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Bob Woodward's Book Detailing Obama's Failure to Lead

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Here's the ABC News article summarizing many of Woodward's observations and interviews:

"An explosive mix of dysfunction, miscommunication, and misunderstandings inside and outside the White House led to the collapse of a historic spending and debt deal that President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner were on the verge of reaching last summer, according to revelations in author Bob Woodward's latest book.

The book, "The Price of Politics," on sale Sept. 11, 2012, shows how close the president and the House speaker were to defying Washington odds and establishing a spending framework that included both new revenues and major changes to long-sacred entitlement programs. "The Price of Politics" examines the struggles between Obama and the Congress for the three and a half years, between 2009 and the summer of 2012. It offers exclusive behind the scenes access to what the President and the Republicans did, or rather failed to do.

But at one critical juncture, with an agreement tantalizingly close, Obama pressed Boehner for additional taxes as part of a final deal -- a miscalculation, in retrospect, given how far the House speaker felt he'd already gone.

The president called three times to speak with Boehner about his latest offer, according to Woodward. But the speaker didn't return the president's phone call for most of an agonizing day, in what Woodward calls a "monumental communications lapse" between two of the most powerful men in the country.

When Boehner finally did call back, he jettisoned the entire deal. Obama lost his famous cool, according to Woodward, with a "flash of pure fury" coming from the president; one staffer in the room said Obama gripped the phone so tightly he thought he would break it.

"He was spewing coals," Boehner told Woodward, in what is described as a borderline "presidential tirade."

"He was pissed…. He wasn't going to get a damn dime more out of me. He knew how far out on a limb I was. But he was hot. It was clear to me that coming to an agreement with him was not going to happen, and that I had to go to Plan B."

Tune in to "World News with Diane Sawyer" and "Nightline" on Monday September 10, 2012 to see Diane Sawyer's exclusive interview with Bob Woodward

Accounts of the final proposal that led to the deal's collapse continue to differ sharply. The president says he was merely raising the possibility of putting more revenue into the package, while Boehner maintains that the president needed $400 billion more, despite an earlier agreement of no more than $800 billion in total revenue, derived through tax reform.

Obama and his aides argue that the House speaker backed away from a deal because he couldn't stand the political heat inside his own party – or even, perhaps, get the votes to pass the compromise. They say he took the president's proposal for more revenue as an excuse to pull out of talks altogether.

"I was pretty angry," the president told Woodward about the breakdown in negotiations. "There's no doubt I thought it was profoundly irresponsible, at that stage, not to call me back immediately and let me know what was going on."

The failure of Obama to connect with Boehner was vaguely reminiscent of another phone call late in the evening of Election Day 2010, after it became clear that the Republicans would take control of the House, making Boehner Speaker of the House.

Nobody in the Obama orbit could even find the soon-to-be-speaker's phone number, Woodward reports. A Democratic Party aide finally secured it through a friend so the president could offer congratulations.

While questions persist about whether any grand bargain reached by the principals could have actually passed in the Tea Party-dominated Congress, Woodward issues a harsh judgment on White House and congressional leaders for failing to act boldly at a moment of crisis. Particular blame falls on the president.

"It was increasingly clear that no one was running Washington. That was trouble for everyone, but especially for Obama," Woodward writes.

For all the finger-pointing now, Obama and Boehner appear to have developed a rapport during the negotiations. The Illinois Democrat bonded with the Ohio Republican, starting with a much-publicized "golf summit" and continuing through long, substantive chats on the Truman Balcony and the patio right outside the Oval Office.

Boehner was drinking Merlot and smoking cigarettes, Obama sipping iced tea and chomping Nicorette. Obama, who had quit smoking by the time, wasn't offered a cigarette by Boehner and didn't ask for any, though he told Woodward he always made sure an ashtray was available for him. The two men were divided by ideology but united in looking for a legacy-making moment – even if it meant sacrificing their own jobs.

"I would willingly lose an election if I was able to actually resolve this in a way that was right," Obama told Woodward about his mindset at the time, comparing the debt negotiations to the decision to strike Osama bin Laden's compound.

Boehner voiced a similar desire to accomplish something big on spending: "I need this job like I need a hole in the head," he told Woodward. Yet top deputies loomed large over the negotiations. Vice President Joe Biden was labeled the "McConnell whisperer" by White House aides for his ability to cut deals with the often implacable Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. The vice president led a parallel set of bipartisan talks that reached breakthroughs without the president's direct involvement.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is depicted as more in touch with the Republican caucus that elected Boehner speaker, particularly with its strong contingent of tea party freshmen who came to Washington pledging to put the brakes on federal spending at any cost.

Cantor, Woodward writes, viewed Boehner as a "runaway horse" who needed reining in, given the realities of his own caucus. The Boehner-Obama talks started without Cantor's knowledge, and Boehner later acknowledged to the president that Cantor was working against the very deal they were trying to reach, according to Woodward.

Intriguingly, Cantor and Biden frequently had "private asides" after larger meetings, according to Woodward. After one of them, Woodward writes that Biden told Cantor: "You know, if I were doing this, I'd do it totally different."

"Well, if I were running the Republican conference, I'd do it totally different," Cantor replied, according to Woodward.

Woodward writes: "They agreed that if they were in charge, they could come to a deal."

With the president taking charge, though, Obama found that he had little history with members of Congress to draw on. His administration's early decision to forego bipartisanship for the sake of speed around the stimulus bill was encapsulated by his then-chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel: "We have the votes. F--- 'em," he's quoted in the book as saying. "

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/bob-woodward-book-debt-deal-collapse-led-pure/story?id=17104635&page=4

(Continued in replies)

 

What do you think of Woodward's evaluation? 

