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Already? Obama Tells Supporters to Expect 'Bitter Pills'

Common Dreams staff

In a conference call with key supporters Tuesday night, President Obama urged Democratic activists to stay engaged in the coming budget negotiations concerning the so-called "fiscal cliff" but also telegraphed plainly his intent to give away much in his showdown with Republican lawmakers

As the Huffington Post, who listened in on the call, reports:

The president, speaking from a White House phone, cautioned listeners to expect disappointments during his second term. As he has in the past, Obama warned that he was prepared to swallow some bitter pills during the negotiations, including some that would agitate the base.

"As we move forward there are going to be new wrinkles and new frustrations, we can't predict them yet," he said. "We are going to have some triumphs and some successes, but there are going to be some tough days, starting with some of these negotiations around the fiscal cliff that you probably read about."

Though his encouragement to his activist base may be encouraging to some, the President's preemptive admission that he's willing to give away bargaining chips so early in the game will surely irk those who criticized Obama for his negotiating style throughout his first term. That will be doubly true for progressives who have publicly called for a more hardline stance when it comes to defending key social programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

As Katrina vanden Huevel, editor at The Nation magazine writes: "Americans have just voted to reelect the president with clear priorities. They want Washington to get to work creating jobs and economic growth. They expect the president to raise taxes on the richest two percent in order to invest in areas vital to our future, as he pledged repeatedly across the country. They didn’t hear much about the so-called “fiscal cliff” in the election campaign, but their opinions on what is acceptable in any grand bargain are very clear."

And as former Secretary of labor Robert Reich has said: "If the past four years have proved anything, it’s that the White House should not begin with a compromise."

However, if the call to his supporters on Tuesday is any indication, and as Obama meets with a cadre of corporate CEOs Wednesday to discuss their budget ideas, it's becoming hauntingly clear that Obama is perhaps dangerously close to making many of the same mistakes again.


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