A Sugar-Coated Satan Sandwich

Originally published on The Agonist

Was it just a week ago that President Obama was hanging tough, insisting he would never accept a debt ceiling package that excluded tax increases? In rejecting a six month extension of the debt ceiling, Obama said last week:

But there’s an even greater danger to this approach. Based on what we’ve seen these past few weeks, we know what to expect six months from now. The House of Representatives will once again refuse to prevent default unless the rest of us accept their cuts-only approach. Again, they will refuse to ask the wealthiest Americans to give up their tax cuts or deductions. Again, they will demand harsh cuts to programs like Medicare. And once again, the economy will be held captive unless they get their way.

Here is what Speaker of the House John Boehner said today about the debt ceiling package that has now been agreed to by the House and Senate leadership, along with President Obama:

Now listen, this isn’t the greatest deal in the world," he said, according to excerpts of the call provided to press by Boehner's office. "But it shows how much we’ve changed the terms of the debate in this town."
Boehner painted the deal as victory for the Republican party because it did not include revenues, which Democrats have long called for as part of a final deal.
"There is nothing in this framework that violates our principles," he said. "It’s all spending cuts. The White House bid to raise taxes has been shut down." – source HuffPost

While it is true the Republicans held the economy captive in these negotiations, and while President Obama is certainly correct in predicting that they will do it again at the next opportunity (they’ll shut down the Super Congress next if they don’t get their way), it really helps the Republicans to be negotiating with a man who consistently backs down in confrontations.

Why Obama continues to do this on one issue after another perplexes people in his own party, but a consensus is beginning to emerge. Gone is the theory that Obama and his team are three-dimensional chess players, out-foxing the Republicans in the long term while they give up tactical ground in the short term. That leaves two theories: Obama is weak, or Obama is a closet Republican. The president gave a clue today, when he introduced his grand compromise:

Despite what some in my own party have argued, I believe that we need to make some modest adjustments to programs like Medicare to ensure that they’re still around for future generations.

So he’s a closet Republican after all. Let’s suppose we all agree that “modest adjustments to Medicare” are needed, as part of a bigger package of “entitlement reform” that President Obama has been talking about. Barack Obama leads the Democratic Party in negotiations with Republicans on all budgetary matters. He is already offering up entitlement reform and modest adjustments to Medicare, while his political opponents are offering up nothing in exchange. This has been going on for nearly three years, and at each step of the process the Republicans receive positive reinforcement: offer up nothing, demand more than you think necessary, and you will achieve both these goals.

The White House is promising that when the Super Congress, consisting of six Republicans and six Democrats, meets to decide the hard issues about defense cuts, entitlement reform, and tax increases, they are going to come back with a balanced package of these components. If they don’t, the “compromise” just achieved will force immediate cuts in defense and domestic spending. Notice, however, that it will force no immediate tax increases on the wealthy or any elimination of corporate tax loopholes. There is also a provision in this compromise which protects the Pentagon from any real cuts, because the forced reductions will only be imposed on defense-related budgets in places like the Department of State and Homeland Security.

If you are John Boehner, it is obvious what you have to do next. You appoint three tough-nosed Tea Party representatives to the Super Congress. They are there to stall and snarl up the discussions so that nothing can be agreed. You then let the “drastic” defense and domestic cuts take place, hardly any of which hurt your constituents in the military-industrial complex.

Stage two comes about when the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy are once again due to expire. The White House says the president can “use his veto pen to ensure nearly $1 trillion in additional deficit reduction by not extending the high-income tax cuts." This is of course laughable on the surface, because the president doesn’t have the guts to veto something the Republicans desperately want. But to ensure a favorable outcome, all Boehner has to do is take another hostage. One likely hostage target might be Michelle Obama – not literally, of course, but Boehner can threaten to reduce the budget for the Office of the First Lady to the bone. As the First Lady is the only member of this administration who is doing anything that might be construed as helpful to the average American, this removes Obama’s fig leaf that he is a Democrat.

Of course, by the time Obama gets around to dealing with the Bush tax-cuts, he might no longer be president, having lost his reelection a few months earlier because the Democratic Party was so dispirited it failed to show up at the polls. And why should it? Democrats worked their ass off for Al Gore – a man who could have changed history if he had been allowed to place the budgetary surplus in his lock box – only to find the Republicans along with their cronies on the Supreme Court stole the election. They did the same thing for John Kerry, and then again with candidate Obama, only to find that Obama’s fine words and promises were meaningless. What’s the point of voting if all you get is different reincarnations of George W. Bush?