 

The most pressing social issue today is the economy

Visit Mitt Romney for President, CafeMom Group

by on Sep. 30, 2012 at 1:33 PM
Replies (31-40):
7SportsMom7
by Bronze Member on Oct. 16, 2012 at 4:41 PM

I had kind of forgotten about this conversation  ... that's okay.  I understand wanting to make a point.  :)

Reading it back, I can understand what you are saying about current Repubs ... I don't believe all of them to be that way though.  I also don't believe all Dems currently in Congress are shady, but in my opinion, there are some I don't trust (i.e. Reid).  It seems to be a different and crazier time in politics now, or could just be that I'm older and more informed than when I was younger so I'm seeing things differently.

Thanks for following up ... have a good day!

Quoting MsDenuninani:


Quoting 7SportsMom7:

ETA:  Comments in red ...

Quoting MsDenuninani:


Quoting 7SportsMom7:

Now, if the Dems play the same stubborn games Repbus did should Romney be elected, he will have his chance to make a difference or we will all be in for four more bad years.



Ugh.  Here's the thing, and it pisses me off to no end, but I don't think it will ever change: Democrats are more interested in governing than Republicans are.  At the end of the day, democrats believe in government, and they believe that government should work.  Republicans, philosophically, do not share the same beliefs. If they stall the process and don't do anything, government doesn't function, and they can go back and say "See!  we told you government doesn't work!".   Note that in your sentence there, you implicitly acknowledge that stubborn games were played, and essentially say that Democrats should give a mythical Romney presidency a chance. 

I'm not sure it will ever change either and I think politics is an ugly game, so yes I agree, there are games played ON BOTH SIDES.  If you think the Dems didn't play games with health care, you are kidding yourself.  I also agree that Dems are more interested in goverment intervention but absolutely disagree that all Repubs only want govern by playing games.  

I thought we were having a good converstation about understanding the other side but not so much ... it sounds like you only want to blame Repubs for all that's wrong. 

 In other words, they should have a better, stronger moral fiber, and recognize their obligation to do what's in the best interests of their constiuents, than Republicans have done in the past four years.

It sounds to me like you are twisting words to fit what you want to believe.  There are good Dems and good Repubs in office ... and there are some really bad ones on both sides. To generalize parties is foolish to me ... some of my very best friends are Dems and we can discuss issues ... we often agree to disagree or open our minds to understanding where the other is coming from.  In my opinion, I there are many areas people cross over in party beliefs but we are so divided right now, it's almost "shameful" to admit such.

I agree. 


I know you've probably moved on, but I just want to clarify one thing.

I'm not blaming Republicans, as a party, or individuals who are Republicans or individuals with Republican beliefs. 

I'm blaming the current crop of Republicans who are right now in Congress, the ones who are more afraid of being labeled a RINO than they are intersted in doing their jobs.  And, just as a backdrop, let me add that I am not a Democrat who believes that Democrats must hold their party more sacred than doing the best by their constiuents.  I've never called Lieberman a turncoat, for example. 

I don't believe I've twisted your words to reflect a meaning that they didn't have, but I will fully acknowledge looking into your words for implicit support in my argument.


Meadowchik
by Gold Member on Oct. 17, 2012 at 8:35 AM

 

Quoting MsDenuninani:

 

Quoting Meadowchik:

Thanks for the response. 

The United States is a representative republic.  It is not a direct democracy.  I the areas where consensus is needed among a majority of legislatures, Obama's style is to rely more heavily on going to the people instead of working with legislators, which is more closely tailored than a different form of government. Of course the people need to be persuaded, too, that is important, but it is more effectively if done both directly and through the representatives, who do literally and legally serve as the go betweens between the federal government and the people.

As far as Romneycare, it's true that Romney did not pursue a plan that most of the citizens opposed. Obama did. See that?  And speaking of the moral case, Romney balanced the budget first, and passed Romneycare without raising taxes.  Furthermore, Romney did work intensely with the legislators, with experts, and with the insurance side most effected by the new law. 


 

Left political discussions for awhile because I was starting to feel more tribal and reactive than I'd like, so I'm just getting to this now.

That's what I figured.  Spidey sense, ya know.  :)  You're not alone in that need to create some space from time to time.  Glad to see you again.

It occurred to me later that what Woodward describes as Obama's lack of leadership I see more as a refusal to participate in partisan bickering.  And that is really my short answer.  I see your point about style fo government, but the truth is, to the extent that voters wanted "change" -- that's what they got.  It's the whole "be the change you want to see" and to the extent Obama turns it around on us, the voter, to take responsibility for health care - and also take responsibility for the current climate in government - I think it's great.  It's government by the people, of the people, for the people, and there's a reason why Americans love those words.

How did he "turn it around on the voter?"  I'm not seeing that in healthcare with the ACA.  I totally think voters should be more informed about candidates, existing policies, history, and the legal process, and of course their own health care.  If we compare Romney and Obama, Romney seems to be the one with more emphasis of patient control of the process.

Romney passed health care in a climate where his Congress supported him.  Obama had a far more uphill battle, with an entire party united in opposition.  While the actual plan itself is apples to apples, the effort it took to pass it is apples to watermelon.

Obama made the mistake of assuming all American Republicans would agree with Massachusetts and Romneycare.  That is very presumptious.  A whole lot of conservative opposition to the ACA was due to the belief that Obama would be using it as a stepping-stone to the public option which he touted during his campaign.  There's real merit in that opposition. 

