Obama again talks of post-election deficit reduction “grand bargain”

Thanks to email from regular reader Just_AC, I’m pointed to this bit of Grand Bargain goodness from Reuters. Looks like it’s still “game on” at Obama legacy headquarters.  They’re talking about a massive budget cut deal right after the election.

Before I pass you to the piece, however, note a couple of things:

▪ This is Reuters, not nobody, and it validates again the point I’ve been making, especially here.

▪ The source is an off-the-record interview Obama gave to a local newspaper, the Des Moines Register. When the editors complained publicly, Obama allowed its release.

▪ The article validates the idea that the “fiscal cliff” actually exists. (Psst: It actually doesn’t. Robert Reich explains why.)

▪ The article talks about the reaction in Washington, but not in Iowa. Why was the interview off the record in the first place? My thoughts at the end.

Now the news, from Reuters:

President Barack Obama voiced confidence that if re-elected he would secure within six months a deficit-reduction deal with Republicans equivalent to the “grand bargain” he failed to achieve last year.

Obama made the bold prediction in an interview Tuesday with the Des Moines Register which was originally off-the-record. The White House released it Wednesday after the editor of the newspaper, which is still deciding its presidential endorsement, wrote a blistering blog complaining of the restriction.

Win or lose, Obama faces a so-called “fiscal cliff” [note, this is the writer talking; validates the scare-branded “cliff”] of automatic across-the-board spending cuts and tax increases set for the end of the year, before the swearing in of a new Congress and the victor in the presidential election.

“It will probably be messy. It won’t be pleasant,” he said of the negotiations ahead. “But I am absolutely confident that we can get what is the equivalent of the grand bargain that essentially I’ve been offering to the Republicans for a very long time, which is $2.50 worth of cuts for every dollar in spending, and work to reduce the costs of our health care programs,” Obama said.

The “equivalent of the grand bargain” he’s offered before? If you want to know the damage Obama could have done had the last Grand Bargain gone through, read here.

From the embedded WashPost piece:

[T]he major elements of a bargain seemed to be falling into place: $1.2 trillion in agency cuts, smaller cost-of-living [COLA] increases for Social Security recipients, nearly $250 billion in Medicare savings achieved in part by raising the eligibility age. And $800 billion in new taxes.

But read the whole thing to see how close we came to this Obama-desired disaster. Look for the phrase “still on the table”. It’s coming. David Koch just gave marching orders to all of his AFP-funded minions in the so-called “Tea Party” caucus in Congress. Shorter Koch: “Take the deal this time.”

Now for the Iowa end of the story. Here’s where the article raises an Iowa question, then quickly pivots to DC:

The comments to the largest newspaper in Iowa, a crucial political battleground state Obama visited on Wednesday less than two weeks before the November 6 election, could meet a skeptical reaction in Washington where congressional gridlock remains.

Now what would Iowa voters want to know about Social Security, Medicare and Obama just two weeks before an election? That these programs might be cut, perhaps? The article inches close to the question, then doesn’t ask it. A tantalizing paragraph that pivots on an implied non sequitur. Note that the outlet not asking the question isn’t the Register, it’s Reuters. I think it’s possible that at least part of the reason the Register editor complained in the first place about the off-the-record interview was local voters’ interest in these issues.

What you can do — I’ve said many times that this isn’t over. We still have leverage if we use it. (Is it scary that we could actually win this fight? Hope not.)

There’s a national campaign. Your easy instructions are here if you want to help. If you sign the Sanders petition you’ll also be notified (if you want to be) of local actions you can participate in. There’s now a whipcount page here. This means that if you report your results, they’ll be added into the data publicly available.

(Whipcount is a legislative term for who’s voting how. “Whipping the vote” has unpleasant overtones, but if you consider what your phone calls are doing, it’s an accurate metaphor.)

Me, I love complaining. I also love converting complaint to action; it’s how I can sleep at night. There’s an opportunity here, should you choose to accept it. And if you do, thanks!


To follow or send links: @Gaius_Publius

Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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