A classic case of premature capitulation

For Your Consideration

Peter CavanaughApril 17, 2013 

In the frenzied world of political foreplay, there are few things that offer the same degree of collective embarrassment as a revival of premature capitulation.

I just don't get it.

With any number of viable options remaining open toward reducing a federal debt primarily bloated in little over a decade by two unneeded wars and radical tax cuts for the wealthy under Republican leadership, President Obama's unconscionable surrender on Social Security and Medicare issues in his new budgetary proposals are more mysterious than quantum mechanics, the Bermuda Triangle and Donald Trump's hair all rolled into one.

That's why the 125-member Oakhurst Democratic Club approved the following resolution at its monthly meeting on April 5:

"It is hereby resolved that the Oakhurst Democratic Club strongly condemns any action on the part of President Obama which would in any way negatively impact upon future payments of Social Security benefits, including any changes in annual cost-of-living adjustments as currently structured."

In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that I am on the Executive Committee of the club and moderate our monthly meetings. I would also observe that the vote referenced above was not unanimous. After all, we're Democrats. At least a third of those in attendance expressed certain reservations on issues dealing with party loyalty, phraseology, timing, and other understandable concerns. But a clear majority joined me in supporting the desirability of an immediate, decisive response to what seems to be an odd and unhelpful inclusion in our president's initial overture to a chronically recalcitrant and often times mindlessly oppositional Congress.

In such matters, this is not Obama's first rodeo.

On Jan. 13, 2009, a young president-elect prefaced his first term in office with a three-hour dinner meeting at the home of conservative columnist George Will in Chevy Chase, Maryland with other G.O.P. luminaries at the table, including the Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol, New York Times columnist David Brooks, and Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post. This and a number of other administrative olive branch gestures through subsequent months and years have conclusively proven that any motion toward conciliation and compromise with "the other side" has normally come to naught, particularly after dramatic Tea Party victories in 2010. Reflection upon such Democratic losses offers further reason to scorn such unwelcomed abandonment of fundamental basics as we witness in President Obama's new proposals.

John Boehner became speaker of the House of Representatives with an astounding Republican majority even as separate state elections saw Republicans seize control of governorships from Democrats in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Tennessee, Kansas, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Iowa, New Mexico, Ohio and Wisconsin. By the time all votes were counted, the G.O.P. had additionally won at least 19 state legislative bodies from Democrats, including both chambers in Alabama and Wisconsin, the Michigan House, the Ohio House and the Pennsylvania House -- just in time for gerrymandered redistricting.

It is my strong contention that this powerful and impressive 2010 Republican resurgence was a direct consequence of disaffected, disappointed, disillusioned 2008 Obama supporters, particularly the young disenchanted, staying home by the millions. There was a sad and self-defeating abandonment of hope in a president who, during his first two Oval Office years, was seen not practicing what he had so passionately preached.

"Yes, We Can't?"

The only true hope of passing progressive political legislation in the relatively near future rests with a wrestling of House control away from current conservative extremes in 2014. Such a transformation, combined with a "filibuster proof" Senate majority and a sitting Democratic president, could finally put obvious objectives derailed in 2010 back on track, but not if we once again fall victim to déjà vu.

Although I remain absolutely delighted that Barack Obama is our president instead of Mitt Romney, now almost as unknown and unwelcomed in Republican rhetoric as George W. Bush, I am thoroughly convinced there are a multitude of other moves to be made in addressing governmental spending other than slashing into COLA. How about moving FICA payments above the current threshold of $113,700, changing income tax rates back to Clinton presidency levels and, most of all, closing billions of dollars lost through corporate loopholes?

Perhaps Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) says it best for The Oakhurst Democratic Club:

"I was shocked to hear that the president's newest budget proposal would cut $100 billion in Social Security benefits. Our Social Security system is critical to protecting middle class families, and we can not allow it to be dismantled inch by inch. In short, a 'chained CPI' is just a fancy way to say, 'cut benefits for seniors, the permanently disabled and orphans.'"

I love that lady!

But hate those cuts.

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