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U.S. President Barack Obama arrives to deliver remarks on measures to reduce gun violence, at the University of Hartford in Connecticut April 8, 2013.   REUTERS/Jason Reed
The White House says their budget proposal, which includes idiotic cuts to Social Security for no apparent reason than to do the GOP's dirty work for them, is "not ideal". brooklynbadboy says the White House wants to cut Social Security. Others defend the White House by claiming that this is all theater to prove just how "reasonable" the president is compared to congressional Republicans.

I can't imagine President Barack Obama actually wants to cut Social Security. I'm not that cynical. Yet. If this was really about "saving" a program that is solvent for several more decades, all he'd have to do was raise the cap on payroll taxes. Right now, earnings above $110K-ish don't pay a Social Security tax. Why? Who the hell knows. But you raise that (or eliminate it altogether), and any potential future Social Security problem evaporates. I'll bet my first-born that the American people prefer that to cutting benefits for seniors.

So I actually take him at his word, that he is simply trying to give Republicans what they want in order to appear compromising and reasonable. Why does he need to appear compromising and reasonable? Who the hell knows, but he sure has a pathological need to appear that way. It didn't help him last time he bent over backwards to make a deal—the infamous debt ceiling negotiations of 2011. Let's look at the numbers after the fold.

While Obama's May 2011 bump in the polls was largely a response to the killing of Osama Bin Laden, his numbers had been on an uptick since April, as Obama talked tough about eliminating the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and protecting safety net programs. However, the OBL bump lasted barely 10 days before the slog of the negotiations started eroding his numbers. We all remember those painful weeks—Obama begging the GOP to make a deal, making concession after concession with nothing in return from the other side. He looked weak because he was weak. And the American people don't like weak. No one does, really.

Indeed, by the time Obama capitulated in late July, giving House Speaker John Boehner 95 percent of what he wanted, he was already at the lowest approval ratings of his presidency, and they fell even further in the weeks after. The White House thought that by looking "reasonable" and willing to compromise, the "adult in the room" as many of Obama's strongest partisans put it, that the American people would reward him. Well, they didn't. Indeed, Obama's numbers didn't head back into solidly positive territory until after the Democratic convention in September 2012, over a year later, and only after he took a more stridently partisan tone ahead of the the November elections.

In fact, 2012 exit polling confirmed that voters stopped seeing Obama as a strong leader.

Which ONE of these four candidate qualities mattered most in deciding how you voted for president? (CHECK ONLY ONE) Shares my values (Romney won 55-42), Cares about people like me (Obama won 81-18), Is a strong leader (Romney won 61-38), and Has a vision
Those who voted on leadership qualities opted for Mitt Romney by a whopping 61-38 percent. And yet here we are again, with Obama and his team deluded into thinking people want him to look "reasonable". No, Americans re-elected him to protect their interests. Among people who expected the president to look out for their interests, Obama won by a crazy 81-18. Those are the voters that gave him four more years, and right now he's inexplicably failing their trust.

If Republicans are so hell-bent on destroying our safety net, and they are, then make them put those proposals in their budget. Yet even Rep. Paul Ryan's draconian budget didn't touch Social Security. (And for good reason!)

Republicans released their ideal budget. It was Obama's turn to release his ideal budget. Then they'd go to the table to try and hammer out a compromise that would theoretically be somewhere in the middle. But as always Obama negotiated against himself, made concessions without corresponding Republican ones, became the only elected official in Washington, D.C., to put Social Security benefits cuts in a formal proposal (thus owning them), and then ... what?

Republicans dismissed everything out of hand, progressive groups went to war against the White House, Congressional Democrats distanced themselves from the proposal save for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (ever the loyal lieutenant), and seniors certainly weren't impressed.

If Obama's goal was to look weak and isolate himself, generating bipartisan scorn and ridicule while giving Republicans a chance to claim Democrats want to cut Social Security during 2014 elections, then sure, mission accomplished.

If he actually thought he was accomplishing something useful, however ... the mind reels.

Originally posted to kos on Tue Apr 09, 2013 at 02:09 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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