And I don't buy that Obamacare raises taxes.  That's the opinion of one justice of the Supreme Court. But, additionally, nor do I buy that passing legislation without raising taxes is more "moral" -- taking care of others is moral, paying for it is responsible.

The penalty in Obamacare IS a tax according to majority decision of the Supreme Court.  That's the only way it remained constitutional as a federal law.  In addition to that, there are atleast a dozen other ways it raises taxes, about half of which are applicable to the middle class.  The ACA does indeed raise taxes. (See this Forbes article, one of many on the subject.) If not, it would be adding even more to the deficit than it already is.

Additionally, Obama absolutely worked with legislators, the insurance industry, experts, and others in passing the law.  It was a conservative idea, and conservative legislators had input in Obamacare -- they disavowed it as a strategic measure against the President, not on any real practical grounds.

Honestly, do you really believe that if Bush had proposed the same measure, Republicans would have lined up against it the way they did?  I do not.  Instead, Democrats would be screaming about it as a giveaway to the private health insurers (which it is as well), and talking smack about it because of it's non-universal coverage, while Republicans would be touting it to independents as "compassionate conservatism." 

Honestly, first, the parties are supposed to be opposed.  Imagine trying to cut butter with a knife and no surface.  Opposition (the cutting board) is a necessary part of the political process.  The question is, did the opposition in this case serve a purpose in the Americans interest?  I think so.  First of all, it looks like Obamacare could have been put together better.  There are doubts that it will allow people to "keep their plans" as Obama promised.  It will most likely cause them to either change or disappear.  Secondly, it was done at a bad time.  We needed to put our fiscal house in order, first and foremost.  That in itself would have built some badly needed trust in Congress and from the people. On the other hand, bad and incompetent decisions tend to perpetuate division.   

IMO, Obama's first duty in domestic issues was to secure our fiscal future.  It's kind of like "what you do when nobody is looking is what determines your character."  In this case, what Obama did when he could bypass the other party did.  It's not that healthcare reform is not a worthy goal, but he did basically let any political capital go to waste.

I suppose this won't resonate with many people, especially those who do not believe the debt and deficit to be a pressing issue, but it is a big deal to me and many others, and its one reason Romney's record resonates more as a model of good leadership.  He did what was moral and most necessary first, then moved to the next most pressing issue.

 

The most pressing social issue today is the economy

Visit Mitt Romney for President, CafeMom Group

MsDenuninani
by Bronze Member on Oct. 17, 2012 at 4:59 PM
1 mom liked this


Quoting 7SportsMom7:

I had kind of forgotten about this conversation  ... that's okay.  I understand wanting to make a point.  :)

Reading it back, I can understand what you are saying about current Repubs ... I don't believe all of them to be that way though.  I also don't believe all Dems currently in Congress are shady, but in my opinion, there are some I don't trust (i.e. Reid).  It seems to be a different and crazier time in politics now, or could just be that I'm older and more informed than when I was younger so I'm seeing things differently.

Thanks for following up ... have a good day!

Quoting MsDenuninani:

 

Quoting 7SportsMom7:

ETA:  Comments in red ...

Quoting MsDenuninani:

 

Quoting 7SportsMom7:

Now, if the Dems play the same stubborn games Repbus did should Romney be elected, he will have his chance to make a difference or we will all be in for four more bad years.


 

Ugh.  Here's the thing, and it pisses me off to no end, but I don't think it will ever change: Democrats are more interested in governing than Republicans are.  At the end of the day, democrats believe in government, and they believe that government should work.  Republicans, philosophically, do not share the same beliefs. If they stall the process and don't do anything, government doesn't function, and they can go back and say "See!  we told you government doesn't work!".   Note that in your sentence there, you implicitly acknowledge that stubborn games were played, and essentially say that Democrats should give a mythical Romney presidency a chance. 

I'm not sure it will ever change either and I think politics is an ugly game, so yes I agree, there are games played ON BOTH SIDES.  If you think the Dems didn't play games with health care, you are kidding yourself.  I also agree that Dems are more interested in goverment intervention but absolutely disagree that all Repubs only want govern by playing games.  

I thought we were having a good converstation about understanding the other side but not so much ... it sounds like you only want to blame Repubs for all that's wrong. 

 In other words, they should have a better, stronger moral fiber, and recognize their obligation to do what's in the best interests of their constiuents, than Republicans have done in the past four years.

It sounds to me like you are twisting words to fit what you want to believe.  There are good Dems and good Repubs in office ... and there are some really bad ones on both sides. To generalize parties is foolish to me ... some of my very best friends are Dems and we can discuss issues ... we often agree to disagree or open our minds to understanding where the other is coming from.  In my opinion, I there are many areas people cross over in party beliefs but we are so divided right now, it's almost "shameful" to admit such.

I agree. 

 

I know you've probably moved on, but I just want to clarify one thing.

I'm not blaming Republicans, as a party, or individuals who are Republicans or individuals with Republican beliefs. 

I'm blaming the current crop of Republicans who are right now in Congress, the ones who are more afraid of being labeled a RINO than they are intersted in doing their jobs.  And, just as a backdrop, let me add that I am not a Democrat who believes that Democrats must hold their party more sacred than doing the best by their constiuents.  I've never called Lieberman a turncoat, for example. 

I don't believe I've twisted your words to reflect a meaning that they didn't have, but I will fully acknowledge looking into your words for implicit support in my argument.

 

You too, and thanks for reading and responding!

duets
by Bronze Member on Oct. 17, 2012 at 5:33 PM
2 moms liked this

Aaaargh, I didn't need to read a book on Obama's failure to lead.  Just sayin', I have lived it for 4yrs!!

