The promise of a primary for Obama

Here's where the line is drawn and the scales tip. Everyone pretty much believes now that Republicans are going to win back the House. In the Senate, a flip is also possible, but less likely it seems. There are two issues that, if Obama does not draw his own line with Republicans, that he will lose the Party over.

First, the Bush tax-cuts. The notion that this is going to be something where Democrats can keep them in place for those under $250K, and end it for those above, is a false lie for anyone to pretend such a possibility exists. The Republicans will not let that happen-- its all of them, or nothing.

The question is, with a Republican House sure to pass them, will there be 40 Senate Democrats to filibuster the passage of the complete tax package, say, in the spring of 2011?  Do the math. Looking at it the other way, are there 13 or so Democrats who the Republicans can count on for cloture?  So, that (the complete Bush Tax Cuts) lands on Obama's desk. Lets ponder whether he would veto it or not.

Second, the Afghanistan quagmire. All it takes is to watch this video to realize the disingenuity that Obama has performed (Senator Obama vs. President Obama on Afghanistan); a reckless abandoment of the promise of his entire candidacy. There are knaves who would like to pretend that Obama played a straight hand on Afghanistan with Democrats in the leadup to the 2008 election. We are currently amidst Obama's own Friedman Unit-- one that expires in July 2011.

General Petraeus has played the President like a fiddle with the surge to over 100,000 troops in Afghanistan. The Generals now openly speak of there being no such deadline, and being in Afghanistan until 2020. VP Biden has cowardly backtracked on the deadline he said was set in stone.

That Obama will give us enduring war in Afghanistan beyond July 2011 seems a given. Will it come on the heels of his buckling to the Republican passage of the permanent Bush Tax cut package for millionaires? 

And when I say lose the Party, I mean explicitly that he will face a Democratic primary in 2012, and hopefully, denied the nomination.

Some of you still might see this as far-fetched. But watch and see how losing 50 seats, setting the Democrats back below 200 in the House, has a way of changing the perception.

But that alone is probably not enough-- its strike one. The betrayal by Obama over the Bush Tax Cuts (if he doesn't let the entire package expire-- all or nothing will be the only choice) will be the second shoe. Then, the unlikelihood of his getting us out of these damned military occupations, and his being played like a puppet of the Pentagon's desire to build a military empire in Afghanistan, will be the final straw.

Tags: Afghanistan, Bush tax cuts (all tags)



Which would you prefer?

A) To see Jerome's prophecy come true: a Republican House and/or Senate followed by the possible major defeats on the Bush Tax Cuts and a continued presence in Afghanistan which might lead to a primary challenge...


B) see Democrats hold the House and Senate by narrow margins and get nothing done followed by no primary challenge in 2012?

I'm not trying to provoke anyone here.  I think there's a great deal of tea-leaf reading going on in (A).  How could we be so sure all of those things would come to pass if Democrats lost the House and/or the Senate?

On the other hand I think with (B) we can at least expect to see the tax cuts expire (whether all or some expire it will still help the overall gigantic deficit so I'll take either of those possibilities) because I think it will be most likely a totally deadlocked two years if Democrats can hold their majorites in both.

All things considered I think I'd rather see (B) happen because I think even if all of what Jerome predicts happens -- complete with a primary challenger in 2012 -- that doesn't necessarily mean progressive causes will be in any better shape than they'd be if (A) happens.  In fact I think both long and short term (B) is a preferable option.

What do YOU think?  Go ahead and start assailing me with "voting out of fear of the Republicans," "apologizing for Obama," etc. but please, if you do that, then do me a favor and tell me how we'd be better off in the short or long term if option (A) happens?

I think it's time for me to donate to Betsy Markey (or which ever Dem you care for).









by jlars 2010-08-26 03:06AM | 1 recs
RE: Which would you prefer?

First, it's not a prediction, its a "what if" scenaraio. Big difference.  Something I thought of, wanted to share, discuss...

Choice B, without question. But I'm questioning what that would take? Even with a very weakened Speaker Pelosi, There are probably 10-20 Democrats that would sign a discharge petition.

