Political Malpractice

How are Democrats losing this argument:

The 2010 elections swept Republicans into power of the House of Representatives, but a majority of those who voted in this year’s election do not side with the GOP on the full extension of the Bush administration tax cuts. A post-election Pew Research Center survey finds that most voters (55%) favor either repealing the Bush administration’s tax cuts for everyone (22%) or repealing those received by higher-income taxpayers (33%). Only 40% of voters favor leaving the tax cuts intact. Among all adults, 34% favor keeping all the tax cuts while 30% want the tax cuts for the wealthy to expire and 28% say all tax cuts should be repealed.

Actually, they’ve won the argument. They just chose not to fight.






206 replies
  1. 1
    WyldPirate says:

    How are Democrats losing this argument:

    Multiple reasons. No fucking spine. The inability to communicate a simple concept-that the ultrarich are soaking everyone, lack of any tactical cohesiveness, the bullshit insanity of insisting on “bipartisanship with a bunch of fucking lunatics.

  2. 2
    mistermix says:

    They’re shit-scared of “class warfare”, even when the majority wants to declare war on the upper classes.

    Also, too:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/.....06717.html

  3. 3
    Kryptik says:

    Because the PEEPLEZ HAV SPOKE-…wait.

    The answer is obvious here, John. There is no argument. You actually need two sides willing to argue to have an argument. What you have here is one side forfeiting before the argument starts, and the other side screaming too loud to hear it.

  4. 4
    Scott says:

    They get all their information from the Republican-leaning Washington Villager media. It never occurs to them to look outside of the Washington Post/Fox News/Politico Axis of Wingnuttery.

  5. 5
    Comrade Javamanphil says:

    Too long in the DC bubble, not enough time at the Applebee’s salad bar or in NYC taxis.

  6. 6
    cleek says:

    Actually, they’ve won the argument.

    bah. they didn’t even have the argument. the Dems, as usual, preemptively surrendered the argument to the GOP.

    maybe they think the simple facts that they are on the right side of polling will be enough. and it would be, if people weren’t completely ignorant of the Dems’ and the GOP’s actual positions.

    thanks liberal media!

  7. 7
    The Republic of Stupidity says:

    Because the worthless POS would be increasing their OWN tax bills too… and he was the last time a legislator from either party voluntarily agreed to pay more in taxes?

  8. 8
    BR says:

    Meanwhile, there’s talk they’re going to slip in an Internet censorship bill during the lame duck session, because obviously that’s an important issue to -the American people- their corporate backers. (And as someone with many years of knowledge of both computer science and intellectual property, I’d like to say: this bill is a disaster for everyone other than the MPAA/RIAA/Chamber of Commerce/etc.)

  9. 9
    Jamie says:

    you’re correct, we may be too dumb to have a democracy.

  10. 10
    samson says:

    Come on. The answer is obvious. You act like the people are what count. Not all the people vote for one. But more importantly, the rich people are too important to the Democrats for future electoral success and therefore, the rich must not be upset. If the Dems alienate the rich, they will face even more money going to bogus attack ads (that unfortunately actually persuade far too many of the ignorant “independents” – i.e., politically checked out middle) in the next election cycles.

  11. 11
    Senyordave says:

    Gutless, stupid, heartless, pathetic, useless. Just five of thousands possible description for the Dems.

    Just having Heath Shuler as Congressman alone makes me seriously reconsider calling myself a Democrat. Shuler is actually a perfect role model for the GOP. Made tons of money doing a shitty job in his chosen profession, gets elected to Congress so he can make sure he keeps as much as possible, and screw anyone else.

  12. 12
    Lolis says:

    This shows the corruption within the Democratic Party. Think of all the Democrats who refused to vote on this before the election, against the advice of Nancy Pelosi and the Obama White House.

  13. 13
    BR says:

    @samson:

    If the Dems alienate the rich, they will face even more money going to bogus attack ads (that unfortunately actually persuade far too many of the ignorant “independents” – i.e., politically checked out middle) in the next election cycles.

    I wonder, though – couldn’t Dems have used contrary reasoning?

    That is, in 2009, at the peak of Obama’s popularity, before passing the stimulus, they could have done a one-two-three punch to the plutocrats:

    – Lobbying/campaign finance reform
    – Tax hikes on the wealthy / capital gains / estates
    – Closing of corporate tax loopholes

    That would leave less money in the pockets of the plutocrats to run such false ads, and would have made it harder for them to do so.

  14. 14
    LarsThorwald says:

    This is one issue where the Democratic Party could lose me in terms of active contributions and support. If you play with that deficit toy thingy at the NYT, you can see that eliminating the Bush tax cuts goes a long way toward moving us towards a balanced budget.

    Why Democrats are on the brink of fucking this up, I do not know. But if they truly care about making government more effective, rather than catering to the superrich, then they need to eliminate the additional tax cuts above $250,000 (because, of course, everyone gets the tax cut up to $250,000 — a fact NO ONE is hitting hard on the Democratic side).

    This pussiness is making me stabby.

  15. 15
    Rhoda says:

    It’s really simple: The Blue Dogs and conservative democrats in Congress are fucking this up.

    The Democrats did win this debate during the election and then the White House tried to get Congress to vote and run on this; but the House couldn’t get it done so forget about the senate.

    The aide said it’s already a winning message without a vote since Obama and Democrats have framed the debate as the Republicans being for the rich and Democrats wanting to help the middle class. Others have made similar arguments, but several lawmakers have said they think a vote is the only way to score a political victory. The senior aide doesn’t think so. “We have a winning message now, why muddy it up with a failed vote, because, of course, Republicans are going to block everything,” the aide said.

    This is the level of stupid we’re dealing with and why we’re losing.

  16. 16

    I don’t know–I look at those numbers and I see a plurality that wants the tax cuts to stay. Yeah, we should be able to outvote them, but how often does that actually happen in the real world? The determined minority can very often win fights if the opposition is too busy picking at their toejam to respond.

    Me? Put me in the group that wants the rates on the highest to go back up no matter what, even if it means I get tagged too. Sure, I’d like to keep the tax cuts in my bracket–who wouldn’t?–but not at the cost of letting the rich get away with it again. This is one of those times when I’d be perfectly happy with Congress doing jack shit. Let them all expire.

    And what’s more, I hope (unreasonably, of course) that the next time Mitch McConnell opens his pie hole about how the Democrats need to move toward him, that some Senate Democrats remind him that he’s still only the Minority Leader, and that he’s talking a lot of shit for someone without much real power.

  17. 17
    Shalimar says:

    Follow the money. I think the majority of Dems are just as bought and paid for as Republicans are. They just have to hide it and play the kabuki dance because their base is never going to believe tax cuts for rich people helps them somehow.

  18. 18
    Napoleon says:

    @LarsThorwald:

    This is one issue where the Democratic Party could lose me in terms of active contributions and support.

    They will absolutely loose me. Voting for an extension of those cuts in my book is a vote to repeal the New Deal.

  19. 19
    General Stuck says:

    Spilt milk, what’s done is done. And into the future we go, where Pelosi says no compromise, and so do the wingers in the lame duck. Meaning all the cuts will likely expire and we start over in the new congress, with the House wingnuts front and center pushing tax cuts and other policies for the wealthy the public doesn’t like right now. Obama says no to that, but of course, he will get pre blamed anyways for pre caving, and the increased price of tea in China. Among other ills befalling mankind.

    meh, politics is about dead to me for the time being. Until after the new year, lame duck is lame and will likely quack little.

  20. 20

    @BR: Forget contrary reasoning. I’d like them to make the active case that paying your taxes is a fucking patriotic act. You love the troops? Then pay your damn taxes. You love clean drinking water? Pay your damn taxes. Reagan made the case that government was the problem without ever coming up with anything to replace it, but the fact is that we all love government services. Some of us just acknowledge it and decide it’s a good thing to pay for them.

  21. 21

    why would they fight, john? in the senate, everyone’s a millionaire, they want that tax cut for themselves.

  22. 22
    BR says:

    I look at those numbers and I see a plurality that wants the tax cuts to stay.

    I’m pretty sure that’s not true. It says:

    30% want the tax cuts for the wealthy to expire and 28% say all tax cuts should be repealed

    That means that 28% want the cuts for the wealthy to expire and for those for everyone else to expire too. Adding that up means 58% want the cuts for the wealthy to expire.

  23. 23
    BR says:

    @LarsThorwald:

    This.

    I actually emailed the White House about this last week – and I haven’t done that in probably a year.

  24. 24
    BR says:

    @brendancalling:

    They’re millionaires, but their income isn’t above the 250k line, right? So the wealthy tax giveaway doesn’t help them.

  25. 25
    jwb says:

    @cleek: From the available evidence, one should really conclude, I think, that the Dems didn’t want to have this argument. The really intriguing question is: why do they not want this argument? why are they willing to give up power rather than have this argument? Lots of money is in play, to be sure, but is it enough to buy off a winning argument like this? Apparently, for the moment.

    In any case, when the 21st-century version of Teddy Roosevelt finally strides across our political theater, he or she will have plenty of material to work into a winning performance.

  26. 26
    jwb says:

    @samson: Ha. And you think that money is not going to go to attack ads on Dems if the Dems do nothing?

  27. 27
    p.a. says:

    Once again, like everyone else the rich still retain the tax cuts on their income up to $250,000, but do you think there is a goddamned Democratic pol out there that is pointing this out?

    Or is there anyone out there pointing out the fact that there is already a class war going on, waged by the rich-right against everyone else?

  28. 28
    General Stuck says:

    There is no evidence that the Bush tax cuts was a big factor in the election one way or another. The evidence suggests seniors scared about medicare, and usual non voting persons came out to vote against Obama in some surprising numbers. Wonder why? And indies, who are too uninformed to have a reason other than following which way the wind is blowing.

  29. 29
    Shalimar says:

    @BR: Not from being Senators, but you don’t get elected to that job without being a prominent person with deep ties to the community, i.e. either inherited money or investments with influential friends.

  30. 30

    @BR: When you look at the question as “the tax cuts” on the whole, which is the easiest way to frame the question–and we’re talking about what’s easiest to sell as a position here–you get the plurality. I remember a study from a couple of years ago I believe where something like 20% of Americans believe they’re in the top 2% of income earners, and that those misconceptions continue all the way down the scale. Almost no one believes they’re at the bottom. So when politicians are selling tax hikes on the wealthy, lots of people who won’t be hit by them think they will be (because they’re ignorant of their place in the economy). Using hard numbers can help fight that perception, but as we’ve seen with the whole 94% of people think their taxes went up in the last 2 years issue, it can only do so much.

    Those two groups who want either some or all of the tax cuts to expire would no doubt come to some sort of compromise if they were actually working together, but they aren’t (or they didn’t in the last election anyway) and so the hard plurality who wants to keep them all in place won.

  31. 31
    Alex S. says:

    @WyldPirate:

    Have you read beyond the first line?

  32. 32
    BR says:

    @Shalimar:

    But aren’t those covered by the estate tax and capital gains, respectively, not income taxes? (Granted, I think we need to hike estate and capital gains taxes to 90%, but that’s another matter.)

  33. 33
    aimai says:

    @Rhoda:

    Yes, I remember that as well. My jaw is still hanging open from it.

    aimai

  34. 34
    El Tiburon says:

    Pick your argument.

    1. Republicans support the troops, Democrats don’t.
    2. Republicans are fiscally more responsible.
    3. Republicans are ‘family values’.
    4. Republicans are the ‘adults’ and are more ‘serious’.

    I put all the blame on the media. And a very stupid and disengaged populace.*

    *Of which I used to be a card-carrying member. And everything I thought about politics was either directly from the MSM or filtered down from the MSM. I can remember before I became enlightened circa 2001-2002 thinking that this person named Molly Ivins was some kind of crazy liberal – whatever that meant. Now one of my prized possessions is a signed Ivin’s book and one of my greatest thrills was being able to meet her shortly before her passing. Let’s not forget or poo-poo the immense influence the MSM has on our national discourse.

    Until we beat them, we do not have a shot of really changing anything.

    I mean, if after 8 years of BushCo this country can so quickly put an even more insane group of fucks in Congress, then we have a lot bigger issues than the democrats lack of a spine.

