Left to Obama: You’re Not Doing It Right
(The Hill) — Anxiety over President Obama’s shift to the political center is threatening to alienate the White House’s liberal base. As Obama prepares Wednesday to outline his deficit reduction strategy, liberals worry he’ll embrace Medicare and Medicaid cuts as an olive branch to Republicans in advance of larger fights over the nation’s debt. The concerns have surfaced after the White House rankled lawmakers on the left by agreeing to a 2011 spending bill that slashes funding for a number of programs long favored by Democrats and embracing a controversial trade agreement with Colombia.
Liberal lawmakers already were irked with Obama’s decision to support upper-income tax cuts he campaigned against and to launch military operations in the Middle East without congressional approval. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) this week said Obama should start acting like a Democrat, while two left-wing grassroots groups warned their members could withhold funds from the president’s reelection campaign. The criticisms highlight the problem facing Obama, who is trying to lead from the center without alienating his political base. The White House strategy could help the president with independents, but risks leaving liberals at home in the fall of 2012.