President Obama's Politics of Compromise and Contradiction

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The left is battling to get the president to fight to keep his campaign commitments and do what they elected him do. President Obama appears to be abandoning his base as he engages in the politics of compromise and contradiction.

[National: Commentary]

In the wake of President Obama’s “tax compromise” with Republicans, many on the left have expressed their out-right disgust with this outcome.

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) spoke for eight hours on the floor of the Senate to protest the compromise. The “vast majority” of members of the CBC oppose the plan in its current form.

During his December 7 press conference the president addressed his “sanctimonious” Democratic critics by saying, “People will have the satisfaction of having a purist position and no victories for the American people.  And we will be able to feel good about ourselves and sanctimonious about how pure our intentions are and how tough we are…”  In a December 10 Op-Ed entitled "Memo to the Left: Hands off Obama" Colbert King wrote in response to disgruntled liberals talk of a primary challenge to the President: “If the left costs Obama his presidency in 2012, the Democratic Party as a whole will lose out.”

Message to President Obama and King, it’s not “sanctimonious” liberals fighting or the left potentially costing the President his office in 2012. Any failure in 2012 will not be attributed to “sabotage” of “the nation’s first black president” as King writes, it will be attributed to President Obama abandoning his base as he engages in the politics of compromise and contradiction. Here are a few examples:

In June of 2009 while speaking to the American Medical Association about health care options, President Obama said, “…one of these options needs to be a public option that will give people a broader range of choices and inject competition into the health care market…”  In July of 2009 during his Weekly Address on Health Care Reform he stated "any plan” he signs “must include…a public option.”

After “input” from pharmaceutical industry lobbyists’ such as Billy Tauzin, president and CEO of PhRMA and health insurance industry lobbyist’s such as Karen Ignagni, president, American Health Insurance Plans, President Obama dropped his support for the “public option” and the importation of lower cost drugs from Canada in order to get the deal done.

Many experts attribute Goldman Sachs’ collateralized debt obligations, or CDOs, which had been insured with AIG with contributing to or exacerbating the economic recession. During the 2010 mid-term campaign, President Obama used the analogy of a car being driven into a ditch to describe the Republicans control of government leading to the economic recession and their current tax proposals, “You had a group of folks who drove the economy, drove the country, drove our car into the ditch…”

The contradiction here is that there are seven former Goldman Sachs employees currently working within the Obama administration including Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner; Dianna Farrell, Deputy Director, National Economic Council; and Gary Gensler, Commissioner, Commodity Futures Trading Commission.  According to McClatchy newspapers, the 2008 Obama presidential campaign received $994,795 in contributions from Goldman employees. “Lawrence Jacobs, a University of Minnesota political scientist, said that 'almost everything that the White House has done has been haunted by the personnel and the money of Goldman . . . as well as the suspicion that the White House, particularly early on, was pulling its punches out of deference to Goldman and its war chest.'"

I guess some economic ditches are more preferable than others.

One of the ways President Obama planned to pay for health care reform was with the revenues that would be generated from not extending the Bush-era tax cuts. During the mid-term campaign in September President Obama said, "This isn't to punish folks who are better off, God bless them…It's because we can't afford the $700 billion price tag..."

In November senior advisor David Axelrod floated the trial balloon of a compromise by suggesting that the administration would back a temporary extension of the current tax rates for the wealthy.  President Obama denied those statements and said Axelrod’s comments were “misinterpreted”.  Obviously, Axelrod was the harbinger of things to come.

President Obama now says that he felt "the middle-class tax cuts were being held hostage to the high-end tax cuts.  I think it’s tempting not to negotiate with hostage-takers, unless the hostage gets harmed…” This fails to take into account that real hostage negotiators don’t fold when hostage-takers look to harm the hostages. They allow the snipers to “take the shot” and eliminate the hostage-takers or they send in the commandos to free them. President Obama did neither.

The President’s problems with his base are of his own making.  It’s becoming increasingly more difficult to recognize what he sands for. The left is battling to get the president to fight to keep his campaign commitments and do what they elected him do. President Obama appears to be abandoning his base as he engages in the politics of compromise and contradiction.

Dr. Wilmer Leon is the Producer/ Host of the nationally broadcast call-in talk radio program “Inside the Issues with Wilmer Leon,” and a Teaching Associate in the Department of Political Science at Howard University in Washington, D.C. 

www.wilmerleon.com or email: wjl3us@yahoo.com. www.twitter.com/drwleon

"Speaking Truth To Empower."



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