  35. 35
    jwb says:

    @General Stuck: The tax cuts expiring and leaving it to the new congress to solve—actually leaving most everything for the next congress to solve—is probably the best course of action at this point. The whole governing thing is likely to be as hard for the goopers at this point as the Dems, perhaps harder inasmuch as many of the goopers believe they were elected for their talents in political theater rather than their ability to govern.

  36. 36
    James E. Powell says:

    @samson:

    This pretty much sums it up. The pollsters ought to forget registered voters and likely voters and just poll the people who matter: those who donate more than $100 to campaigns, parties, and independent groups. And they should weight the poll to reflect the total amount donated.

  37. 37
    plasticgoat says:

    Why fight when you can compromise away everything? They seem to find it so much easier.

  38. 38
    BR says:

    @Brian S (formerly Incertus):

    I remember a study from a couple of years ago I believe where something like 20% of Americans believe they’re in the top 2% of income earners

    Yeah, this is a problem. Seems like it’s another reason that Dems should frame this in hard numbers: “Everyone gets a permanent tax cut on the first $250,000 of income. Do you make 250k or less? Well then you get a cut on all of your income. If you make millions of dollars a year, sorry you don’t need a tax giveaway on your millions – we’re sure you already have a creative tax lawyer who’s already done some shady accounting for you anyway.”

  39. 39
    ChrisS says:

    Only suckers govern by polls.

  40. 40
    Annelid Gustator says:

    @BR: They only need 4% returns on principal of just $12.5M for their investment-derived income to be $500,000. Of course those’d be cap gains anyways, probably.

  41. 41
    James E. Powell says:

    @El Tiburon:

    I mean, if after 8 years of BushCo this country can so quickly put an even more insane group of fucks in Congress, then we have a lot bigger issues than the democrats lack of a spine.

    This is less of a puzzle if we consider that it wasn’t the whole country who voted the Republicans back into power. It was the same hard-core, right-wing voters who never wavered in their support for BushCo. They are crazy, they are bigots, and they vote every single time.

    The people who tend to vote Democratic tend to stay home in non-presidential years. I knew that, so I have to assume that the president and the Democratic leadership knew that. I am not firebagger, but certainly the president and Democratic leadership could have done things to animate and motivate those voters. I didn’t look like they even tried.

  42. 42
    Dennis SGMM says:

    It was only a couple of weeks ago that some commenters here were being castigated for expressing their apathy regarding the Democratic party. How in the world can anyone be expected to be supportive of the party when our own elected pols aren’t willing to get off of their asses to fight for something as self-evidently popular as repealing tax cuts for the wealthy?

    Voter apathy or voter enthusiasm are both earned.

  43. 43
    Annelid Gustator says:

    @jwb: No. Because they don’t have to do anything for the GWB rates to expire. The opposition in the next congress will have all they need in the house to push cuts which probably only help out the zillionaires, and that’d force honest-to-god votes to raise taxes, which The Spineless Ones (TM) won’t do. So, gotta cut future rates for the middle and below during the lame duck session, or risk further huge damage.

  44. 44

    @BR: And Obama did that during the election. I remember standing and applauding the tv when I saw it. He didn’t quite say “if you make more than 250K and don’t want to pay higher taxes, then you shouldn’t vote for me,” but that was certainly the subtext. If anything, I thought the number was too high, but just having a number meant we could have a debate on just what kind of money we’re talking about here.

  45. 45
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    In all seriousness, what strikes me is how you never include Barack Obama or any of his advisors as “the Democrats”.

    It’s like a weird glass ceiling of some sort, in reverse, or a force field.

    It’s just strange.

  46. 46
    BR says:

    @Brian S (formerly Incertus):

    Yeah. And what happened to the very clear campaign messaging? I don’t quite get that. It’s not like those same messages that held appeal during the campaign won’t work now. So why not just keep using the same arguments from then? (And he even has Axelrod with him. So unless it was all done by Plouffe’s urging, it doesn’t compute.)

  47. 47
    Bullsmith says:

    We all say the Democrats are spineless, but in fact they’re absolutely courageous when it comes to standing up to the voting public. They ran on ending Iraq in 2006 AND 2008, they talked about restoring accountability for torture, closing GItmo, eliminating the Bush tax cuts for the ultra wealthy, taking on the power of lobbyists.

    But as soon as they got into power, only Nancy Pelosi actually tried to do any of those things. So of course the Senate and the Administration quickly found common ground and compromised the actions taken into mish-mashes of policy they will neither explain nor defend. Meanwhile the Republicans have found that if they threaten to hold their breath, they can have whatever they want.

  48. 48
    BR says:

    @Bullsmith:

    Maybe the wingnuts hate Pelosi something special because she actually fights for what she believes in? If they hate you, you must be doing something right. (Same could be said about, say, Al Franken.)

  49. 49
    Oscar Leroy says:

    They just chose not to fight.

    Firebagger! ! ! 11!

  50. 50
    Marmot says:

    @General Stuck: Well, there ya go. The prevailing feeling across the country has been “Obama and Dems are sucky,” and that’s what motivated a lot of people to vote. Dems won’t fight, as usual, but what tools do they have to change the prevailing mood, anyway?

    The right’s got the usual Fox News, right-wing radio, email forwards, and whatever else. What’s a putative fighting Dem to do? Go on the weekend talking heads shows? Hold one million little speeches in community group halls across the nation?

  51. 51
    El Cid says:

    __

    How are Democrats losing this argument

    This cannot be true. Democratic strategy and tactics can never be wrong.

    Anything which seems wrongly chosen is the fault of a few conservative Democrats, the media, and Firebaggers.

    Any other explanation suggested is simply done to tear down the party and help the GOP.

  52. 52
    General Stuck says:

    With what to do about the Bush tax cuts, this is one of those rare occurrences when doing nothing is likely the best course of action.

  53. 53
    Corner Stone says:

    @Bill E Pilgrim:

    In all seriousness, what strikes me is how you never include Barack Obama or any of his advisors as “the Democrats”.

    Didn’t you see his “No one has his back” post from yesterday?
    What do you think that was about?

  54. 54
    BR says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Not sure this is one of those cases. He can say he’ll veto any bill that irresponsibly borrows $700 billion from China so we can hand it to millionaires.

  55. 55
    El Cid says:

    @Bullsmith: And discussions in the establishment media also define Democratic courage exclusively as standing up against their supporters and voters.

    Look at the discussion of Democrats’ “kneejerk” reaction to the draft report by the idiots Bowles and Simpsons with their “cut taxes” deficit commission: it’s all about condemning Democrats for taking a tough line with those who supported their major policies.

  56. 56
    Brian J says:

    I’m wondering if Obama is going to lay sort of low–as low as is possible for a president, anyway–until the State of the Union and then come out fighting. It would be a nice contrast for what is happening now, and in the mean time, a lot of the anger towards him might subside. I kind of doubt it, however, but one of these days, I will be right about this.

    I am honestly kind of puzzled about what he expects to happen if he doesn’t fight the Republicans. Why not announce another stimulus bill that is funded mostly or entirely by a tax on financial transactions (and maybe pollution or alcohol or something else) that would total $200-300 billion per year and then travel the country highlighting the ways in which it could be spent? He’s not some random congressman from Ohio. He’s the goddamn president, and when he speaks, people will be forced to listen. If they resist, keep going. Have him go to Republican districts in the Midwest–there are going to be a lot of them very soon, unfortunately–and urge the citizens there to contact their Representative about why they aren’t voting for this legislation that would (a) create jobs, (b) give us a better infrastructure and (c) not increase the deficit.

    I keep recommending that he talks to the people and actually acts like a little bit of a fighter, if only because he’s not doing it that much, if at all, right now, and we don’t know if it would work. It might not, but it could very well bring people back on his side, or at least make him a little less hostile towards him. If someone has a better solution, I am all ears.

  57. 57
    Bullsmith says:

    @BR:

    Yes the wingnuts hate Pelosi because she’s been surprisingly competent, along with being an uppity left-coast woman and all the other obvious reasons.

    It occurs to me that the person the Left really hates is Joe Lieberman. So the fact that once the Dems got elected, despite his campaigning for the Republican Nominee, pretty much any and all policies followed had to meet with Joe’s approval is especially infuriating. I know the “professional left” gets a lot of heat for criticizing the Dems, but it really is a two-way street.

  58. 58
    Nick says:

    @Bill E Pilgrim:

    In all seriousness, what strikes me is how you never include Barack Obama or any of his advisors as “the Democrats”.

    Because they’re the ones actually arguing to get rid of tax cuts for the rich?

  59. 59
    Corner Stone says:

    @BR: He could, if he wants to start looking for a new job in 2013.
    But my point was in response to Bill E Pilgrim’s question about why Cole continually pushes a lack of agency regarding Obama and the Obama administration.
    Not about how the incidents are handled.

  60. 60
    Poopyman says:

    Well, I’d also be one to say “follow the money”, but this certainly doesn’t help:

    The advisers are deeply concerned about winning back political independents, who supported Obama two years ago by an eight-point margin but backed Republicans for the House this year by 19 points. To do so, they think he must forge partnerships with Republicans on key issues and make noticeable progress on his oft-repeated campaign pledge to change the ways of Washington.

    Even more important, senior administration officials said, Obama will need to oversee tangible improvements in the economy. They cannot just keep arguing, as Democrats did during the recent campaign, that things would have been worse if not for administration policies.

    One adviser said they spent the past dozen days “soul-searching.”

    (H/T BrooklynBadBoy at DK)

  61. 61
    Marmot says:

    @BR: That’s just not the case. The wingers hate Pelosi because she’s the opposition. They’d hate her exactly the same whether she was more liberal or more conservative. Remember “Daschle Democrats”? That was back when Tom Daschle, Senate minority leader 2003, was just the most horrible, evil liberal ever to walk the Earth. Defeated in 2004.

    Wingers know fuck all. But point them at the enemy, and they’re like crazed fighting dogs.

  62. 62
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @Nick: Oh and no one else is?

    Some Democrats have argued against it, including the White House, yes. Now, the Democrats are being spineless. On the whole. As a group. Obama and his advisors just came out with “well we’re not in favor of extending them permanently” after earlier being against any extension, at all. If you’re exempting them from the critique above it’s just silly.

  63. 63
    Nick says:

    @Bullsmith:

    So the fact that once the Dems got elected, despite his campaigning for the Republican Nominee, pretty much any and all policies followed had to meet with Joe’s approval is especially infuriating.

    he was the 60th vote. I’m not sure how you get around that. You could have thrown him out of the party, that doesn’t change the fact that he would have still be the 60th vote, or another Republican would need to be.

  64. 64
    JAHILL10 says:

    The gloom and doom has been pretty thick here at BJ lately and I’ve noticed a familiar pattern emerging.

    First a front pager points out some idiotic Republican meme. That get’s thrashed for a few comments then others will point out that this piece of idiocy will soon become conventional wisdom because that darn Republican messaging machine is just so damn efficient! Then with help from a few trolls the commentors will start bemoaning the fact that the Democrats are never so efficient their messaging because they are not ____________ fill in the blank (ballsy, smart, mendacious) enough. Then comes the cynical despair fueled by the certainty that if people would just do it the way I thought up last night after half a bottle of wine then all would be well. But they won’t so we are screwed as a nation. Fuck it!

    Is that about right? Here’s the thing. You can’t admire the efficiency and effectiveness of Republican messaging with one half of your brain while simultaneously shooting your own side in the back and expect better results. Organizing means getting together and working together to put out a unified message. And maybe swallowing your pride on a pet issue so that some progress can be made. But whenever some intrepid soul makes any such suggestion they are shot down as infringers of one’s pure, innate liberalness or purveyors of blind Obotiness or whatever.

    So here is my question at long last. Do you believe that being a liberal is a futile pursuit by its very nature? Are we all so pure and independent that we will choose to die on every hill, suggest that our president resign after his first term, stay home or vote for the other side out of pique? And if so, why the hell read political blogs or pretend to be politically active? You’re doomed to failure! Unless of course you receive some sort of perverse pleasure from spreading hopeless cynicism.

    Rant over

  65. 65
    Martin says:

    How are Democrats losing this argument:

    Voters != Donors

    Fix funding of elections, and this stuff goes away.