In terms of hard numbers, we probalby need to limit the House losses to below 30 seats, and if not, the Senate losses below 5 seats. But I have no faith at all in the Senate.

Still, the real question is whether or not Obama will veto it. I wonder if he would take a position on that hypothetical? No way, probably.

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-08-26 09:50AM | 0 recs
RE: Which would you prefer?

I hear you about "what if."

I get the feeling that Obama would actually veto it, and I say that because it seemed to me that his real motivations during HCR were not so much about Public Option or not or even how beneficial it was or not but more about whether in ten or twenty years people would say that the bill "added to the deficit." Not a dime, blah, blah. You know what I mean?

That said, I think he sees allowing the cuts to expire to be the least possible effort (no major legislative bill has to pass for it to happen) and the most helpful to the country (if you accept that his number one metric for "helpful" means financial stability).

Of course the whole continuing presence in the Middle East sort of undermines my thought process, but for most "moderate" Dems I think military spending is always going to get priorty so that they don't look weak (barf).

by jlars 2010-08-26 01:12PM | 0 recs
looking at the Gallup...

...Presidential Approval Center I see that approval of Obama among Blacks hovers around 90%.

This implies that support for any primary challenge of Obama from the left would come largely from white progressives.

Now, to say that a primary challenge of a sitting President would be permissible only if it weren't divisive would be ridiculous -- such challenges inevitably will be.

But framing it the way I have suggests that such a challenge would be a particular kind of divisive -- a kind of divisive that might set the progressive movement back a very long ways.

I hope at some point you'll address this point squarely.

by social democrat 2010-08-26 04:33AM | 2 recs
RE: looking at the Gallup...

I agree that it would be devisive, primaries usually are; but what you are implying is that it would be racially charged too.

After the bloody '08 Dem primary, I don't think there's an appitite for another one to happen. I'm looking around the bend here, at a possibility.

Also, think about Iowa and New Hampshire. Both really white states. Nevada too.

In Iowa, it was by and large a very unique caucus that Obama brought to the primary. Republicans, first-time voters, Independents. He lost New Hampshire. Nevada has soured on him. The landscape is set. Yes, its probably much different in SC and many other states with a large black population.

Its an interesting delimma, given IA's and NH's role.

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-08-26 09:55AM | 1 recs
RE: looking at the Gallup...

Thanks, Jerome.

by social democrat 2010-08-26 12:37PM | 0 recs
who's the candidate?

Several points to make:

1.  Personally, I favor letting the tax cuts expire for only the top income brackets--but letting all of them expire is better than continuing them.  Will there be 41 Democrats in the next congress
to filibuster?  I doubt it, since there will still be many Blue Dogs in the Senate next year.  Will Obama veto such a bill?  He has to. 

2.  Any primary challenge must not divide the party.  The best scenario is early defeats in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada persuade Obama not to run for reelection--not likely. 

3.  Even if such a primary challenge is successful, getting the AA vote is essential--it could mean the difference in Florida and Ohio.

4.  Right now I don't see anyone with the stature to consider a primary challenge.  I don't think Howard Dean is the answer (primal scream?).  My challenge to MyDD:  who else could primary Obama?
Hillary is the only one--but she's more hawkish than Obama.


by esconded 2010-08-26 08:25AM | 1 recs
RE: who's the candidate?

A lot of people point to this being like 1994, but they miss it by a century. I want to write a post on this, because its 1894 that this election most closely resembles, due to the recent Democratic comeback and a quick recession. There was a Democratic Senator who lost that year, William Jennings Bryan. So, the question is, whether there is something that shouldn't, but might, lose this year?

Also, imagine that John Edwards hadn't messed his life up so badly, he would be holding a two aces at this point.

I don't think Dean will do it (probably eyeing 2016), but if he did he'd give Obama a very strong competition.

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-08-26 10:01AM | 1 recs
Russ Feingold

Feingold could be the William Jennings Bryan of 2010-2012.

by Kent 2010-08-26 07:35PM | 0 recs
RE: who's the candidate?

