How’s that Plan Going, Mr. President?

I was going to write about this story–about a confrontation between Henry Waxman and Barack Obama over the latter’s ineffective negotiating strategy–yesterday.

The president has heard the complaint before. Democrats have accused Obama repeatedly of ceding too much ground to the GOP, especially on health care and the extension of the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy. But attendees said the critique appeared to rub him the wrong way on Thursday.

“He was a little testy with the Waxman question. Essentially, Mr. Waxman was urging him to fight more,” one legislator said. “The president reminded folks that he’s the president sitting in that chair and he knows how to negotiate.”

Obama also told the assembled Democrats not to count on more fiery rhetoric from the Oval Office.

“He said, ‘There’s a difference between me and a member of Congress,'” another lawmaker said, paraphrasing the president as saying: “When I say something the markets react, all of society reacts, other countries react. I’ve got to be careful with what I say. I can’t just say it for brinkmanship. I’ve got to say it in a way so that I get what I want said, but I don’t upset markets and so on.”

But I’m sort of glad I waited until after today’s announcement that unemployment has gone up and declining public sector employment is dragging down the economy. Because it makes it all the more appropriate to highlight Obama’s claim that he has a plan.

But Obama responded that he has to be more careful and more considered than that, and that he is executing an existing plan. [my emphasis]

Not only does the crummy economic news weaken what had been a position of relative strength for the President, but it shows that if he’s got a plan, it’s either not working or not designed to work. Obama’s plan–to focus on the deficit–only makes it more likely we’ll see ongoing cuts to public employment.

Is that really the plan, Mr. President?

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

  1. PJEvans says:

    Henry the W probably can come up with a better plan than anything Obama has in mind. Especially since Obama’s plans always seem to involve ‘give the Rs whatever they want’ as step 2. (I’ll have to call Waxman’s office and let them know that I approve of his actions.)

  2. manys says:

    “The president reminded folks that he’s the president sitting in that chair and he knows how to negotiate.”

    “I’m the decider.”

    • BoxTurtle says:

      How about “I’m the negotiater”?

      Boxturtle (“he knows how to negotiate” assumes material not in evidence)

      • lefty665 says:

        How about “I’m the negotiater”?

        Maybe it’s not really negotiating but contracting to accomplish shared goals. For example, in March ’09 O contracted with Pharma that in exchange for a government funded and guaranteed free ride (aka the mythical projected long term trivial restraint in pricing figleaf) that they would support his health care “reform” and re-election. It was a Wimpy equation. “I will gladly give you a $100B in profits over a decade in exchange for $150m in advertising today.” As with every other damned issue, it was never adversarial, nor did it ever have anything to do with the best interests of the other 99% of us. All we get to do is pay, and pay, and pay until there ain’t no more. We have been the Chumps for Change.

        Primary ’12 like your Ass depended on it, and it does.

    • textynn says:

      He means Wall Street is the decider. They decided that we would not get real health care reform and they decided that the wars must go on. And they decided that we were going to war with Libya to make them the lasted prey of the World Banks so they can be put in debt and have all their resources drained off of them like the American middle class. And they decided they would continue to use predatory lending to, by legal definition, steal pretty much every strip of land and cracker box house so they can control everything.

      Know you enemy. Obama is just the messenger.

  3. BoxTurtle says:

    “Plan? PLAN?!? Do I LOOK like a man with a plan? I’m an agent of Chaos.” – Heath Ledger, The Joker.

    I assume the plan is classified, because I sure don’t see it anywhere. But I assume it’s working well, because Obama shows no sign of changing it.

    Bosturtle (I also sometimes assume the sun turns blue if I take my eyes off of it)

  4. scribe says:

    This, a guy who (AFAIK) never tried a single case. Not even a simple car crash or fall-down.

    He negotiates like I did in the first case I got handed. I went in, listened to my adversary and wound up getting both rolled and almost fired. That was the last time I let myself get rolled. I learned.

    Unfortunately, Blankfein’s houseboy doesn’t have a boss who can fire him for incompetence, nor does he have any incentive to learn – he’ll never have to buy lunch again.

    • bmaz says:

      You know, doctors have to go through rotations in different areas of the actual practice of medicine after medical school. That might be a really good idea for lawyers, because there is one shitload you learn by actually going to state and local courts, trying a case in a real courtroom, seeing how the DR, probate and juvenile courts function, seeing the contract and corporate paper pushers at work and, without question, getting a view of the work of governmental lawyers. I guess it is probably not practical, but these are all things you do see if you have a private trial practice for an extended period of time and it is pretty valuable.

  5. hotdog says:

    The plan is scheduled to be put into action around the same time Israel goes back to its 1967 borders.

