Congress's Approach To The Obama Boehner Grand Bargain Is Out Of Touch With America... As Usual
Yesterday afternoon we took a look at how Thomas Paine would have been disgusted by the whole anti-democratic idea of using a Lame Duck session as a tool to pass a Grand Bargain that Obama and Boehner have put together for Wall Street and the other big donors who underwrite the careers of the political elite.
The Democratic politicians who are following notorious corporate whore Barack H. Obama down the yellow brick path and making themselves a party to this, campaigned against cutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits cuts. Obama and his allies are now trying to claim that they didn't really campaign on protecting Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare, that they always had a mumbled clause, a backdoor that would allow them to stab American working families in the back. That's not how voters saw it and Obama, as I've warned, could well go down in history as the president who finally destroyed the Democratic brand as one that can be equated with protecting working families. Hart Research's new poll shows that most Americans do not agree with the Wall Street owned politicians like Obama and Boehner.
Voters were sending a clear message on taxes: it is time for the wealthy to pay their fair share of taxes.Today Obama is meeting with the titans of industry. I'm not advocating he put them all up against a wall and have them shot-- even if it would make the country a much better place. I don't believe in violence and what I would prefer is that Obama spend some time with representatives of the real engine of economic prosperity and middle class growth: small business entrepreneurs. Yesterday the Main Street Alliance network sent him and the congressional leadership a letter outlining a small business agenda for the fiscal showdown coming in the lame duck session of the 112th Congress. Main Street business owners called for an end to the top-bracket Bush tax cuts, urged Congress to protect middle class programs that strengthen the small business customer base, and pushed for additional revenue options. It sure is a sharp counterpoint to the positions staked out by corporate executives and Wall Street CEOs, including the “Fix the Debt” CEO council and the Tax Relief Coalition. "As a country," that letter reminds Obama and the rest of the politicians, "we’ve tried listening to Wall Street. That strategy hasn’t worked for most Americans and it hasn’t worked for small businesses. While the banks got bailouts and Wall Street rebounded to post new record profits, small businesses took it on the chin. It’s time for a change. It’s time to listen to Main Street."
• Fully 62% of voters say they were sending the message that, “We should make sure the wealthy start paying their fair share of taxes;” and these voters supported President Obama by 55 points. Only one in three voters wanted to reduce tax rates for all taxpayers.
• By 17 points, voters say they want to end the Bush tax cuts for those making more than $250,000 (55% to 38%).
• A strong majority (65%) oppose eliminating taxes on U.S. corporations’ offshore profits.
• There is also bipartisan support for ending preferential tax treatment for corporations that ship jobs overseas, with 64% of all voters favoring ending those loopholes. This includes 61% of Republicans, and 63% of self-identified Conservative Republicans.
In a very divided electorate, Obama voters and Romney voters agree on one thing: we should protect Medicare and Social Security.
• Fully three-quarters of the electorate report sending this message with their vote: “We should protect Medicare and Social Security benefits from cuts.” By contrast, just 18% feel that “we should reduce spending on Medicare and Social Security to bring down the budget deficit.” Both Obama voters (86% to 8%) and Romney voters (62% to 28%) agree that their vote was against-- not for--cuts to Medicare and Social Security.
• Sixty percent (60%) oppose raising the Social Security retirement age, and 68% oppose raising the Medicare eligibility age.
• Voters also overwhelmingly oppose cuts to Medicaid benefits (23% in favor, 69% oppose).
• Instead of cutting benefits, Americans want to reduce Medicare costs by allowing Medicare to negotiate the cost of prescription drugs for seniors. Nearly 90% of voters support that change, compared to only 8% who oppose it.
There is virtually no support (outside the Beltway) for Congress and the President to move quickly to complete a “grand bargain” that reduces Social Security and Medicare benefits.
• When voters are informed of a possible “grand bargain” budget deal that would overhaul the tax code, reduce Social Security and Medicare benefits, and reduce the budget deficit, their reaction is overwhelmingly negative. Fully 75% say Congress should take more time and allow for public debate before even considering such large changes, while just 16% favor the “grand bargain.”
• Among President Obama’s supporters, just 8% say they voted for him so that he could work with Republicans for a deficit reduction deal, while 77% voted for him so that he would fix the economy by rebuilding the middle class and investing in America.
Voters remain focused on the core issue of protecting jobs, and helping Americans who are still struggling to find employment.
• By an overwhelming 70% to 25%, voters say they want Congress to continue federal unemployment insurance benefits for those who have lost their jobs and are unable to find new jobs.
• By more than two to one, Americans favor providing federal funding to local governments to prevent layoffs of teachers, firefighters, and police officers (64% favor, 31% oppose).
• More than 6 in 10 Americans favor maintaining public investments that create jobs while gradually reducing the budget deficit compared to just 31% who favor large reductions in spending in order to bring down the deficit now.
I'm guessing most Democrats will go along with Obama and Boehner and the Wall Street conservative consensus. I'm hopeful that most members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus will strongly oppose any cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits. The chair of the caucus, Raúl Grijalva, told MSNBC yesterday that “There has to be a firmness on the part of Democrats, both in the Senate and the administration, that that top one percent needs to pay its fair share. They have to be part of the solution. To say that we just continue the Bush tax cuts forever... is destined to keep us in this quagmire we’re in economically.”