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Posted at 5:03 PM ET, 03/ 9/2011

Can Obama's political operation make difference in budget fight?

By Greg Sargent

Senate Democrats are practically begging Obama to insert himself into the budget fight with House Republicans. They want him to use his bully pulpit to make a broad case against GOP budget cuts as a job-killer (to coin a phrase) and a drag on economic growth.

In this context, it's worth noting that Obama's political operation does seem to be trying to insert itself into the budget battle. Organizing for America is out with a new email to supporters promising a hard line against GOP cuts and vowing to rally supporters behind the idea that our economic recovery is at stake:

President Obama is calling on both sides to come to the table and reach a reasonable solution -- a plan that builds for the future while eliminating wasteful spending in the present. A plan where cutting spending is done judiciously -- not recklessly. A plan with investments that create jobs -- not cuts that eliminate them...

So we're standing with President Obama in a very public way -- with an open letter calling on Republicans to work with him and Democrats in Congress to pass a commonsense budget that works for the American people. Supporters will hand-deliver the petition, with your signature, to House Republicans -- making sure our combined voices ring loud and clear...

President Obama knows that this must be a shared sacrifice, and that some cuts must be made -- and he stands ready to work together to find a commonsense solution.

But the current Republican plan would knock this country down just as we've begun to stand back up.

This email, by the way, is the first to go out from new DNC executive director Patrick Gaspard.

Will this kind of thing make a difference? The problem for Dems has been that no one really has had a clear sense of what their bottom line is in the budget fight. We haven't had a clear sense of what priorities Dems will go to the map for and what they view as expendable. We haven't had a clear sense of what Dems are for, so all Organizing for America can do for the time being is attack the GOP plan as too extreme.

That's beginning to change, however. Dems today laid out a clearer and broader road map, one calling for tax hikes on the rich, and cuts to unnecessary subsidies, to be part of the discussions. As Dems bring more specificity to their vision, Dems hope it will be easier to rally troops behind it. There will come a point in the negotiations where Dems will have a specific negotiating position from which they will be refusing to retreat. In theory, anyway. That's where OFA comes in -- it will crank into gear in order to create a show of public support for that firm position. Or so Dems hope.

By Greg Sargent  | March 9, 2011; 5:03 PM ET
Categories:  House GOPers, Senate Dems, budget  
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""There will come a point in the negotiations where Dems will have a specific negotiating position from which they will be refusing to retreat.""

That's a joke right?

Posted by: lmsinca | March 9, 2011 5:08 PM | Report abuse

That's always been the problem with President Obama. No one knows what the cutoff is. Just look at the taxcuts for the rich a few months ago. The President caved on an issue where close to 70% supported raising taxes on the banksters and the rich.

Posted by: PhilPerspective | March 9, 2011 5:10 PM | Report abuse

lmsinca, point taken.

you'll note the last line: "or so Dems hope, anyway"

Posted by: Greg Sargent | March 9, 2011 5:12 PM | Report abuse


Did you catch my note to you, on Fitzgerald having let the cat out of the bag about wanting to destroy the Unions in Wisconsin, to keep President Obama from winning the state?

Posted by: Liam-still | March 9, 2011 5:13 PM | Report abuse

It's looking like we're going to have another two week CR with 4 billion or more in cuts. What the House should do is up the anti on each one of these two week deals. Make it 5 bill. over two weeks then 6 bill. Find the Dems breaking point and force them to the table on the 7 month or 6 month deal.

Posted by: Truthteller12 | March 9, 2011 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Liam, I missed that. Apologies. Do you have a link?

Posted by: Greg Sargent | March 9, 2011 5:15 PM | Report abuse

This is huge.


You might want to get on this breaking news.

"WI Senate GOP Leader Admits On-Air That His Goal Is To Defund Labor Unions, Hurt Obama’s Reelection Chances "


"In an interview with Fox News’ Megyn Kelly moments ago, State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-WI), one of Walker’s closest allies in the legislature, confirmed the true political motive of Walker’s anti-union push. Fitzgerald explained that “this battle” is about eliminating unions so that “the money is not there” for the labor movement. Specifically, he said that the destruction of unions will make it “much more difficult” for President Obama to win reelection in Wisconsin:

FITZGERALD: Well if they flip the state senate, which is obviously their goal with eight recalls going on right now, they can take control of the labor unions. If we win this battle, and the money is not there under the auspices of the unions, certainly what you’re going to find is President Obama is going to have a much difficult, much more difficult time getting elected and winning the state of Wisconsin."