  6. DWBartoo says:

    “The Plan” is to keep “the Markets” happy.

    As corporations are now, legally, “people” the “markets” are the only group whom Legacy-Class Obama is interested in and concerned with; “The right crowd – and NO crowding …” and all that.

    The big “O” is, basically, looking out for himself, “looking forward”, and now is the time to prove that he has the “interests” of the “right people” uppermost in mind.

    That, according to his “job description”, he supposedly “represents” ALL of the genuine needs and aspirations of the rest of us is extremely tedious and most boring, really … and very, very tiring (you betcha!).

    The Great and all-wise Obama knows when (and why) to keep his mouth shut, indeed, he is the very soul of discretion … he can keep secrets, believes he has impeccablly good judgement, and, as well, he has the full “unitary” power, the ultimate “freedom” to act according to HIS and ONLY HIS own judgement.

    “…When I say something, markets and countries and people react in a way where it could cause us more problems than we have now.”

    For those who might yet wonder, that sentence makes very clear that the big “O” is doing precisely what the big “O” wants to do … he is not the victim of the “opposition”, of his advisers, of his own party’s elites, or even of circumstances. Barack Obama is doing PRECISELY what he wants and intends to do.

    Doubtless, when everything collapses into total misery and despair for “the (little) people” there will be many convenient scapegoats and layers of “plasible” deniability … and then, the big “O” will be forgiven and treated with the fawning deference which is ALWAYS extended to the political elites by American tradition, by American law, and by gosh and by golly gee wiz …


    • ekunin says:

      What do you do in November 2012 when the choice is between Obama and say Newt Gingrich or Sarah Palin? I don’t think Romney will make it. Do you vote Green which is really a vote for the Repubs or do you think 2012 is the Green’s year? We are stuck with the lesser of two evils unless we come up with a viable alternative. So far no one is inclined to even talk about that.

      • liberaldem says:

        Personally I can’t cast a vote that would put a Republican, particularly someone such as Gingrich or Palin in the White House.

        So then I hold my nose yet again and vote for an alleged Democrat.

  7. Tominator says:

    All he worries about is the rich, the markets the big corporations.

    So much for the idea that he might try to look like he stands for something in the run-up to 2012 elections.

    Where is a Dem primary candidate to point this crap out?

    • BMcGarth says:

      What Dem candidate ?….all the brave souls will surface in 2016 with “He was a shitty negotiator rhetoric but if you elect me I will”…..And 1 that comes to mind is HDean.

      So really if anyone of those who are later going to come forward in 2016 don’t have the courage to do it now.So why would they come forward in 2016 to “help” ordinary Americans,cuz they are serving the corrupt Corporate Masters & not ordinary Americans.

      All of these so called Dem leaders who are sitting idly by & watching the evisceration of ordinary Americans really don’t give a crap about ordinary Americans.

  8. stoicjim says:

    Obama knows what he knows and isn’t interested in contrary opinions. They just piss him off. This highlights the difference between him and Franklin Roosevelt. When something wasn’t working FDR tried something else, even if he didn’t like it much. Obama doesn’t have that flexibility of thinking.

  9. alibe50 says:

    What happened to that stupid idea that Obama wanted the “Left” to “MAKE” him do the right thing? Wasn’t that just a BIG lie or wishful thinking of all those who drank the kool aide? Obama just wants us to shut up and he just wants to play golf. Just leave him alone and let what happens, happen. He deserves to be thrown out on his ass with the biggest landslide imaginable. I would take Sarah Palin over this fool. And I don’t think much of Palin.

  10. onitgoes says:

    Eh? Obama definitely has a PLAN. The “confusion” is that the plan that O is following is not the plan that O campaigned on.

    O’s *plan* to be Blankfein/Immelt/Daley’s poodle is working out, uh, accoring to plan.

    • BeachPopulist says:

      O’s *plan* to be Blankfein/Immelt/Daley’s poodle is working out, uh, accoring to plan.

      You’ve written some good shit over your many posts here but this is outstanding for it’s combination of accuracy and brevity. I salute you, sir! (Or Mam, as the case may be.)

  11. mswinkle says:

    we have gone from people robbing banks to banks robbing people and it will not stop until we stand up and fight back

  12. boohoowho says:

    Reminds me the West Wing episode and the President’s “secret plan to fight inflation.”

  13. Twonine says:

    Brinkmanship, per Wikipedia, “is the practice of pushing dangerous events to the verge of disaster in order to achieve the most advantageous outcome.” It seems that imposing world wide austerity measures to steal trillions for the banksters would meet that definition.

  14. stevo67 says:

    Is that really the plan, Mr. President?

    It appears the plan is to make it easier for O’Sellout to make more money on Wall Street after his Presidency ends. And the way things are going, that day may come sometime in mid-Jan 2013. No matter, Barry wins either way.

