Monday, August 27, 2012

Obama prepares for Republican convention by trying to build mandate for his Grand Bargain to cut benefits on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid

Following up on his tepid and carefully hedged defense of Medicare in his weekly address on the Saturday before the Republican Convention, President Obama also gave an interview to the A********* P**** in which he also asks - obliquely but understandable enough for those who follow his rhetoric on this - for consensus on a post-election Grand Bargain to cut benefits on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

As Ben Feller reports:

Obama's view of a different second-term dynamic in Washington, even if both and House Republicans retain power, seems a stretch given the gridlocked politics of a divided government. He said two changes - the facts that "the American people will have voted," and that Republicans will no longer need to be focused on beating him - could lead to better conditions for deal-making.

If Republicans are willing, Obama said, "I'm prepared to make a whole range of compromises" that could even rankle his own party. But he did not get specific.

The 25-minute interview, conducted in the library of the White House residence, was part of a multi-faceted campaign by Obama's team to snag some of the spotlight during Romney's big week.
The story promotes the fact that Obama is accusing Romney of taking "extreme positions", e.g., in USA Today's version.

But even that seemingly tough-sounding posture seems to have been worded in the President's chronic postpartisan vagueness: "What I can say is that he has signed up for positions, extreme positions, that are very consistent with positions that a number of House Republicans have taken. And whether he actually believes in those or not, I have no doubt that he would carry forward some of the things that he's talked about."

It sure ain't the same as saying: The Republicans want to eliminate Medicare. The Democrats will fight to oppose any cuts in Medicare benefits.

Whichever candidate is elected, Obama is going to make a major push in November and December to get Congress to pass his Grand Bargain to cut benefits on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. As Van Jones puts it (Take Back The America Dream: Come Plan To Win In November ... And December Campaign for America's Future 05/28/2012:

This year, to save the nation, progressives must get back on offense and drive the agenda. We have to win not only in November … but also in December. ...

In November, we have to win the White House — and win a big progressive majority in Congress. It won’t be easy, but the American majority is coming together.
Then in December, watch out.

The extreme Right is already promising to hold the country hostage once more over raising the debt ceiling in order to force a "grand bargain" — gut Social Security and Medicare, cripple everything from food stamps to food safety, and accept mass unemployment as a grotesque "new normal."
But it's not just the "extreme Right", which is increasingly synonymous with the Republican Party, that wants the Grand Bargain to cut benefits on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. It's a goal with which President Obama has intensely identified himself.

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