How to negotiate like Neville Chamberlain

John Boehner’s target was $40 million in budget cuts. He got $38.5 million. And yet talking heads on MSNBC will almost surely try to spin the budget deal as some sort of victory for Democrats and working people, just as they routinely try to spin Barack Obama’s lack of spine as leadership.

Obama was loquacious in announcing a deal to avoid a government shutdown, and apparently oblivious to the damage his surrender on the budget issue might do regarding the likelihood of a genuine economic recovery.

How breathtakingly gullible, to have let himself play the Republicans’ game, conceding from the start that downsizing social programs while extending tax cuts for the rich somehow amounts to a step in the right direction. How foolish not to have framed the budget debate in Democratic terms — the terms used by ThinkProgress in summing up what the deal that was struck actually means in dollars:

…While they very nearly shut down the government to extract painful spending cuts, Republicans had already wiped out those spending cuts many times over with the revenue lost from extending the Bush tax cuts.

Why didn’t Obama repeatedly use the bully pulpit to criticize Republicans for insisting on cuts to social programs rather than an end to the Bush tax cuts? Has he invested so much in being the most reasonable guy in the room that he can’t speak plainly for what’s not only right but also logical? Must he always negotiate in the style of Neville Chamberlain?

It’s a gamble, I guess. By distancing himself from Democratic principles, Obama figures he’ll lure independents into his camp and win re-election. The irony is he might end up alienating independents as well as we Dems who feel betrayed by the ease with which he has broken most of the promises he made during the 2008 campaign. He is just as likely to be perceived as an ineffectual waffler as a great compromiser, especially if the economy is still in a rut next year.

And really, what are the the chances the economy will improve as a result of tax breaks for the rich and austerity measures for the poor and middle-class? And without the sort of sincere and focused effort to create jobs that Obama has avoided from the get-go?

Nobody likes a waffler — especially when his waffling, rightly or wrongly, appears to be contributing to the persistence of hard times.

This entry was posted in Congress, economic collapse, Great Recession, mainstream media, Obama, Politics, unemployment and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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