The Next Move

One of the worries about Democrats during the next Congress is that they’ll be rolled early and often. There’s a lot of discussion about negotiating tactics to avoid this outcome, but I think Kevin Drum gets it about right when he notes that better leadership won’t help much:

First, there’s a real asymmetry between liberal and conservative goals. Liberals want active change. This means they can’t just obstruct. They have to figure out a way to build a supermajority coalition for complicated legislation, and that means compromise. And everyone knows this. So compromise is baked into the cake. But conservatives, to a much larger extent, are often OK with simply preventing things from changing, either as their first best or second best position. For that, all you have to do is maintain a very simple position among a minority caucus. No real coalition building or compromise is necessary.

Second, political coalitions are simply too public to sustain an artificial bargaining posture. The problem with the Democratic caucus isn’t that they negotiate badly, it’s that the Democratic caucus is genuinely fractured. And again, everyone knows it. You can’t pretend you’re willing to go to the mat against high-end tax cuts when there are half a dozen Democratic senators who support high-end tax cuts and Republicans know there are half a dozen Democratic senators who support high-end tax cuts. To fix this, you need more liberal Democrats, not tougher leadership.

The only thing I’d add to this, like a broken record, is that filibuster reform is needed to deal with Presidents Lieberman and Nelson.

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit

84 replies
  1. 1
    Michael says:

    Don’t worry – the Daily Slinkerwink (fka Daily Kos) is on the case. Having helped to target and purge out all those blue dogs, they’re going to activate via their pajamas and convince all those GOPers to come up with a public option and the Dream Act and to repeal DADT and to repeal DOMA….

    PS – Make sure you don’t criticize her. She’s deaf, you know, and calling her lies into question is discrimination.

  2. 2
    Arclite says:

    filibuster reform is needed to deal with Presidents Lieberman and Nelson.

    Don’t forget about presidents Collins and Snow of the United States of Maine!

  3. 3
    stuckinred says:

    @Michael: She who? You talkin about Jane?

  4. 4
    Michael says:

    @stuckinred:

    She who? You talkin about Jane?

    No – I’m talking about her less talented, less motivational sister in jammy-blogging ideology who miraculously continues to appear on the rec list to squeal out progressive platitudes and criticisms of anything that isn’t Naderiffic.

    slinkerwink is everything that is wrong in what we get in paid-progressive activism – top down bullshit, a refusal to engage the masses, and full of whining butthurt when the politicians respond to the fact that the masses aren’t clamoring for the progressive solutions so vociferously demanded by the top down progressive activists. Of course, shes beyond all criticism because she rallies her fellow droolers. I’ve now burnt 3 usernames there trying to point out her inherent uselessness, but she’s bulletproof by orders of the management. Hell, at some point in 2009, she and nyceve admitted some sort of manipulation to get on the rec list pretty much every time, and they did nothing about it.

    Hence the moniker “Daily Slinkerwink”. Now the lazy twit is shedding prospective criticism by pulling the deaf card.

  5. 5
    cat48 says:

    Hell to the NO!! If Obama can’t compromise without a shitstorm; neither can the Dem Caucus. I want them to fight everything and hold true to Dem values, the weak, spineless, wimps, wuss’, betrayors, traitors, Manchurian Dems, lazy, feckless, etc. See Olbermann’s Special Comment where he eviscerated Obama’s timidity……..I tweeted him & told him he had used all of Lee Atwaters talkingpts/great for the 1st black prez!

    He blocked me on twitter! :) He can dish it out but can’t take it!

  6. 6
    Mark-NC says:

    This is EXACTLY why the Dems are SO MAD about Obama folding on the tax cuts.

    Their side – maintaining status quo – is easier than forcing any kind of change.

  7. 7
    Suck It Up! says:

    filibuster reform will be an interesting fight, IF there is one. I suspect though that there are enough Dem senators who don’t want to see their power diminished in any way.

  8. 8
    stuckinred says:

    @Michael: Gotcha

  9. 9
    MikeJ says:

    Getting rid of the filibuster wouldn’t get rid of the problem of president Lieberman or Snowe, merely change the critical vote from the 60th to the 50th. Which would be a big improvement, but even in the congresses before this, Senators jockeyed to be number 50 to get the biggest payoff.

  10. 10
    Dave says:

    This is exactly what I was trying to get across to some friends of mine the other day. I just put it more bluntly – Democrats care about who is affected by their policies, while the GOP doesn’t give a shit who suffers.

    It’s hard to negotiate with people whose worst-case scenario (to them) is that the uber-wealthy just get a little-less wealthy. While with Democrats, the worst-case scenario is that people die.

  11. 11
    JPL says:

    @MikeJ: The bills coming from the House next year should be filibustered.

