Obama Is Wrong: He Made Change from the Inside

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Olivier Douliery / EPA

A plane takes off from Reagan National Airport as President Obama gives a speech

Barack Obama campaigned as a change-the-system outsider, but he has governed as a work-the-system insider. There’s no shame in that. But that’s what made his comment about how change doesn’t happen from the inside so annoying. Obama made his inside strategy clear immediately after his election when he announced that his chief of staff would be Rahm Emanuel, the ultimate get-it-done dealmaker, the antithesis of postpartisan statesmanship. In 2011, I asked Emanuel what he thought of Obama’s lofty rhetoric about changing Washington in 2008.

“Look, I don’t really know,” he said with a smirk. “I come from Chicago.”

So does Obama, and while he’s in some ways an anti-Emanuel — conciliatory rather than confrontational, cool rather than volcanic — he knew he needed an Emanuel to move his agenda, because bills that don’t pass Congress don’t make change. In my new book, The New New Deal, I tell the story of how Emanuel drove Obama’s $800 billion stimulus package through Capitol Hill, and it’s not a pretty story. It involved a lot of screaming and naughty words, plus a few unsavory deals. But by the time Emanuel was done calling House Appropriations Chairman David Obey a bleep and the Blue Dog Democrats motherbleeps and then-Republican Senator Arlen Specter a bleeping bleep, he and Vice President Joe Biden managed to round up the votes to pass the bill.

(PHOTOSPolitical Photos of the Week, Sept. 14-20)

That stimulus bill was all about change. It poured $90 billion into clean energy when we were spending just a few billion a year, launching a quiet green revolution; it provided a down payment on health reform that will drag our pen-and-paper medical system into the digital age. It also included Race to the Top, the most ambitious federal education reform in decades; the largest infrastructure investments since Eisenhower, including a new high-speed rail initiative; the largest middle-class tax cuts since Reagan; the largest onetime research investments ever; and much more. It even helped change Washington — not politically, but bureaucratically, with unprecedented transparency and oversight, and by distributing federal dollars through competition rather than check-the-box entitlement grants. Oh, and the stimulus also helped prevent a depression. It is one of the most important and least understood pieces of legislation in history.

But the change it produced did not come from outside Washington. During an economic emergency, it made sense to focus more on changing the country than changing the capital. And Obama played a similar inside game to pass Obamacare, because he needed 60 votes in the Senate, and again to pass Wall Street reform; that quest for 60 has defined the arc of his presidency, forcing him to align his ambitions with the whims of a few swing Senators. But while he may not have kept his promises to change American politics, he has kept his promises to change America’s policies. His by-any-means-necessary approach has sometimes taken a political toll, producing backroom deals like the infamous “Cornhusker kickback,” but it’s gotten a lot done. It has advanced his agenda. It is changing lives. As Seth Meyers joked on Saturday Night Live: “We can’t change it. That’s why we sent you!”

Clearly, though, Obama feels embarrassed about the gap between his lofty campaign rhetoric and his down-and-dirty legislative strategy. “Come on, man, he was pure!” Emanuel cackled during our interview. “It was his chief of staff who was the whore!” It’s hard to imagine that Obama actually believes that, but even if he doesn’t, it’s disappointing to see him pretend that the inside game can’t produce change.

It can. He proved it.

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JohnYuEsq
JohnYuEsq

Redistributing wealth upward

By Harold Meyerson, Published: September 25

Which is the more redistributionist of our two parties? In recent decades, as Republicans have devoted themselves with laser-like intensity to redistributing America’s wealth and income upward, the evidence suggests the answer is the GOP.

The most obvious way that Republicans have robbed from the middle to give to the rich has been the changes they wrought in the tax code — reducing income taxes for the wealthy in the Reagan and George W. Bush tax cuts, and cutting the tax rate on capital gains to less than half the rate on the top income of upper-middle-class employees.

The less widely understood way that Republicans have helped redistribute wealth to the already wealthy is by changing the rules. Markets don’t function without rules, and the rules that Republican policymakers have made since Ronald Reagan became president have consistently depressed the share of the nation’s income that the middle class can claim.

JohnYuEsq
JohnYuEsq

Citizens UNITE AGAINST Citizens United.  STOP Corporate MALFEASANCE. 

ONLY President Obama and the DEMOCRATS PROTECT the MIDDLE CLASS + 47%

VOTE the DEMOCRATIC TICKET.

Phone Source
Phone Source

Every elected politician is in the inside. We need some good changes in our government.

Richard Giles
Richard Giles

Mitt Romney, in a "60 Minutes" interview, stated he would give the middle-class tax savings by providing cuts to Dividend Taxes, Capital Gains Tax and the Minimum Tax.  The actual truth is that those cuts would really benefit the wealthy, especially like Romney himself, and they would offer very little to the middle-class who don't have those large investments and likely most of what they do have would already be in tax advantaged 401ks.  Again the subterfuge is boldly given to con the majority while concentrating on serving only "the money".  This is totally consistent and typical of the Republican tactics and again demonstrates why they can't be trusted or ever counted on to represent the majority - everything they say is just an insulting con while they concentrate on serving only the few and their own political ambitions.