    • Bluetoe2 says:

      He’s earned his walnut paneled corner office on Wall Street. There’s a sign on the door, “Reserved”

      • stevo67 says:

        i would imagine his quarterly evaluations have been excellent, with recommendations for promotion and bonuses.

        It really would be honest of the SOB to just switch parties and run as a republican for 2012. Based on the shallow pool of lameness that represents their POTUS candidates, I would bet many Repubs would welcome it.

  15. jedimsnbcko19 says:

    It is time for all of us to face the facts!

    Obama is in LA LA Land

    Obama really thinks he won in 2008 because he was smarter than everyone. NOT!!!

    Obama won in 2008, because people hated BUSH. That is it

    Obama ideas never will fix the USA economy.

    Let us not forget OBAMA hero is REAGAN not FDR

    No one paid it much attention but 2008 was not an Abraham Lincoln moment it was a FDR moment. OBAMA should have been studying FDR, not Lincoln

  16. bailey2739 says:

    “Clarence Thomas” Obama’s plan calls for trusting the guys in that inbred club he’s always wanted to allowed into. Guess what? Just like Clinton & “Clarence Thomas” the first, this NEVER turns out good for the rest of us!

  17. newbaygal says:

    Obama’s such a good negotiator that he’s the first president in history to be maneuvered into having to make major concessions to get the debt ceiling raised (which is normally de rigeur for both parties).

    Or as others have said, maybe this reflects his grand plan to enact a Republican/corporatist agenda while being able to pretend that it’s not what he wants, the Repugs made him do it (as with ditching the public option; extending tax cuts for the rich; etc.).

  18. ondelette says:

    What if he’s right? In the movie Too Big To Fail, Ben Bernanke states that one consequence of avoiding the liquidity crisis by forcing a bailout of the banks is that the banks recover before the rest of the economy. That leaves the economy in a situation in which there is no way to recover from the bottom up and no incentive and lots of pressure not to pick up the bottom. If you try to force the recovery of the bottom in the face of bad economic news with 3 million homes in forclosure and it causes another liquidity crisis, it might undo the bailout. That actually might be good in the long run because there’s no other way to put things back into sync, but unexplainable to the public or to the markets.

    Just a thought.

    • emptywheel says:


      But I would argue it was never a liquidity crisis, it was a solvency crisis. Given that they were giving banks 0 interest loans to loan back to the US at 3%, it’s easy to argue for liquidity they should have been giving that money to people who were actually solvent and productive.

      • ondelette says:

        If you saw the film, it was solved temporarily by making the banks solvent. In fact, when one banker complained that he didn’t need a bailout, he was threatened that action would be taken by Sheila Bair on insolvency. That was the purpose of the bailout, which the government forced on the banks and demanded that they lend out (but didn’t require that they lend out). The fact that they paid the loans back early, by those lights, wasn’t good, as portrayed in the media, it was contrary to what the government was trying to do, and wanted to accomplish, and was done by the banks so they would be free of regulation on salaries and bonuses and not forced to lend money.

        • emptywheel says:

          Right. But one of the key reasons why we’re headed into a depression is because rather than forcing the banks to do what is legally and financially most sound on foreclosures–to do principal mods–the government has been assisting the banks in the extend and pretend, which has exacerbated the cost of the crisis to the homeowners. The banks (at least the five bearing the most housing exposure) were never really solvent again, have never been. We’re just still pretending they are, and to hell with the productive part of the economy to do that.

          • ondelette says:

            Different problem entirely, and I agree. The problem Bernanke was solving in the film was a massive run on the banks, which is a liquidity crisis — by textbook definition. You solve those by showing that the banks are adequately capitalized, and they weren’t, so they forced the banks to accept capitalization. The comment I was making is that Bernanke commented that it would start the banking sector ahead of the rest of the economy, and I was saying that I’m not sure at this point that such a start can possibly work.

            Your article is about playing brinkmanship on health care and the tax cuts (presumably meaning on deficit reduction as an economic plan when jobs is by far the critical factor for his own success). If he plays brinkmanship on what really matters — the economy — he could bring it down, is what I was speculating. I was also speculating that he may have to, to fix it.

            On your now comment on foreclosures and loans, see above. The country needs jobs first, and the banks need to be stopped from foreclosing on any deed they do not outright own — which includes those which they do not have collateral rights to because of securitization — which will bring down the economy because the debt obligations of the banks won’t be “collateralized” which was the premise under which they were sold to clients. Again, see above.

            But with a jobs program people can afford to stay in houses or buy houses. Which to me means the government needs to outright hire those whose skill set makes them capable of establishing new kinds of industries and then spin them off once they’ve hired at least a viable substratum beneath them — in other words the government needs to directly restart the industrial base because we exported the last one.