Jambo4
by Gold Member on Oct. 17, 2012 at 5:44 PM

Congressman Paul Ryan: "Leaders run to problems to fix problems. President Obama has not even put a credible plan in any of his four years to deal with this debt crisis. I passed two budgets to deal with this, Mitt Romney has put ideas on the table. We've got to tackle this debt crisis before it tackles us. The President likes to say he has a plan, he gave a speech. We asked his budget office 'Can we see the plan?' They sent us to the Press Secretary, he gave us a copy of the speech. We asked the Congressional Budget Office, 'Tell us what President Obama's plan is to prevent a debt crisis.' They said, 'It's a speech, we can't estimate speeches.' You see, that's what we get in this administration -- speeches. But we're not getting leadership." (VP debate)

MsDenuninani
by Bronze Member on Oct. 17, 2012 at 6:03 PM


Quoting Meadowchik:

 

Real quick:

How did he "turn it around on the voter?"

I'm thinking specifically of a line in his DNC speech, when giving an example of a real person who was now getting health benefits that likely saved their life, he said, essentially, "that wasn't me.. .You did that."  In that way, he gives credit back to the voter for government accomplishments.  It gives the voter an ownership in government, rather than seeing government as a big, scary, "other." I really, really, like that, and it's a big change (there's that word again) in tone over the previous 25 years.

Obama made the mistake of assuming all American Republicans would agree with Massachusetts and Romneycare.  That is very presumptious.  A whole lot of conservative opposition to the ACA was due to the belief that Obama would be using it as a stepping-stone to the public option which he touted during his campaign.  There's real merit in that opposition. 

Another way of seeing it is to say that Obama made the mistake of assuming that Republicans would not form a hard line of opposition based on purely partisan grounds.  I see your point about the public option, but, again, you can also view that Obama's set-aside of the public option is because he is a hard-nosed pragmatist willing to forsake ideology for a larger, broader goal. It's a trait he shares with the most effective politicians, I think.

The question is, did the opposition in this case serve a purpose in the Americans interest?  I think so.  First of all, it looks like Obamacare could have been put together better.  There are doubts that it will allow people to "keep their plans" as Obama promised.  It will most likely cause them to either change or disappear.  Secondly, it was done at a bad time.  We needed to put our fiscal house in order, first and foremost.  That in itself would have built some badly needed trust in Congress and from the people. On the other hand, bad and incompetent decisions tend to perpetuate division.   

In Americans interest?  I disagree.  There are absolutely doubts -- understandably and justifiably so -- about the plan.  I am -- and I think most Americans are -- willing to let it shape out.  Actual implementation has not really begun, so there are chances to change it as it goes along -- which, let's face it, is exactly what Romney has pledged to do.  (He simply hasn't said how we should pay for the things we like about it, but that's another post, maybe). 

That it was done at a bad time. . .look, health care has been kicked down the road for 30 years.  There was never going to be a good time.  And I think in another post, I've already said that I believe that Obama had limited ways of getting the "fiscal house in order" -- so much is dependent on forces outside of his control.  I applaud him for taking on such a task -- at great personal political risk -- and to those members of Congress who voted for it.  I believe that health care is one of those things that the government is in the best position to provide (like clean water and certain types of research funding) -- but I also know that after many, many years of "government is the enemy" rhetoric, it was going to take a massive effort just to convince people that government can be something other than incompetent.  Americans still haven't fully accepted that proposition.

It could have been handled better.  The difference between you and I is which part of the government we see as responsible for that.

It's not that healthcare reform is not a worthy goal, but he did basically let any political capital go to waste.

I see your point, but it is totally in keeping with his "the urgency of now" rhetoric of his 2008 political campaign.  If he had done something else, it wouldn't have been the failure of a politician, but maybe of a man.  (Boy, that sounded overly dramatic, but I couldn't figure out how else to end the sentence!)

I suppose this won't resonate with many people, especially those who do not believe the debt and deficit to be a pressing issue, but it is a big deal to me and many others, and its one reason Romney's record resonates more as a model of good leadership.

I have mixed feelings on the deficit/debt as a moral, pressing issue, but I will say this - When Republicans are in the oval office, debt rises.  Not true with Democrats.  I recent article I read supposed this is because Republicans spend just as much as Democrats do, and Democrats let them.  When Democrat is in office, Republicans check it.   When you combine that with Republicans preference for low taxes. . .you see the problem. You end up with more spending AND less revenue.

The penalty in Obamacare IS a tax according to majority decision of the Supreme Court.  That's the only way it remained constitutional as a federal law.

It's my understanding -- although it's been awhile since I read up on it -- that four justices believed that Obamacare should be upheld because it was constitutional under Congress's power to regulate interstate commerce.  Four other justices disagreed and said it was not.  Justice Roberts said that it was not constiutional under Congress's ability to regulate interstate commerce, but was constiutional under Congress's taxing power.  I think he was the only person who said that.  So, you're right that it's why it was upheld, but the majoity opinion was only that it was constitutional - not that it was a tax.

One last thing - this morning on The Today Show, Paul Ryan was on, talking about last night's debate.  He essentially said about the R/R tax plan that they would give a "framework" to Congress -- 20% across the board - and then let Republicans and Democrats work together to fill in the details on deductions and such.  He said "that's how you do it."  Matt Lauer then asked him if that was real leadership.  Ryan said it was. 

Now, I'm pretty sure that's exactly how Obama has led.  ;)

Wow, that wasn't quick at all.

