Angry liberals blast Obama over 'Satan sandwich' deal
Published 02/08/2011 | 05:00
Democrats turned their fire on US President Barack Obama yesterday, accusing him of a capitulation to Republicans that has harmed his chances of re-election in 2012.
Though the White House boasted about a triumph for compromise, many left-wingers feel betrayed, saying the price of a deal to raise the US borrowing limit has been too high.
Representative Emanuel Cleaver, a Missouri Democrat, said of the deal: "On the surface it looks like a Satan sandwich."
Another, Cedric Richmond from New Orleans, said he feared it would have a "devastating impact" on the working and middle classes.
The bill was expected to pass the Senate last night, but party leaders from both sides of the house were non-committal on whether they had enough votes.
The US treasury has set today as the deadline for raising the debt ceiling to avoid the first default in the country's history.
A deal could still face problems. In the House of Representatives, an alliance of liberal congressmen and Tea Party Republicans who want even more spending cuts could unite to defeat the bill.
The agreement reached by the White House and party leaders in the House and the Senate during talks over the weekend will permit Mr Obama to borrow a further $2.4trillion (e1.7trn) to allow the US government to meet its debt obligations into 2013. But it came with conditions to cut the $14.3trn (e9.9trn) national debt.
About $1trn (e0.7trn) will be cut immediately from government spending, with a further $1.4trn (e1trn) to follow by the end of the year.
Liberals who once backed Mr Obama were angry that the White House failed to persuade Republicans in Congress to include revenue increases in the deal, through closing tax loopholes for oil companies and removing tax deductions that benefit the wealthy.
The savings are made up entirely of spending cuts, although conservatives have had to accept unwanted savings on the military.
MoveOn.org, a left-leaning political advocacy group that claims five million members, described the deal as "grotesquely immoral".
Michael Tomasky, a liberal commentator, wrote: "This is the lowest moment of Mr Obama's presidency."
While George W Bush wrecked the country "through rank incompetence", Mr Obama was "handing the Republicans the keys to the House and saying take what you want," he said in 'The Daily Beast'.
In 'The New Republic', Jonathan Chait wrote: "There's a limit to how much faith one can place in a man who has so badly misjudged his political opponents time and time again."
Robert Borosage, co-director of the Campaign for American Future, a liberal think tank, accused Mr Obama of yielding to "the Tea Party terrorists -- the extremist faction willing to hold the economy hostage to get their way". The cuts would not speed up the country's financial recovery, harming Mr Obama's prospects of a second term, he claimed.
According to figures out yesterday, US manufacturing grew at its slowest pace in two years in July.
Mr Borosage said: "I think he is in increasing danger. The whole argument against him that he has been there four years and there are no jobs, that he has failed, will be an increasingly strong argument."
Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, said: "We think the president's leadership has been essential to this process." (©Daily Telegraph, London)