  66. 66
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @Corner Stone: I’m not sure what you’re getting at but yes, I saw it, and it’s exactly what I mean.

  67. 67
    Nick says:

    @Bill E Pilgrim:

    Oh and no one else is?

    Some more left members of Congress, sure, but even Pelosi wouldn’t put it up for a damn vote despite the President urging them to.

    Obama and his advisors just came out with “well we’re not in favor of extending them permanently” after earlier being against any extension, at all. If you’re exempting them from the critique above it’s just silly.

    After spending three months pounding the pavement demanding they be ended, only to met with his own party saying “actually no.” I thought we were ok with compromise as long as the President fought first? Oh, that was all bullshit? Quelle surprise.

  68. 68
    AB says:

    I’m pretty sure TPM put up a Democratic strategist memo last year about how they thought the problem was that something like “in our concern for the rich, we forgot about [x]”. At that point I wanted to puke.

  69. 69
    cleek says:

    @Brian J:

    I’m wondering if Obama is going to lay sort of low—as low as is possible for a president, anyway—until the State of the Union and then come out fighting.

    is there any precedent for this? when has he ever “come out fighting” ? never, that’s when.

    people have been waiting since the primaries for him to come out fighting. he never does. this is why the “11-dimensional chess” thing exists: it’s a way to cover for his lack of fight by assuming he’s playing some kind of subtle long-term strategy. but he’s not. he’s just a conflict avoider.

  70. 70
    jayackroyd says:

    John, please outline how the “Democrats” are to accomplish this.

    One thought I had was to have the House pass the UI extension that expires at the end of this month, and the <250K extension, and then stop.

    Then make the GOP filibuster. I mean, really. Shut down Senate business. Spend the time between cloture votes talking up sticking it to the man, and helping the regular Joe. I asked KagroX what was wrong with that. His tweet in reply:

    @JayAckroyd You’d also face a motion to recommit in the House that would risk losing enough Dems that you’d also extend $250K+.

    (He also said the GOP would hold the filibuster, and then run against the Democratic tax increases, the electorate having forgotten the filibuster. That’s a matter of debate, but this legislative maneuver isn’t really.)

  71. 71
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @Nick: Your gymnastics are impressive.

    Really, I haven’t seen anything like this since Rosemary Woods, how some people here twist themselves into pretzels to excuse the same positions they would obviously blast anyone else for.

  72. 72
    Dennis SGMM says:

    @cleek:

    this is why the “11-dimensional chess” thing exists: it’s a way to cover for his lack of fight by assuming he’s playing some kind of subtle long-term strategy. but he’s not. he’s just a conflict avoider.

    Hey man, history will judge him.

  73. 73
    Nick says:

    @Poopyman: And there’s also this

    The new CBS News poll on post-election voter attitudes gives us a nice snapshot of just how muddled and hopeless Americans’ expectations for the new political arrangement are.
    – Seventy-three percent of Americans think “Barack Obama will try to work with Republicans.”
    – Only 45 percent of Americans think “Republicans in Congress will try to work with Barack Obama.”
    Despite this, 78 percent of Americans think “Barack Obama should compromise some of his positions in order to get things done.” Add that to the 44 percent of people who want upper-income level tax cuts extended — it was only 37 percent in a September Gallup Poll
    and you see the beneficial effects of a Republican obstruction strategy. Define any action by the majority party as partisan and extreme and the public starts to see it as partisan and extreme.

    http://www.slate.com/BLOGS/blo.....lemma.aspx

    Even Weigel linked him on his twitter with the tag #stupidvoters.

    People know Republicans are unreasonable, want Obama to compromise anyway, and then want him to solve all the country’s problems.

  74. 74
    Nick says:

    @cleek:

    when has he ever “come out fighting” ?

    August through October on tax cuts. Why do you people refuse to admit this? Because it didn’t work?

  75. 75
    Bmaccnm says:

    I realize this isn’t an open thread, but maybe it’s germaine. I usually post from Portland, Oregon, but tonight I’m posting from Nairobi. I’ve been in Kenya for almost a month now, teaching Maasai midwives the fundamentals of handwashing and other relavent-to-babyhaving topics. Last night, I was sitting in a cowdung and corrugated steel house, sipping tea and eating roast goat with a local tribal policeman, who has a sixth grade education in schools without chalk or paper. This man was analyzing THE AMERICAN POLITICAL SYSTEM, and making more sense than the majority of my countrymen. He told me “The Tea Party blames Obama and a rich man for the post-election violence. That is crazy.” He showed me an article from The Nation about Glenn Beck. I’d forgotten about Glenn Beck. The man was clear about our future- “America is falling apart. The dollar won’t be worth paper. You will be like us.” I couldn’t disagree. I was very sad.

  76. 76
    lacp says:

    A bit different from usual legislative activity in that “doing nothing” is actually a viable option – maybe not the best one, but viable.

  77. 77
    Nick says:

    @Bill E Pilgrim: ditto douchebag. Thanks for answering the question

  78. 78
    dricey says:

    Face it, gang. The DC Democratic Establishment, the Obama White House, and especially Obama himself, don’t listen to us. In fact, I would argue, they make a special point of not listening to us. They don’t listen to us, they don’t read poll results that support our arguments, they don’t listen to organized labor, they listen only to David Broder and David Brooks, and to anyone with “Goldman Sachs” on their resume.

    The Democratic Party out here in the provinces has been betrayed by these people. We are on the road either to acquiescence as a nation to a Third-World status of economic and intellectual poverty, or eventual revolution against the people who are trying to enslave us on the one hand, and those who betrayed us into their hands on the other.

  79. 79
    BR says:

    @dricey:

    and to anyone with “Goldman Sachs” on their resume.

    This part I didn’t want to believe completely until I saw Inside Job this weekend. It’s one of those movies that you have to take everyone you know to see, because it rips the veil off the financial-political system.

    (Edit: while the documentary focuses its critique on Reagan, Clinton, and Bush, it doesn’t spare Obama.)

  80. 80
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @cleek: The problem is while people play these mental games about other dimensions to excuse all this, as if some “many world’s theory” interpretation, back here in reality they’re having their asses kicked at regular old three-dimensional checkers.

    And in my case, I mean the entire party, as a whole.

  81. 81
    b-psycho says:

    I remember sometime before Obama was elected, some strategist came up with the idea of calling out “the Bush tax increase” (since taxes were scheduled to go up anyway, plus the impact on the deficit). Clearly nobody listened to him, because Dems still keep calling it “the Bush tax cuts” — thus, reinforcing the idiocy that Republican = lower taxes & never mind the fact that spending never matches up.

  82. 82
    jayackroyd says:

    @JAHILL10:

    As is all too common, you leave out the possibility that there is really a majority in both houses who share a view with the president that the 3rd way, centrist approach of working with large corporations, and their experts, is preferable to traditional, FDR liberalism of an adversarial approach to large corporations.

    It really makes a whole lot more sense if you start from the premise that they really think they are pursuing the best policies they can, that will make the country as well off as is possible, and that they are just misunderstood. It’s not that they are cowardly, it’s they are like Evan Bayh–they think the mechanism for governance involves the banksters, the telecom monopolies, health care corporations, and so forth.

    When Geithner and Obama say that they only care about creating private sector jobs, that public sector jobs don’t count, they support the idea that they think what they are doing is good policy. Times are tough, but the business cycle is what it is, and all you can do is keep the main engines, the large corporate players, afloat and contributing to the economy while the cycle turns.

  83. 83
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @Nick: Charming.

    What question? You asked a clearly rhetorical question that you were answering yourself and concluded it with “Quelle surprise”

    Name-calling like that seems to be what these BJ threads always turn to these days by the end. Actually some of them are starting that way now.

  84. 84
    John O says:

    It’s an infuriatingly easy argument to make, too:

    “Look you morons, if you care about the deficit, asking the rich to pay up since they can afford it and are actually the ones that got us into this mess in the first place is an example of what was once known as, ‘common sense.'”

    We are well and truly doomed.

  85. 85
    Kenneth Almquist says:

    The Pew survey question is slanted. The question facing Congress isn’t whether to repeal the Bush tax cuts (which expire at the end of the year whether they are repealed or not). The question is whether to extend all or part of the tax cuts beyond the their scheduled expiration date.

  86. 86
    Bullsmith says:

    @Nick:

    Funny, George Bush never had 60 votes. Nor did Clinton, nor St. Ronny. But of course, we must all kneel before the great Joe Lieberman, the suddenly-sainted 60th. To demand, for instance “Up or Down Votes” would just be dirty politics. Sure, rather than kick Joe out of caucus for voting against them on purely procedural votes, the Democrats should abandon any sense of principle and vote in ways Republicans AND the voting public can denounce. What choice did they have?

    You got the beltway talking points down, I’ll give you that.

  87. 87
    homerhk says:

    Whatever one thinks of the policies that Obama has overseen, can we all just get over this meme about him not being a fighter. By God, the man has had to fight every single day of his Presidency, whether it be against intractable republicans, idiotic progressives or the Blue Dogs. When people were telling him to drop healthcare (including his own advisors, pundits, republicans, the public at large to some degree), he fought for it and got pretty much what he wanted. Ditto, wall street reform and, in particular, the consumer protection agency. Ditto the stimulus bill (those with short memories will say he didn’t get enough stimulus but will forget that until he started forcefully making the case for it there was little chance in passing this massive bill). Now, he may not fight in the way that republicans do (i.e. by lying, demeaning his opponents, scare tactics etc.) but that was also a signature part of his campaign (and appeal). Anyone who saw him go against the republicans on the televised smackdown could see that he was polite, respectful and nonetheless utterly wiped the floor with the know nothing republican congressmen. Same with the tax cuts – as Nick says he pretty much spent three months going around saying that the republicans were holding middle class tax cuts hostage but to no avail.

    No-one says Pelosi isn’t a fighter yet even she could not get enough votes on the middle class tax cuts alone. And, by the way, the polls on tax cuts are worth no more than the paper they’re written on. It’s all to easy to say you support tax increases on paper but when it comes to actually voting for politicians I bet a number of those who in theory would be for tax increases (or rather reversion to original rates) would rather vote for the party that wasn’t going to tax them more.

    So, how did Democrats lose the debate? a number of reasons including spineless democrat congresspeople, spineless and self-centred voters and unprincipled republicans.

  88. 88
    Dennis SGMM says:

    You guys just don’t understand strategy and tactics: the Democrats are tricking the Republicans into taking control of the Senate in 2012. Then they’ll… Then they’ll… Aw, fuck it.

  89. 89
    Mnemosyne says:

    Did you know that, while the Republicans have been pushing a single plan, Congressional Democrats have been floating six or seven different plans and are still arguing about which one to pick? Because apparently every frickin’ time Obama comes up with a plan, some asshole in Congress has to insist that his idea is much better and everything has to be debated from scratch.

    Today, the AFL-CIO came out in support of … the plan Obama’s been touting pretty much since 2008 (extend cuts for middle class, end cuts for $250K and over). I’d like to think that will make the Democrats in Congress pick a fucking plan already, but I’m guessing not, especially once they figure out they’d be picking the one the president wants them to pick. Can’t have that! We must be independent of the White House!

  90. 90
    FlipYrWhig says:

    Obama has said repeatedly that he wants to continue the cuts for the first $250K and discontinue them for the money after that. But, and I know this is for some reason hard for some of you to understand, _a lot of Democrats don’t agree with him_. And they, you know, vote. They don’t want to “decouple” the votes because they don’t want to run the risk of enacting the first mess of cuts and not the rest, then get socked for “raising taxes by $700B” or something like that. You can think that’s stupid and counterproductive, but that’s what they want to do.

    Now, if you’re the president, what would you rather do under those circumstances? Fight with your own party? Or find a way to save face, that is, by going ahead with the policy you know is stupid and have said is stupid but your party legislators actually want anyway, and tweaking your language to suggest that you wanted something like the stupid, compromised policy all along?

    Senate Democrats don’t want to vote to “raise taxes” on wealthy people. That’s not hard to understand. It’s stupid, because we can all see how the politics would be better if they hung together and painted the Republicans dishing out cash to fat cats. But you go to make policy with the legislature you have, not the legislature you wish you had.