The only political leader who is sounding skeptical of this new compromise is Nancy Pelosi. She says the House Democrats will look at the details, but they might not support the legislation. The leader of the Congressional Black Caucus, Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver, has called the legislation a “sugar-coated Satan sandwich.” Unfortunately, House Democrats don’t count, as they are in the minority.

Senate Democrats do count, however. What I would like to see is at least one Democratic senator filibuster this deal. It only takes one, and they wouldn’t have to hold the floor for long – just until midnight tomorrow. Maybe some other senators of conscience might join them, like Bernie Sanders, the independent. It might all be futile: the Senate leadership ought to be able to roust up at least 60 Democrats and Republicans to force cloture – after all, there are at least 40 Republicans in the Senate who should recognize a victory when it is handed to them by the President. And there ought to be at least 20 Democrats who are weak-kneed enough to be able to do Harry Reid’s bidding.

Still, it would be a small token of complaint from the Senate – a protest that Medicare and who knows what other “entitlements” are now being put on the chopping block of reform, which never stops at just one step, while the very wealthiest people in this nation are not called upon to give up any of their wealth in return.

Meta: 

Comments

Obama unmasked

Many of us have been highly skeptical of Obama all along. He made the sandwich with Geithner and Summers and stuffed it with Democrats in Name Only (DINOs) with Tea Party dressing. Now it's served up to a struggling nation and we're expected to eat it.

Is there an heroic effort that might emerge to stop this. Even if Sanders tries (and I don't know the rules on this bill), you are right. The GOP Senators would be quickly reinforced by those Democrats remaining who voted for the Bankruptcy Reform bill way back. They must love this.

The set up completed, The Money Party moves in for the kill.

They think no one will notice. They're wrong.

Excellent statement and timely, right on the moment of betrayal.

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The Democrats control only one branch of the government

The Democrats have to face up to the fact they only control one branch of the government: the Senate. The House and the White House are under the control of the Republicans. Consequently a Senate filibuster is often the only option left to stop any of this.

There may be one other chance to block this compromise. Boehner's office is saying it does not have enough Republican votes for approval, and therefore needs at least 50 Democratic votes to put this through. I don't know how true this statement is, because just a few days ago it was being said Boehner would be forced to resign if he couldn't get his own plan through without Democratic help. But this of course is a compromise, without his name on it, and everybody is supposed to feel all warm and fuzzy over the chance to do something bipartisan. If the Democrats in the House choose not to feel all warm and fuzzy, and stick it to their president, it would certainly be a dramatic statement of disgust with the White House.

We would then be right back to the default scenario. The Republicans would blame the House Democrats for not supporting the grand compromise. The Democrats would blame the House Republicans for not even having enough votes to carry the House. they would also blame the White House for not consulting with them. But at least some Democrats could say they stood up for traditional party values.

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Not exactly ... but interesting possibility

First, there are three "branches" of the government: legislative, executive and judiciary. Second, it's almost a stretch to say that the Democrats "control" the Senate, since under Senate rules it takes a super-majority to truly control.

I look at it this way: the Republicans have near-control both of the Congress and of the judiciary (unless you can see Bush v. Gore as 'non-partisan). However, the Democrats (Obama) control the White House.

There are Republicans in the Obama government, so even there partisan control is less than what might be thought -- if partisan 'control' ever mean anything in the U.S. system.

On the congressional side, Democrats control one of the two chambers of Congress at best, but the House has an edge here because only the House can originate a budget bill. That's important in this game of chicken that is being engaged in the name of the Tea Party.

As for that the Republicans need 50 Democrats willing to go along ... it will be amazing if Republicans can't get that ... given the history of congressional Democrats since about 1950 ... but it is possible.

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You're correct on both of your opening points

I couldn't find a better word than branches to refer to the triumvirate of House, Senate and White House. And yes, about the only thing the Democrats can do in the Senate is control the agenda. In any event, the liberal wing of the Democratic Party is viewed by party officials as a nuisance - like the Tea Party on the right, only without the ability to threaten any Democratic safe seats. Obama just wishes we would go away quietly. He does not think we are needed to win an election. He has the great unwashed middle of the road independents to do that for him.

