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

  1. K_L_Carten says:

    They want it all, they want it just like it was during the Gilded Age. They want workers to be in hock to them, with never a chance of getting out from under their wing. Remember company stores and company housing, that is what they want, they want to pay you very little while renting substandard housing at a premium price. They want you to buy their goods at a higher price than what it is actually worth so every week your pay check goes right back to them plus all the credit you owe them because its not enough to feed your family. they want you so in debt to them, that you are afraid to say something because your family depends on that job for all their survival. That is what they want, they aren’t happy until they have it ALL! Looking like the 21st century is looking a lot like the 19th and early 20th.

  2. K_L_Carten says:

    I trust Trumpka, the guy worked his way up and is no rich guy that was born in wealth. He WORKED his way up the ladder. He speaks of how down beaten the American worker is, and had in the pass walked away from the table. I can’t say the same for the SEIU but that was with Stern running the show. Can’t say how Henry will react, but if Trumpka can get everyone to stand strong, NO will be from the labor unions. Saying that unions have been decimated with the last recession and may not matter anyway to Obama. Which to me is what will happen, he isn’t that strong on labor, and labor really can’t make a mark like it could in the 70’s. So for me its just a show, what Obama wants, and that is what the wealthy want. He will deliver.

  3. blue blue state says:

    Why do they want to gut the middle class? Don’t the rich have enough?

  4. htfd says:

    Not everyone was happy with Obama winning the election and he only won because nobody wanted Romney. For many he was considered the lesser of two evils and they had to hold their nose to cast their vote. Not high praise. Sure there are some that the sun rises and sets on him, for now. Not so sure this will be the case if Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are once again but on the chopping block. Obama may have forgotten he’s the one that put together the ‘cat food committee’ we seniors haven’t.

  5. A reader in Colorado says:

    Oh, Gaius. Dincha hear? You want no SS and Medicare cuts? You just want a Pooooonieeee. Now, wanting to preserve Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security without sacrificing people who have paid into the programs their entire lives is being in la la liberal land with unicorns and candy sprinkles, according to the resident Obamabots.

  6. andyou says:

    It’s time we learned some lessons from Frank Luntz. We should stop using “Grand Bargain” and instead use “Grand Austerity.”

  7. Naja pallida says:

    Well, plus, it’s basically a welfare program for Lockheed-Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics, Raytheon, et al. They take huge amounts of government money, and turn it into commercial products they can sell to other nations to keep up their status as our largest money sink.

  8. BeccaM says:

    Amen. The ‘cliff’ is absolutely fiction.

  9. BeccaM says:

    America blows billions on extremely expensive and unneeded military weaponry and programs because millions of that money spent finds its way into the campaigns of the men and women in Congress who vote for them and the President who signs those budgets into law.

  10. BeccaM says:

    Which effectively means the answer to this post just a short while ago: Will Obama be a more effective progressive in his second term is an emphatic NO.

  11. Mike Meyer says:

    Third Party, Folks. Start now and MAYBE enough political power will exist by 2014/2016 to make an ACTUAL change. Fixing the Dems doesn’t seem to solve any of OUR national problems.

  12. Naja pallida says:

    One thing about defense spending, is that we have proven time and time again. Look at the A-10 Thunderbolt, the F-18 Super Hornet, the B-52 in service for nearly 60 years, our current naval fleet, right down to the wide array of uses for Humvees, the M1a3 currently under development, the M16a4… they have all proven that we don’t need new, high cost, programs. We currently have the best technology in the world already, and we can base any needed replacement matériel on already existing equipment at a fraction of the cost of developing new platforms.

    Instead, we blow billions trying to develop the F22 and F35, and a next generation super carrier… all things that are basically unneeded in our current military. The defense industry was reliant on the arms race with Russia and program of strictly enforced planned obsolescence, even though it has since been learned that almost everything we thought we knew about Russia’s real military capability was based on a fallacy, and that we have no other military that comes even close to competing any more. Even China, which we like to portray as a belligerent boogeyman, is still primarily using old Soviet hardware developed in the1970s and 80s – even though they have their own defense industry, there just isn’t a lot of reason to spend large sums of money on things that are basically unnecessary. Even Russia has basically given up on its next generation fighter programs, because there would simply be no buyer. Instead, favoring upgrading existing airframes with newer capabilities.

  13. ezpz says:


    In case you missed it, I think you might enjoy this excellent piece by Chris Hedges:


  14. vonlmo says:

    Paging Raul Grijalva.

  15. vonlmo says:

    Now, now peeps don’t get all indignant. You all knew that Bam Bam was going to have his way w you, didn’t ya? Ya voted for him cuz he, unlike Bishop Willard, was, at least, gonna kiss ya afterwards.

  16. Naja pallida says:

    Still plenty of time for that.

  17. indep_in_la says:

    If Obama shows his ‘thanks’ to the people who helped get him re-elected by cutting a non-budget item (Social Security), and cutting Medicare (and probably Medicaid), it becomes time to fight back. Instead of waiting till 2014 for the midterms, we’ll have to start right away to tell the Dems in Washington that they will be harassed for 2 solid years and challenged if they so much as pay lip service to a proposal to screw workers.

    When they slash defense, close overseas military bases, and stop subsidizing big oil, we will have made big gains in cutting the deficit. Why do we need new fighter jets? Who are we afraid of? “Terrorists” don’t have jet fighters. Russia has its own problems, and we owe too much to the Chinese for them to want to do anything aggressive. Any ‘big’ war will be fought with someone pushing buttons – and then we’re basically all dead anyway.

  18. Have I mentioned that I just loathe these feeble losers?

  19. confusion says:

    I beg your pardon..signed Fiscal Cliff.

  20. bushtheidiot says:

    Bernie Sanders also sees the writing on the wall. Looks like he’s stretching his legs for another filibuster to protect social security and medicare.

    “If we are unable to reach an agreement, is it better to deal with this issue in the next session, rather than accept a bad agreement in this session? Yes, it is,” he said.

  21. nicho says:

    There is no “fiscal cliff.” There is no “fiscal cliff.” There is no “fiscal cliff.” There is no “fiscal cliff.” There is no “fiscal cliff.” There is no “fiscal cliff.” There is no “fiscal cliff.”

    Have I made myself clear. It’s a fiction to provide cover for gutting the middle class.

  22. lynchie says:

    Wow! No lube this time.
    Someone please tell him Social Security is not a budget item. The only reason it is on the list is that employers want to get out of paying the payroll tax (although it is an income tax deduction for them). Obama will give everything that business wants. Expect the cuts to top income earners to say in place.

    So my friends who was the biggest liar. Obama’s compassionate speech a week ago seems to be all bullshit all the time. Someone please tell me I am wrong and over reacting. Hope Harry Reid stands tall and does not cave.

  23. dula says:

    At least he’s not outsourcing the job to Blue Dogs like he did healthcare.

  24. A_nonymoose says:

    Looks like it’s about time to bend over . . .

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