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’08 Obama Voters, Stop the Dispair…and Recognize Who Is Preventing Recovery!

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Ron Brownstein of the National Journal wrote a story about three weeks ago that escaped much attention. In the article, Brownstein explains the disappointment many 2008 Obama supporters now feel with the President. That he’s not done enough to get the country moving again, or that the recovery is too slow.

In 2008, Koplitz backed Obama, and he still sympathizes with his hard road. “I think that guy walked into a [screwed]-up situation,” he said. “At least it didn’t get as bad as it could have been.” But although Koplitz credits Obama for averting disaster, he had expected to see more recovery by now. “It’s not as good as you could have hoped,” he said. Even more important, he sees no signs of acceleration ahead. “It’s just stagnation,” he sighed. “It’s not getting worse, but you are not improving anything right now.” As a result, Koplitz is leaning strongly toward Romney.

But the vast majority of the 2008 Obama supporters I met, both blue- and white-collar, were not prepared to abandon him. A few saw signs of economic improvement. With several women, Obama benefited from unease over Romney’s conservative social views. (“I look forward to maintaining control of my own body,” Jody Rodney, a homemaker and singer told me. “It’s kind of important to me.”) Other 2008 supporters praised Obama’s health care plan. But the most powerful glue for many of the president’s voters was the sense that he has earned a kind of sweat equity in delivering grudging progress against the same economic gales so disruptive in their own lives. “With the situation he came into, he did the best he could,” said McKinney, 33, a single mother who started work recently as a medical technician. “There’s no quick fix. The problems were 12 years in the making.”

Perhaps these people, like most of America, don’t realize the Congressional headwinds Obama has faced since his inauguration. Even Obama and his team were unprepared for the kind of full on, dedicated obstructionism that GOP congressional leadership planned for him, given the condition of the economy after the financial crash.

In his book, Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives, Robert Draper recounts an event that occurred the night of Obama’s inauguration.

About 15 Republicans plus a few spouses sat around a gathering of tables at the Caucus Room, an expense-account steakhouse near the Capital, to commiserate over the election loss and perhaps to air some spite over the historically huge crowds that turned out for Obama’s inauguration. At the meeting were Eric Cantor, Kevin McCarthy, Paul Ryan, Pete Sessions, Jeb Hensarling, Pete Hoekstra and Dan Lungren of the House along with Jim DeMint, Jon Kyle, Tom Coburn, John Ensign, and Bob Corker from the Senate. The other three were conservative journalist Fred Barnes, Newt Gingrich and GOP aligned communications specialist, Frank Luntz.

Luntz had organized the dinner, inviting these men specifically because they were among the GOP’s most energetic thinkers, in his estimation, and because they got along with Luntz. Throughout the evening, they shared their thoughts about what had gone wrong and why.

They vowed that night, around those gathered tables, that they would regain their majority as they had between 1994 and 2000. “They would take back the House and would use the House as the Republicans’ spear point to mortally wound President Obama in 2011. Then they would retake the White House and the Senate in 2012.”

But rather than personally attacking the highly popular President, they would attack the President’s policies. They would stick together to deny the President and Democrats as many legislative successes as possible. Frank Luntz could not have been happier.

The dinner lasted nearly four hours by which time they had formulated their plan.

First, they would go after Tim Geithner – which Kyl did the next day.

Second, show a united front in opposition to the president’s economic policies – eight days later, Minority Whip Cantor held House Republicans to a unanimous No against Obama’s economic stimulus plan.

Third, go after vulnerable Democrats on the airwaves – the first attack ads began running less than two months later.

Fourth, win the spear point of the House in 2010. Jab Obama relentlessly in 2011. Win the White House and Senate in 2012.

As Draper recounts, what was forgotten – or at least not discussed – that night in the Caucus Room was the depressing state of the economy. The already high and climbing unemployment rate. The massive loss of middle class wealth, estimated to be over a trillion dollars. The unfolding of a housing crisis that would eventually affect nearly one in three homeowners nationally.

Nevertheless, all that counted to these Republicans was winning the game of politics and regaining political control, not repairing the damage caused by the financial meltdown that caused the most severe recession since the Great Depression. A recession caused no less by the same kinds of Wall St. behavior and speculation that caused the Great Depression.

As a consequence of the meeting that night and their decisions, each and every policy Obama put forth to resolve the ongoing economic crisis met with a defiant NO from Republicans in both the House and Senate. Every bill Obama and the Democrats proposed, Senate Republicans filibustered.

