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What Will Liberals Do With Their New Power?

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Posted on Nov 7, 2012
joaquinuy (CC BY 2.0)

What will Democrats do with their big election victory? If history is any indication, they’ll do just what they’ve done in years past: declare their opposition to budget cuts before embarking on a campaign of capitulation to the demands of their corporate backers, Glenn Greenwald says.

As soon as a few weeks from now, President Obama is expected to pursue a “Grand Bargain” with the GOP, in which Republicans will agree to small tax increases in exchange for significant cuts to Social Security, Medicare and other social programs. Obama already made such an attempt in his first term, “but liberals were saved only by GOP recalcitrance to compromise on taxes,” Greenwald writes. But after their beating Tuesday night, conservative lawmakers are likely to be much more amenable to making deals with an emboldened Democratic president.

“In other words,” Greenwald says, “the political leader in whose triumph liberals are today ecstatically basking is likely to target their most cherished government policies within a matter of weeks, even days. With their newly minted power, will they have any ability, or even will, to stop him?”

If the Democrats’ persistent habit of voluntary disempowerment doesn’t change, then the answer is certainly “no.” Greenwald describes the time-honored first three steps of their descent below.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

Glenn Greenwald at The Guardian:

STEP ONE: Liberals will declare that cutting social security and Medicare benefits – including raising the eligibility age or introducing “means-testing” – are absolutely unacceptable, that they will never support any bill that does so no matter what other provisions it contains, that they will wage war on Democrats if they try.

STEP TWO: As the deal gets negotiated and takes shape, progressive pundits in Washington, with Obama officials persuasively whispering in their ear, will begin to argue that the proposed cuts are really not that bad, that they are modest and acceptable, that they are even necessary to save the programs from greater cuts or even dismantlement.

STEP THREE: Many progressives – ones who are not persuaded that these cuts are less than draconian or defensible on the merits – will nonetheless begin to view them with resignation and acquiescence on pragmatic grounds. Obama has no real choice, they will insist, because he must reach a deal with the crazy, evil GOP to save the economy from crippling harm, and the only way he can do so is by agreeing to entitlement cuts. It is a pragmatic necessity, they will insist, and anyone who refuses to support it is being a purist, unreasonably blind to political realities, recklessly willing to blow up Obama’s second term before it even begins.

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