The brilliant political strategist Barack Obama took the first step this week in the sinking of Social Security. Instead of shoring up the system by increasing the amount on which payroll taxes are paid – one laughably easy way to ease the problems of the system long term – he agreed with the gimlet-eyed Mitch McConnell to decrease the payroll tax rate for a time, a so called “tax holiday.”
Of course, the fool will never get it back, and he’ll be tagged for “raising taxes” in the next election if he tries. Paul Krugman called it Obama’s Hostage Deal:
One big concern: Republicans may try using the prospect of a rise in the payroll tax to undermine Social Security finances.
Which brings me back to Mr. Obama’s press conference, where — showing much more passion than he seems able to muster against Republicans — he denounced purists on the left, who supposedly refuse to accept compromises in the national interest.
Well, concerns about the tax deal reflect realism, not purism: Mr. Obama is setting up another hostage situation a year down the road. And given that fact, the last thing we need is the kind of self-indulgent behavior he showed by lashing out at progressives who he feels aren’t giving him enough credit.
The point is that by seeming angrier at worried supporters than he is at the hostage-takers, Mr. Obama is already signaling weakness, giving Republicans every reason to believe that they can extract another ransom.
And they can be counted on to act accordingly.
I’ve used the analogy before, but consider Barack Obama as your divorce lawyer. You’d lose the house, the kids, the car, the savings, the retirement accounts, and the fillings in your teeth, and he’d tell you what a great deal he’d gotten you.
When the U.S. history books are written – in China – there will be a chapter devoted to the New Deal period; the two bookends will be Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Barack Obama.