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Sacramento Bee says 'Done'

Just returned from the store, headline of today's Sac Bee indicates oh happy, happy day -- the deal is done! The Republic is saved! 

BTW:

"Obama just wishes we would go away quietly." 

Yes, Obama has this term -- "the professional left" -- he ought to know since that would be his category as a community organizer back in Chicago. Numerian, I hope you are drawing a handsome paycheck for your efforts! 

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Next immediate step: Tax Amnesty!

I was going to make a mention of this in the article but wanted to keep things short. The immediate next stage for the Republicans will be to demand a tax amnesty. There are so many noble corporations out there who have kept their revenue offshore due to our "unfair" tax system, and they are just dying to bring this money home in order to create jobs! Sen. Mike Crapo (R.,Idaho) make this very argument this morning on television. I didn't think they'd be on this so quickly, but they are on a roll so why not go for everything in their playbook.

This will allow General Electric to keep their effective tax rate at 0%, while they and so many other multinationals play games with the tax system to avoid contributing anything to the US. I guess since they figure their factories are all overseas and 50%+ of their earnings are overseas, they owe nothing to this country anymore. That and the fact that they own the Congress.

By the way, don't expect any jobs to be created after they get their tax amnesty. The money will go into stock buybacks and mergers and acquisitions, just like it did last time. Meanwhile, the US is out about $100 billion a year in tax revenue.

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tax holiday

We've already shown with graphs that the 2004 tax holiday did not create jobs. All of the data is pointing to MNCs outsourcing jobs, investing in EEs, abroad, nothing to for the U.S.

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Not a closet Republican - worse

Excellent post and comments.

I would disagree tho that Obama is a closet Repub. That would mean he has some core beliefs that he adheres to. Unfortunately it's clear he has always chosen to put his reelection and financial future ahead of the country's
best interests. An in-depth look at his background seems to time and again suggest he is an empty suit - that he chose politics as an opportunity vs a mission or calling. It would be imcomprehensible that he can have the
some of the worst of the bankers and wall st in his administration, that he would have the campaign contributions from those moneyed interests in the amounts that he has and will receive, and yet be determined to defend, much less advance, a progressive agenda.
At least with Bush we knew what he believed no matter how misguided.
Obama may in fact be more dangerous in that we have to look at his actions and ignore his words and protestations.

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Yes, but ... really

"I would disagree tho that Obama is a closet Repub. That would mean he has some core beliefs that he adheres to."

'UponReview', I agree with the gist or intent of your comment, BUT to suppose that being a Republican in this day and age means having any core beliefs whatsoever ... ridiculous! What could we possibly gain by thinking that we would be making progress by replacing Tweedle Dee with Tweedle Dum? We would simply be proving ourselves dependent on having some delusional system, whatever it may be, as opposed to at least striving to be free in our thinking of any delusional system.

The Republican Party is run by the RNC, which is a money-making organization, neither more nor less. The RNC enforces party discipline through its control of the campaign fund purse and support of extreme right-wing mass media. If you want principle, don't look to the Republicans or to the so-called 'Tea Party' -- which, as an indepenedent party, ran exactly one candidate for Congress in 2010, and that single candidate lost with money opposing from the RNC and related campaign-funding organizations. The RNC is totally opposed and will do whatever it takes to prevent the emergence of a third party in the U.S.A. today. Another Ross Perot is their greatest fear -- the greatest threat to their greedy ambitions! That is the reason for the 'Tea Party' and for its being coopted from its original populist protectionist roots by moneyed interests indistinguishable from the RNC -- to prevent the emergence of a viable altenative to the two major parties. The so-called 'Tea Party' no sooner arrived in Congress in 2011 than they announced their support for one, and only one, aspect of Obama's agenda -- namely, any and all 'free' trade 'agreeements'.

The Democrats have no unity, no party discipline whatsoever, and that is their great -- as a party their only -- virtue. If you don't believe that, look at today's vote in the House. Of course, 66 'Tea Party' members of Congress were allowed to vote NAY on the budget deal, after determining that they had 95 Dempulbicans to offset their 'defection', which was as much posturing as was the entire negotiation process. Republicans voting for it numbered 174. This same kind of breakdown has occurred with all votes on fast-track 'free' trade. NAFTA, for example passed with far more votes from your 'highly pricipled' ("core beliefs") Republicans than from the Democrats! Proof is that nobody is mentioning that there were as many Democrats voting NAY as voted YEA -- 95 of each! Your chances of finding a principled member of Congress are much better with Democrats than with Republicans.