Dean?  Edwards?  Someone below suggests Feingold.  I didn't even vote for Obama.  I wrote-in Hillary, but I personally wouldn't lift a finger for an Edwards figure, Dean or Feingold.  If this is the sort of challenger Obama would face, I imagine he would prevail.

by bookgrl 2010-08-26 08:18PM | 0 recs
Expiring all of the Bush tax cuts = Political death sentence

I think Obama's first mistake was promising that he wouldn't allow the Bush tax cuts to expire for those under $250K in the first place.  Worked well during the campaign but I don't think it was ever something that was going to get through Congress easily, even with the majorities the Dems have now.  Too many Blue Dogs, too many Nelsons and Conrads.  It was something Obama could avoid for a couple of years while hoping the economy not only stabilized but started to recover at light speed.  But that didn't happen, and if he thought it would he was fooling himself.

That said, allowing all of the cuts to expire is just not something the Democrats can allow to happen.  The GOP would kill them with charges of overtaxing working Americans during tough times and going back on promises not to increase their taxes.  Those attacks would resonate with a lot of voters and would be a political nightmare not only for Obama but for the party as a whole and any hypothetical primary challengers Obama might face in 2012.  What you'd get is larger GOP majorities in both houses and a GOP president in 2012 - guaranteed.  Don't get me wrong - I'd rather see them expire for all brackets than to see them all extended.  And I don't think this would be devastating for any tax bracket.  But I'm not Johnny Average Voter.

It's probably nearly impossible to get legislation through Congress extending the cuts for the top 5% only.  And even if the GOP wins back both houses they probably won't have the numbers to get them extended permanently for all brackets.  So we'll either get a deadlocked Congress, which would mean that the tax cuts would expire naturally for all brackets, or some sort of compromise - say a 2-year extension for all brackets.  I think the latter is the best the Democrats can hope for, but I'm thinking the GOP would rather see the tax cuts expire for all and blame it on the Democrats than accept that compromise.  And if that happens, any primary challenger who might defeat Obama in 2012 would probably lose worse than he would because, as mentioned above, he/she would divide the party and not have the power of the incumbency behind him/her.

by OGLiberal 2010-08-26 09:38AM | 0 recs
RE: Afghanistan

Either Petraeus is being more insubordinate than McChrystal was or he's bee given the green light (not that he had to be pressured) by the administration to break the news to the American people that a July 2011 withdrawal ain't going to happen.  I'm going with the latter.  Sadly, though, as long as American soldiers aren't coming home in body bags at Iraq-style rates, I don't think this will hurt Obama much.  The majority of the public has soured on our adventures in Afghanistan but except for activists on both the left and the right I don't think it's a big issue for most voters - they'll say they don't like it but it won't drive their decisions in the voting booth.  That is, as long as casualties stay at "acceptable" levels - and I think Petraeus will be able to do that while continuing the forever war.  Sad, but true.  So while Afghanistan may inspire folks in the Dem base to push for a primary challenge in 2012, most general election voters aren't going to be drawn to a Dem presidential candidate just because he/she promises to get us out of Afghanistan.

All this is me saying that I don't think a 2012 primary challenge is a good idea.

by OGLiberal 2010-08-26 09:49AM | 0 recs
All of this is mostly irrelevent

to the question of a primary challenge.  If Obama holds to the Iraq withdrawl timetable - which he has done and which this article omits - there will be little challenge to him from the rank and file in the party on foreign policy.

Frankly whether there is a challenge or not depends on the unemployment rate.  In January of 1983 Ronald Reagan  had an approval rating of 36%.  By the end of the year he was at 54-36 positive, and unemployment had gone from 10.8% to 8.3%.  Conversely in 1991 Bush was at an average of 82% in Gallup.  By the end of the year he was at 51, and in February he was at 41.  In that time unemployment went up 1.3%.  Bush continued to decline all through 1992 even though GDP grew at over 3%.  The problem for Bush was that GDP growth did not translate into unemployment reductions.

