Fiscal Cliff: Look Who Refuses to Compromise
Budget Talks: If President Obama wants to get a deficit deal done to avoid the fiscal cliff, his biggest challenge won't be Republicans, but his own hard-core left-wing supporters.
Two days after the election, Obama's favorite economist, Paul Krugman, set the tone for the intransigent left in a column titled: "Let's not make a deal." Boiled down, his advice to Obama was this: Don't give in to any Republican demands, even if doing so would "inflict damage on a still-shaky economy." After all, Obama would be better positioned to "weather any blowback from economic troubles."
Krugman's advice may be disturbingly cold and calculating, but he has plenty of company on the left.
Robert Kuttner, co-founder of the liberal American Prospect magazine, suggests Obama should just sit it out, let all the Bush tax cuts expire, the automatic spending cuts kick in and expect public pressure to force Republicans to give in entirely.
The left-wing Daily Kos called any kind of "grand bargain" between Obama and the GOP a "Great Betrayal."
And several Democratic lawmakers have suggested that the correct approach would be to let the country go over the fiscal cliff, since that will only strengthen Obama's position. "It's a hand Democrats are looking forward to playing," according to the liberal Huffington Post "news" site.
And Republicans are supposed to be the ones who refuse to compromise?
What has liberals freaked out is the fact that any deal with Republicans will likely include cuts to their cherished entitlement programs.
Obama had reportedly agreed to make some modest changes to these programs when he and House Speaker John Boehner were working on their "grand bargain" last summer. And the left wants to avoid that from happening again, at all costs.
The Washington Post says unions and other liberal groups "are mobilizing to oppose concessions they fear (Obama) could make on Medicare and Social Security."
The left's attempt to sabotage any deficit deal is somewhat understandable. After all, their man won. Why should they now have to swallow any spending cuts?
But the public also kept the GOP in control of Congress, sending a clear message that they want both sides to strike a deal. And Republicans have indicated that they're willing to give on revenues.
And the simple truth is that getting the nation's runaway debt under control requires reining in entitlement programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and now, thanks to the election, ObamaCare.
The question is whether Obama will decide to work with Republicans on a deal, or side with his take-no-prisoners pals on the left.