JohnYuEsq
JohnYuEsq

"It means for leaders telling powerful people things they don't want to hear. It means being transparent about budgets and revenues and bringing corruption to light.”

The Secretary of State gave her take on how to improve the global economy.

VOTE the DEMOCRATIC TICKET!

Disquskurr
Disquskurr

Obama is good !!

Don't like him?

Cool, then vote for Richie_Rich who hates most Americans, hides his taxes, and has out sourced American jobs(that's how he profits)  all this life !!

JohnYuEsq
JohnYuEsq

Romney's Poor Judgment = Economic Collapse + World War III = NUCLEAR ARMAGEDDON 

Only President Obama PROTECTS the MIDDLE CLASS + 47% of Americans

STOP GRIDLOCK.  SAVE AMERICA.  VOTE the DEMOCRATIC TICKET!

SAJ2995
SAJ2995

Doesn't it seem funny the one thing Obama promised, transparency, did not happen during his entire time in office to date?  Why is that Mr Grumwald?  

We were promised C-Span cameras to expose all the sausage making in Washington, but we did not get even one video at all.  Why is that Mr Grumwald?  

If you want to break Washington of back room deals, you must expose the sausage making to the public.  To put people on record in videos in order to stop all the corruption and deal making.  This one act would stop all the crazy inside Washington deals.  Obama threatened it, but he totally failed at implementation.  Yet another reason he should not be re-elected in November.

grape_crush
grape_crush

You're grossly under-informed. Fail.

Doesn't it seem funny the one thing Obama promised, transparency, did not happen during his entire time in office...

http://www.recovery.gov/Pages/...

http://www.usaspending.gov/

http://www.federaltransparency...

We were promised C-Span cameras to expose all the sausage making in Washington, but we did not get even one video at all...

Beginning June 17, 2009, and extending through September 14, 2009, three Democratic and three Republican Senate Finance Committee Members met for a series of 31 meetings to discuss the development of a health care reform bill. Over the course of the next three months, this group, Senators Max Baucus (D-Montana), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Kent Conrad (D-North Dakota), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), Jeff Bingaman (D-New Mexico), and Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming), met for more than 60 hours, and the principles that they discussed became the foundation of the Senate's health care reform bill.[136] The meetings were held in public and broadcast by C-SPAN and can be seen on the C-SPAN web site[137] or at the Committee's own web site.[138] During the August 2009 congressional recess, many members went back to their districts and entertained town hall meetings to solicit public opinion on the proposals. During the summer recess, the Tea Party movement organized protests and many conservative groups and individuals targeted congressional town hall meetings to voice their opposition to the proposed reform bills.[134][139]

Away from the televised meetings, the legislation became a "bonanza" for lobbyists,[140][141] including secret deals that were initially denied but subsequently confirmed.[142][143] The Sunlight Foundation documented many of the reported ties between "the healthcare lobbyist complex" and politicians in both major parties.[144]

grape_crush
grape_crush

Apparently you do not recognize propaganda from the truth.

Awww...you has a sad because your wingnut talking point went poof.  Sad, sad you are.

Point is that there is a higher degree of transparency than existed previously and there was more than one video provided. You're wrong.

Admit that instead of trying to disparage me and move on.

SAJ2995
SAJ2995

Apparently you do not recognize propaganda from the truth.

JohnParish
JohnParish

Help support the change in the way election campaign funds

are raised.  Stop the Super Pacs from

steering the candidates and ruling the government. 

Come march on Congress and show them that the American

Population do not want candidates to be persuaded by these Super Pacs any more.

Visit www.indiegogo.com/SuperPac

and help raise the awareness of this problem.

JohnParish
JohnParish

Help support the change in the way election campaign funds

are raised.  Stop the Super Pacs from

steering the candidates and ruling the government. 

Come march on Congress and show them that the American

Population do not want candidates to be persuaded by these Super Pacs any more.

Visit www.indiegogo.com/SuperPac

and help raise the awareness of this problem.

ahandout
ahandout

 It's not going to happen.  Obama promised not to take big money in 2008 and then went on to roll in the dough.

alex
alex

Have greeting for Barrack Obama. Have a struggle to be twice president..

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

Obama is absolutely right about it being difficult to change things from the insides - especially when the other party is out to stop any of your efforts to improve the country.

outsider2011
outsider2011

It’s fair, Romney said, for people like him to pay rates below 15

percent on investment income. “I think it’s the right way to encourage

economic growth — to get people to invest, to start businesses, to put

people to work,” he said.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/s...