  12. 12
    aimai says:

    Correct, in re Kevin Drum but one of the reasons the (current) Republicans can muster total, lockstep, obstructionism is that their leadership and their base (the tea party) are set up to seriously punish and inconvenience any outliers. The Democratic party (base) doesn’t exert nearly as much whip control over the House–none over the Senate–and the Democratic Party leadership (except in the house) exerts zero control over the Senate since leadership and committee positions are never reassigned due to failures to toe the line. Filibuster reform combined with a different method of electing Senate leadership and committee chairmanships would go a long way to bringing the Senate Dems under control.

    aimai

  13. 13
    Ija says:

    When the Republicans hold the Senate, they had the filibuster to contend with as well, and they never even came close to holding 60 seats. But I don’t remember them having this much trouble with the filibuster. Who were the Democrats’s Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins who pretend to deal and then change their minds? Are Democrats just too stupid to even play that game? Not good at being the majority, hopeless at being the minority, what exactly are Democrats good for?

  14. 14
    Norbrook says:

    It’s one thing to point to needing a more liberal – or more ideologically consistent – Democratic Senate or House, the problem is in actually achieving it. For all the sound and fury that comes out of the purist left about it, when you step back and look at what they’ve done to achieve it, it turns out to signify nothing. With just a few exceptions – which turned out to be losing propositions – they never delivered on their threat to primary any offending Blue Dog Senator or Representative. Which record is not calculated to make any sitting Senator or Representative quake in fear of them.

  15. 15
    MikeJ says:

    @JPL: No need to filibuster them. They should be voted down, and we should have the votes.

  16. 16
    WereBear says:

    This has a lot to with having a system that requires two parties, and we have only one, working, political party.

    It’s like a marriage needs two adults, and we have one deeply conflicted mature person, and one paranoid schizophrenic toddler with rage issues.

  17. 17
    Napoleon says:

    @MikeJ:

    Playing to the vote that puts you over the 50% mark is what representative democracy is suppose to be. Having to play to the vote to put you over the 60% mark is not representative democracy.

  18. 18
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Norbrook: Yep. This would be a very different situation if Lieberman had lost his election. At that point, the Dems could reasonably be afraid of the bloggers. But he didn’t. Until you win one of those, why worry about it too much.

  19. 19
    WarMunchkin says:

    center-right country, woo.

  20. 20
    jwb says:

    @MikeJ: With no filibuster, we’d undoubtedly still have grandstanding (senators are senators after all), but we’d no longer have the spectacle of 59-41 “losses,” however. Of course, that cuts both ways, and if the Dems lose control of the Senate in 2012, which the sheer number of Dem seats open in that election makes a good possibility, we might be wishing for the filibuster.

  21. 21
    agrippa says:

    “it’s the economy stupid”

    That was true in 1992. It was true in Jan 2009, and remains true. It is the principle reason for Nov 2010.

    There is a clear and present disconnect between the political class – professional politicians, the commentariat,the blogites and the lobbyists – and the public.
    We have the most serious recession since ww2. The political class largely ignores it.

    And, The Democrats exercise very little party discipline in the houses of Congress, especially the Senate. I agree with aimai.

    I agree with norbrook.

  22. 22
    stuckinred says:

    @jwb: yea, it’s really great that there are no more grandstanding congresscritters!

  23. 23
    amk says:

    So compromise is baked into the cake.

    Red meat for more librul poutraging in blogs.

  24. 24
    Comrade Javamanphil says:

    I have no idea how you get better, more liberal senators when every state gets two. How many realistic opportunities are their to improve a sitting Senator that currently caucuses with the Dems? Lieberman for sure. But then? Nelson is as liberal as you are going to get out of NE. Ditto Landrieu. I have some hope for flipping Maine, especially as they have just tea bagged their governorship (let’s see how well that works out for you.) But the pickings seem slim to me. I file this under the great in theory but the partisan makeup of our states make it impractical at best.

  25. 25
    celticdragonchick says:

    TPM this morning…

    The aide says supporters of repeal have all the votes they need to move the bill to a final vote, save for Collins, who has been the focus of a coordinated campaign to shift her position by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and President Obama, who the aide said called Collins yesterday to lobby her on DADT.

    The President has finally gotten personally involvd in lobbying the ice princess.

    Let’s hope it works.

    If not…I will donate to any effort to glamdalize her offices and fuck with her in any way possible.

    The President is doing his bit now. Time for Collins to do hers.

  26. 26
    celticdragonchick says:

    @jwb:

    Of course, that cuts both ways, and if the Dems lose control of the Senate in 2012, which the sheer number of Dem seats open in that election makes a good possibility, we might be wishing for the filibuster.

    Privatized Social Security and Bork on the SCOTUS,,,

  27. 27
    stuckinred says:

    @celticdragonchick: Offer her a fucking voice transplant!

  28. 28

    From Drum’s article:

    I still find myself nearly always supporting compromise positions that genuinely help people in the here and now. The last couple of years have certainly put a dent in that attitude, though.

    Yep. and I can understand why.

    But the opposite point, the point I see many Progressives asking for, is to be as big a bastard as we accuse the GOP of being. And I don’t see how taking those means, that we know are wrong, justify those ends.