      • ondelette says:

        Furthermore, my argument about sync comes from whether or not it is possible to restart the economy from the top as Bernanke did. That argument is based on the fact that the real economy ran for ten years without the investment sector recovering during the Great Depression. A healthy economy needs both sectors. It isn’t clear, and especially isn’t clear from the last 3 years, that restarting the investment sector instead, the reverse of the Great Depression, works the same way and can recover at all. The argument has deeper roots: there appears to be a different structure built if you model it mathematically.

    • bailey2739 says:

      Are you aware Ben Bernanke works FOR the mega-banks he bailed out? Of course he’s going to say that! The problem with this line of thinking is, we needed to address how have the Banks were investing the free money (& tax credits) the Govt. threw at them? Historically, they’ve bought mortgages & invested in communities, and that in time started a spiral to wide recovery. This time, the Banks have focused on making leveraged bets in the securities markets. The market’s gone up hugely stockholders have recover some of THEIR losses. But, who’s going to buy higher priced stocks when the Gov’t. stops giving Banks enormous leveraging capabilities? Do you really think the Banks are going to increase community lending WITHOUT Gov’t guarantees to protect them? If you think this, I’d like to hear why you think why they haven’t started.

      • ondelette says:

        What? What he said was the banks would recover first. He said it before they took action. He wanted to take action because he believed that not taking action would cause economic collapse. What he said proved to be correct.

        The rest of the paragraph is what I speculated, not what he said.

      • ondelette says:

        No, I don’t think that. I don’t think anything of the sort. I’m saying that it may actually be true that if the president plays brinkmanship over jobs the economy folds. I’m also saying there may not be any other way to restart the jobs part of the economy, because while trying to avert a precursor to the Great Depression might have been done in good faith hoping to avert the worst of the worst, it might not be possible to restart a healthy economy starting with the banking sector. At all. For mathematical reasons. Because certain systems just don’t evolve that way. But I’m not sure.

        • emptywheel says:

          But that’s not necessarily what’s at issue.

          Even without Obama doing things to require banks to use their free money to support jobs (which could have been done very easily), Obama’s “plan” included two things which have made the economy worse: extending the Bush tax cuts (in general, but also specifically for the really rich), and then engaging in deficit hawkery which endorses a counter-stimulus approach.

          Those are both part of O’s “plan,” and they both contribute to the decline in demand.

          And again, all that’s before Obama chose to make homeowners and localities to pay the entire price of the housing crisis, with the banks paying none.

            • sapphirebulletsofpurelove says:

              Well he sure does seem to be telling other members of his own party to shut up, sit down and leave everything to him. You do know that everything his administration does is his responsibility, right?

          • bluedot12 says:

            It is unclear to me that extending the Bush tax cuts contributes to a decline in demand. That said, I find those extensions offensive. But as I recall, the President could not extend the tax cuts for the middle class without also extending them for the wealthy. No one would buy into it. I hope the President is serious that next time he will not extend them but I doubt it, since the republicans will still not allow it if the middle class keeps the lower rates.

            As to the obsession with deficit reduction, such actions will most surely result in a reduction in demand and therefore higher unemployment. It is my view, we should do exactly the opposite and increase spending on things like infrastructure. This is no time to cash in our store of crops, so to speak. I very much think Obama should go on the offensive about this, as I think the American people will understand the need for it. Jobs are the very most important thing we need, even more so than housing or medicare, although they are important.

            I think, though, that the dems and Obama do not have the stomach for this fight. So much the pity as they will surely lose in 2012 with unemployment at 9%+ and thereafter the republicans can do as they will with social security and medicare.

            • sapphirebulletsofpurelove says:

              the President could not extend the tax cuts for the middle class without also extending them for the wealthy.

              This again? Really?

              The raft of tax cuts could have been allowed to expire, and then congressional democrats could have proposed tax cuts for the middle class only. That actually would have been more politically effective as well, assuming that Obama and the GOP are actually adversaries.

            • emptywheel says:

              Fair point.

              Extending the tax cuts permitted the GOP to start making deficit reduction the key issue. So not directly leading to drop of demand, but it did make the whole deficit cry somewhat less incredible.

              • bluedot12 says:

                That is did. But the President bought into the whole thing last year with the deficit reduction committee,aka catfood commission. That, too, was a strategic mistake. Never assume that people who hate you ever really want to cooperate with you. I think Obama really was naive.

              • selise says:

                was it the GOP that made deficits an issue? irrc (maybe i have this wrong), it’s been a signature D issue ever since the clinton budget surpluses.