Meadowchik
by Gold Member on Oct. 18, 2012 at 11:47 AM

 

Quoting MsDenuninani:

 

Quoting Meadowchik:

 

Real quick:

How did he "turn it around on the voter?"

I'm thinking specifically of a line in his DNC speech, when giving an example of a real person who was now getting health benefits that likely saved their life, he said, essentially, "that wasn't me.. .You did that."  In that way, he gives credit back to the voter for government accomplishments.  It gives the voter an ownership in government, rather than seeing government as a big, scary, "other." I really, really, like that, and it's a big change (there's that word again) in tone over the previous 25 years.

Considering the fact that a solid half to majority opposed it when it was passed, no, "we" did not do it.

Obama made the mistake of assuming all American Republicans would agree with Massachusetts and Romneycare.  That is very presumptious.  A whole lot of conservative opposition to the ACA was due to the belief that Obama would be using it as a stepping-stone to the public option which he touted during his campaign.  There's real merit in that opposition. 

Another way of seeing it is to say that Obama made the mistake of assuming that Republicans would not form a hard line of opposition based on purely partisan grounds.  I see your point about the public option, but, again, you can also view that Obama's set-aside of the public option is because he is a hard-nosed pragmatist willing to forsake ideology for a larger, broader goal. It's a trait he shares with the most effective politicians, I think.

Romney certainly has it. 

The question is, did the opposition in this case serve a purpose in the Americans interest?  I think so.  First of all, it looks like Obamacare could have been put together better.  There are doubts that it will allow people to "keep their plans" as Obama promised.  It will most likely cause them to either change or disappear.  Secondly, it was done at a bad time.  We needed to put our fiscal house in order, first and foremost.  That in itself would have built some badly needed trust in Congress and from the people. On the other hand, bad and incompetent decisions tend to perpetuate division.   

In Americans interest?  I disagree.  There are absolutely doubts -- understandably and justifiably so -- about the plan.  I am -- and I think most Americans are -- willing to let it shape out.  Actual implementation has not really begun, so there are chances to change it as it goes along -- which, let's face it, is exactly what Romney has pledged to do.  (He simply hasn't said how we should pay for the things we like about it, but that's another post, maybe). 

That it was done at a bad time. . .look, health care has been kicked down the road for 30 years.  There was never going to be a good time.  And I think in another post, I've already said that I believe that Obama had limited ways of getting the "fiscal house in order" -- so much is dependent on forces outside of his control.  I applaud him for taking on such a task -- at great personal political risk -- and to those members of Congress who voted for it.  I believe that health care is one of those things that the government is in the best position to provide (like clean water and certain types of research funding) -- but I also know that after many, many years of "government is the enemy" rhetoric, it was going to take a massive effort just to convince people that government can be something other than incompetent.  Americans still haven't fully accepted that proposition.

So, you are going on hope that it can be "shaped" into better law. The problem with this idea is that, simply passing a big fat bill is not a step in the right direction simply by virtue of intentions.  If indeed it is designed as some believe to evolve into a public options then even the intentions were misleading.  The biggest clue would be, is it properly funded?  I don't think so.

It could have been handled better.  The difference between you and I is which part of the government we see as responsible for that.

It's not that healthcare reform is not a worthy goal, but he did basically let any political capital go to waste.

I see your point, but it is totally in keeping with his "the urgency of now" rhetoric of his 2008 political campaign.  If he had done something else, it wouldn't have been the failure of a politician, but maybe of a man.  (Boy, that sounded overly dramatic, but I couldn't figure out how else to end the sentence!)

I suppose this won't resonate with many people, especially those who do not believe the debt and deficit to be a pressing issue, but it is a big deal to me and many others, and its one reason Romney's record resonates more as a model of good leadership.

I have mixed feelings on the deficit/debt as a moral, pressing issue, but I will say this - When Republicans are in the oval office, debt rises.  Not true with Democrats.  I recent article I read supposed this is because Republicans spend just as much as Democrats do, and Democrats let them.  When Democrat is in office, Republicans check it.   When you combine that with Republicans preference for low taxes. . .you see the problem. You end up with more spending AND less revenue.

Yet, even if we assume this was true hitorically, it is meaningless now.  Just look at the deficits under Obama.

The penalty in Obamacare IS a tax according to majority decision of the Supreme Court.  That's the only way it remained constitutional as a federal law.

It's my understanding -- although it's been awhile since I read up on it -- that four justices believed that Obamacare should be upheld because it was constitutional under Congress's power to regulate interstate commerce.  Four other justices disagreed and said it was not.  Justice Roberts said that it was not constiutional under Congress's ability to regulate interstate commerce, but was constiutional under Congress's taxing power.  I think he was the only person who said that.  So, you're right that it's why it was upheld, but the majoity opinion was only that it was constitutional - not that it was a tax. 

Again, the only way the ACA mandate is legal is as a tax.  In fact, Obama admin lawyers argues multiple times in court that it is a tax. (See LINK) And again, there are other taxes/increases with Obamacare, too, which apply to the middle class.

One last thing - this morning on The Today Show, Paul Ryan was on, talking about last night's debate.  He essentially said about the R/R tax plan that they would give a "framework" to Congress -- 20% across the board - and then let Republicans and Democrats work together to fill in the details on deductions and such.  He said "that's how you do it."  Matt Lauer then asked him if that was real leadership.  Ryan said it was. 

Now, I'm pretty sure that's exactly how Obama has led.  ;)

There have been areas where Obama has taken departures from pragmatism and led unlaterally by ideology.  Energy policy is a good example.  Obama's Cap and Trade was defeated in Congress, thank goodness, but then Obama then did an end-run to the EPA to declare CO2 a dangerous pollutant.  and he also has limited drilling on federal lands and refused permits.  Not "pragmatic," IMO.

