WASHINGTON – Coming off a scene reminiscent of Oliver Stone’s “Nixon” at the Lincoln Memorial on Saturday (see video above), Pres. Obama has made some momentous decisions that will take us where we’ve never gone before. Inspired by the traditional media fanfare of Paul Ryan’s “brave” budget proposal, Pres. Obama has accepted the challenge to step out on the coming economic battles for 2012 to offer his own ideas to the mix. Knowing how Obama abhors the vision thing, because sticking his neck out just isn’t his thing, this will be a defining moment. Pres. Obama will be swinging for the fences of history, with no eye whatsoever on Democratic Party foundation, its roots or traditions, taking the party away from liberalism forever.
The Republican plan includes a shrinking of Medicare and Medicaid and trillions of dollars in tax cuts, while sparing defense spending. Mr. Obama, by contrast, envisions a more comprehensive plan that would include tax increases for the richest taxpayers, cuts to military spending, savings in Medicare and Medicaid, and unspecified changes to Social Security. – Obama to Call for Broad Plan to Reduce Debt
It’s easy to predict the usual traditional media response, especially on cable, which will be positive on raising the retirement age. The rationale is that we’re living longer, it won’t hit anyone over 50 and it must be done. Talking heads will scoff that someone 35 shouldn’t have to work until they’re 68 or 69, keeping it just below 70, because it’s longevity reality. What it will mean is that what’s already happened to the Democratic Party message will be solidified in something far away from what it meant in the 20th century, with the principles that guide liberals and progressives not only irrelevant, but seen as too expensive for 21st century America.
Pres. Obama is betting there are still plenty of Democrats who will support him no matter what he does, especially seen against the alternative, while being certain that his plan to take on entitlements, including “unspecified” changes to Social Security, will solidify Independents securely, because of the midterm message he heard and intends to heed. That’s a bet his entire reelection team will take, because it’s a very good wager.
The reported tax increases mentioned in the Wall Street Journal today are what he should have done in December and is good news, though like everything Pres. Obama does, he just can’t ask too much of the wealthy. From “Obama puts taxes on the table”:
In a speech Wednesday, Mr. Obama will propose cuts to entitlement programs, including Medicare and Medicaid, and changes to Social Security, a discussion he has largely left to Democrats and Republicans in Congress. He also will call for tax increases for people making over $250,000 a year, a proposal contained in his 2012 budget, and changing parts of the tax code he thinks benefit the wealthy.
Couple the budget compromise with “unspecified” Social Security changes, add in serving up poor women’s freedoms in D.C. that goes along with making women jump through hoops in the health care bill fro reproductive services, and what you’ve got is a Democratic President making his final moves away from the traditions of party and recalibrating the Democratic Party into something different.
Outside the budget but very much part of this whole shift, making matters worse as well, is Obama’s war in Libya, with a stalemate that could morph into something much larger with SecDef Gates poised to leave soon. Because with Obama committed he can’t be seen to lose the war, so boots on the ground to keep this from happening is a very real possibility.
Pres. Obama’s already committed himself to an imperial presidency, with actions on military tribunals closely tied to that of his predecessor George W. Bush, and the treatment of Bradley Manning now widely seen as “inhumane.” Not even criticism of the policy from esteemed lawyers like Bruce Ackerman of Yale Law School, Yochai Benkler of Harvard Law School, Lawrence Tribe and many, many others has made a dent.
With Republican power entrenched in the Tea Party extremes it makes what Pres. Obama is about to do more possible while seeming smart and moderately centrist, because what they want is so “draconian,” one of the Democratic talking points no doubt decided in the elite chambers of power.
The outcome is the country and our politics will move another rightward step, putting helping people further into the private sector column, with progressives and liberals needing a completely different political party. They won’t have any less success than if they stay attached to the Democratic Party, which no longer has a place for liberals, doesn’t speak for the working class anymore, and has no idea or interest on how to create jobs, which is actually hurt by starving the economy.
Now Democrats will have to decide if they’d rather see Democratic ideals cut away by someone who runs as a Democrat, and support him doing so, or by Republicans if they win in 2012, assuming they’ll have a decent candidate, which is still anything but certain.
Triangulation has a big brother, but this one is on chewable steroids.
Taylor Marsh is a Washington based political analyst, writer and commentator on national politics, foreign policy, and women in power. A veteran national politics writer, Taylor’s been writing on the web since 1996. She has reported from the White House, been profiled in the Washington Post, The New Republic, and has been seen on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, CNN, MSNBC, Al Jazeera English and Al Jazeera Arabic, as well as on radio across the dial and on satellite, including the BBC. Marsh lives in the Washington, D.C. area. This column is cross posted from her blog.