  91. 91
    Nick says:

    @Bullsmith:

    Funny, George Bush never had 60 votes.

    actually, he did, he had 60 votes for the Iraq War, 60 votes for his SCOTUS nominees, 60 votes for the Patriot Act.

    the only things he passed without 60 was tax cuts, which he did through reconciliation, which we did with healthcare.

  92. 92
    Bullsmith says:

    @Nick:

    Exactly. And do you think Bush would’ve bent over backwards to protect a Senator who’d campaigned for Gore or Kerry? They got their votes by playing hard-ball politics, hence my reference to “Up or Down Votes.”

  93. 93
    b-psycho says:

    @jayackroyd:

    As is all too common, you leave out the possibility that there is really a majority in both houses who share a view with the president that the 3rd way, centrist approach of working with large corporations, and their experts, is preferable to traditional, FDR liberalism of an adversarial approach to large corporations.

    Uh, yeah, FDR was adversarial towards large corporations, if by “adversarial” you mean eager to have their executives run planning boards…

  94. 94
    Nick says:

    @Bill E Pilgrim:

    What question? You asked a clearly rhetorical question that you were answering yourself and concluded it with “Quelle surprise”

    Ok, so I’ll ask it for real. What happened to “it would be ok for him to compromise, as long as he fought?”

  95. 95
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    It must be very strange to be President Obama. A man of extraordinary vision and brilliance approaching to genius, he can’t get anyone to notice. He is like a great painter or musician who is ahead of his time, and who unveils one masterpiece after another to a reception that, when not bored, is hostile.

  96. 96
    Brachiator says:

    Actually, they’ve won the argument. They just chose not to fight.

    Yep. That’s pretty much the whole story.

    And here’s a little late-breaking tidbit from Congressional and tax news web sites.

    Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., on November 12 announced he will introduce legislation to repeal Form 1099 reporting requirements for small businesses that was enacted in the new health care law. Baucus, in a written statement, called for repeal of the filing requirements contained in section 9006 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (P.L. 111-148 ) following strong small business opposition claiming that the new provision would be too burdensome…

    Why worry about the Republicans trying to unravel health care reform when Democrats will undermine it themselves?

    @dricey:

    Face it, gang. The DC Democratic Establishment, the Obama White House, and especially Obama himself, don’t listen to us.

    Sorry, I don’t think it’s primarily Obama. Democrats in Congress mastered the art of caving in to the GOP during the Bush Administration. I thought that Obama’s election would give them a jolt of courage but apart from sometimes heroic, sometimes erratic, exertions by Pelosi and a few others, the Democrats have been fought off, scared off, bought off, by the GOP and the Money interests.

    And while progressives talk a good game, they are less able than even libertarians in getting people voted into office who can represent their views and turn palaver into policy.

  97. 97
    Nick says:

    @Bullsmith:

    And do you think Bush would’ve bent over backwards to protect a Senator who’d campaigned for Gore or Kerry?

    If one did, sure. He did bent over backwards to protect Linc Chafee in 2006.

  98. 98
    Dennis SGMM says:

    @Brachiator:
    It isn’t as if Baucus didn’t do everything in his power to kill HCR before it left the Senate.

  99. 99
    lacp says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead: That one never gets old, does it? One of the few truly memorable quotes from wingnuttia.

  100. 100
    mds says:

    @jayackroyd:

    John, please outline how the “Democrats” are to accomplish this.

    Well, I’m no senate parliamentarian, but: offer a bill that enacts new but identical tax cuts for the first $250,000 of income, sets them to expire in ten years, and then use reconciliation to pass the bill by simple majority? It’s how the Bush Tax Shifts got passed. I’m guessing that simply continuing the existing cuts would run afoul of the reconciliation rules, but couldn’t replacement tax cuts be timed to kick in after the old ones expire, or something? Note that this has the dual virtue of completely ignoring the expiration of the $250,000+ cuts, and also allows even the budget-draining “middle class” cuts to automatically expire if necessary.

  101. 101
    Bullsmith says:

    @Nick:

    You’re honestly suggesting that George Bush would’ve forgiven a prominent Republican who actively campaigned against him and would moreover have supported putting that person into a prominent leadership role central to Bush’s own chosen policy agenda?

    I submit for the record that you make a mockery of yourself. That’s so fucking stupid I’m amazed you could even type it.

  102. 102
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @jayackroyd:

    As is all too common, you leave out the possibility that there is really a majority in both houses who share a view with the president that the 3rd way, centrist approach of working with large corporations, and their experts, is preferable to traditional, FDR liberalism of an adversarial approach to large corporations.

    I’m with you entirely — except that I don’t think that Obama actually shares that view. I don’t think Clinton shared it either, for that matter, but the same arguments are working on both of them. Remember what Clinton said to Bob Rubin:

    “You mean to tell me that the success of the economic program and my re-election hinges on the Federal Reserve and a bunch of f—— bond traders?”

  103. 103
    Keith G says:

    Actually, they’ve won the argument. They just chose not to fight.

    Welcome to the Democrat Party c. 2009.*

    *Except for the wonderful Nancy Smash.

  104. 104
    sfsmskater says:

    In the name of bipartisanship, Obama, will vote for his own impeachment.

  105. 105
    Corner Stone says:

    @lacp:

    A bit different from usual legislative activity in that “doing nothing” is actually a viable option – maybe not the best one, but viable.

    I disagree at this point. Now that we have an R House, they will propose a “permanent” extension of all levels. It will pass the Senate and if President Obama vetos it he will be a one term President.
    Of course, if he signs it and U3 stays above 8% or so for two years then he’s a one term President anyway.

  106. 106
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Bullsmith:

    Bush would’ve bent over backwards to protect a Senator who’d campaigned for Gore or Kerry? They got their votes by playing hard-ball politics

    I don’t remember a lot of Republican Senators under Bush drifting over towards Democratic policies but being brought into line with “hard-ball politics.” In fact I remember Jim Jeffords splitting with the whole damn party because of what dicks they were.

  107. 107
    Corner Stone says:

    @Bullsmith:

    I submit for the record that you make a mockery of yourself. That’s so fucking stupid I’m amazed you could even type it.

    Nick does a lot of that.

  108. 108
    ricky says:

    How are bloggers losing this argument?

    By relying on Pew polls!!! Or any polls for that matter.

    Take this gem from the same poll quoted here:

    Democrats are now evenly divided – 46%
    prefer political leaders who make compromises
    while 45% prefer leaders who stick to their
    positions. In September, more favored
    politicians who compromise over those who
    stick to their positions (by 54% to 39%).
    About half (49%) of independents admire political leaders who make compromises with
    people they disagree with, while 40% admire politicians who stick to their positions
    without compromising. Two months ago, a majority of independents (53%) said they
    preferred politicians who stick to their positions over those who compromise (40%).

  109. 109
    Nick says:

    @Bullsmith:

    You’re honestly suggesting that George Bush would’ve forgiven a prominent Republican who actively campaigned against him and would moreover have supported putting that person into a prominent leadership role central to Bush’s own chosen policy agenda?

    Bush, sure, the GOP leadership, probably not. The GOP leadership wanted to dump Chafee and Specter, Bush didn’t

  110. 110
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Bullsmith:

    Funny, George Bush never had 60 votes

    He had a caucus that backed him to the hilt. When he proposed, say, the Iraq War, he didn’t have a Max Baucus demanding a six-month delay so he could come up with his own invasion plan.

    Bush told Republicans to jump, and they asked, “How high?” The only time he got any opposition from his caucus was when he tried to do immigration reform, and you know what? It didn’t pass, because his caucus wasn’t behind it.

  111. 111
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Now that we have an R House, they will propose a “permanent” extension of all levels. It will pass the Senate and if President Obama vetos it he will be a one term President.
    Of course, if he signs it and U3 stays above 8% or so for two years then he’s a one term President anyway.

    I think you’re probably right — except that I have no confidence that Republicans will settle on a non-insane nominee. In that scenario Obama could wriggle through like Bush ’04. Republicans could probably win in ’12 with a Dole or Kerry kind of candidate, a bit dull but serious. Running the ’00 version of McCain would win in a walk. But they won’t do that.

  112. 112
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @Nick:

    Are you supposedly quoting me or something?

    This argument has been done to death and I don’t think several more meters of stupid argument about it is going to help much. Especially not here, with people leaping into “douchebag!” and “moron!” as a supposedly reasonable way of responding to anyone who criticizes Obama.

    I don’t think that Barack Obama has been the worst President ever, or worse than Bush, I don’t hate him, I just disagree with some of his decisions and positions. A lot of people do. My comment here was just that it’s struck me as odd, for some time, that there’s such a dividing line and certain people will never include him as a member of the Democratic party when saying that “the Democrats” have done a less than stellar job at something.

    I think that the Democrats need to learn to be much stronger in how they deal with the Republicans. I think that about the entire party. I understand that there’s a different dynamic between the Administration and other Democrats, from the one between Democratic Senators and House Members. Though there’s one there also of course.

    It’s a party though, and working together, they’ve been weak against the Republicans, who I think are playing the Democrats, a lot of the time, like a cheap mandolin. I don’t think it’s a unreasonable or shocking position to say that the Democrats in the White House are acting in many of the same ways that the Democrats in Congress are, there’s not such a sharp dividing line in my opinion. Democrats just don’t seem to quite have grasped that the Republicans simply want the Democrats to fail, in every way. “Compromise” is stupid in that climate, since the Republicans don’t intend to do it in any meaningful way.

    That’s what I think. It doesn’t seem so evil to me, but you go ahead and call it whatever you want.

  113. 113
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Bullsmith:

    You’re honestly suggesting that George Bush would’ve forgiven a prominent Republican who actively campaigned against him

    Did he ever have a problem with… McCain? Didn’t he spend the first part of Katrina shooting the shit with him for his birthday?

  114. 114
    Shalimar says:

    @Bullsmith: I was living in Bobby Bright’s district earlier this year when Republicans actually kicked Harri Anne Smith (a sitting state senator) out of the party for supporting Bright in the 2008 general election. She thought the Republican who beat her in the primary ran a dirty campaign and said publicly that he wasn’t fit to be a US Representative. So she is no longer a Republican, by their choice.

  115. 115
    Brachiator says:

    @Dennis SGMM:

    It isn’t as if Baucus didn’t do everything in his power to kill HCR before it left the Senate.

    True dat. But the Democrats as a group lack the discipline to say “Dammit, now that health care reform has been passed, it is not just going to stick, but will be expanded. Get with the damn program or get off the bus.”

    Maybe I’ll go back and research it, maybe someone has a handy reference or link, but I don’t recall Democrats immediately trying to repeal Social Security or Medicare as soon as it was passed.

  116. 116
    Nick says:

    @Bill E Pilgrim:

    My comment here was just that it’s struck me as odd, for some time, that there’s such a dividing line and certain people will never include him as a member of the Democratic party when saying that “the Democrats” have done a less than stellar job at something.

    I don’t think “the Democrats” are doing a less than stellar job, I think that “some Democrats” and with that, I mean some Democratic voters, are doing a less than stellar job.

    If Obama had his way, I think things would be much much different. Maybe not a progressive utopia, but much better.

  117. 117
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Bill E Pilgrim:

    Democrats just don’t seem to quite have grasped that the Republicans simply want the Democrats to fail, in every way. “Compromise” is stupid in that climate, since the Republicans don’t intend to do it in any meaningful way.

    Still, I’m not sure why the primary complaint about Obama is that he compromises _with Republicans_. I don’t see him doing that. I see him compromising with conservative Democrats, many of whom vote like Republicans and care a lot about what Republicans think. I see him _talking about_ compromise because the general public likes to hear talk about compromise. _Even the Democrats_. See the poll cited by ricky above.

  118. 118
    kay says:

    @ricky:

    How are bloggers losing this argument? By relying on Pew polls Or any polls for that matter. Take this gem from the same poll quoted here:

    I agree. You can start with the fact that the question has nothing to do with what has to actually happen. Nothing is being “repealed”. The tax cuts are either allowed to expire or extended, in whole or in part, permanently or temporarily.

    Obama’s central tax pledge was “I will not raise taxes on those making less than 250k a year”. That’s what he has to fulfill. If they expire, he’s broken that promise.