Wow, that wasn't quick at all.

 

 

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MsDenuninani
by Bronze Member on Oct. 19, 2012 at 9:40 AM


Quoting Meadowchik:

 

I'm thinking specifically of a line in his DNC speech, when giving an example of a real person who was now getting health benefits that likely saved their life, he said, essentially, "that wasn't me.. .You did that."  In that way, he gives credit back to the voter for government accomplishments.  It gives the voter an ownership in government, rather than seeing government as a big, scary, "other." I really, really, like that, and it's a big change (there's that word again) in tone over the previous 25 years.

Considering the fact that a solid half to majority opposed it when it was passed, no, "we" did not do it.

Obama made the mistake of assuming all American Republicans would agree with Massachusetts and Romneycare.  That is very presumptious.  A whole lot of conservative opposition to the ACA was due to the belief that Obama would be using it as a stepping-stone to the public option which he touted during his campaign.  There's real merit in that opposition. 

Another way of seeing it is to say that Obama made the mistake of assuming that Republicans would not form a hard line of opposition based on purely partisan grounds.  I see your point about the public option, but, again, you can also view that Obama's set-aside of the public option is because he is a hard-nosed pragmatist willing to forsake ideology for a larger, broader goal. It's a trait he shares with the most effective politicians, I think.

Romney certainly has it. 

The question is, did the opposition in this case serve a purpose in the Americans interest?  I think so.  First of all, it looks like Obamacare could have been put together better.  There are doubts that it will allow people to "keep their plans" as Obama promised.  It will most likely cause them to either change or disappear.  Secondly, it was done at a bad time.  We needed to put our fiscal house in order, first and foremost.  That in itself would have built some badly needed trust in Congress and from the people. On the other hand, bad and incompetent decisions tend to perpetuate division.   

In Americans interest?  I disagree.  There are absolutely doubts -- understandably and justifiably so -- about the plan.  I am -- and I think most Americans are -- willing to let it shape out.  Actual implementation has not really begun, so there are chances to change it as it goes along -- which, let's face it, is exactly what Romney has pledged to do.  (He simply hasn't said how we should pay for the things we like about it, but that's another post, maybe). 

That it was done at a bad time. . .look, health care has been kicked down the road for 30 years.  There was never going to be a good time.  And I think in another post, I've already said that I believe that Obama had limited ways of getting the "fiscal house in order" -- so much is dependent on forces outside of his control.  I applaud him for taking on such a task -- at great personal political risk -- and to those members of Congress who voted for it.  I believe that health care is one of those things that the government is in the best position to provide (like clean water and certain types of research funding) -- but I also know that after many, many years of "government is the enemy" rhetoric, it was going to take a massive effort just to convince people that government can be something other than incompetent.  Americans still haven't fully accepted that proposition.

So, you are going on hope that it can be "shaped" into better law. The problem with this idea is that, simply passing a big fat bill is not a step in the right direction simply by virtue of intentions.  If indeed it is designed as some believe to evolve into a public options then even the intentions were misleading.  The biggest clue would be, is it properly funded?  I don't think so.

It could have been handled better.  The difference between you and I is which part of the government we see as responsible for that.

It's not that healthcare reform is not a worthy goal, but he did basically let any political capital go to waste.

I see your point, but it is totally in keeping with his "the urgency of now" rhetoric of his 2008 political campaign.  If he had done something else, it wouldn't have been the failure of a politician, but maybe of a man.  (Boy, that sounded overly dramatic, but I couldn't figure out how else to end the sentence!)

I suppose this won't resonate with many people, especially those who do not believe the debt and deficit to be a pressing issue, but it is a big deal to me and many others, and its one reason Romney's record resonates more as a model of good leadership.

I have mixed feelings on the deficit/debt as a moral, pressing issue, but I will say this - When Republicans are in the oval office, debt rises.  Not true with Democrats.  I recent article I read supposed this is because Republicans spend just as much as Democrats do, and Democrats let them.  When Democrat is in office, Republicans check it.   When you combine that with Republicans preference for low taxes. . .you see the problem. You end up with more spending AND less revenue.

Yet, even if we assume this was true hitorically, it is meaningless now.  Just look at the deficits under Obama.

The penalty in Obamacare IS a tax according to majority decision of the Supreme Court.  That's the only way it remained constitutional as a federal law.

It's my understanding -- although it's been awhile since I read up on it -- that four justices believed that Obamacare should be upheld because it was constitutional under Congress's power to regulate interstate commerce.  Four other justices disagreed and said it was not.  Justice Roberts said that it was not constiutional under Congress's ability to regulate interstate commerce, but was constiutional under Congress's taxing power.  I think he was the only person who said that.  So, you're right that it's why it was upheld, but the majoity opinion was only that it was constitutional - not that it was a tax. 

Again, the only way the ACA mandate is legal is as a tax.  In fact, Obama admin lawyers argues multiple times in court that it is a tax. (See LINK) And again, there are other taxes/increases with Obamacare, too, which apply to the middle class.

One last thing - this morning on The Today Show, Paul Ryan was on, talking about last night's debate.  He essentially said about the R/R tax plan that they would give a "framework" to Congress -- 20% across the board - and then let Republicans and Democrats work together to fill in the details on deductions and such.  He said "that's how you do it."  Matt Lauer then asked him if that was real leadership.  Ryan said it was. 