Is Obama more like Bush or Reagan?  It will depend on the direction unemployment takes during the course of 2011.  If we double dip, my guess is that he may not even run again.  If unemployment gets below saw 8.5% there will be no primary challenge, and the surprise will be how formidable he appears.  In between those two extremes you may see a primary challenge.  It wouldn't take much: I have written here before on how Iowa and New Hampshire make National Polling irrelevent, and you can mount a challenge in both states with a reasonably small budget. 

If that happens, it won't be because of Afghanistan or tax cuts.  To believe that is to seriously misjudge our political environment.  It will be because unemployment remains too high.  And it is just as likely to come from the right as from the left.

by fladem 2010-08-26 10:25AM | 1 recs
Unemployment must be under 8% by October 2012

Mondale led Reagan as late as October 1983, when unemployment was 8.8%.  It wasnt until February 1984, when unemployment finally fell below 8% that Reagan started pulling ahead.

by Kent 2010-08-26 07:07PM | 1 recs
Not primaries...Dem losses

I've lost all faith that we can get anything better in the primaries.

I didn't vote for Clinton in large part because she is a corporate hack. So instead I voted for an alternative....who ended up being a corporate hack. We don't get anywhere trading one for another.

I'm now ready to try "if you Dems keep screwing progressives specifically and the country in general, you are going to be out of a job completely." Probably won't ever help, but I think the ONLY chance we have at this point is if they feel like they have to make us happy to get us to vote for them instead of the GOP.

Not a good situation, for sure. The GOP is downright scary-crazy. But I don't see the situation ever changing if the Dems continue think our votes are automatic and that they just have to pander to the center-right to get elected.


by jeopardy 2010-08-26 11:09AM | 0 recs

How did you all like the newest middle finger from the White House pointed at the Left and women (and this time, also senior citizens) with their vote of confidence for Simpson?

by jeopardy 2010-08-26 11:33AM | 1 recs

I know, a lefty like Van Jones loses his job because he offends Glen Beck. Meanwhile, Simpson can offend every single progressive and elderly citizen, and he's given a pass.

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-08-26 11:40AM | 1 recs
In case you hadn't noticed, this economy is in free fall

Those of us who warned a year and a half ago that the Obama stimulus bill was really a sedative bill have been vindicated at this point. Japan tried six of these government spending frauds during the '90's, and it didn't work for them either. Even after Orsag and Mrs. Romer have hit the road, we have to listen to "plugs" Biden---when he isn't walking around bumping into doors--- telling us that this is the Recovery Summer.

Against this backdrop, why do you want to make an issue of letting the Bush tax cuts expire? There should be no tax increase in this kind of an economic meltdown, period; just let it go, for chrissakes. Nouriel Roubini pegs the chance of a double dip recession at 40%; David Rosenberg, former chief economist at Merrill, said earlier this week that we never got out of the first recession, and that we're now in a depression.

You people really need to wake up. Barak Obama has wrecked this economy, and raising taxes will only make it worse.


by BJJ Fighter 2010-08-26 11:49AM | 0 recs
RE: In case you hadn't noticed, this economy is in free fall

the stimulus helped - just not enough because it wasn't big enough and focused on the wrong things (i.e. 1/3 tax cuts)

Tax cuts, particularly for the very wealthy, are not very stimulative for the costs. Too much of the extra money is saved instead of spent.

If we truely wanted to help the economy, we would let the tax cuts expire (especially for the very wealthy!) and use that money for things like unemployment benefits, food stamps and building infrastructure.

by jeopardy 2010-08-26 11:58AM | 1 recs
RE: In case you hadn't noticed, this economy is in free fall

I agree with you that infrastructure spending would probably be stimulative, but only a meager portion of the sedative bill was devoted to that type of spending. Most of it was "goodies", i.e., walk-around money for the appropriators.