                • bobschacht says:

                  Good catch, Selise. I think the Dems made an issue of deficits in order to disprove to the electorate that Democrats were “Tax and spend liberals.”

                  BTW, the other day I came to the conclusion that solving the economic recovery problem requires dealing with the mortgage foreclosure crisis. And then someone posted a much better article along the same lines: How Failed Obama Foreclosure Relief Plan Contributes To Jobs Crisis [UPDATE].

                  The Plan needs to change.

                  Bob in AZ

                  • selise says:

                    also, i guess, that the D party leadership don’t want to give up the false narrative of fed budget surpluses as the model of “financial responsibility” (although they were actually the opposite).

                    re plan b: i agree: the mortgage foreclosure crisis and the entire financial sector, the legal system (fair trails for fraudsters), etc etc.

                    thanks bob!

  19. mswinkle says:

    here is the plan obama is working on. happened in malawi about to happen in greece, and soon to happen here

    London Independent columnist Johann Hari today has another shocker. When the IMF came into help the small country of Malawi in Southeastern Africa with its severe economic problems, the outcome more closely resembled putting Malawi’s resources into bankers’ pockets.

    Writes Hari: “They ordered Malawi to sell off almost everything the state owned to private companies and speculators, and to slash spending on the population. They demanded they stop subsidizing fertilizer, even though it was the only thing that made it possible for farmers – most of the population – to grow anything in the country’s feeble and depleted soil…

    “So when in 2001 the IMF found out the Malawian government had built up stock piles of grain in case there was a crop failure, they ordered them to sell it off to private companies at once. They told Malawi to get their priorities straight by using the proceeds to pay off a loan from a large bank the IMF had told them to take out in the first place, at a 56 percent annual rate of interest… The next year the crops failed. The Malawian government had almost nothing to hand out. Aid workers who were there watched as the starving population was reduced to eating the bark off the trees and any rats they could capture.”

    Says Hari: “Imagine a prominent figure was charged not with raping a maid, but starving her to death, along with her children, her parents, and thousands of other people.”

    But in global politics, of course, that’s not a crime.

    • ondelette says:

      According to Simon Johnson, the IMF usually comes in just as the government figures have finished off looting the country, and the austerity measures credited with starving the country are the result of what happens when the country tries to deal with complete bankruptcy and collapse after it’s been looted by its own corrupt officials and has no ability to borrow to feed itself because creditors won’t lend at any price. Conveniently, the IMF gets the blame as the nationals blame foreigners for the destitution that ensues. But it is a widespread story so it works every time. You can believe him or not, but he called our own collapse pretty damned accurately for angels and devils.

      • mswinkle says:

        they are all in it together

        The Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz worked closely with the IMF for over a decade, until he quit and became a whistle-blower. He told me a few years ago: “When the IMF arrives in a country, they are interested in only one thing. How do we make sure the banks and financial institutions are paid?… It is the IMF that keeps the [financial] speculators in business. They’re not interested in development, or what helps a country to get out of poverty.” from the same story

        • ondelette says:

          Simon Johnson worked at the IMF as well, I was only saying what he said. I have no way to evaluate it except to say that I worked very closely with some expat Argentinians for many years and they would have agreed with his sequence of events for their country.

        • mswinkle says:

          I would believe Joseph Stiglitz . he leaked the IMF plan to destroy a country and gave it to guy palast.

          The govt of a particular country is in on it along with IMF. Simon does not have the balls or the will to tell the truth that the IMF is used to rape a country and stuff the pockets of banks and corps, with the local got getting a pay off to let it happen. In plan Stiglitz leasked it also said if govt does not go along with IMF plan they try to institute regime change and if that doesn’t work they kill him

        • freesociety says:

          The Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz worked closely with the IMF for over a decade, until he quit and became a whistle-blower. He told me a few years ago: “When the IMF arrives in a country, they are interested in only one thing. How do we make sure the banks and financial institutions are paid?… It is the IMF that keeps the [financial] speculators in business. They’re not interested in development, or what helps a country to get out of poverty.” from the same story

          Correct. The goals of the IMF are to loan money to poor Countries with their Natural Resources used as collateral. The agenda is really to indebt these Nations up to their eyeballs, and then steal their Resources. Embezzling and corruption take place and most of the so-called “development” is a smokescreen.

          And where does the IMF get its money to loan? The Federal Reserve Monopoly prints money and gives it to them — which of course dilutes the value of the American Dollar. So our own prices go up by these policies as well as these poor Nations get robbed of their Sovereignty and Resources through debt.

          Its a nasty business, and we need to rebell against these Global Banking crooks including our own corrupt outpost (Federal Reserve Monopoly), and stop these policies.

    • EternalVigilance says:

      Says Hari: “Imagine a prominent figure was charged not with raping a maid, but starving her to death, along with her children, her parents, and thousands of other people.”