Following the election in January 2010, of Scott Brown, R-MA, Democrats in the Senate no longer had a reliable 60-vote majority to override the Republican filibusters – even before January 2010, obtaining 60 votes to end a filibuster was difficult. MN Senator Franken did not take his seat until July 7, 2009 and Ted Kennedy died on August 25, 2009.

After months of putting forth large packages to address the ongoing weakness in the economy only to see them blocked by a defiant GOP, the Obama Administration and Democrats decided to break down big packages into smaller ones in hopes that smaller efforts might gain passage if one or two Republican Senators could be persuaded to join the Democrats in overriding the inevitable filibuster. But even those hopes were dashed, if not in the House then in the Senate.

For example, the American Jobs Act would have raised gross domestic product (GDP) by 1.3% to over 2% according to numerous analysts, from Goldman-Sachs to Macroeconomic Advisors. Raising GDP by that amount would have created thousands, if not millions, of jobs. Instead Republicans voted against it and filibustered it, crying out that it would increase the deficit (or increase taxes on the wealthy) even while borrowing rates were effectively at zero. Can anyone imagine, if they could borrow at zero percent interest, not borrowing to take care of needed repairs, especially when they know they can repay the loan? But that is exactly what the GOP blocked. Plus, the economic growth from raising GDP, and lowering unemployment, easily would have paid for the Act.

GDP growth prior to and since Obama took office

Shortly after Obama’s policies took effect, GDP ad economic confidence grew. After GOP obstruction took effect GDP, along with economic confidence, began to falter and become sporadic. The effects of the Eurozone sovereign debt crisis and BRIC slowdown harms US domestic growth, but if the GOP worked with, rather than against the President and Democrats, the US could lead the world out of Depression as it has before.

But Republicans chose defeating Obama and the Democrats over putting people back to work and helping small businesses grow. Under normal economic conditions, I’d say that’s just politics; that’s the way the game is played. But given the deep and ongoing economic crisis, exacerbated by the on-going sovereign (bank caused) debt crisis in the Eurozone and the slow down in the BRIC countries, especially China, the obstructionism and filibusters of Republicans is unconscionable. They are specifically keeping the economy slow to fulfill their political ends. The political ends to which they agreed on the very night of Obama’s inauguration.

Those people who supported and voted for Obama in 2008 but feel let down and disillusioned now need to understand the political game that’s been played by Republicans over the last four years. If Obama has not met their expectations or hopes, it was because the Republican put up a huge roadblock that prevented progress. Republicans have deliberately sidetracked economic recovery, using one excuse after another to kill economic recovery bills, in order to cause the American people to blame Obama and Democrats for the lack of recovery.

Unfortunately, they’ve been winning that political communications battle, knowing full well that most people are not tuned in to what occurs in Congress. The GOP has counted on the American people to blame the President for not making everything better, regardless of how Congress behaves…as though any President can force a determined obstructionist party bent on defeating that President at all costs to bend to his will or negotiate in good faith. It would take another President Johnson who knew all the skeletons in everyone’s closets to blackmail these intractable Republicans into voting his way.

So, when I hear or read of Democrats or Obama supporters having lost their faith in him or maybe staying home on November 2, I want to yell: “Hey, you’re not paying attention. If anything, you should be voting out all those Republicans who, because of politics alone, are standing in the way of recovery. They are the ones preventing jobs as well as small and new businesses from growing.”

Instead of voting in more Republicans and Romney, who will only increase middle class taxes and decrease everyone’s consumer and product protections, vote out all the Republicans! Send them all home now so recovery can occur…rather than continue to wallow in despair and helplessness. If you’re not registered, get someone to help you get registered. If you don’t have the right voter ID, get someone to help you obtain it.

If you really care about your family, your children’s futures, your communities and your neighborhood businesses, then vote out every Republican possible. Send a message that the middle class counts…that the nation requires a strong, well educated, economically viable middle class to grow the nation, create new businesses, and to compete in a global economy. Together we can renew the nation, while protecting the most vulnerable, if we have the will and desire to send that message clearly and definitively through our voting.

Remember, the President has not let you down, the Republicans have, because of their self-serving drive for power and a belief that you, the middle class, don’t count.

Democrats, Progressives, and friends, send this message to everyone you know. Accurate information can defeat those who, for self seeking political gains, hold the economy down. Plus, if the GOP and Romney win, their lives will be so much worse as the GOP is dedicated to ending the TR’s Fair Deal, FDR’s New Deal, and Johnson’s Great Society. The GOP want the 1890s again and will stop at nothing to return to it.

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