As to add'l spending for unemployment benefits, Obama's top economic advisor believes that it's counter-productive in bringing down unemployment. Dr. Summers wrote during the summer of 2008 that most recipients of unemployment benefits won't look for work until the final four weeks of their unemployment benefits arrive. This suggests that jobless benefits which run for 99 weeks are partly to blame for the high unemployment numbers we're facing.


by BJJ Fighter 2010-08-26 12:16PM | 0 recs
RE: In case you hadn't noticed, this economy is in free fall

There's been a bunch of studies showing that people spend just about all of their unemployment benefits, and it makes logical sense as well.That money goes to businesses providing goods and services that people want.

Since we are facing a problem with demand, we need to put money into things where it gets spent. Unemployment benefits are a great example of that.

And as an unemployed person right now, I can say a big 'ole "F-you" for saying that unemployment benefits are partly to blame for high unemployment. I can tell you first hand that it is not. The problem is a lack of hiring and too many job seekers for the positions available. 

It simply doesn't make sense to blame unemployment benefits when job postings routinely get hundres of resumes.

You don't mention whether Summers was basing it on any sort of current research, and even if he was, the situation has changed a lot since the summer of '08, you know.

When there are not even close to enough jobs to go around, it doesn't matter if people on benefits are making it so a job posting on Craigslist gets 300 resumes or 400 (and I dispute that it does that in the first place). 

by jeopardy 2010-08-26 01:18PM | 1 recs
For an explaination, read below

maybe this is a good time to explain the difference between determinants of the NAIRU — the minimum rate of unemployment consistent with a stable inflation rate — and the determinants of the unemployment rate at a point in time.

So: there are limits to how hot you can run the economy without inflationary problems.

This is usually expressed in terms of a non-accelerating-inflation unemployment rate; yes, there are some questions about whether the concept is quite right, especially at very low inflation, but that’s another issue.

Everyone agrees that really generous unemployment benefits, by reducing the incentive to seek jobs, can raise the NAIRU; that is, set limits to how far down you can push unemployment without running into inflation problems.

But in case you haven’t noticed, that’s not the problem constraining job growth in America right now. Wage growth is declining, not rising, and so is overall inflation. A wage-price spiral looks like a distant dream.

What’s limiting employment now is lack of demand for the things workers produce. Their incentives to seek work are, for now, irrelevant. That’s why comments by the likes of Sen. Kyl are so boneheaded — anyone who thinks that high unemployment in the first quarter of 2010 has anything to do with workers getting excessively generous benefits must not get out much.

And the truth is that unemployment benefits are a good, quick, administratively easy way to increase demand, which is what we really need.

So right now they have the effect of reducing unemployment.

by jeopardy 2010-08-26 01:36PM | 0 recs
RE: In case you hadn't noticed, this economy is in free fall

"This suggests that jobless benefits which run for 99 weeks are partly to blame for the high unemployment numbers we're facing."

Head over to your local job fair and compare the number of openings with the number of people waiting in line. Or talk to any HR manager and ask them how many applications they receive per job posting.

Only a complete imbecile would blame unemployment on the lack of workers rather than a lack of jobs.

by vecky 2010-08-26 02:56PM | 1 recs
RE: In case you hadn't noticed, this economy is in free fall

his statements are necessitated by his right-wing-randian-utopian world view where if something bad or good happens to you, it's because of your actions and not because of circumstances outside of your control.

by jeopardy 2010-08-26 03:08PM | 0 recs
RE: In case you hadn't noticed, this economy is in free fall

Either your ill-informed or your blindly repeating wingnut spin. One of the worst things to happent to our Nation is this Class war perpetrated on the middle class by the rethuglicans with their endless Tax welfare relief for the super Rich. These so called called cuts not help our economy or the middle class but in fact have been at the root cause of the middleclass stagnation. We need to raise the Tax rate for the top 2% back to 90% now where it belongs.

by Ed beckmann 2010-08-26 01:32PM | 2 recs
Are we discussing a personal fantasy here or what?