      But in global politics, of course, that’s not a crime.

      A crime?

      That’s the “existing plan.”

  20. bluedot12 says:

    Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together? If he keeps on concentrating on the debt, it’ll work alright. More unemployment. Maybe that’s the plan and we are just not in on the joke. Poor Henry the Wax, never had a clue.

  21. gesneri says:

    Knows how to negotiate? Not unless his definition of negotiation is giving away the store and thanking the other side for deigning to take the meeting.

    • spanishinquisition says:

      “Will President Putty allow the Republicans to crash the economy a second time as a negotiating tactic?”

      Mr Catfood will crash it himself.

  22. spanishinquisition says:

    “He was a little testy with the Waxman question. Essentially, Mr. Waxman was urging him to fight more,” one legislator said. “The president reminded folks that he’s the president sitting in that chair and he knows how to negotiate.”

    Obama also told the assembled Democrats not to count on more fiery rhetoric from the Oval Office.

    “He said, ‘There’s a difference between me and a member of Congress,’” another lawmaker said, paraphrasing the president as saying: “When I say something the markets react, all of society reacts, other countries react. I’ve got to be careful with what I say. I can’t just say it for brinkmanship. I’ve got to say it in a way so that I get what I want said, but I don’t upset markets and so on.”

    For once I think Obama is being completely honest – he does know how to negotiate and he does have a plan…Obama knows exactly what he’s doing rather than him being naive, tricked or bullied. HCR came out exactly how Obama wanted it based on his backroom deal, but Mr Transparency wouldn’t be honest to the public about that. It certainly sounds like Obama is drunk with power as well.

    • William Newbill says:

      You may be completely right about this. One thing we know for sure is that he is completely drunk with power. His complete rejection of every civil liberties stand he ever took proves that. The imperial presidency is alive and well. Obama claims torture is no longer practiced, but when faced with the fact that one of our own, Bradley Manning was being tortured, he made it clear he could not have cared less. That suggests to me people around the world are being tortured either on his direct orders or with his direct knowledge. It’s hard to take anything he says at face value.

  23. merkwurdiglieber says:

    This is the product of his neoliberal education. He really believes the

    Amity Shlaes line about the New Deal… complete revisionist Hoover Institute crap. He believes his pals Summers and Geithner like LBJ believed

    ” Westy wouldn’t lie to me “. Unemployment will continue to rise, helped by

    his being wrongfooted at the beginning and the Republicans sinking the

    country to beat him. That renewal of the Bush tax cuts sunk created the debt trap. The beltway kool kidz say the Republicans painted themselves into a corner, which is true, but the President is in there with them.

  24. DrTerwilliker says:

    “The president reminded folks that he’s the president sitting in that chair and he knows how to negotiate.”

    ..with himself. And with lib Democrats. With Republicans, not so much.

  25. ProgThis says:

    Exactly. People have been saying this the whole time: Obama knows how to negotiate. He’s perfectly aware of what he is doing. He just doesn’t share your policy goals. It’s simple really.

    You either need to accept him as your political adversary, or adjust your political goals accordingly.

    F*ing Democrat Party.

  26. oldgold says:

    I took the time to read the Huffingtonpost article. For the record I would offer this.

    The quote cited is not an Obama quote. As the article makes clear.

    “He said, ‘There’s a difference between me and a member of Congress,'” another lawmaker said, paraphrising the president as saying: “When I say something the markets react, all of society reacts, other countries react. I’ve got to be careful with what I say. I can’t just say it for brinkmanship. I’ve got to say it in a way so that I get what I want said, but I don’t upset markets and so on.”[empasis supplied]

    Moreover, the general reaction by Congressional members attending was that it was a good and productive meeting. In particular, the President assured them that Medicare was off the negotiating table.

    Lawmakers who were willing to speak on the record said that the meeting went well ….

    “He said Medicare is not negotiable,” said Rep. Jose Serrano (D-N.Y.), who felt the overall discussion was positive and appreciated by the members.

  27. JohnLopresti says:

    Obama had a plan to nominate an effective leader to DoJ*s OLC; Obama had a plan to appoint a widely respected lawschool assistant dean to the federal bench; senator Mitchell*s Republicans had other plans, namely, freeze the senate.

    Obama had an expansion of healthcare plan; Republicans wanted privatization, to preserve their vested interest.

    I think he learned a lesson from one of his rare rhetorical excesses at the SOTU last year, by his characterizing the CU decision as a guaranteed opening for foreign capital to farm US politicians thru campaign donations; it is in the courts but not as decidedly fatefully as Obama*s speechwriter*s hyperbole; and the slight to Alito provided Obama with a poker tournament view of how to edit his speeches. It cost a judicial nomination. If it were WBush, 13 words would have been just a darned piece of paper. Republicans do not have quality to offer.