  119. 119
    ChrisS says:

    @FlipYrWhig:
    That was more the Mavericky McCain begging forgiveness and being welcomed back into the GOP fold for having Bush trounce him in the primaries.

    “No, George, I’m right in your corner. I will have your back.”

    “John, call me Mr. President.”

  120. 120
    Brian J says:

    @cleek:

    Fighting is particularly relative here, but I do remember when he went to Minneapolis and held a rally where the Republicans were holding their convention.

    I could say a lot about this, but suffice it to say, I just wish he’d realize there’s a big space between doing things like calling Dick Cheney in the hospital after his operation to wish him well and refusing to punch back when the Republicans punch first. Nobody expects him to act like an asshole, and doing so would certainly back fire because he’s a Democrat, and we aren’t allowed to do so, and because he’s the president, so he’s supposed to be above the fray just a little. But he could easily launch severely critical, fact-based attacks on the Republicans, and have his allies do the same, if only he wanted to do so. They have certainly given him the material.

  121. 121
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Still, I’m not sure why the primary complaint about Obama is that he compromises with Republicans. I don’t see him doing that. I see him compromising with conservative Democrats,

    See now that’s actually a decent argument. There’s some truth to that, but I think he’s compromised with Republicans at the same time, by taking certain positions. If 85 percent of the people who want bill A to pass are Republicans, and 15 percent of them are Democrats, then it’s hard to say that he’s only compromising with the small group if he ends up in favor also. I know, the idea is that the bill can’t be opposed with that many Democrats in favor, but my gripe with them to begin with is that they’re standing in solidarity with Republicans, not just voting. A vote is their prerogative, but threatening to join a filibuster of lockstep Republicans to stop a vote from being held– that’s inexcusable.

    I don’t think Lieberman felt that it was inexcusable. I don’t think anyone made him feel that way. I saw the White House doing precisely the opposite in fact.

    That’s my argument.

    Anyway. You say tomato. It will never end, here or elsewhere.

  122. 122
    debbie says:

    I read in the NYT that Boehner has already signaled he’ll dissolve the Office of Congressional Ethics Committee. Could there be any clearer evidence that this new majority will just be the same as it ever was?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11.....8;emc=a211

  123. 123
    Brian J says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead:

    I kind of agree. He’s not as liberal as I would like on some issues–I’m ready to say he should be ashamed of himself because of his record on civil liberties–but he’s been a good president so far. I just wish we could get him to be a great president.

    I’m certainly curious to see what he does next. I haven’t noticed any big moves in one direction or the other in the last few weeks, so my guess is, he’s letting everyone blow off steam for a little while.

  124. 124
    ricky says:

    Take the same question and rephrase it. The exit polls of CNN asked which Bush tax cuts should be kept. Again 40% said all should be.
    36% said keep the cuts for those below $250K. Only 15% said none.

    Someone practicing politics like John Cole could say, with equal accuracy, 76% want all or most of the Bush tax cuts retained.

    What is more fun is that, of the electorate who said tax cuts are the most important priority for the next Congress, a majority want all cuts. They overwhelmingly voted Republican. Those who don’t care about tax cuts are more likely, but not overwhelmingly, to favor elimination of all and overwhelmingly voted Democrat.

    Political malpractice is to say your party should stand firmly on the issue its voters are divided on and care the least about.

  125. 125
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Bill E Pilgrim:

    It’s a party though, and working together, they’ve been weak against the Republicans, who I think are playing the Democrats, a lot of the time, like a cheap mandolin. I don’t think it’s a unreasonable or shocking position to say that the Democrats in the White House are acting in many of the same ways that the Democrats in Congress are, there’s not such a sharp dividing line in my opinion.

    I think that where you’re getting pushback is that it often sounds like you’re blaming Obama for the Democrats in Congress working against him when I (Obot that I am) don’t really think it’s his fault. Sort of a, “If Obama was just a better leader (like George W Bush) he could hold the caucus together and they would do what he wants.”

    Frankly, I don’t think anyone can hold a Democratic caucus together at this point. Carter couldn’t do it, and it made him a one-termer. Clinton couldn’t do it, either. Both of those presidents had Democrats within Congress actively working against them.

    I can’t entirely blame Obama for being unable to solve a problem that no other modern Democratic president has been able to solve, either. Conservative Democrats in Congress pride themselves on working against the president, FFS. How are you supposed to get unity out of that?

  126. 126
    Brian J says:

    @Corner Stone:

    I am not sure I agree with that at all. If taxes end up going up for all tax payers and the result on the economy is very minor–which, considering that some Republicans like Alan Greenspan have advocated for eliminating all of the tax cuts, is entirely possible–I am not sure it’ll make a difference. The deficit will be lower by a lot, which will deprive them at least a little of the talking point.

    Perhaps he should just work towards letting all of the tax cuts expire, blame it entirely on the Republicans, and then spend the next two years talking about tax cuts only for the middle class. The Republicans would either agree with him on this, which would infuriate their base, or they’d oppose it and give the Democrats a hammer to use against them during the next election.

  127. 127
    Brachiator says:

    @kay:

    Obama’s central tax pledge was “I will not raise taxes on those making less than 250k a year”. That’s what he has to fulfill. If they expire, he’s broken that promise.

    But here’s the thing. Obama’s typical style appears to be to set the agenda, and then hope that the Democrats will craft suitable legislation.

    By contrast, Bush and Cheney not only set the agenda, but had a Republican Congress that was ruthlessly focused. And bipartisanship meant, by definition, agreeing with the president.

    People always like to bring up Bush’s inability to scuttle Social Security as evidence that he could not always get his way, but with respect to tax policy he was single minded.

    Obama is already playing catch-up. Some tax law provisions that came in with the economic stimulus are set to expire this year or next. The Democrats should have pushed for some of these measures to last beyond 2012. But they didn’t, and this gives Republicans a stronger hand at tax and budget negotiations.

  128. 128
    Jinchi says:

    How are Democrats losing this argument:

    They aren’t. Look at the statements from Lieberman, Nelson, Bayh, Conrad, Landrieu, Lincoln.

    Those Senators want Democrats to lose this argument. Because they want tax cuts for the wealthy.

  129. 129
    Martin says:

    Secondary effects of tax rates at this level have fuckall to do with economic growth and jobs. Taxes matter only if they’re going to be used to directly create jobs and spending.

    Reagan raised taxes in ’82 – unemployment was at 11%. If Reagan can fucking do it, Obama can.

    Put all the income taxes back at Clinton levels, and push out a temporary payroll tax holiday. That’s a proven economic driver. Income tax rates aren’t – and the middle class will still benefit.

  130. 130
    Nick says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Both of those presidents had Democrats within Congress actively working against them.

    Also, Obama came into office with more than half the party having not supported him in the first place.

    I’ve had mor than few tussles with ex-Hillary supporters who keep telling me “It’s his job to make Republicans work with him because he said he would. Hillary didn’t”

  131. 131
    Jinchi says:

    Obama’s central tax pledge was “I will not raise taxes on those making less than 250k a year”. That’s what he has to fulfill. If they expire, he’s broken that promise.

    I’m going to give him credit here, since he’s making a solid effort to do exactly that.

    And let’s face it. Passing tax cuts is the easiest thing any politician can do. If the Bush tax cuts are allowed to expire, exactly how hard do you think it will be to push through a middle class tax cut before April 1st?

  132. 132
    kay says:

    @ricky:

    I’m in an absolute minority, but I never thought it was a winning argument. I don’t think people vote based on raising other people’s taxes.
    They’re going to judge him on whether he keeps the tax pledge to them, and that pledge was that he would not raise taxes on those making less on 250k a year.
    I don’t think they’ll care at all how he gets there, but he better get there, because that was the affirmative promise he made to the 95%, and they were listening for what he’d do with their taxes, not someone elses.

  133. 133
    eemom says:

    I don’t usually subscribe to passive-aggressivism as a strategy, but this is that rare case where republican obstructionism can work to our advantage. Let the motherfuckers fuck up an extension of the tax cuts only for the middle class, and let them ALL expire. Then fucking drown out their howls with the simple response: “YOU held the MC tax cuts hostage for the wealthy, and you killed that hostage when we wouldn’t agree to add another $8 trillion (or whatever it is) on to that DEBT you’re always complaining about.”

    Fuck it all.

  134. 134
    ricky says:

    Why Democrats and blogger are losing the argument:

    By using the same poll to show support for a Democratic position on taxes that also shows: “Still, a 37%-plurality says Republicans will have a better approach than President Obama on taxes.”

  135. 135
    Brian J says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Unless John Thune, Mitch Daniels, Mike Huckabee ,or Tim Pawlenty has some sort of qualities that aren’t immediately obvious, each of the Republican candidates who are supposed to be running for president (including those guys, plus Gingrich, Palin, Jindal, and everyone else), are so fundamentally flawed that Obama could probably win a convincing victory even if things weren’t particularly better than they are now. If they are worse, that’s a different story, but if they are about the same or actually getting better, I don’t see any of those guys winning. Obama’s advantage with black voters probably keeps Virginia and North Carolina in play even in a bad year, and the almost certain need for the Republican nominee to make overtures to closing the border will not do them any favors with Hispanics in Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, or Nevada. Florida and Ohio will probably be close even if he loses them.

    And that’s before you even get down to the specifics of each candidate. What the hell is Mitt Romney going to run on except health care reform in Massachusetts, which will be an albatross around his neck in a primary? If nothing else, the Democrats can relentless demagogue his record at Bain Capital and tie it, however tenuously, to outsourcing. Women voters hate Palin, which would probably not only eliminate whatever issues Democrats had with women voters this year but also make them more loyal to Democrats then they were in 2008. Plus, she’s a blithering idiot, and would be a stark contrast to Obama. Huckabee has an issue with the Club for Growth crowd because he dared to raise taxes in Arkansas, while Daniels will have to probably work overtime to make up for his comments about declaring a truce on social issues. All of these people could win under some circumstances, but those circumstances don’t appear particularly likely.

    Right now, my guess is that the biggest threat to Obama is probably John Thune, but unless the economy is hurting him so badly that pretty much anyone would have a decent shot against him, I see problems for him as well. His positions on abortion, immigration, and gay rights look to be so extreme that the attack ads almost write themselves. There go any possible advantages with women, Hispanics, and a significant portion of moderates who might be open to voting for him.

    Also, and I’m surprised nobody has really brought this up outside of the made up talk of Clinton replacing Biden, Obama could make the decision to replace Biden–only not, as I said, with Clinton. There are a number of candidates that could become plausible vice presidential contenders. Three names that immediately come to mind are Mark Warner, Gabrielle Giffords, and Amy Klobuchar. This might be my pie in the sky mentality talking, but Giffords in particular seems like a good pick. Her background as a Blue Dog who nonetheless voted for things like the stimulus and health care reform, being married to an active military man and astronaut, and being a reasonably attractive, energized young woman, would probably help Obama with white women and military families. I don’t think this is particularly likely, but it’s certainly an option, and a considerable one at that.

  136. 136
    Catsy says:

    I’m annoyed at the way the Democrats are bringing the feckless and the stupid to this battle, but I don’t think it’s going to shape up as badly as people are making it out to be.

    There are two sides to the battle: the fight to shape popular opinion, and the political battle to enact good policy.

    We have already won the fight for popular opinion. An overwhelming majority want either the high-income tax cuts to expire, or for all of the Bush tax cuts to expire. For weeks even the corporate media has been making the message clear by laying out the battle lines in the tax cut issue: Republicans are for the wealthy, Democrats are for the poor and middle class. We could make that clearer by holding a vote. But the point is at least made.

    The political battle is where we’re dropping the ball. Keep in mind, though, that unlike nearly every other political fight of Obama’s presidency, this is one where GOP obstructionism works in our favor. Pelosi, bless her, has drawn a line in the sand, and given her track record I actually believe that she’ll hold that line even if the Administration doesn’t. Republicans and Blue Dogs actually have to hold a vote in order to get what they want. If nothing gets done, all of the tax cuts expire right on schedule.

    They have to compromise if they want any of the tax cuts to continue. They won’t, and they’ll get nothing as a result.