I realize today is not a good day for Dems. I particularly am disturbed over the Simpson outrage and the Cat food Commission. That being said Jerome, just who do you invision from the Demcratic party will take up your call and step forward to divide and possibly destroy the party. Do you really invision this happening or is this just a personal call to satisfy your dream of vengeance.  Obama is no perfect Progressive but lets be honest Clinton would have been no better.The only people to benefit from an Obama primary is the Rethuglicans and you know it. There will be a lot of seats lost but most of them will be Blue dogs and I say good riddance. We will hold on to both houses in spite of your prophesy.

by Ed beckmann 2010-08-26 01:24PM | 1 recs
There wouldn't be a tax filibuster

If Republicans regain the House and Senate, they would simply pass the tax break extension under budget resolution rules, like they did last time.  If the House goes Republican and the Senate has a narrow Democratic majority, they probably also would pass the budget under majority rule -- but it would still give the Republicans plus a few Democrats to extend the Bush tax breaks. 

by jcullen 2010-08-26 01:43PM | 0 recs
You forgot one thing...

Social Security! If Obama agrees to go along with the Catfood Commission and cut benefits, raise the retirement elgilibity age, or make other concessions that will weaken and harm Social Security, he will lose a lot of votes, mine in particular. If he does this and is not primaried - and yes, the African-Americans will be pissed - then I will vote for whatever wingnut Republican or more viable 3rd party candidate is out there, just to make sure Obama loses.

This is the gold-plated legacy of the New Deal and is one of the few governmental programs passed by Dems that is well loved by almost all Americans, except for the rightwing politicians. For Obama to be the first Democratic president to actually weaken or harm Social Security would guarantee he will be a one term president. You add this to the other major items Jerome is positing, and I think you can count on a primary challenge, and if not, then a loss at the polls in Nov 2012.

by mcarnes 2010-08-26 02:14PM | 1 recs
RE: You forgot one thing...

One thing we have to get out on the airwaves is that there is no "SS crises". The only thing that is predicted to happen is that soon SS will have to dip into the trust fund to cover the cost of boomer retirement - which is as planned! The trust fund was set-up for that very eventuality. 

Now sure the fact that SS will no longer run a profit will remove it as a source of funds for the federal government. But that's a problem with the govt, not with SS. Social Security has run a profit for the last 28 years. It is an immensely successful program. 

by vecky 2010-08-26 02:49PM | 2 recs

this is an extremely important point, and people like Krugman keep yelling about it...but nobody seems to be listening.

by jeopardy 2010-08-26 03:09PM | 1 recs
A GOP House will be even crazier than the last time

I'd predict that if we get a GOP House, it will be filled with crazed lunatics on a scale we haven't seen - think Orly Taitz crazy. Thus I'd expect their #1 priority would be impeaching Obama, not sending him veto bait. In 1995 they overreached, but that was with a House membership not pushed over the edge by fringe extremists. What they would do in 2011 is hard to predict, other than it would destroy any remaining credibility the Republicans might still have.

Primarying Obama is a silly notion. A GOP House would be one of the greatest political gifts he could receive, and by 2012 he would be politically unassailable. Nothing would get done in 2011 or 2012, but Obama would look so good by the end of it that no Democrat would dare go after him. And just as well; the only thing that could elect a President Palin or a President Huckabee would be a Democratic party torn apart by a devisive primary.

by jimBOB 2010-08-26 06:28PM | 2 recs
What will break Obama is SS

And the betrayal of all working people just to keep the Bush tax cuts.

Fourteen of the 18 members of the soi-disant "Catfood Commission" are rabidly anti-SS. Obama figures it's the cover he needs to screw blue collar America.


Whether he is opposed in a primary or not, he will be a one term President, probably laughing all the way to the bank (Swiss).


by antiHyde 2010-08-26 08:15PM | 0 recs
I think the only thing that would cause a primary challenge

is continued high unemployment. 

by bookgrl 2010-08-26 08:22PM | 1 recs
The Afganistan cunundrum is simple to understand.

Soldier death tolls on the nightly news, night after night, or photos and maybe videos of the resurgent Taliban beating women again on the streets of Kabul and a beheading or two.

Not a great political choice, but one has to be chosen. And from what I can tell, we are going with the former.

by MainStreet 2010-08-27 08:36PM | 0 recs


Advertise Blogads