Obama Poker

This week, GOPers will again be sitting down to another game of "Obama Poker."  This is not the kind of poker with which we are all familiar -- you know, the one wherein the person being "called" must show his hand first.

In Obama Poker, the bettor says something like, "Under my plan, health insurance costs will fall."  And the caller says, "That's ridiculous because more people will be covered under any comprehensive plan."  And the bettor then says something like, "Your plan would deny Medicare to the elderly," and he rakes in the chips -- without ever showing details of his plan.

Isn't that exactly what happened during the ObamaCare debate?  Did anyone anywhere ever see a piece of paper describing the details of what was in "my plan"?  Did Mr. Obama ever enunciate any details of "my plan"?  The answer to both questions is resoundingly in the negative.

Yet he constantly used the phrase "my plan" and got away with it -- and with all the chips!

To expect the geldings of the MSM to challenge the notion is to chase moonbeams.

"Dingy" Harry Reid plays that same game down the street from the White House: for the past three years, he has not let the Finance Committee even consider debating a budget, yet he makes constant and outrageous claims about GOP obstructionism.

He refuses to bring up House-passed jobs or budgets, and his caucus roundly defeats such proposals when GOP senators manage to offer one as an amendment to any bills on the floor or in committee.

Furthermore, budgets submitted by Team Obama for consideration by senators maintain a perfect record -- zero votes for them in the past two years!

And nary even a tiny whinny is heard from the geldings calmly grazing in the pastures.

This week, the players will place their bets on the "fiscal cliff" facing the nation should negotiations over taxes and spending cuts fail.

Sen. Patty Murray imparted this bit of Democratic wisdom this way Sunday on ABC:

Well ... [the] country has a tremendous debt and deficit problem. We [must] educate our work force ... care for our veterans ... have research ... compete in a global marketplace[.] ... Everyone ... [says] we need to have revenue as part of the solution ... as well as looking at entitlements and spending cuts[.] ... [T]he missing ingredient ... has been the revenue and to make sure that it is fairly distributed and the wealthy pay their fair share[.] ... If our Republican counterparts can step forward with that revenue piece we will be able to find a solution.

The ever-helpful host, George Stephanopoulos, then carefully nudged her: "And if not, go off a cliff?"

Well, clearly, we have the ability between now and the end of the year to not go off the cliff. But we can't accept an unfair deal that piles on the middle class and tell them they have to support it. We have to make sure that the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share[.] ... So if the Republicans will not agree with that, we will reach a point at the end of this year where all the tax cuts expire and we'll start over next year. And whatever we do will be a tax cut for whatever package we put together. That may be the way to get past this.

A bit later she declaimed:

Look, no one wants to go off the fiscal cliff. But a fair deal is absolutely critical here[.] ... If it's just eliminating tax loopholes that affect middle-class families, and they don't have a mortgage deduction or a charitable deduction or we raise their copay on Medicare, all of that revenue falling on the middle class isn't a fair and balanced way to get to a deal. So, how that is distributed is a critical part of that.   We have a way to do this. The Senate has already passed a bill that extends the tax cuts for 98 percent of Americans, and if the House will pass that bill, we're well on our way to working towards a solution before that fiscal cliff.

I believe we have the opportunity to do that. ... We need to look at every aspect of the federal budget to put it together. But the one key issue that has not been resolved is how we put revenue into that. And I would be delighted to look at a plan that puts that revenue on the table in a way that's fair and balanced, and if we can do that, we can get to a deal.

Sen. Murray clearly did not stop off at ABC en route to a Mensa luncheon.  Steve Gilbert, of Sweetness & Light, skewers her here:

The Democrats are willing to risk anything and everything to punish "the wealthy." (And the wealthy are anyone who makes more than a Senator or Representative.)  In other words, if the Republicans don't agree to increasing the rate on the wealthy they will just let all of the Bush tax cuts expire. Which of course was always the plan. After all, the Democrats really want to raise everyone's taxes. But they want to be able to blame the Republicans for it.

Not heard in Sen. Murray's comments were the spending cuts that Democrats are willing to offer, and a search fails to enlighten the curious.

Of course, she was just echoing the words and sentiments of her party's leader:

At a time when our economy is still recovering from the Great Recession, our top priority has to be jobs and growth. That's the focus of the plan I talked about during the campaign.

