Time for a Tea Party of the Left

Obama's relationship with his base is like a dysfunctional love affair

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Taylor Marsh is the author of The Hillary Effect . She is a political analyst, commentator, and Huffington Post contributor whose blog www.taylormarsh.com was on the front lines during the 2008 election season.

Here we are at the beginning of Pres. Obama's reelection and what do we find? The Bush tax cuts that, back in 2008, candidate Obama pledged he'd fight to repeal, but which as president he extended. Considering not extending them began as his base position, three years into his first term it's not too much to ask how Democrats allowed themselves to get twisted into this policy pretzel.

That's exactly where Obama's got his Democratic and progressive base, which has absolutely no resemblance to the Tea Party, who began challenging the Republican establishment back during George W. Bush's term. The efforts finally ended up making history in 2010, with state legislatures across the country went Republican. It started an assault on the middle class, unions, as well as a war on women's freedoms that ended up turning Wisconsin and Ohio upside down, but boy did it change the debate.

[See political cartoons about the Tea Party movement.]

Now Newt Gingrich, once a speaker of the House, is running on an anti-establishment, anti-Washington platform spouting Tea Party populism as the new change message. In South Carolina, Newt sang the Tea Party's tune and the right wing base rewarded him with a win, leaving the establishment mouths agape.

Where's the Democratic version of the Tea Party? You'd think after Obama's anti-progressive economics, foreign policy, and adoption of Bush antiterrorism policies (though to a more methodically lethal, anti-progressive effect), the Democratic base would have taken the Tea Party template and run with it by now.

Obama got away with the healthcare plan, which was bargained behind closed doors with private insurance and drug companies, manifesting a product that hasn't kept costs down. He negotiated with himself, as he did on the stimulus, instead of using the majority he had in Congress to press the case for a public option that would have tackled healthcare costs, our biggest foe. It was never considered.

[Check out political cartoons about President Obama.]

When Obama recently decided not to relax restrictions on the emergency contraceptive Plan B, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi gave him a pass, while the Colorado Democratic Rep. Diana DeGette, a member of the so called "Pro-Choice Caucus," stated she was "disappointed." There are never any repercussions for such decisions on the left, while repercussions have defined the Tea Party and its power on the right.

Understand that Plan B has nothing to do with abortion. It simply makes a female's womb inhospitable for implantation and has been found absolutely safe by the F.D.A. However, as an ode to independents in an election season, Obama made a decision that any Republican would have made.

But not to worry, a carrot wasn't far behind. The Department of Health and Human Services recently announced that universal contraceptive coverage will now be part of every employer healthcare plan, with religious-affiliated hospitals and institutions getting a one-year delay to comply. It could have been done earlier, but an election year is prime time.

During the debate around Bowles-Simpson, entitlement "reform" was broached first by Obama, with cost-of-living increases on Social Security being considered by the White House. That this would hit women hardest and put them in poverty was evidently missed by the administration. It was scuttled when all hell broke loose.

[See editorial cartoons about the budget and deficit.]

There wasn't a woman in the room during the debt ceiling debate, a time when entitlement "reforms" were being considered. Pelosi was only added after women's groups held a conference call and writers started complaining.

Obama also cut home heating assistance for the poor at a time when the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy are in place.