    And as much as I’d like to retain the middle-class tax cuts, it’ll be better for our long-term fiscal health if they expire anyway. And that will put the Republicans in the even more unfavorable position of having to argue for passing new tax cuts for the wealthy, without even the advantage of being able to argue for continuing ones that already exist.

    All of which is another way of saying: chill. There are battles where Democratic fecklessness and Republican obstructionism are lethal to good policy. This is one issue where the opposite is true.

  137. 137
    Brian J says:

    @Shalimar:

    I’m curious to see how much attention will be given to the possible or even all but certain primary challenges that will be coming against people like Kay Bailey Hutchinson, Olympia Snowe, and Bob Corker, among others. A lot of the states where this is a threat are red, of course, but I could envision a situation where the Teabbaggers nominate someone so extreme, the Democrat becomes viable if only as a default option.

    I just hope the Democrats end up nominating good candidates regardless.

  138. 138
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @Mnemosyne: my response is that I’m “blaming” both. Whereas you (not that I can identify you in particular, sorry, but given your “O” word self-identification) seem to only ever blame the rest of the Democrats.

    I mean look, we’re talking Executive and Legislative branches, so obviously yes there’s an intrinsic difference. They’re all part of the Democratic Party though, and– they’re doing it wrong.

    You can’t possibly (again you as plural) find so much fault with “the Democrats” across the board and never find those in the White House guilty of the same positions, stances, moves. I mean it’s impossible, they have similarities with some Democrats in Congress, they fit somewhere in the spectrum surely.

    Note that part of what I’m saying is just how ferocious the demonization of Democrats is here, that’s part of what’s so striking. Just as long as it doesn’t include any in the White House.

    I know that part of the reason is that the idea is look, we need to win against the Republicans, and making the White House as strong as possible is the way to do that, which means defending them against anyone trying to tear them down.

    What I’m saying is that holding back criticism of them from their own party doesn’t help them. Hell, even Obama says that.

  139. 139
    Nick says:

    @Bill E Pilgrim:

    Note that part of what I’m saying is just how ferocious the demonization of Democrats is here, that’s part of what’s so striking. Just as long as it doesn’t include any in the White House.

    Because the White House doesn’t deserve any of the blame in this situation. None. Period. They pushed for the right thing. That’s all they can do here.

  140. 140
    Brian J says:

    @Martin:

    I’m kind of curious why those who want tax cuts but don’t want them almost entirely going to the rich–a small group, to be sure–don’t push for payroll tax cuts. Doesn’t everyone who has an income pay payroll taxes, including the rich up to $100,000 or so of income?

  141. 141
    kay says:

    @Jinchi:

    And let’s face it. Passing tax cuts is the easiest thing any politician can do. If the Bush tax cuts are allowed to expire, exactly how hard do you think it will be to push through a middle class tax cut before April 1st?

    I think that’s a disaster for Obama. Not as a policy matter, but politically.

    “Obama raised taxes on everyone, but the GOP majority in the House saved the middle class tax cuts”.

    As I said, I never saw this as a good fight to pick. I think it was doomed from the outset. He’ll lose, and the loss will be a huge. The risk is all to Obama, too, not Congress.

  142. 142
    Brian J says:

    @eemom:

    As is the case with the deficit, people who aren’t already particularly motivated towards one side or the other don’t seem to have much of an idea what goes on with taxes unless the issue is communicated clearly and forcefully, and even then…

    So, like I suggested earlier, perhaps the answer is to let them all expire, blame the Republicans, and then campaign on cutting taxes for the middle class. If the Republicans were interested in cutting taxes for people besides the rich, they would go along with it, and they’d be helping Obama, or they’d be opposing it and opening themselves up to voting against tax cuts for the middle class. I must be missing something here, because the solution seems so obvious that it’s hard to describe.

  143. 143
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Bill E Pilgrim:

    You can’t possibly (again you as plural) find so much fault with “the Democrats” across the board and never find those in the White House guilty of the same positions, stances, moves. I mean it’s impossible, they have similarities with some Democrats in Congress, they fit somewhere in the spectrum surely.

    What I have a problem with is the people (not necessarily you) who look at the publicly stated position of the White House and the publicly stated position of, say, Max Baucus, and say, “Well, obviously if Max Baucus is being allowed to say that, that must also be the position of the White House.” There seems to be a very weird assumption that the president somehow “lets” members of Congress say things, and if they say something that contradicts what the White House is saying, that’s the opinion of the White House.

    Look at how many people just on this thread keep declaring that Obama must secretly want tax cuts for everyone despite his stated position since Congress is dithering about them.

    That’s what drives me nuts: the assumption that anything that anyone in Congress says must be Obama’s opinion, too, or else they wouldn’t say it.

    What I’m saying is that holding back criticism of them from their own party doesn’t help them. Hell, even Obama says that.

    But a lot of the criticism of the White House seems to be based on what people in Congress said, and this assumption that if, again, Max Baucus makes a statement, that must be what Obama wants.

    People can certainly criticize Obama, but I’d rather have them criticize him for things he’s actually said and stances he’s actually made rather than use their crystal balls to decide that if a member of Congress says something that contradicts the White House, that must mean Obama agrees with that member’s statement.

  144. 144
    Brian J says:

    @kay:

    I don’t get your reasoning. If the Democrats refuse to go along with an extension of all tax cuts, they will expire, so the rates on everyone will go up. But then the Democrats can turn around and claim that they refused to let the Republicans shower the wealthy with more tax cuts. They can also claim, loudly and relentlessly, that they want new tax cuts for everyone but the rich. They can claim the Republicans are standing in their way, which will be the truth–unless the Republicans go along with what Obama says, in which case the base is infuriated, or they become the symbol for opposing middle class tax cuts.

    How do they lose in this situation?

  145. 145
    Jinchi says:

    They’re going to judge him on whether he keeps the tax pledge to them, and that pledge was that he would not raise taxes on those making less on 250k a year.

    Right. Just like they judged Reagan after he raised taxes.

    People aren’t going to vote for or against Obama based on their tax rate. They’d whine about taxes even if Obama dropped the rates back down to 1913 levels. Hell most people believe that Obama already raised their taxes, despite all evidence to the contrary.

    People will vote for Obama if he gets the economy back on track and unemployment comes down. But they’ll vote him out of office if they have no income at all.

  146. 146
    kay says:

    @Jinchi:

    I think people that vote on taxes vote on their own taxes. Which is why Obama made the promise to those who make less than 250k a year. There are a lot more of them.

    If the tax cuts expire, are those people going to hear “Obama stood firm on not extending tax cuts to people who are not me”?

    Or are they going to hear “Obama just raised my taxes, and broke his promise to me“?

  147. 147
    Corner Stone says:

    @Brian J:

    but if they are about the same or actually getting better

    If metrics of the overall economy are roughly the same in two years President Obama will lose if the R party ran two cardboard cutouts on their ticket. They could run a garbage can and a paper sack from the grocery store.
    If U3 is north of 8% and U6 somewhere close to 20% it will be a landslide. GDP growth of 2% or less and adding a net of 40,000 jobs avg a month and it is over.
    And with how Congress looks to try and paper over the whole mortgage fraudclosure debacle, I do not have a good feeling about the economy moving forward.

    Regarding the “Bush Tax Cuts” a term which I absolute hate BTW, if Congress does nothing and they expire, the R’s will scream about the largest tax hike on the middle class in history!!
    IMO, and I am willing to be wrong here, there is one course of action President Obama will absolutely not take, and that is having the old rates apply to the “middle class”.

  148. 148
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Brian J: The trouble is that Democrats are so pigeonholed as the tax-hike party that even passing genuine, tangible tax cuts doesn’t seem to alter that. So letting the Bush tax cuts expire will be seen as true to form for tax ‘n’ spend Democrats, and then actually cutting taxes will be seen as true to form for low-tax Republicans. It’s like the opposite of the “only Nixon could go to China” phenomenon. Only Republicans will get credit for cutting taxes, because when Democrats are in charge (I guess) it _feels like_ taxes are either higher already or will soon be higher.

  149. 149
    Corner Stone says:

    We have an estimated 25 million workers either not working, not looking, or underemployed. And I’m assuming they are almost all of voting age. If that one metric does not come down by Nov 2012 then the D party will get wiped out and President Obama will be a one term President.

    IMO, this is the one factor that can not be argued or explained away. And IMO, it’s the only thing that matters (electoral wise) for the next two years. So far it seems like the President and the D party, aside from possibly Speaker Pelosi, are going to continue their slide rightward. And they will be destroyed for it in 2012.

  150. 150
    kay says:

    @Jinchi:

    People aren’t going to vote for or against Obama based on their tax rate

    I think there are people who vote on taxes. Of that group, they vote on their own taxes, not some other persons taxes. Obama told them they could relax. Ain’t no way he was raising taxes on them. Never. Ever.

    You and I both know the “I will not raise taxes on those making less than 250k a year” promise because it got through during the campaign. Everyone knows it.

    Whatever else happens, Obama can’t break that promise.

    Modern Republicans can’t ever raise taxes on anyone. Ever.

    Those are the boundaries of this discussion.

  151. 151
    Elie says:

    Okay, okay.

    So tell me, how do 142 comments labeling the Democrats as spineless and weak help anything?

    I am just curious

    I am definitely agreeing that there is a problem here in message and will — maybe. Is that really what is happening, though?

    Many Democrats, (some deserving Blue Dogs), did take hits and got taken out this last election. We also lost some good ones who stuck it out there.

    Locally here in WA state, our conservative Democrat, Rick Larsen, sucked it up and voted yes on health care reform. he squeaked by this election in a nailbiter.

    As a group, I guess we can say that the Democrats have not had a transcendant ideological or value driven message for a while. They have not been able to counter the emotionally compelling, mid-brain neurochemical laden message of hate and division of the republicans and the tea party.

    I sense that many posting here want to have the same kind of message — that this would be good for our country, good for us somehow.

    To me there is a difference between a strong message, which can be soft and unemotional and a pulsing oratory steeped with buzz words that get the masses ready to do battle. Is that you want?

    We already have one side at war with one half of this country. Making it two sides makes that better? If one of your kids jumps the other and starts whaling away, you should encourage the other to hit back, right? Your kids. OUR people — all of this country is OUR people.

    Yeah, it IS a challenge to figure out how to get things done and go forward without making this whole damned thing worse. Moreover, it takes some time and a lot of complex parts you can’t see in every detail every second to get big complex things done. Who the hell has patience for that, right?

    We need to figure out how positivity can reign. By that I donot mean that everything is hunky dory, but that we are working with positive energy and optimism versus the seige mentality I read over and over. We have completely given in to the negativity and mid brain neurochemistry of the right.

    gotta stop it. it does not work.

  152. 152
    Bob Loblaw says:

    I still can’t believe people are pining for all the tax cuts to expire. Face it, Obama doesn’t actually give a shit about balancing the budget right now if it means not getting reelected. Because the actual actions necessary to balance the budget are definitely not getting him reelected, if taken. Sure, the tax cuts for 98% of income earners are actually bad policy; sure, those hundreds of billions of dollars a year in uncollected revenues that are fucking up the deficit could be spent on more economically productive activities (or not at all), but he has spent three full years promising not to raise taxes at every turn.

    Let me know what happened the last time a President told the world to read his lips and pay no new taxes…

  153. 153
    Nick says:

    @Corner Stone:

    We have an estimated 25 million workers either not working, not looking, or underemployed. And I’m assuming they are almost all of voting age. If that one metric does not come down by Nov 2012 then the D party will get wiped out and President Obama will be a one term President.

    interestingly, the higher the unemployment rate, the more likely they voted Democratic in the last election.

    In the state with the second highest unemployment rate, Democrats look to have swept all statewide races and gain seats in the state legislature. In the state with the highest, the Dem Senator won reelection and Dems kept the state legislature.

  154. 154
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Regarding the “Bush Tax Cuts” a term which I absolute hate BTW, if Congress does nothing and they expire, the R’s will scream about the largest tax hike on the middle class in history!!
    IMO, and I am willing to be wrong here, there is one course of action President Obama will absolutely not take, and that is having the old rates apply to the “middle class”.

    If Congress only approved the tax cut for 98% of people and knocked the top 2% back to Clinton levels, Republicans will _still_ scream about the largest tax hike in history, because they’ll measure it in dollars, like they always do. People don’t do a good job of understanding that a tax hike in dollars on other people doesn’t mean anything about _their_ tax rate.

