at the “art of the possible” includes knowing when to leverage your advantage to the max. Obama is a president for another time – what we need now is a bare-knuckled brawler who will stand up for what’s right against a tide of noxious obstructionists the likes of which Washington hasn’t seen in a long, long time. Not a namby-pamby universalist. That gets us nowhere. And I am fucking sick of it.

  5. Ben P says

    I already told you. Obama had the opportunity to use the prospect of the Bush tax cuts expiring on EVERYBODY to force the Republithugges to accept a deal. All he had to do was wait them out. As week followed week in January with the Repubs being intransigent and the tax hike taking a huge bite, there would have been ENORMOUS pressure on Repubs to take whatever deal O offered.

    How much more pressure do you think exactly?

    1. I seriously doubt republicans would have caved more than they did. You were actually following the news right, and Republicans passing a “all but $400,000″ then blaming Obama for picking a fight between $250 and $400″ would probably have sold well.

    2. Remember that Republican talking point about “half the country not paying income taxes?” It doesn’t prove what they argue, but it’s true enough. The payroll tax hit a lot more people in their weekly paycheck than the income tax raises would half, and the percentage income tax increases did hit, would get it back in March.

    When the president’s position is $250k, and Republicans bitch and moan and offer $400k, I think that’s probably a well fought deal. Something I do in my practice every day is negotiate settlements. If everyone’s angry at a settlement, usually everyone got a good deal. If everyone’s happy, one side or the other usually just doesn’t realize they got screwed.

  6. fuckesatonne says

    1. Repubs couldn’t even pass a version with a $1 million cut-off, remember? Boner and Cantor tried to get their coalition to pass this, claimed they had the votes, and had to scrap the vote at the last minute.

    2. EVERYONE in Washington, especially the press corps, was negligent in not pointing out the irony of the payroll tax kicking in at exactly the same time. Wooo, Obama got a tax increase on the wealthy! Except not – he and the rest of DC managed to screw all of us, and we didn’t raise a peep. Strange, huh? Sometimes I wonder if these dramas are staged by bought-and-paid-for politicians to keep the barely sentient populace entertained and diverted while corporations rape and pillage the land.

    3. Repubs didn’t offer $400k. Obama made the offer in negotiations withe Boner. You see what I mean? He starts the negotiations with caving. If you did that in your practice, I’m betting you’d be out of a job pretty quick. But Obama? We, his nominal employers, actually re-elected him despite his incompetence.

  7. Old GMan says

    Obama needs to deal with the yapping tea party the way you treat any obnoxious dog: by kicking it in the face and making sure it knows who’s the fucking boss.

    Except these dogs are not just obnoxious. The dogs in question are rabid. They don’t need to be put in their place. They need to be put down. This continued fetish for bipartisanship is going to destroy this country. It is already well on its way to thrid world status.

  8. joe5348 says

    The simple reason for Republican intransigence is that they really represent those who already have the money and the power. What is left to give them? The way they look at it, any change is for the worst.

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