Now, I'm pretty sure that's exactly how Obama has led.  ;)

There have been areas where Obama has taken departures from pragmatism and led unlaterally by ideology.  Energy policy is a good example.  Obama's Cap and Trade was defeated in Congress, thank goodness, but then Obama then did an end-run to the EPA to declare CO2 a dangerous pollutant.  and he also has limited drilling on federal lands and refused permits.  Not "pragmatic," IMO.

Wow, that wasn't quick at all.

 

 

Considering the fact that a solid half to majority opposed it when it was passed, no, "we" did not do it.

For me, the biggest failure of Obama's presidency has been in his oratorical skills -- I'd thought he'd be better able to move the country in the direction I want it to go.  Still, I'm proud of the President for keeping his campaign promise -- again, at great political risk. 

Romney certainly has it. 

That's what I thought too -- until I saw how he ran his primary campaign.  It made me doubt his actual character, and what his vaules truly are.  To this day, I truly have no idea.

So, you are going on hope that it can be "shaped" into better law. The problem with this idea is that, simply passing a big fat bill is not a step in the right direction simply by virtue of intentions.  If indeed it is designed as some believe to evolve into a public options then even the intentions were misleading.  The biggest clue would be, is it properly funded?  I don't think so.

No - I'm saying that any major reform of the health care system -- like social security and medicare before it - will evolve over time.  That has always been true.  If it does, indeed, evolve into a public options program, it will be because that is the most efficient way to deliver universal health care at the lowest possible cost.  It will be out of practicality - not ideology.  And if Romney is indeed the businessman he claims to be, he understands that (yet he has not been running as such).

As for proper funding -- I'm no math whiz, but "proper" seems a very loaded term.  I think it's clear that if the Bush tax cuts on do not expire on the uber rich, and health care is not "properly" funded, then it is clear that the priorities are not where they are supposed to be.

 Just look at the deficits under Obama.

No understanding of our current deficits is complete without an analysis of our country's recent history: two wars, Medicare part D, tax cuts, TARP, and the worst recession in history since the Great Depression.  When Romney suggests that the deficits are purely Obama's fault, it is clear to me that he is not being honest to the American public. 

Regardless, we know that the President and Congress will be trying to figure out a budget deal which will address the deficit in the months following the election and implementation of the deal in 2013.  The question is, will the solution be favorable to the uber-rich, or the middle class?  That's what is at stake.

In fact, Obama admin lawyers argues multiple times in court that it is a tax. (See LINK)

Of course they did.  They're lawyers.  They'll argue anything.  They also used to make arguments supporting DOMA -- doesn't mean they're right. 

That said, in common economic parlance, penaltys are often called taxes.  Like a ticket for speeding.  So I'll grant you that one. That said, it's a tax that Romney supported in Massachusetts.  So he was for health care taxes, before he was against them.

There have been areas where Obama has taken departures from pragmatism and led unlaterally by ideology.  Energy policy is a good example.  Obama's Cap and Trade was defeated in Congress, thank goodness, but then Obama then did an end-run to the EPA to declare CO2 a dangerous pollutant.  and he also has limited drilling on federal lands and refused permits.  Not "pragmatic," IMO.

Don't know enough about energy policy to give you an informed opinion on cap and trade and how ideological it is or isn't. [I'm for high gas prices and dramatic action on climate change, and there is no candidate in the race who is speaking effectively on the issue -- although I do like what Obama has done in his stimulus bill with regard to emerging technologies on that front]. 

 I will say that I have no doubt -- no doubt -- that on social issues, I expect that Romney will be ideologically driven.  There was a time when he was thoughtful on women's reproductive issues, but when it stopped being convienent for him, that pragmatism disappeared, and he took a hard-right, nonsensical turn.  My suspicion is that he simply doesn't care enough one way or another, and, if given the opportunity -- and there will be opportunities - he will narrow womens' reproductive rights.

 

Meadowchik
by Gold Member on Oct. 22, 2012 at 5:27 AM

 

Quoting MsDenuninani:

 

No - I'm saying that any major reform of the health care system -- like social security and medicare before it - will evolve over time.  That has always been true.  If it does, indeed, evolve into a public options program, it will be because that is the most efficient way to deliver universal health care at the lowest possible cost.  It will be out of practicality - not ideology.  And if Romney is indeed the businessman he claims to be, he understands that (yet he has not been running as such).

That's a HUGE assumption.  Laws won't just make themselves more pragmatic.  Smart people have to analyze them and hone them to make them better.  Laws do not evolve like genetics evolve.

 

As for proper funding -- I'm no math whiz, but "proper" seems a very loaded term.  I think it's clear that if the Bush tax cuts on do not expire on the uber rich, and health care is not "properly" funded, then it is clear that the priorities are not where they are supposed to be.

We need tax cuts to keep America competitive, that's the whole point.  Taxes on existing revenue cannot do what it takes.  We need revenue growth, we need job growth to outpace population growth.

No understanding of our current deficits is complete without an analysis of our country's recent history: two wars, Medicare part D, tax cuts, TARP, and the worst recession in history since the Great Depression.  When Romney suggests that the deficits are purely Obama's fault, it is clear to me that he is not being honest to the American public. 

Romney has never blamed it all on Obama. To say he does is dishonest.  Look back at the first debate, when Romney said Obama came into office amidst a fiscal and financial crisis.  Romney has criticised how Obama handled it and Romney has said that Obama has made things worse.  That's not unfair.

Regardless, we know that the President and Congress will be trying to figure out a budget deal which will address the deficit in the months following the election and implementation of the deal in 2013.  The question is, will the solution be favorable to the uber-rich, or the middle class?  That's what is at stake.

