Perhaps you remember this year’s presidential elections, the one in which the winning candidate had a five million-vote margin of victory and won many of the toughest battlegrounds by nice little cushions: Virginia by four points, Colorado by five, Iowa and New Hampshire by six, Ohio and Florida and even the hometown of the opposing ticket’s VP candidate.
The winner, in fact, scored some historic points beyond race: He’s the first Democrat in more than 75 years to get a majority of the popular vote twice. In all of American history, only five other presidents have done that.
You probably remember talk of mandate, and you noted that though the opposing team — the Republican Party — kept control of the House of Representatives, they lost eight seats. It’s possible you know that the Democrats actually scored a vote victory in the House, with congressional Democrats receiving one million more votes than the GOP (which had its hide saved only because of severe gerrymandering).
So if it’s true that the election was a “referendum of the president’s economic policies,” as Speaker of the House John Boehner claimed last summer when he still thought he as ascending, why is he still calling the shots on the fiscal cliff talks? Didn’t President Barack Obama and the Dems win that election?
While we’ve been horrified and distracted by the Connecticut massacre, Boehner has been busy calling up the old Obama — the same guy who allowed a government shutdown, who surrendered on budget talks, who extended unhealthy and destructive tax cuts, and who caved on the debt ceiling.
This is the president who campaigned, with overwhelming support, to tax the top two percent of the citizenry. But now that’s out the window. Obama’s most recent offer — an offer that meets GOP demands more than halfway — would permanently extend Bush-era tax cuts on household incomes below $400,000, meaning that only the top tax bracket, 35 percent, would increase to 39.6 percent. (Not surprisingly, Boehner now wants only those making more than $1 million taxed!)
This is also the president who, at the start of the talks, promised that “Social Security is not going to be part of this." But guess what? Suddenly it is!
Obama has agreed to Boehner’s demand to include it in the deal, proposing to tie Social Security benefits to “chained CPI,” an accounting method that would a) decrease benefits for most SS recipients and b) move certain families into higher tax brackets. (For more on what this means, you can read here and here and here.)
What’s particular sickening about Obama’s bending on this is that it’s completely unnecessary, and gives truth to Republican lies about the program.
"Social Security is not part of the problem. That's one of the myths the Republicans have tried to create," Harry Reid said earlier this year. "Social Security is sound for the next many years ... It's not going to be part of the budget talks as far as I'm concerned."
But the White House, Sen. Reid, isn’t really concerned about your concerns. Or, apparently, ours.
What then are they thinking up there?