  155. 155
    kay says:

    @Jinchi:

    People aren’t going to vote for or against Obama based on their tax rate.

    But they’re going to vote for or against Obama based on the tax rate for the top 5%?

    Because he fought (and lost) to raise tax rates on a group they’re not in? Isn’t that still more attenuated?

    I don’t know: I feel as if this entire premise was badly flawed. This decoupling would have had to have been executed absolutely flawlessly for it to have any political benefit, and the downside risk is HUGE.

  156. 156
    Brian J says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Easier said than done, of course, but part of the plan I outlined above would require the Democrats to stay on message.

  157. 157
    Mnemosyne says:

    @kay:

    I think people that vote on taxes vote on their own taxes.

    Corner Stone is an asshole but, in this case, I think he’s right: people vote on unemployment, not their taxes, and if employment soars and people have jobs again, they won’t notice their taxes.

    Right now a tax increase would be disastrous because the economy is bad, but if it turns around, then no one will remember in two years, the same way no one remembers now that Reagan raised taxes in a similar situation.

  158. 158
    Brian J says:

    @Corner Stone:

    I disagree, only because I think there’s almost no chance that unemployment is down to 5 percent or so in the next two years, while I think there’s a very good chance Obama will be reelected. As long as things are getting better and there’s some sense of hope, I think he’ll win, if only because the Republican alternatives are so much worse. Considering the sort of hole we are in, adding 200,000 jobs per month really isn’t enough, but it’s probably enough that a few months of such growth would be enough to make more people optimistic. In other words, it’s the trajectory that counts.

  159. 159
    Brian J says:

    @Bob Loblaw:

    He shouldn’t give a shit about balancing the budget right now. If health care costs can eventually be brought under control, the debt we are racking up now is probably trivial in the long run.

    I am not pining for the tax cuts to expire. My guess is, they wouldn’t have much of an effect on the economy one way or the other. I just wish the Democrats could move past this issue. Perhaps the situation I described above–where the tax cuts do expire, the Democrats push for new cuts only on middle class families, and the Republicans are either forced to go against the administration by actually opposing tax cuts and or infuriate their base by handing Obama a legislative victory–would help them do just that.

  160. 160
    jcricket says:

    I think this is fairly simple.

    1) People like “strong” candidates and parties.
    2) People are fairly ignorant as to what politicians are actually voting for/against, but do seem to whipshaw their votes around depending on actual circumstances.
    3) No matter how far to the right the Democrats move, all they get is obstructionism and painted as crazy commies.

    Therefore, the Democrats might as well stick to their (mildly centrist) agenda, pass stuff that will probably help the average Joe, which is the most important thing and coincidentally the thing that helps you stay in office.

    Side bonus of Dems stuck to their guns, is that it keeps the base engaged and probably the “independents” too, who only seem to care about a party being “strong”.

    Sadly, there are clearly a number of conserva-dems who think they’re actually being helpful when they vote down the public option or cramdown legislation. I won’t miss them when they are gone.

  161. 161
    Person of Choler says:

    You’re still in the denial stage, and you’ve always seemed angry. When does depression set in?

  162. 162
    Corner Stone says:

    @Brian J: I agree there’s little chance unemployment comes down to 5% in two years. But that’s not what I said. If the number is under 7%, say 6.5% or 6.8% then I believe he has a real chance. But if it’s 7.8% or anything north of 8% it is over.
    Where do you feel the number should be drawn. Clearly it won’t be 5%. What number do you feel gives Obama a fighting chance for re-election?

  163. 163
    Corner Stone says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    People don’t do a good job of understanding that a tax hike in dollars on other people doesn’t mean anything about their tax rate.

    The wingers here are programmed to see ANY tax increase as pure evil. Because it feeds revenue to the useless, hegomonic government in their quest to rule their everyday life.
    And it takes precious pennies from Real Hard Working Folks Who Could Better Determine Where To Spend Their Own Money!

    And I agree with you, the R’s will demagogue the shit out of anything and scream about it in the worst possible light.
    You seem to acknowledge that, and I agree. Let’s hope at some point the messaging team on the D side get with it as well.

  164. 164
    Bob Loblaw says:

    @Corner Stone:

    It isn’t conditional on the rate by itself, it’s conditional on where the rate is in relation to where it’s been. 2011 is a bit irrelevant, really. As long as monthly job growth is steady >200k by 2012, Obama will be able to rightfully proclaim recovery no problem. And once fears about the economy aren’t sucking all the air out of the room all the time, Obama will be able to do what he does best: provide a classy, conciliatory, charismatic, upbeat messenger pushing a non-threatening, non-insane, milquetoast message that Republicans simply cannot best in a one-on-one matchup.

  165. 165
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Corner Stone: Yeah, I totally agree that the Republicans howl at just about everything. And I also agree that Democrats in general don’t counterpunch well; even when they come up with a good line, they don’t know what to do when it gets thrown back in their faces.

    My thing is that I don’t have a lot of hope that Democrats will learn soon enough that there’s such a thing as being a moderate populist who wants to help the little guy, instead of believing that the way to be moderate has to follow the template of Evan Bayh or Max Baucus or Blanche Lincoln (1).

    For that matter, I’d love for Markos et al to push harder at his original Dean/Schweitzer/Tester/Webb “fighting Democrats” idea, where the idea isn’t to be “liberal” even where liberalism won’t sell, but to form a coalition between moderate populists and liberal populists based on equity and social justice. Even Sirota, who’s irritating and I don’t miss, talks a good game on that strategy.

    Basically, if “moderate” Democrats had a language other than “Blue Dog,” we’d see a lot more effective Democratic politics, at least on economic issues. But “Blue Dog” was working for about a decade, and the consultant class really likes it, so we need a way to wean moderate Dems off Blue Doggery.

    (1 Bill Halter’s challenge to Lincoln was a good idea, but he got socked by Lincoln’s counter-charge that he was “liberal,” which he wasn’t.)

  166. 166
    Brian J says:

    @Corner Stone:

    I have no idea, but let’s say that unemployment is above nine percent until at least the fall of 2011, and then for whatever reason, it starts dropping slowly but surely by .1 percent each month. In other words, it’s getting better, however slowly. I’m not sure when it would have to do this to really sink in to the minds of the public to make a difference. It probably couldn’t happen as late as the fall of 2012, but I could see noticeable improvement starting in the winter of that year and, if it continued into the summer and fall, helping him.

    Once again, it’s all about the trajectory. (Also, given the situation and how unlikely we are to meet them, past baselines aren’t the best thing to use here.) Maybe I am connecting far too many points to make sense, but despite all of the problems he’s facing, his overall approval rating is still fairly high. It’s just a shade under 50 percent, and it’s no lower or actually higher than Reagan at this point. Plus, I am pretty sure his personal appeal is higher than his job performance, so it’s like he still has an in with the public. If people feel that finally, after a long time, there is some light at end of the tunnel, he’ll almost certainly be able to win, or at worst have a fighting chance.

    At the risk of mixing metaphors, I want to liken this to being lost while traveling. What’s more irritating and unnerving? Having absolutely no clue where you are and no idea how to get back on track, or being way out of the way of where you want to go but having a clear idea of where you are doing, even if it’s going to take you a while? I’d say everyone would pick the latter.

    Plus, we haven’t actually had any real campaigning occur yet. People may prefer the idea of a Republican alternative–or, laughably, in Palin’s case, actually not–but that’s before any sort of attack ads have been launched, not least of all in the Republican primary. And while not all of them are as bad as Palin, none of them are particularly great, either. If your best hopes for unseating a sitting president are guys who wouldn’t win their home states (Romney and Pawlenty) or a guy who would almost certainly antagonize and turn off the women, Hispanics, and moderates of many stripes who aren’t already on his side because of his positions on abortion, immigration, and gay rights (John Thune), I don’t think your party is nearly as strong as everyone thinks it is.

  167. 167
    NR says:

    So tell me, how do 142 comments labeling the Democrats as spineless and weak help anything?

    Because maybe it will help some people here start to get the idea that the Democratic party is fucking worthless.

    Hyperbole? Consider this: Ending the Bush tax cuts for the rich was the centerpiece of Obama’s budget plan during the campaign, and the Dems surrendered on the issue without even fighting. They could have scheduled a vote on the middle-class tax cuts before the election and dared the Republicans to vote against them. Passing middle-class tax cuts is the easiest thing to do politically in this country, and the Dems didn’t even try. If the Dems won’t even fight on the easy stuff, then what the hell good are they?

    Obama was elected promising to repeal the Bush tax cuts for the rich. Then “repeal” became “let them expire,” and now “let them expire” has become “temporary extension.” Mark my words, “temporary extension” is going to turn into “permanent extension.”

    Moreover, what the hell does this do to the Dems campaign message in 2012? “Elect us so we can repeal the tax cuts for the rich that we just extended!” How do you think that’s going to go over with the voters?

    By extending the Bush tax cuts for the rich, the Dems will take ownership of them. Just like they’ve taken ownership of every other Bush policy that Obama has continued.

    Again: The Democratic party is worthless. It’s time to start looking at alternatives.

  168. 168
    Brachiator says:

    @NR: Again: The

    Democratic party is worthless. It’s time to start looking at alternatives.

    Such as?

  169. 169
    kay says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Right now a tax increase would be disastrous because the economy is bad, but if it turns around, then no one will remember in two years, the same way no one remembers now that Reagan raised taxes in a similar situation.

    I never thought it was a winning political issue for Democrats.

    Obama flogged the distinction between “tax cuts!” and “tax cuts for the rich!” for 6 months, and got nowhere with it. I think he probably convinced people of the inherent beauty of tax cuts, actually, and that isn’t a Democratic argument.

    Again, I see the policy benefits to picking this fight and winning, but I think it’s a loser all around politically. I think the Democrats in the House made the right call prior to the election.

  170. 170
    Brian J says:

    @Bob Loblaw:

    I agree. Like I said earlier, a good way to augment his own appeal and steal some thunder from the Republicans being the new faces would be to replace Biden, preferably with a female candidate. In fact, if they end up going with this, I’d be astonished if they didn’t pick a woman, and a white woman, who could appeal to female voters now and in 2016.

  171. 171
    ricky says:

    @Brachiator:
    Repeal of the 1099 reporting requirement has nothing to do
    with Health Care or Health Insurance. It was included in the bill because it was a smoke and mirror device to make the CBO numbers look better.

    Because it fits your meme in bashing a Dem or two, feel free to continue to use it to persuade those who share your ignorance. It continues to demonstate why hippies wearing a “Punch me” T-shirt keep wondering why people keep indulging them.

  172. 172
    Elie says:

    Zen strategy?

    Maybe its better to absorb the punches — keep em whaling away and deflect what we can, but keep moving….hard to keep up the energy of slugging away forever to stop and block… the other side won’t have the energy or thought processes fluid enough to think about fixing anything — just stopping — it wont be enough for them

    For our left progressive “coalition of the damned” , do we want to spend our energy beating up each other or something else?

    We have a message. It is subtle and without the sex appeal and blood many want. The slimmest of national majorities absolutely gets it, hence Obama’s poll numbers stay relatively stable . “We are going to do what is the right thing as best we can, without a whole lot of melodrama. We will make some mistakes, but we are trying to govern and produce results. Some of the things we are doing, and choices we are making are difficult with some real down sides. Some of it will take some time and a few runs at it to get right. Our opponents are going to talk only about the down sides. We are going to keep working at it and showing up. Thats all.”

  173. 173
    kay says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Right now a tax increase would be disastrous because the economy is bad,

    You mean “a tax increase on the middle class”.

    But Republicans are going to use your exact phrase to argue that taxes should be decreased for all. And liberal Democrats are going to be making some convoluted equity argument while Republicans repeat your line, and Obama is going to be focused on his affirmative promise, which was no tax increase for those under 250k.

    Good luck winning that mess. It’s a loser. It was doomed.

  174. 174
    Corner Stone says:

    @ricky: I absolutely love it that you’re calling Brachiator a hippie.
    Dude’s one of the biggest anti-hippie douchebags on this blog.

