(Updated) Blue Dog–ish Steny Hoyer (#2 Dem in House) wants benefit cuts. What will Obama do?

Update 1: Technically, Hoyer’s not a Blue Dog, he just acts like one, so I fixed some text to reflect this.

Update 2: Here it is, the petition to push hard on Hoyer. Click to make the call, via PCCC (boldprogressives.org). The time to lean on him (and send a message to Obama that there’s more where that came from) is now.

Update 3: Here’s CredoAction with another push against Hoyer. The phone number is Steny Hoyer, 301-474-0119. Then click the link to report back. And thanks.

This post is not about Steny Hoyer, a known made man. This is about Barack Obama. Read on.

Steny Hoyer, House Democratic whip, wants benefits cuts to be “on the table” during the so-called “fiscal cliff” negotiations — even though he may not support them himself. In other words, he wants Barack Obama to sign a deal with benefit cuts, but he doesn’t want his own fingerprints on them. Nice one, Steny.

Another county heard from, this time County ConservaDem. From the Hill (my emphasis, paragraphing, and bracketed comments):

Entitlement cuts should remain on the table as party leaders seek to hash out an end-of-the-year budget deal, Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Tuesday.

A number of Democratic leaders — including Reps. Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), John Larson (Conn.) and Xavier Becerra (Calif.) — have said they would support some spending reductions in Medicare, but that cuts to direct benefits should not be a part of the negotiations [note: weasel-phrase alert]. Along with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), they also maintain that Social Security reform has no place at all in the [fiscal poker game] talks. …

Hoyer said GOP proposals to raise the Medicare eligibility age, make wealthier seniors pay higher Medicare rates and limit the cost-of-living increases for some federal programs are legitimate ones, even as he warned he might not support them. “They clearly are on the table,” Hoyer said of the Medicare changes during his weekly press briefing in the Capitol. “They were on the table in the Boehner-Obama talks. They’ve been on the table for some period of time. That does not mean that I’d be prepared to adopt them now, but they’re clearly, I think, on the table.”

Hoyer said the GOP’s proposal to reduce the cost-of-living increases to certain federal programs – the so-called chained consumer price index (CPI) – should also be considered as part of the [fiscal poker game] talks.

All you need to know

There are several take-aways here:

1. Hoyer is lead ConservaDem in the House, along with Nancy Pelosi–reappointed Steve Israel, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and their Pelosi-enabled ilk. Hoyer is carrying New Dem, Blue Dog, Fix the Debt water.

2. Hoyer’s goal is to move the Obama needle. He knows Obama will ultimately sign a deal. He wants to make sure the deal is Wall Street–friendly (“Fix the Debt” is a billionaire– and Wall Street–funded and run operation). Also corporate Dem–friendly. Catfood Central.

3. Obama owns the deal he signs. What will he do? He has three choices:

■ Play his two aces and win. (His two aces — let Bush–Obama tax cuts expire by inaction; let sequester kick in by inaction. Congress will eagerly fix both after January 1. Even I could play that hand.)

■ Not play his aces, sign a benefit cuts deal, and bitch that the other side “made him do it” (Obama the Progressive Wannabe cum Victim).

■ Not play his aces, sign a benefit cuts deal, and brag he did something good (Obama the Courageous, our NeoLiberal handyman).

Will Obama play his aces and win? I can’t wait to see.

What you should do

There are a couple of things you can do that will help a lot:

1. Follow the simple steps here to put pressure on friendly Dems in the Senate. Any bad bill has to pass the Senate for Obama to even be tempted by it. There’s a real shot. Help us out.

2. If a SignOn.org petition emerges in Hoyer’s district opposing this move, jump all over it. You’re not trying to move Hoyer (he’s a made man, bought to stay bought). You’re showing Obama what’s in store for him if he signs any deal with benefit cuts. I’ll pass on any news of a move against Hoyer.

3. Let the members of the Democratic party know that you’re holding the whole party responsible for the deal that Obama (king Democrat) signs. He owns it; they own it.

You can do this in several ways, but the best is to call your senator and congressperson and say so — often. Senate offices here. House offices here.

Why number 3? Why so strict, even with “good” Dems? Because as I’ve written before, the Democratic Party as a whole enables the worst behavior of its ruling elite, while “helpless” (so-called) “progressives” (there aren’t a lot of real ones) look on and say “Not my fault.” That makes the party always look good while constantly doing bad.

The way to break cycles of enabling co-dependent behavior in addicted destructive groups is to demand change from the enablers. In this case, that means demanding stronger, more effective action from those who want to be considered progressives.

What’s the only way to change anyone else’s behavior? Incentives. Apply consequences to behavior and let others decide what they want to do. In this case, the consequences should be these — “If the Party attacks the safety net, the Party is responsible; all of it.”

That’s the only way I can think of to encourage stronger behavior from progressive office-holders. But that’s me — I’m a huge “time for an Open Rebellion Caucus” man, as many of you know.

Yours in good behavior,


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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