    I had some hope when the tech experts who work for rep. Waxman published the list of the thousands of executive emails obliterated during WBushco*s rudderless experiments in shabby Republican governance. It was my understanding that, later, Waxman*s negotiators made agreements to keep much of the detail of WBushco*s corrupting of the public records secret. Waxman was a good leader, and had ample alacrity; but there was no final followthrough. Bureaucrats continue to eek the slow pace toward putting meaning in the charge of contempt of congress.

    Obama had a plan for ending torture. He had a plan for normalizing due process in respect to executive detention during nontraditionalwartime. The bureaucracy*s rejoinder has been obfuscation and dilatoriness. The presidency is an entity which employs thousands of people. I still like Obama*s work; just the fact that when he needs to look to democratic party stalwart officeholders for administration positions, but he finds just quasi-moderates, is evidence of the condition of the Democratic party.

    I hope Waxman continues to provide some vividness and counterpoint to encourage a thoughtful way of exercising the presidency.

    There are enough nihilist Republicans ready to reap more profit; their cohorts are rolling out voter restriction measures readying the election field for 2012. Obama is part of a process which will be stronger with a positive Democratic party performance in the 2012 elections. I wonder who the vice presidential candidate will be on the ticket with Obama; and, who might challenge Obama in the primaries.

    I think congress has yet to investigate and map out for the public, comprehensively, what Bushco did to the country*s finances. It should be an interesting presidential campaign though. If Palin stands for obliteration of environment protections, she is going to meet an Obama who has more realistic sensibilities who is better attuned to modern values in the US. Bushco tries to ignore the Kyoto accords; Obama tries to rescue a semblance of global progress toward ending anthropogenic climate change. ?Where*s the choice? He*s got a plan; and there is a lot of Republican money and hype seeking to block the way.

  28. William Newbill says:

    The question should irritate the incompetent negotiator-In-Chief. Barack Obama has no idea how to negotiate anything. We’ve seen it time and again, he cedes the entirety of his position and then expects Republicans will be reasonable, what a dumbass. Sitting in this chair, I know he’s unable to negotiate squat. As a federal employee he threw us under the bus by unilaterally freezing our pay for two years. The purpose was solely to improve his political prospects. He’s done this to his own crew in the White House before. Obama is no friend of federal workers. It’s all talk and no action. This was after he had already agreed to a meager 1.4 percent pay raise, thanks a lot Barack. Just kidding about that raise Barack? Really?

    Did Obama even consider negotiating with the other side before throwing us under the bus? Of course not. Instead of improving the long-term prospects for fair compensation for feds, this unilateral action emboldened the other side to seek a five year freeze, pay cuts, ending pensions, furloughs. All of these were completely foreseeable based on his failure to even consider negotiating, but not to Barack Obama. Thanks for nothing, Mr. President.

    Now Obama and Co., are busy negotiating away a five percent cut in our pay, which he has reportedly already agreed to, as part of the debt limit increase negotiations. Why? Because some conservative Democratic group called the Third Way thought it was a good idea. Oh yeah that notorious liberal ass Erskine Bowles also thought screwing federal employees was a great idea.

    Negotiate? On a cold day in Hell Obama will figure out how to negotiate. After being stabbed in the back by Dems they think federal employees like myself will come to the rescue in November? Think again Barack. Loyalty means more than screwing your friends to show how tough you are. I’m going Green and leaving most ballots blank in 2012. The few Dems I will ever vote for will be very very liberal, not corporate conservative like Barack Obama. As far as those contributions and volunteering goes, forget it, that’s over. Obama should be hacked that we all know he’s the worst negotiator ever to occupy the White House in American history.

  29. madprogressive says:

    My Dear fellow Progressives, here’s the sad news we all know will happen. This president will do as he’s done since entering the White House, he’ll cave yet again to the hostage taking of the right. The reason the Repugs are holding the debt ceiling hostage is simple, based on their past success at punking this president, why stop. When a bully gets your milk money everytime he attacks you, do you exptect him to stop, at least not until you stand up to him.

    Obama has been remarkably silent the past month or so as this plays out in the press. This signals to me he’s already signaled to Biden to go as far as you need to get a deal with the GOP. Of course he’ll do as he’s done repeatedly and claim that this is the only thing he could do because the mean ole republicans wouldn’t let him do anything else.

    I’m not expecting anything different this time, but frankly I’m sick and tired of this weak-kneed man selling out to the right and the richest interests in this country. At what point will Washington Democrats freaking get it, conservative policies have never worked in the history of man, and they’re not working now. Reagan was president in 1981, but his policies live on, through now what is two Democratic administrations.