Use the link to watch the video clip of him saying it.

Posted by: Liam-still | March 9, 2011 4:16 PM

Posted by: Liam-still | March 9, 2011 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Relevant repost from earlier thread:

-Mini-Civil-War breaking out in GOP camp over tax raises-

“I don’t have a bottom line. I’m open to solving our very acute problems,” Coburn said Tuesday, when asked whether he would consider raising taxes.

His GOP partners in bipartisan deficit-reduction talks, Sens. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia and Mike Crapo of Idaho, are with him, too. “Nobody wants to raise taxes,” Chambliss said. “I don’t want to raise taxes, and I’ve never voted for a tax increase. But it has to be in the mix for the dialogue. The discussion needs to be there.”

That's the first I've heard any mention of Republicans open to raising taxes.

Posted by: ronnieandrush | March 9, 2011 5:21 PM | Report abuse


Fitzgerald is also blaming the WH as behind the recall petitions.

"Specifically, one of the targeted senators, Alberta Darling, the individual that filed the petition in that seat is a former member of, and also was very much involved in President Obama's last election cycle in Wisconsin," said Fitzgerald.

"It's what we suspected. There's eight recalls that have been launched, and as you know, Wisconsin has been a battleground state in the presidential election. And there's a great deal at stake, and certainly I've been told by, not only some of the Wisconsin members of the Congressional delegation, but those that work in labor, that this is about the presidential election in 2012."

Posted by: suekzoo1 | March 9, 2011 5:21 PM | Report abuse

From Gallup:

Of seven possible ways to balance their own state's budget, Americans are most likely to favor cutting back on state programs (65%) and reducing the number of state workers (62%).

Floating more bonds and raising state income or sales taxe garner the least support.

From the above information, it looks like Wisconsin Walker is right on the mark with his plan of action.


Obama is trying to figure out a strategy for his re-election. He can't be bothered with the puny problems of underling Obamacrats.

Get real, now.

Posted by: battleground51 | March 9, 2011 5:24 PM | Report abuse

Of course Walker created another problem for himself yesterday, when he selectively leaked emails, that he though would make him look reasonable.

He had claimed all along, that he could not negotiate on the Union Collective Bargaining Issue, because he had to pass it, to balance the budget, but yesterday he revealed that was never true, because he was offering to settle for less.

The guy keeps talking in circles, because he just can not keep track of all his previous lies.

Posted by: Liam-still | March 9, 2011 5:30 PM | Report abuse

When Dems start talking about what Americans really want I'll start paying attention, otherwise it's a waste of time. The disconnect between Washington and the majority of the American people is astonishing.

h/t Jon Walker

""In the context of reducing the budget deficit, a new Bloomberg poll asked Americans if they would support pulling all troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan. The poll found an overwhelming 66 percent would favor this action, while only 30 percent oppose it.

A full withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan was one of only three ideas polled that would actually reduce the deficit that had majority support. The others were cutting aid to foreign countries (72 percent favor, 26 percent oppose) and repealing the tax cuts for households earning more than $250,000 a year (59 percent favor, 37 percent oppose). Repealing health care is favored by 52 percent, but that would actually increase the deficit.

While Washington squabbles over the Republican proposals to cut just $61 billion from mostly popular domestic program designed help people in need, ignored is the fact that two-thirds of Americans are actually in agreement about a major deficit reduction plan that would save us $170 billion a year by ending our senseless foreign natio-building operations.""

Posted by: lmsinca | March 9, 2011 5:37 PM | Report abuse

Off topic

To the question of whether there are sock puppets actively engaged in blogs' comment sections and that they might be working in the employ of rightwing PR agencies for people like the Koch brothers, the Chamber of Commerce, etc... well, it appears so.