Except that it hasn't worked. Since the Bush Tax cuts, there aren't any more jobs. It's fair that the rich don't have to pay as much tax as everyone else. And the GOP is wondering why this guy is losing?

outsider2011
outsider2011

 

Mitt and the threat of abandonment

Romney might face the same indignity --

abandonment -- as the last Republican to challenge an incumbent, Bob

Dole

On Sunday’s “Meet the Press,”

David Brooks and Joe Scarborough took turns criticizing Mitt Romney’s

messaging and strategy. Bay Buchanan, who has emerged as one of the

Romney team’s most public faces, responded by insisting that her

campaign is well-positioned to win:

We are in a dead

heat.  Nationally, we have two polls showing a dead heat, a tie.  And

the momentum is ours.  You see that the president’s numbers have come

down.  Mitt Romney’s numbers are coming up.

It’s

hardly novel for a campaign to play dumb in the face of discouraging

news about its prospects for victory. But as the frustration and panic

of conservative opinion leaders grows, the Romney campaign has an extra

incentive to try to look like a winner. Over the next few weeks,

Republican campaign committees, outside money groups, fund-raisers, and

down-ballot candidates will make bottom-line judgments about Romney’s

standing that will affect how they allocate their money and how they

treat Romney in their messaging.

The risks for Romney are

two-fold. One is the simple appearance problem. It’s one thing for the

other party to claim that a presidential candidate is flailing and

running a poor campaign; that’s standard fare. It’s different, and more

problematic, when the media and political world joins in this conclusion

– something that Romney has been dealing with for the past few weeks.

And it’s even worse when the candidate’s own party joins the chorus, as

is also the case for Romney now.

Then there’s the issue of what

Republicans will do if they conclude that Romney is doomed. Maggie

Haberman and Alex Burns get at this in a story that ran Sunday

about Republican super PACs – and Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS in

particular — that would like to see Romney elected but that are also

invested in winning back the Senate and maintaining control of the

House. It’s not unimaginable that these down-ballot races will

ultimately look like more appealing – and urgent – targets for these

outside groups. Haberman and Burns emphasize that none of them are

giving up on Romney yet, but that a moment of reckoning could be a on

the horizon:

http://www.salon.com/2012/09/2...

paulejb
paulejb

The "court eunuchs of the American media" spare no effort to cover for Obama.

"CBS Doesn't Air Obama Admitting Mistakes in Campaign Ads"

'Tonight, CBS aired a 60 Minutes interview with President Obama. But curiously enough, the news magazine show did not air a clip of Obama admitting to interviewer Steve Kroft that some of his campaign ads contain mistakes and that some even "go overboard." '

http://www.weeklystandard.com/... 

Phone Source
Phone Source

Every president makes changes from the inside but when some changes are hard to make they would rather be on the outside. But I think Obama was trying to send a message to supporters to vote for congressmen who will work with him.

paulejb
paulejb

China Goods,

Does that mean that Obama requires more Congress critters he can bribe with taxpayer cash?

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

Sure he needs something to counteract all those Tea Party know nothings bought and paid for by Koch Industries.

vo minh ky
vo minh ky

I'm wondering how much of a drag the top of the ticket will be for the republicans. 

I think an early tell may be Brown/Warren and Maine's open seat. 

Read more: http://taiiwins.com

Mahmoud hadipour dehshal
Mahmoud hadipour dehshal

The most hazardous enemy to democracy and reality is “LIBERAL MEDIA”

MrObvious
MrObvious

So you're blaming media (liberal at that) for the kind of abyssmal politic we have in this country?

Look around you; media is into entertainment. To blow up dust about the most trivial things - it's our political system awash with money that is legislating (or not) that breaks our economy.

Media only gives you pretty smiles and false equivalance.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

 Yes because it's the "Liberal Media" that got us into two unpaid wars, warantless wiretaping and torture of prisoners.

shane kovac
shane kovac

well I don't have exacting numbers but a good chunk of the US Senate and US House Democrats that VOTED FOR EACH OF THOSE WARS

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

You would be correct. When you have your President, Vice President and Secretary of State feeding you lies and half truths it is hard no to. Having said that I will agree that Afganistan was a war of necessity. Iraq however was very much a war of choice. And neither war was paid for. In my memory I can't remember any other time that America was at war and cutting taxes at the same time.

paulejb
paulejb

mantisgragon91,

Who got us a dead Ambassador in Libya?

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

 That question is as relevant to this thread as me asking who got us almost 300 dead marines in Lebanon. I'll give you a hint he is the current wet dream for the Right Wingers among us.

Mahmoud hadipour dehshal
Mahmoud hadipour dehshal

LB is leading us into fiscal cliffs! And a second Venezuela

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

 Yes because we all know the stock markets is doing well in Venezuela and the CEO pay is at an all time high. Reality is a wonderful thing. Perhaps you should choose to be a part of it one day.