 

Whatever "core beliefs" Republican may once have had are now hollowed out, The core is mush, like any rotten apple. All persons who once were Republicans standing for some kind of principle have long since left the Party ... or did the Party leave them?

On the other hand, I can certainly see registering Republican for tactical reasons, depending on which state you are in, in order to support a particular candidate or candidates at various levels of government. I may do that myself. But it won't be thinking that the 'Republican' label stands for anything but $Do$ $Re$ $Me$.

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No need to read

They don't need to read Ayn Rand or anything else -- Rush, or some clone of Rush, has read it all for them!

But if some people must read and aspire to a lofty intellectual status, let their studies be confined to the 'National Review'. That, in pursuit of 'Snobbery and Elitism Forever', will free them of the last vestiges of common sense and realistic self-interest.

May fantasy rule! May the People escape from the coming Tempest to a Fantasy Island ruled by a magical Prospero, ultimately revealing himself to be a great humanitarian who will bestow wealth and happiness on everyone -- freeing all, including himself, from their delusions.

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Loopholes equal increased revenue!

Isn't the idea to get increased one-time revenue in order to say:

"See, when you treat as sacred the tax loopholes for MNCs and lower rates on upper-income brackets, the government actually takes in MORE than in did before!"

... and if not exactly more, there will be some finagling of stats to show how that a revenue increase should and would have happened ... except for the horrible 'anti-business' atmosphere created by progressives within the Democratic Party ... especially that arch-progressive Obama!

Does anyone doubt that we will see such claims made by the 'right' throughout blogdom in 2012? Complete with charts, graphs and scholarly speeches by Nobelists in economics!

 

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tax charts it is!

I'll see what I can dig out with corporate taxes and charts. Generally the MNCs have tax havens and use double dutch and other vehicles to pay 0, or close to it. I'll try to find the percentage of business and sizes who actually pay anything close to 35%.

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Robert Oak

Young man, you are totally awesome! I look forward to the information. Going to IRS audit myself in a few days!

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The Satin Sandwich

Once again, the discussion is riddled with political acts and political consequences without regard to the reality of failed monetary policy in evidence for decades...Its plain and simple--actually its in-your-face--the same old Washington culture, that whines and whines about failed political agendas and failed Party leadership...Where is the intelligent application of sound scientific analysis, sound economic principles and the resultant recognition that the culture and its posturing and maneuvering by Congressional leaders and the incumbent administration is once again light years away from the best interest of the nation...Get smart, America...In the meantime, God save us all.

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This is a Coup

Today the U.S. Congress will vote on a legislative
package that, if passed, will mean the end of the United
States. If the package worked out through the debt ceiling
negotiations with the Obama administration is passed, it
means that the United States is sunk overnight, and the
U.S. and the world goes into a Dark Age.
Today Lyndon LaRouche issued this urgent call.
“We are in an emergency situation...What the press is saying
is misleading. ...This is intended to be the Hitler Coup,
right now. It’s the equivalent of the Hitler Coup, only it’s
worse. You’re going to see a lot of dead Americans piling
up on the streets, and I mean it literally—unless we turn
this thing around.
“We still have the possibility of turning it around.
The urgency with which we can respond to this, is going
to be decisive.”
The legislation which is intended to be voted on
sometime today, August 1st, will establish the following:
1. An initial cut of $1 trillion from the federal
budget.
2. The creation of what Obama has named the
Supercongress, a 12 person body composed of 6
Democrats and 6 Republicans who are tasked to
come up with an additional $1.5 trillion in cuts by
November 23rd of this year.
3. The recommendations made by the Supercon
gress for an additional $1.5 trillion in cuts will
be sent to both houses of Congress to receive
only an up or down vote. The House and Senate
cannot amend or filibuster the recommendations
of the Supercongress. If the Congress votes no
on the recommendations, the $1.5 trillion in cuts
will be evenly distributed between the defense
budget and domestic entitlement programs.
If the Congress does not go along with the proposed
cuts of the Supercongress, the cuts go through
anyway.
This is what the Congress is voting on today. As
of this morning there is opposition from the Progressive
Caucus and Black Caucus. However, many other members
of the Congress are ready to vote for treason. They
are capitulating to the terror campaign run through the
Obama White House, Wall Street, and the City of London
that has said if the debt ceiling is not raised it will cause
a government shutdown, the U.S. credit rating and the
credit rating of cities and states will be downgraded, and
the markets will crash.
This is a lie.
The crash is not determined by these factors, the
crash has already happened. These measures will not buy
time, they will guarantee the destruction of the United
States Constitution.
Our only line of defense in this coup attempt is
the passage of Glass-Steagall. Mobilize for action, call every
member of Congress, and tell them that a vote for the
debt deal is a vote for treason. Demand the reinstatement
of Glass-Steagall, H.R. 1489, immediately.
Glass-Steagall is our defense, it is the only measure
that will save the nation.
The vote today is Obama’s Hitler Coup. It is in
our hands to stop it, now.