  175. 175
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @NR:

    Ending the Bush tax cuts for the rich was the centerpiece of Obama’s budget plan during the campaign, and the Dems surrendered on the issue without even fighting. They could have scheduled a vote on the middle-class tax cuts before the election and dared the Republicans to vote against them. Passing middle-class tax cuts is the easiest thing to do politically in this country, and the Dems didn’t even try.

    Because a lot of Democratic Senators didn’t want to have to make a decision between voting to discontinue the upper-class bonus tax cut and voting to continue it, so they had to go with a kind of Schroedinger’s tax cut politics. You want them to make good policy. But that’s not what they want to do. They want to avoid risk and negative repercussions of everything they do, and, frankly, given the firestorms over HCR and DADT, I’m not that surprised they’d rather do nothing than put themselves on the line and getting pounded from the left and the right. From that standpoint, I understand why they “didn’t even try.” They couldn’t resolve among themselves whether “even trying” would be advantageous either politically or in terms of policy.

    Now, you’re right, sometimes when you’re a politician you have to do the right damn thing, and there are fights that need to be fought, and you’ll always have an excuse about why now is not the right time to fight a certain fight. But it takes a lot of effort to turn that boat around. I like the way Pelosi is at least attempting to turn up the heat and get the 98% slice done while letting the top 2% go hang, putting the Senate — where good ideas go to die — on the spot.

  176. 176
    Corner Stone says:

    Blue Dogs were always going to be wiped out in this election, that was clear for a while.
    D leadership screwed the pooch by not forcing a vote on tax cuts before the election. Some D Congresspeople who were on the bubble could’ve used the possible momentum to save a percentage or two.
    The vote was not held because they didn’t want to put conservative Democrats on record as voting to keep all tax cuts. Now the vote’s going to be held whether we like it or not, and now it will be on Republican terms. Just a complete charlie foxtrot.
    I’ve said it before but IMO, I think when we look back in a few years, not dealing with these tax levels will be seen as the greatest political blunder of some time.

  177. 177
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @kay:

    You mean “a tax increase on the middle class”

    Or “a $700B tax increase,” a phrase specifically designed to inflame free-floating worry. The number is so big it probably affects you too! Watch your wallets, America!

  178. 178
    Corner Stone says:

    @Corner Stone: And further, by not dealing with the issue, either way, prior to the last election they have allowed this very contentious issue to be a chip in the next elections.

  179. 179
    ricky says:

    @kay:

    I agree with most of your points and would like to reinforce one.

    A promise not fulfilled despite your best efforts is not much different than a promise broken in the voter’s book. Some people who shout “let the tax cuts expire and blame the Republicans for it” are probably some of the ones who blame Obama for not getting Guantanamo closed.

    But I differ on another point. Democrats in the House did not make the right call by not voting on tax cuts prior to the election. Democrats made no call because they did not have the votes in the House at the time and I doubt they have then now. That is not Obama’s fault either, but it won’t stop the blogger commnetariat from blaming him and locating the problem on favorite missing parts in his anatomical structure.

  180. 180
    Elie says:

    @kay:

    Agree completely, kay.

  181. 181
    danimal says:

    Let the Bush tax rates expire as Bush and the GOP wrote into law. All it takes is six weeks of political wrangling without a conclusion.

    Then, Obama, aligning himself with the wrath of the electorate, can introduce and push for tax cuts for the middle class. Obama sticks to his promises and the GOP loses cover for the upper income tax rates. This one doesn’t take a rocket scientist. If nothing passes, at least the deficit problem is much more manageable.

  182. 182
    ricky says:

    @Corner Stone:

    I agree that letting this issue hang around is a mistake, but
    the vote was not held because Pelosi did not have them. http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.....x-cuts.php

    And don’t even talk about the Senate.

  183. 183
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Corner Stone:

    The vote was not held because they didn’t want to put conservative Democrats on record as voting to keep all tax cuts.

    Hmm. I think the vote wasn’t held because they didn’t want to reveal how deeply divided they really were. Having the vote would enable conservative Democrats who supported tax cuts for the rich to get whomped for hurting the deficit; meanwhile mainstream-to-liberal Democrats who opposed tax cuts for the rich could get whomped for wanting to raise! taxes! (Didn’t some of the otherwise liberal Senators say that they didn’t want it to come before them before the election? Ah, here’s where I read about that…)

    Via Bob Somerby:

    Maddow is simply presenting the tale in a way which turns the GOP proposal [to increase the deficit through tax cuts for the rich] into “a ginormous political gift”—or at least, so she thinks. But is the proposal a ginormous gift? In yesterday’s New York Times, Jackie Calmes reported some of the reasons why the Democrats put this issue aside until after last week’s elections. As others have reported before, Calmes said that major players like senators Boxer, Murray and Reid didn’t want to be forced to run on that “ginormous political gift.”

  184. 184
    Corner Stone says:

    @ricky: And by a quick rough count some 28 of those 42 signatories were Blue Dog members.
    ISTM, a vote was the better answer and one I advocated in real time.
    But Pelosi obviously had her reasons for not taking the vote, whatever they may be.
    So. Now we’re here.

  185. 185
    Corner Stone says:

    @FlipYrWhig: See my reply to ricky above.
    And I will add that IMO, whatever tight spot taking the vote may have put Congresspeople in for the 2010 elections, letting the R’s now set the terms for this vote will take further toll in 2012.

  186. 186
    ricky says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Hippie’s, douchebags, teabaggers…they are all the same.
    My heart has been broken since Obama did not push Cheney down the Capitol steps in his wheelchair on Inauguration day. Once hope dies, only dark cynical commentary remains.

  187. 187
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Corner Stone: Right, but this is a collective action/tragedy of the commons/prisoner’s dilemma kind of thing. Everyone on the D side certainly knows that hanging together is the best course of action for everyone collectively, but some D individuals stand to benefit by breaking from the pack, which reduces the benefit of hanging together, and the loop feeds back again. That’s why the “better answer” (which I agree was better) didn’t satisfy everyone who had something immediately at stake.

    Basically if we had more Democrats who were willing to shout down the howls about tax hikes — and, my pet project, willing to call out how those howls are based on lies (like labeling tax increases on a small number of people in terms of a large number of dollars, Christ) — we could win some of these arguments. But the ones who get elected don’t do that very well. I think it’s because they don’t have a sound “narrative” (ugh, I hate that word) of moderate populism on which they can rely, so they get backed into corners where they fear looking like Tax And Spend Librulz.

  188. 188
    Nick says:

    @NR:

    Ending the Bush tax cuts for the rich was the centerpiece of Obama’s budget plan during the campaign, and the Dems surrendered on the issue without even fighting.

    Obama’s budget plan does not equal Democratic Congress’ plan. The President did NOT surrender without fighting, Congress did, stop lumping him in with them, he doesn’t fucking deserve it

  189. 189
    ricky says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Yep, that means she had 26 more blue dog votes she could have seen running into the chamber to raise their leg and pee before the vote was taken.

  190. 190
    ricky says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Wow, thanks for the link. I forgot how amusing Somerby
    can be at times. Did he really say all those nasty things about St. Rachel? And to think, she never said anything nasty about Al Gore before 2000 that I can remember him
    linking to six dozen times.

  191. 191
    FlipYrWhig says:

    I kind of liked this David Waldman piece on DailyKos about how to get the right cuts through: Is there a way to pass limited tax cut extensions? Yes.

  192. 192
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @ricky: He _really_ has it in for Rachel Maddow. His enemies list is kind of odd, including people like Digby and Steve Benen and one or both of Ezra Klein and Matt Yglesias. But I still read his stuff because I think he does close-reading of the language of the news in a way that just about nobody else does. He is really _precise_. Picayune, perhaps, and incredibly repetitive, and relentless. But while some of this is akin to the things I like least about Greenwald, I think he avoids the Greenwald habit of concluding that everything is the way it is because of what’s in people’s hearts, deep down.

  193. 193
    Nick says:

    @kay:

    Obama flogged the distinction between “tax cuts!” and “tax cuts for the rich!” for 6 months, and got nowhere with it. I think he probably convinced people of the inherent beauty of tax cuts, actually, and that isn’t a Democratic argument.
    Again, I see the policy benefits to picking this fight and winning, but I think it’s a loser all around politically. I think the Democrats in the House made the right call prior to the election.

    I agree with this, if Obama should be blamed for anything, it’s for arguing the conservative position that tax cuts are good for something, instead of making the case that we need to pay more, although that is political suicide.

  194. 194
    Corner Stone says:

    @ricky: The only bright light of the recent election is that the Blue Dogs got wiped out to about half their previous caucus level.

  195. 195
    WyldPirate says:

    @ricky:

    Hippie’s, douchebags, teabaggers…they are all the same. My heart has been broken since Obama did not push Cheney down the Capitol steps in his wheelchair on Inauguration day. Once hope dies, only dark cynical commentary remains.

    Bravo, sir!

    That’s the funniest damn thing I’ve read in several days.

  196. 196
    mds says:

    Again, what about reconciliation? New tax cut for all on the first $250K that expires in less than ten years, and no $250K+ tax cut extension at all. No filibuster in the Senate, and just maybe with nothing left to lose, a “tax relief for the middle class” bill could actually make it through the lame duck House. I was hoping that some sort of Senate rulesmaster would step up and point out reasons why reconciliation was or wasn’t possible, besides the “comity” and “tradition” canards that have previously given Democratic senators the vapors.

  197. 197
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @mds: Waldman makes the case for reconciliation in the piece I flagged above.

  198. 198
    Uncle Clarence Thomas says:

    You don’t understand that for capitulation and appeasement to be truly effective, they must begin at the very top and then flow downward.

  199. 199
    Corner Stone says:

    @Uncle Clarence Thomas: Trickle Down Politics?

  200. 200
    mds says:

    @FlipYrWhig: Whoops. I managed to miss that in the flurry of ricky-related comment activities. Sorry.

  201. 201
    Uncle Clarence Thomas says:

    @Corner Stone:
    .
    .
    > Trickle Down Politics?

    No. Cascading Failure Politics.
    .
    .

  202. 202
    pattonbt says:

    This is an issue I want the D’s to win, but I do not see how they can. Reality shows they will not be able to get legislation passed that keeps the lower bracket tax cuts while letting the higher bracket tac cuts expires. It just simply will not happen. No amount of wishing can make it so. The blame lies with many actors, including Obama.

    So my take is (and keep in mind I am an idiot) let them all expire. I believe no matter what happens the D’s will lose (and truthfully already have lost) the message war. It doesnt matter if Obama makes it rain free money for all, the R’s will win the message. Its all they are focused on and they are good at it. The fiscal health of country needs those cuts to expire and the US citizenry has to suck it up. If Obama lets that happen and loses re-election I will be happy with that and healthcare reform.

    The only chance the D’s have in this battle is letting all tax cuts expire, state why they are letting it happen, while simultaneously Harry Reid introduces a bill in the Senate to lower taxes only on middle and lower income earners.

    Sure, it will get blocked and such, but at least the D’s (if they could attempt some unity of message) could show some lunacy of the R position. The D’s won’t win, but they won’t lose as bad.

    The D’s need to demagogue on this issue and hard. But as we know herding cats is impossible, so I am not hopeful.

    The D’s will lose this and lose this hard. Be prepared to be disappointed.

  203. 203
    gerry says:

    Please don’t imply that this is Obama’s fault for not making the argument. Those who say the bully pulpit is over-rated are obviously right. Those responsible are “the Democrats”.

  204. 204
    Mnemosyne says:

    @gerry:

    So it’s not the fault of the Congressional Democrats who refuse to vote on legislation to extend the middle-class tax cuts? Just some nebulous “Democrats” because if we can’t blame Obama, we can’t blame the people who are refusing to vote for the legislation either?

  205. 205
    ricky says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Sorry I came back to this so late. Somerby’s thing is not what is in their hearts. Its what is in their wallets.

  206. 206
    ricky says:

    @WyldPirate:
    Again, anothe apology for a late return. I am plagued at this blog by the creeping marginitis which makes reading anyone’s commentary difficult.

    That said sir, I find it disturbing you take my pathetic cry for help as an excuse to chuckle as I waddle off the plank where once I hoped the Man Sized Safe Cracker would
    precede me.

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