  30. bearman says:

    <stObama also told the assembled Democrats not to count on more fiery rhetoric from the Oval Officerong> When has this clown ever had any fire about anything that would help the aveage America???!!!

  31. heycoachb says:

    THE GOP CONTROLS THE NARRATIVE … and that has policy consequences Mr. President!

    Color me not surprised that extreme tax breaks for the ‘job creators’ and lax regulation for reckless corporations hasn’t solved the economic crisis.

    Well maybe the rest of the ‘Grand’ Old Party’s agenda will help … a party fixated on flag pins, birth certificates, man on dog sex, creationis­m, coupons for Grandma’s medical care and crushing unions. You can call that party a lot of things but ‘Grand’ aint one of them. Their agenda looks sure to turn the economy around though.

    Join the War on Ignorance!


  32. kall says:

    Hia plan is working. Ordinary people are not the intended beneficiaries, the Lloyd Blankfeins, Jeff Immelts and Jamie Dimons of the USA are.

  33. cregan says:

    The problem is not some distraction onto the deficit. Though, that contributes.

    The problem is that the “stimulus” was never intended to stimulate anything. It was a massive pork barrel project farmed out to Congress to design.

    In the past, these programs were designed in a coordinated fashion by the White House and then promoted to Congress.

    Instead, we got a hodge-podge of items that not only didn’t achieve any great effect, but left the door wide open to critique, simply because of the nature of it–pork barrel and not stimulus.

    They had a BIG chance, but blew it on pet projects.

  34. Ironcomments says:

    “Two years after the worst recession most of us have ever known, the stock market has come roaring back. Corporate profits are up. The economy is growing again…The steps we’ve taken over the last two years may have broken the back of this recession…” -President Obama, State of the Union, January 25 2011.

    Everything is going according to plan set by the puppet masters.

  35. HeadedWest says:

    This president needs to start taking the necessary steps to make this country a competitive place to do business again. That means cutting corporate tax rates, elimination of the minimum wage, creating a tax holiday for overseas cash, and a well thought out policy towards immigration which should include a clear and quick path to citizenship for international students pursuing advance degrees in this country. The last two years have been an absolute joke.

  36. freesociety says:

    Obama? Plan?

    President Obama’s only “plan” has been to legitimze and ratify the criminal and tragic Cheney-Bush Warfare/War Crimes policies that shames and bankrupts our Country with no end ever to come, and to help the Wall Street robber barons and the Insurance Companies loot the American public.

    He has broken the U.S. Constitution with the same reckless zeal and arrogance as Bush (even starting brand new Wars without even a WMD pretext), and he has been even more aggressive at criminalizing whistleblowers and pardoning War Criminals (including International-wide efforts). Recall that even Bush did not stoop so low as to pardon Scooter Libby, or to jail CIA leakers who had disclosed that Iran possessed NO NUCLEAR WEAPONS. But the track record of Barack Obama shows that he clearly would have.

    This President is the most disgusting occupier of the White House since Woodrow Wilson (Central Bank Monopoly sellout, World War I, IRS, etc.). Even Bill Clinton had the foresight to reverse Reaganomics when he had the Democratic Majorities, and fight off Newt Gingrich without compromise or retreat.

    I’m voting for Ron Paul this time. At least he is an honest man who sincerely wants to shut down the crippling World Empire madness (before it is too late), the Police State policies, the Central Bank Crooks, and restablish the Bill of Rights. Doing that would at least give us a functioning Republic once again — something that we will never have with 4 more years of Obams’s Wars, Corporate looting, and Constitution shredding.

    I just don’t understand how people can let Obama get away with saying he changed anything. This President is the most averse to any actual change in policy (no matter how tyrannical) that we have ever had.

  37. geoshmoe says:

    PENAC plan comes to mind. That’s what it boils down to, driving down the living standards for the middle and lower class Americans, and other mass societies around the globe, and leveling out the playing field too, so there is lots of room to fall for Americans left, we’re just starting.

    This particular president, is perfect for the moment, as he basically fiddles while the country burns, in the end he will be easily relegated to a catagory like W of inefective presidents, and so if you use as a yardstick, the features and type cast he perfect for the job, during this real big incremental task, of driving down the country, that is job one, miss that and you may as well forget it.

    (is there any person anywhere now, that doesn’t see the straight down trajectory, even in that 30% that is always contrarian?) to the… economic well being of the country? and the overall shirking of good principles, through out.

    The arguing about the deck chairs keeps going on… Deficit… horse shit!

    No wonder there hasn’t been any decent candidates in a long time, the word is well out that the job is to be a fall guy, it takes a certain lack of character to sign up for it.