In a piece on the banning of Koch-employed agencies mucking about on Wikipedia, Think Progress reports:

"Soren Dayton, a GOP operative and executive at New Media Strategies, is reported to be the contact for Koch Industries at NMS. Reached by phone yesterday by ThinkProgress, Dayton exclaimed, “I’m not going to talk about this, thanks,” before hanging up. Lyndsey Medsker, a senior account director for NMS, spoke to ThinkProgress today. She explained that NMS also maintains the Koch Industries Twitter page, Facebook page, *and has an active team working on promoting Koch Industries in the comment section of blogs and news websites.*"

Posted by: bernielatham | March 9, 2011 5:40 PM | Report abuse

I still love Kathleen Madigan's take on our Afghanistan nation building efforts.

When she went there to entertain the troops, an American PR Officer told her about all the roads and schools they were constructing, to which Kathleen replied: When are you going to invade Detroit?

She was asked, after she returned, what she thought it would take to develop Afghanistan;

She replied: O I don't know; how much would it take to fix up the moon?

Posted by: Liam-still | March 9, 2011 5:44 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Liam. Amazing.

Posted by: Greg Sargent | March 9, 2011 5:54 PM | Report abuse

Schumer is freakin' hilarious. He endorses "addressing entitlements."

Well? What's the Dem proposal?

Posted by: sbj3 | March 9, 2011 5:55 PM | Report abuse

Can the Republican candidates for President get any worse?
This is getting so bad it is hard to believe.

Newt Gingrich says his passion for his country contributed to his marital infidelity. In an interview posted Wednesday by The Christian Broadcasting Network, Gingrich — who recently converted to Catholicism — said he had sought God's forgiveness for mistakes in his past.

"There's no question at times of my life, partially driven by how passionately I felt about this country, that I worked far too hard and things happened in my life that were not appropriate," Gingrich said. AP

things happened in my life

not appropriate

Wow. What is wrong with the Republican Party? Can't you people find anyone, anyone who isn't obviously a RINO like Mitt or a kook?

Posted by: shrink2 | March 9, 2011 5:58 PM | Report abuse

"Schumer is freakin' hilarious. He endorses "addressing entitlements."

Well? What's the Dem proposal?

Posted by: sbj3"

Can Dems propose cuts to Medicare without the GOP going apesh*t?

Oh wait, the Dems did make such a proposal. Oh wait, the GOP did go apesh*t.

Anyone read this maddening interview of Grover Norquist? Apparently it's the new Conservative Thing to say that the deficit is a focus of the left!

Posted by: DDAWD | March 9, 2011 6:00 PM | Report abuse

Shorter Gingrich:

"My patriotism made me cheat on my wife, and then my next wife, too."

Posted by: suekzoo1 | March 9, 2011 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Shorter Newt:

I was just being A Shagging Super Patriot. I screwed around with lots of women, while I was married, because my biggest fault is I loved America so much.

Posted by: Liam-still | March 9, 2011 6:07 PM | Report abuse

"Wow. What is wrong with the Republican Party? Can't you people find anyone, anyone who isn't obviously a RINO like Mitt or a kook?"

I think these two groups (with lots of overlapping) make up the entirety of the Republican Party. Emphasis on the overlap because even people like John McCain and Lindsay Graham are apparently RINOs today.

Posted by: DDAWD | March 9, 2011 6:10 PM | Report abuse

Thanks DDAWD, that is a fascinating window into a mentally bankrupt individual.

Posted by: ronnieandrush | March 9, 2011 6:27 PM | Report abuse

That Norquist interview is truly enlightening and incredibly frightening.

WOW ... just wow.

Posted by: pragmaticagain | March 9, 2011 6:41 PM | Report abuse

"...Lindsay Graham...RINO..."

It is true and I'll bet he is the angriest of all of the right wing poseurs. He was going to be somebody, he was going to be a contender.

He made one mistake, acknowledged global warming and poof!, he was gone.

Posted by: shrink2 | March 9, 2011 6:42 PM | Report abuse

All, Happy Hour Roundup posted:

Posted by: Greg Sargent | March 9, 2011 6:46 PM | Report abuse

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