President Obama, Senator Reid, Representative Pelosi -- here's what this proud progressive wants you to do from now on:
Get freaking crazy! Become as extreme on the left as Republicans are on the right. Act like you'll never compromise your revenue-raising, social program-preserving principles.
Yes, it was just two days ago that I blogged, "Maybe Obama is the centrist president I long for." I still believe that. But after further reflection I've come to agree with what E.J. Dionne said in a column that I quoted.
Obama’s advisers are said to be obsessed with the political center, but such a focus leads to a reactive politics that won’t motivate the hope crowd that elected him in the first place. Neither will it alter a discourse whose terms were set during most of this debt fight by the right.
There’s nothing wrong with moderation that immoderate doses of conviction and courage won’t cure.
Since the Republican party has veered way off to the right, we can't get back to the middle of the road by splitting the difference between a centrist and wildly conservative approach to deficit cutting.
That will leave us where we are now: with an unworkable rightward tilt. (Wall Street recognizes this, as witnessed by a J.P. Morgan report that notes how the lack of further stimulus measures will depress the economy.)
So the bipartisan Congressional committee established by the debt limit deal of six Democrats and six Republicans, equally divided between the House and Senate, needs to have hardcore progressives appointed by the Dems.
On the House side, I'd like to see Pelosi appoint some Dems who would make steam rise from Republican heads. For starters, how about a liberal gay guy (Barney Frank) and an in-your-face Jewish feminist (Debbie Wasserman Schultz)?
On the Senate side, Oregon's Ron Wyden deserves a seat at the table. He's got some good ideas for reforming the Infernal Revenue Service. Chris Weigant also suggests Wyden, and has some other ideas.
So it might behoove the liberal and progressive groups right about now to start lobbying Reid's office as hard as they know how, in order to get candidates named to the new joint budget committee who can be relied upon to protect Democratic core interests and support the core Democratic agenda in the negotiations to come.
Jon Stewart nailed the debt limit deal debacle in a segment on The Daily Show. I love the end of the clip (embedded below), where Obama says in December 2010, "I take John Boehner at his word" that the Republicans would never hold the nation's economic health hostage in order to reap political advantage.
That was amazingly naive then. It's utterly impossible to believe now.
Obama and the Dems have to become as intransigent on the need for the rich to pay more as the Republicans and the Tea Party have been on demanding that the elderly and poor bear the brunt of the price tag for curing our nation from the fiscal insanity that the Bush presidency brought upon us.
Here's the clip (click on the arrow to play):