You see a strong vine close to you and reach for it to pull yourself back up…but a hand bends it back out of your reach. You look up and it is The Devil.
He smiles at your predicament, holding the vine well away from you and offers you a deal. He will let you have it to pull yourself back up to safety if you agree to stand by while he inflicts evil on another person.
You are left with one of two choices. Make the deal or refuse it and fall below, not knowing if it would be a short, harmless drop or a long deadly plummet.
Congratulations, you are now President Obama!
Aside from insulting The Devil by comparing him to the Republican leadership, I’d suggest that this is a pretty fair portrayal of where Pres. Obama finds himself right now with regards to extending the Bush Tax cuts.
Over two million unemployed people would be cut off with no money for rent, food, utilities…let alone Christmas. All those people would fall off the cliff if the extension is not passed. And to be certain that millions of people don’t suffer, Obama would also have to agree to let evil flourish, letting corporations and the wealthy become wealthier and more powerful while saddling the rest of the nation with hundreds of billions of more debt that could help sink our future deeper.
Though many of us in the Progressive movement legitimately want Obama to fight and resist instead of compromise, there are risks to both choices as represented in my allegory.
Let’s begin with this proposition, “Would the Republicans blink and concede to passing an extension of Unemployment benefits even if they did not get the tax cuts for the wealthy?”
They might…and they might not. Consider that throughout the campaign this year, they have been maligning the unemployed as lazy deadbeats. This was long term planning, they knew this vote and the vote on taxes was coming and thanks to the ineptness of the Dems, over many months they have framed things this way, “Don’t waste money on the lazy deadbeats, give it to the job creators and the economy will get better!”
Would the Republicans be able to use such already-rooted propaganda to successfully place all the blame on Obama and the Dems for unemployment not getting extended and tax rates going up if they don’t compromise? Possibly.
That is the bigger game and gamble. Could Republican and corporate control over this country be the biggest beneficiary of a standoff on this, by helping them gain the presidency and Congress in 2012? Imagine how much worse damage to this nation could be if that was the case.
Repeal of HCR, Wall Street regs, more tax cuts for the wealthy and “trickle down” economics, more war (McCain said recently that there should be regime change in North Korea), more torture, more violations of our rights an The Constitution…need I go on? This is what is really at stake.
And in the end, even if they agreed to a fight and standoff, might Obama and the Dems have to compromise anyway and approve tax cuts for the wealthy?
The Republicans lost the House and Clinton handily won re-election after they took the risk of shutting down the government and the public turned on them.
Of course, the flip side is self-explanatory. If Obama and the Dems took that risk and refused to compromise, if the Repubs feared being blamed for harming millions of regular Americans to deliver tax cuts to the corporations and wealthy who own them, they could give in and go along with the Dems.
However, in light of their attitude after winning in November, do the Repubs really look like they’d feel they need to compromise? Aren’t they completely deluded into thinking that the people love and support them (instead of the reality that people voted against the party in power)?
Personally, I believe this situation has occurred due to the Blue Dog and conservative Dems refusing to hold this vote before the elections. The results of them losing in far greater numbers than moderate or liberal Dems proves the foolishness of legislating based on one’s fears.
Had the Dems held this vote before the elections and gotten out a consistent message that Dems are for the people and Repubs for the wealthy, it could only have helped. Or, if the Repubs feared the impact of that and gave in, passing the Dems’ version, our nation would have benefited enormously.
Bipartisanship in today’s America does indeed mean making a deal with the devil. The alternative could be the entire nation going to hell.
The silver lining to this dark cloud is that millions of Americans won’t be cut off this Christmas or for a whole year and the middle class won’t see their tax rates go up. Hopefully the START treaty will then be passed and maybe even DADT. With this out of the way and millions of Americans not being cynically used by Repubs as a bargaining chip to get what they want, maybe we will see a more determined Obama in 2011. And avoiding the possibility of tax hikes an unemployment insurance being axed, Obama’s chances in 2012 may be much stronger.
No guarantees but I would suggest that if the economy does somewhat better due to all of this, the Repubs wear out their welcome with voters by abusing their power as they can’t help but do and the Dems and Obama do very well in 2012, there just may be another chance to get a lot more of the Progressive agenda through over the next several years.