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Lyndon LaRouche

Wow! Lyndon LaRouche is still around! Wonderful! (Although I've never known him to be so negative about the prospects for the U.S. ... or, well, maybe not 'negative' ... maybe just realistic!)

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Obama vs. "other"

Herein lies the problem. As far as I know, no one is challenging Obama in a Democratic primary.

Romney is a corporate raider. He's the guy who made money by acquisition, firing all of the people and selling off the rest of the company.

Think about it. The GOP field gets worse from there. We have corporate mouthpieces for more offshoring to China and then we have our bat shit crazies from the Tea party.

There literally is absolutely no one, not a single one, who has any economic knowledge, isn't corporate corrupt and frankly basic common sense.

What we need is someone like Byron Dorgan to run for President. He has a degree in economics and appeals to all political flavors simply because he's common sense politics.

But we do not have that. So, we're in HUGE trouble, even while Obama ushers in almost a guarantee he won't be re-elected. It's like 2010 backlash where people voted in these crazies because they were so absolutely pissed Wall Street was bailed out and Congress refused to do a real Stimulus, i.e. Buy American, hire America direct jobs. (instead no real bang for the buck spending).

So, we get another backlash and probably get another true loony or so corrupt person representing multinationals with this almost hatred of the U.S. workforce, middle class sort of Republican.

What a disaster.

But hey, we were here in 2008, reporting extensively on Obama's economic advisers, his votes, his real positions...we tried to tell people that Hillary was more Progressive than Obama, shock of all shocks and they were looking at economic disaster...

While we talk about the crazies of the Tea party, frankly, I think the left should look at their own blinders, building themselves up into delusional frenzy on "Obamamania", completely ignoring the facts, background, real positions.

He's not a Black dude, he's a Harvard dude, He's a Chicago school dude, need you say more?

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Ya sure, but

Robert Oak:

Can today's vote of 95 Dems AYE but also 95 Dems NAY be accurately cited as evidence of blinders worn by "the left" (whatever 'the left' may mean!) and of a "delusional frenzy" or "Obamamania"?

No, of course, not. While it's practically a certainty that Obama will not have any effective opposition within the Democratic Party at the national-candidate level ... and while it appears unlikely that we will see any candidate better than Romney from the GOP, and that's a very likely 'fact' ... there's no need to grossly exaggerate ... especially when such exaggeration undermines your credibility and can only tend to discourage any independent tendency among congress critturs of either party.

Why not focus on congressional races and try this time for something better than faux 'Tea Party' opposition to the two-party system of corruption and treason? -- regardless of party affiliation! If we cannot put some third party representative in the U.S. House in 2012 -- JUST ONE SUCH REPRESENTATIVE -- what the hell are we as a people?

I am neither Republican nor Democrat. I appreciate that EP called it right about Obama in 2008, but we will never know how a McCain administration might have turned out ... quite possibly war with Russia and nuclear Armageddon. Similarly, we have no idea if Hillary would have won in November, assuming she would have won, how a Clinton administration -- on the distaff side -- would have been any different than the Obama administration has been.

 

BTW: Yes, Romney's business record -- outsourcing and downsizing -- is scarey, but that need not be predictive of his presidency. True, we have nothing but experience to guide us, but that doesn't mean that our projections from experience are always correct or accurate. I harbor a hope that Romney is at least truly loyal to the Constitution ... and I have grave doubts about many other Republicans in that regard, not to mention many Democrats. (I doubt whether some of them have even read the document!)

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