Investments by the "uber-rich" are connected to the middle class, middle class growth is enhanced by private investment.

Of course they did.  They're lawyers.  They'll argue anything.  They also used to make arguments supporting DOMA -- doesn't mean they're right. 

The lawyers not only argued it, it was accepted by SCOTUS and the only reason the "penalty" is constitutional is because it is a tax.  And AGAIN, Obamacare adds OTHER taxes that apply to the middle class.

That said, in common economic parlance, penaltys are often called taxes.  Like a ticket for speeding.  So I'll grant you that one. That said, it's a tax that Romney supported in Massachusetts.  So he was for health care taxes, before he was against them.

It is still a "penalty" in Massachusetts.  The states have broader powers, while the federal government has narrower powers, which is why as a federal law, it HAD to be a tax or the mandate would have een struck down. And again, Romney did not raise taxces to pass Romneycare.  In fact, he balanced the budget first, too.

 

Don't know enough about energy policy to give you an informed opinion on cap and trade and how ideological it is or isn't. [I'm for high gas prices and dramatic action on climate change, and there is no candidate in the race who is speaking effectively on the issue -- although I do like what Obama has done in his stimulus bill with regard to emerging technologies on that front]. 

I think you're miscalculating. Romney's energy policy resonates with many.  It is much more an "all of above" policy than Obama's. There are certainly things Obama could have tried in order to ease gas prices and improve long-term US national security through reduction of dependence on foreign oil. Oil production and refinement is such an involved process that having the infrastructure in place, by opening up the reserves and letting companies start it, would give us an important advantage. If that were the case, even if we sold the oil and gas abroad in the short-term, we would stil have it available if foreign sources were comprimised. And then American security would not be dependent on unstable regimes.

 I will say that I have no doubt -- no doubt -- that on social issues, I expect that Romney will be ideologically driven.  There was a time when he was thoughtful on women's reproductive issues, but when it stopped being convienent for him, that pragmatism disappeared, and he took a hard-right, nonsensical turn.  My suspicion is that he simply doesn't care enough one way or another, and, if given the opportunity -- and there will be opportunities - he will narrow womens' reproductive rights.

I am a quite practical person, but also a believer.  I think that both aspects tend to change and deepen with age and experience.  As for me, I see that, practically, a woman tends to have more choices if her economic circumstances are better.  Obama is more and more depending really thin hypothetical threads to scare women off voting for Romney.

 

 

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MsDenuninani
by Bronze Member on Oct. 24, 2012 at 1:44 PM

 

Quoting Meadowchik:

A couple of things:

1. No law is static.  Not even the constitution itself was perfect the first time 'round. Let's give Obamacare some time.

2. We do need tax cuts - and we got them.  We got a payroll tax, cut, for one, which is the only tax cut actually related to job growth, as a payroll tax is levied on an employer for the people they hire.  Romney has said nothing about this -- and both parties seem like they are about to let it expire.  It was actually implemented under Obama.

I think all other tax cuts proposed by Republicans as a stimulant for jobs is pure farce, and I don't think there is anything in our history that suggests otherwise.

3. Investments by the "uber-rich" are connected to the middle class, middle class growth is enhanced by private investment.

Depends on the investment.  Investments in technology and education, yes.  Investments in swiss bank accounts used to gamble within complex securities markets, not so much.  So, unless you want to dictate to rich people how they use their money -- which Republicans are generally pretty against -- you've got a problem.

4. Romney has never blamed it all on Obama. To say he does is dishonest. 

When Romney repeatedly emphasizes the debt, he does so without any context of how we got there.  That is dishonest.  Granted, it's par for course when dealing with politicians - any politician - but it's dishonest nonetheless.

5.  SCOTUS/ health care taxes -  Again,the Supreme Court did not rule it was a tax.  They ruled that it was constitutional.  There was a disagreement as to why it was constiutional, with no majority reasoning going either way.  That's how you look at Supreme Court decisions. 

 But, as I said before, it operates as a sin tax, essentially -- like a tax on cigarettes, where the tax levied is used to pay for the health care of people, generally.  No need to keep hashing it out.  As for other taxes -- I just don't care about them.  Now I know that I can have health insurance with a pre-existing condition.  For me -- and the millions like me, that's really the important thing.  And Romney won't repeal that part of it, but hasn't said how he would pay for it.

There's no difference between Romneycare's "penalty' and Obamacare's "tax" as it operates in the lives of the people it applies to.  It is disingenous -- and even inhumane -- for Romney to be okay with all Americans to not get the benefits of those in Massachusetts.  It's essentially saying -- don't live in Massachusetts?  Okay for you to die. (yes, that's dramatic, and yes, that's what's at stake for millions of Americans).

6. Balanced budgets are overrated.  No one ever grew a business -- or an economy -- by balancing a budget.

7. Oil production and refinement is such an involved process that having the infrastructure in place, by opening up the reserves and letting companies start it, would give us an important advantage

I think that any energy policy that does not recognize oil as a limited resource will have long-term problems.  A true realist understands that it's not about getting more oil -- it's about needing less oil.  Obama gets that, as evidenced by raising fuel efficiency standards.

8. As for me, I see that, practically, a woman tends to have more choices if her economic circumstances are better. 

Absolutely -- and having reproductive choices, both in birth control and access to abortion, increase her long term income.  Being able to choose when you have a baby, and with whom you have a baby allow a woman to do it when it makes the most economic sense,  I.e., not when you're a teenager or early twenties.  Neither candidate talks about this, but it is something I fervently believe.

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