Here we go -- "the plan" is:

It's a plan to reward small businesses and manufacturers that create jobs here, not overseas ... a plan to give people the chance to get the education and training ... a plan to make sure this country is a global leader in research and technology and clean energy ... a plan to put folks back to work, including our veterans, rebuilding our roads and our bridges, and other infrastructure. And it's a plan to reduce our deficit in a balanced and responsible way.

Has anyone seen "the plan"?  We can see an outline, but there are no details about "the plan."  Generalities are all that we have -- or are likely to have.   Jim Curran definitively addressed "the plan" issue here:

Everyone needs to start demanding to see the specifics of the president's plan. I don't care about George W. Bush, William Clinton, their tax rates and what they did to the economy. I don't want to hear rhetoric about top-down or middle-out economic theories, and I don't need to hear the same speeches (literally) that's he's read for the past five years. We all complained about Obama not having a real plan for the past five years, but we never demanded to see a real plan. I want to see the specific plan.

More from the transcript:

Last year, I worked with Democrats and Republicans to cut a trillion dollars' worth of spending that we just couldn't afford. I intend to work with both parties to do more-and that includes making reforms that will bring down the cost of health care so we can strengthen programs like Medicaid and Medicare for the long haul.  But as I've said before, we can't just cut our way to prosperity. If we're serious about reducing the deficit, we have to combine spending cuts with revenue-and that means asking the wealthiest Americans to pay a little more in taxes. (Applause.)

Lots and lots of applause, but no details about cuts.  There are, however, lots of details about the taxes that are to be cut and those that are not to be cut:

I'm open to new ideas. I'm committed to solving our fiscal challenges. But I refuse to accept any approach that isn't balanced[.] ... [N]obody-not Republicans, not Democrats-want taxes to go up for folks making under $250,000 a year[.] ... [L]et's extend the middle-class tax cuts right now[.] ... That one step ... would give millions of families-98 percent of Americans and 97 percent of small businesses-the certainty that they need going into the new year. It would immediately take a huge chunk of the economic uncertainty off the table, and that will lead to new jobs and faster growth. Business will know that consumers, they're not going to see a big tax increase.

What, then, is to be done?  Powerline's John Hinderaker gives guidance here:

But with respect to the social issues, I think the time has come for Republicans to refine our approach[.] ... [W]e need, I think, to recalibrate our approach-by which I do not mean adopting liberal positions[.] ... [C]onservative candidates should focus on the areas where liberal positions are extreme[.] ... If Republicans consistently answer questions ... in this manner, or something similar, reporters will stop asking them[.]

I'm not sure about that final point, but the essence of the piece is to constantly reframe issues on conservative terms and reject liberal talking points.  Read it all, and read these AT posts, for all address new approaches analogously in terms of the "broken record technique" used in counseling:

The broken record approach to communication is a technique that you use to refuse a request, or to make a request of your own, and to demonstrate that your position stands no matter what. The aim is to get someone to understand that the issue is not up for discussion.

Elsewhere, Hinderaker proposes acquiescing in the expiration of the "Bush" tax cuts:

So I think the Republicans should call Obama's bluff, and accept his offer by agreeing to let all of the Bush-era tax rates expire. Taxes on the "rich" will go back to what they were during the Clinton administration. But so, under this proposal, will taxes on everyone else[.] ... In exchange for agreeing to raise taxes and finally putting the demonized Bush tax cuts to rest, Republicans should be able to negotiate spending cuts and other reforms that will represent a significant step toward getting the country's fiscal house in order.

Maybe that's fine for an opening position, but insisting on seeing exactly what cuts are being proposed by Team Obama must be the "broken record" position before any other step may be taken.

And that seems to be the positions being taken today by Speaker Boehner and Leader McConnell: show your cards, or we'll step away from your single-minded focus on higher taxes for the rich.

And at any point they could "raise" Mr. Obama's bet by insisting that, since Mr. Obama's said "our top priority has to be jobs and growth," Mr. Obama demonstrate exactly how raising taxes will achieve that priority.

But I'll be offering side bets that we'll never see those details and that, in the end, we'll see a continuing resolution -- with Benghazi and the Petraeus fiascos as cover. 

In other words, we'll not see Thelma and Louise go over the cliff together, but we will see Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid get away.


The author provided social welfare counseling to service members here and abroad prior to entering the hospitality industry.