We'll find out right quick if the electoral college landslide for Barack Obama stiffened his spine.
Did we re-elect Dr. Kidglove or a real President?
John Boehner obviously thinks he's still dealing with Kidglove. The Republican Speaker of the House, in his first public comment on the election results, was still telling the President what to do about the nation's finances.
Today, there's a hint from Vice President Joe Biden that there might be a real President somewhere in the West Wing. In a press briefing today, Biden said " . . . it appears is that, on the issue of the tax issue, there was a clear sort of mandate about people coming much closer to our view about how to deal with tax policy." Since "our view" is that people earning $250,000 a year or more need to pay a higher tax rate, Biden seemed to be sending a signal to Boehner that he's not sparring with Kidglove any more.
But, whoa! Biden also said, "We are prepared to work with Republican leadership to actually deal with the two overarching problems right now. One is the whole sequester piece, and the other is the tax piece. It's possible you can bifurcate them. It's possible, there's all kinds of potential to be able to reach a rational, principled compromise."
There's that dirty word again. "Compromise." Kidglove's version of compromise is to give away the farm, and then open "negotiations."
But Obama and Biden hold the high cards between now and the swearing-in of a new Congress, if only they'll play out the hand that way.
Obama should quickly follow up the opening volley by his Vice President by ignoring Boehner and Mitch McConnell and talking directly to the American people who just re-elected them.
Simply by standing pat, the administration can let the Bush tax cuts for the filthy rich expire, increasing revenues; the payroll tax holiday for wage-earners expire, resuming normal funding for Social Security; and the mandatory ten per cent cut in war spending take place, a first step toward reducing the deficit. These are all positive things. They will have an immediate effect on people's lives.
The President, who can be an articulate and persuasive speaker when he chooses to be, should use the bully puplpit to applaud these inevitable results of previous skirmishes but lay out in broad, general terms a plan for realistic tax reform, in which corporations and very wealthy individuals begin to pay their fair share of our nation's expenses, and for bold national spending on direct job-creating government initiatives to repair and improve the infrastructure. He should pledge to flesh out these plans with specific legislation when a new, more progressive Senate is seated along with a House whose Republican majority has been slightly reduced, largely by the defeat of a handful of its most extreme right-wing financial policy whackos.
That's what a real President would do.
Let's see if we re-elected one.
The Kidgove of the first term gave away too much before the work on health care reform even began. He bailed out the financial industry, saving the bonuses of fat cat bankers. President Obama bailed out the automakers, saving thousands of workers' jobs.
It's time now to bail out the people who re-elected him.