Obama to twist Dem, progressive arms in “fiscal-cliff bargain” meetings this week

Updated with attendees of the Tuesday labor & progressives meeting. See below original post for that list and comments. Also updated for clarity.

So Obama, fresh off his victory speeches, is hitting the ground running. According to Politico, he’s got a ton of meeting this week to firm up support for his fiscal-cliff sellout. (I called it a bargain in the headline. It is bargaining, but the bargain is only for them; there’s no bargain for you.)

See below for the meeting details. I’ll characterize them after you read the report (my emphasis and paragraphing):

 DRIVING THE WEEK – A White House official: “[A] quick update on … meetings [the President] will be hosting at the White House this week focused on finding a balanced solution to our deficit challenges and moving our economy forward.

On Tuesday, the President will attend a meeting with leaders from the labor community and other progressive leaders at the White House.

On Wednesday, the President will attend a meeting with leaders from the business community.

On Friday, the President will host the bipartisan, bicameral leadership of Congress, including Leader Reid, Minority Leader McConnell, Speaker Boehner and Leader Pelosi. Also on Friday, the President will meet with leaders of civic organizations at the White House.”

“Balanced solution” means selling you out to the bankers and bankrollers of the $6 billion dollar electoral ad campaign. (But don’t get me wrong; Obama is eager to do it. That’s why he was hired in the first place. He doesn’t have to be cajoled.)

So Tuesday it’s labor and progressive leaders. Note that these aren’t necessarily actual labor and actual progressives — these are “leaders” — front men and women who lead organizations. Some of them are like the various women’s rights “leaders” who endorsed Joe “Short Ride” Leiberman against the actual Democratic candidate Ned Lamont, because Democrat Obama said to. Let’s watch to see which of our strong labor and progressive advocates sign up for this. Those who do will be given something; you’ll get nothing because you’re not at the table.

On Wednesday, it’s business “leaders” — think Romney and the guy from Papa John’s Pizza. They’ll be offered something too.

On Friday, Obama will put Reid and Pelosi in the same room with Boehner and McConnell, making  them all look equally credible. You know, bipartisan. Like the fox and the hens — each has a case to make. (Wanna bet the fox gets the better offer?)

Thanks, dude. Say, didn’t we just elect you? Can’t you wait a week to do us in? Or do you want to spend your “political capital” all in one store, all in one day, just like your predecessor?

Be forewarned, folks. And gear up — click the link to see what you can do.

UPDATE: From Politico again, here’s the list of labor leaders and progressives meeting with Obama on Tuesday. The source is a White House release. Here’s the list:

• Mary Kay Henry, SEIU
• Lee Saunders, AFSCME
• Dennis Van Roekel, NEA
• Rich Trumka, AFL-CIO

• Neera Tanden, Center for American Progress
• John Podesta, Center for American Progress
• Bob Greenstein, Center for Budget and Policy Priorities
• Laura Burton Capps, Common Purpose Project [see below]
• Max Richtman, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare
• Justin Ruben, MoveOn
• Deepak Bhargava, Center for Community Change

Of the labor group, I would hope that SEIU, AFSCME and AFL-CIO (Trumpka) would deliver a solid “No thatnks” (wrapped in an f-you, if it were up to me). Any statement that says “we’ll talk; let’s see what’s on the table” is playing along, and in my book, a setup for betrayal. But that’s just in my book; it’s written in black-and-white at times like these. (About NEA, I have not much info. Anyone want to help? Are they reliably strong? Not sure.)

Of the others, I would consider CAP to be beltway centrist (defined as the middle point between creepy RW billionaire economic preferences and faux-Dem NeoLiberal billionaire economic prefences — the “center” of .001% opinion, in other words). I understand that CAP has previously supported benefit cuts.

CAP’s ThinkProgress website and staff are the exception to this characterization, and do generally great work, especially under the leadership of former editor Faiz Shakir.

Common Purpose Project is the “veal pen” as near as I can tell (click to see the meaning of the term; it generally means the WH-captured progressive “leadership”). This is the group, if I’m right, that has organized all progressive sellout to Obama since 2009. Here’s Politico’s Ben Smith writing in 2009, just after Obama’s first ascension (emphasis mine):

‘Common Purpose’

The latest in a series of new, low-profile efforts to coordinate the unusually focused progressive coalition backing the White House’s goals is a quiet weekly meeting run by a new group called the Common Purpose Project.

The Common Purpose meeting every Tuesday afternoon at the Capitol Hilton brings together the top officials from a range of left-leaning organizations, from labor groups like Change to Win to activists like MoveOn.org, all in support of the White House’s agenda.

The group has an overlapping membership with a daily 8:45 a.m. call run by the Center for American Progress’ and Media Matters’ political arms; with the new field-oriented coalition Unity ’09; and with the groups that allied to back the budget as the Campaign to Rebuild and Renew America Now.

The rest are either generally unknown to me, or in the case of MoveOn, have histories I don’t fully understand. I’ll save characterization of those groups to others. Feel free to weigh in via comments. I’ll read them all. (I’m hearing very good things about Deepak Bhargava and Center for Community Change, by the way. The phrase that’s coming up is “ACORN roots.” If so, good deal.)

This is it, folks. This is where progressive organizations show whether they represent progressive constituencies, or just themselves, their lists, and their organizational interests. Potentially, this has good possibilities, based on the makeup of the group. But let’s see.

Game on. I’m going to be reporting on this very closely and for a while (sadly).


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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