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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Putting his cards on the table

In the end, it's about winners and losers. And by making Republicans spell out a future that holds different promises for the rich and everyone else, Barack Obama put himself into a position to win the battle and the eventual war.

There's been a lot of hand-wringing in liberal circles, bemoaning Obama's lack of a deficit reduction plan in the wake of the Republican capture of the House, fueled by Tea Party laments about a debt that failed to trouble them until Jan. 20, 2009.

But Obama was relying on the simplest of logic -- and the strongest political arrow in is quiver -- make those with the rhetoric go first in spelling out the details. And spell them out they finally did, in Rep. Paul Ryan's Bleak House budget that eviscerates Medicaid and turns Medicare over to the same private insurers who have helped cripple our health care system -- all the while promising still more tax cuts for the rich, unchecked military spending and corporate welfare.

In a line we are sure to hear over and over again, Obama painted the contrast:
“They want to give people like me a $200,000 tax cut that’s paid for by asking 30 seniors to each pay $6,000 more in health costs? That’s not right, and it’s not going to happen as long as I am president.”
Obama offered an opening vision of $4 trillion over 12 years, with a $400 billion cut in defense spending -- twice what his retiring defense secretary is comfortable with but something that should hearten his political base.

And he called out the opposition over what has been estimated to be the source of 75 percent of the current problem: the Bush tax cuts.
“There’s nothing serious about a plan that claims to reduce the deficit by spending a trillion dollars on tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires,” the president continued, as Mr. Ryan sat stone faced. “There’s nothing courageous about asking for sacrifice from those who can least afford it and don’t have any clout on Capitol Hill."
Naturally Ryan and House Speaker John Boehner offered what they do best: blustery rhetoric that accused Obama of ignoring the real problem and insisting they would not place another penny of burden on the heads of those who can afford to pay for their own health care so they can gut the system for those who can't.

So the battle is joined. For those fearful that Obama has appeared too quiescent to GOP truculence, remember this is ultimately about 2012 and Obama's call for both cuts and higher taxes is now favored by two-thirds of American voters -- and that's amid fevered Tea Party rhetoric and an absence of examples of what Ryan's Hopeless Scenario offers to the most vulnerable.

And with the White House the ultimate prize, it's safe to say Obama will hold firmer than he has appeared to in the past.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

People seem to have forgot that the Tea Party was about throwing the teabags overboard, not electing them to seats to be reserved for the mature and responsible.

April 16, 2011 1:52 AM  

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