    That’s not to say there’s not a point for better actions, better rhetoric, or even some dirty tricks. It’s not to exculpate the President or Congress for not maneuvering the best way they could. Nor does it excuse when they utterly act like idiots, in things like civil liberties.

    It’s to say that to decide to constantly go to that well, to constantly manipulate not just Congress, but the American public, that confuses me. To me, that’s so far from any ideal of the kind of Progressivism/Liberalism I grew up understanding, that I wonder if, like Malcolm X says, if “too many of us, by the way we act….we done lost our minds”.

  29. 29
    mr. whipple says:

    @jwb:

    and if the Dems lose control of the Senate in 2012, which the sheer number of Dem seats open in that election makes a good possibility, we might be wishing for the filibuster.

    Yup.

  30. 30
    John S. says:

    @aimai:

    So how do we fix the problem?

    Elect more/better Democrats? How did that work out for us last month? Most of the seats lost were conservatives, and without them we have a coalition slightly easier to hold together. But we also lost the majority in the House.

    Filibuster reform? Sure, restoring majority rule in the Senate will help a ton, and I’m all for it. But we are down to 51 actual Democrats in the Senate, and less if you include the likes of Nelson, Landrieu, etc. You think ALL of them will vote to change the rules? Even super liberal Russ Feingold was opposed to it, and so is his replacement.

    Change the leadership? Sure, Harry Reid is a dismal failure. You really think someone else can get over 90% of the remaining caucus to vote for something? And if Pelosi was the best thing since sliced bread (and she has been by far the best leader in congress) why did she fail to force the tax vote BEFORE the election? We know why Reid did, and blaming Obama is an outright lie.

    So there are a lot of tough questions, and nobody seems to have any good answers. I suppose this is what spawned the Obama Hate Club. It’s so much easier to complain about the failings of one man that acknowledge the failings of an entire party and institution.

  31. 31
    agrippa says:

    There is a real need to know what is important; what needs to be at the top of the list. In a word, triage.

    The economy was first on that list. We needed a strong stimulus and strong financial reform. We got neither.

    If those two things had been done, the Nov election would have turned out better.

    The country and the public is paying and will continue to pay.

    Politics and governing appear to be in irreconciable conflict.

  32. 32

    @Comrade Javamanphil: It’s a long-term process. That’s part of the problem here — so many people complain today, when these changes take decades. The GOP took over a decade to get from Goldwater to Reagan, a decade where they recruited on every level — the school board issues we’re having today took root with Evangelicals organizing with the GOP to take over those boards starting in the 70’s, a process that didn’t take fruit for nearly a decade as well, and didn’t result in serious court issues, in some cases, for nearly another decade and a half.

    Of course, one has to include the vast demographic party shift of actions like the Southern Strategy. But we have that, going for us, if we act to strengthen Democrat links to (soon to be not-so) minority groups. That’s the challenge for the next decade or two, in some ways, and it’s how some areas of the country, now solidly GOP, can be shifted — if liberal candidates are in place, with a track record and a party infrastructure ready to support them.

    We Progressives have to plan, and to do it on the ground, and get used to doing it without a lot of glory or results. That’s why, for example, OFA is far more potentially potent than many know, because they do the work — calling, organizing, and so forth — without pulling in oft-disrupting media coverage, just as the GOP did in their days of starting to organize. Too many, though, are too damn blinded by the power of the Internet; the urge for instant results, the ease of hearing “only your kind”, the lack of need to physically throw yourself into the kinds of face-to-face contact that still is the most powerful way to change minds and hearts.

  33. 33
    John S. says:

    Who were the Democrats’s Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins who pretend to deal and then change their minds? Are Democrats just too stupid to even play that game?

    Clearly you missed the point of this entire post.

    Democrats are not Republicans. They actually give a shit about governing and moving the country forward. Republicans are happy to let nothing happen. They don’t really care about changing the status quo or advancing the country (they are conservatives after all).

    You might as well be whining about why more men don’t bear children. It’s no more in a man’s DNA than in a Democrat’s to function like a Republican.

  34. 34
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @amk #23:

    Mmmm . . . red meat and cake. It’s not just for breakfast any more.

  35. 35

    Here’s why we should get rid of the filibuster:

    Even if Obama wins an LBJ-style landslide in 2012 with major coattails, the earliest it will be even possible to be close to a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate is 2017.

    That’s right, 2017.

    If we don’t get rid of the filibuster, no progressive legislation will be passed by Congress until 2017 at the earliest.

    That’s all.

  36. 36
    Baud says:

    @Woodrow

    I agree.

  37. 37
    batgirl says:

    @agrippa: Word! I work in a public library in a working class to lower middle class community that is hurting hard. I see and help the people searching for jobs and applying for government aid everyday. The vast majority of these people don’t follow politics. They are scared and angry and just want a fair chance to be able to support themselves and their families. Our politicians and media could care less.

  38. 38
    liberal says:

    Liberals want active change. This means they can’t just obstruct.

    This is why we need to get rid of the filibuster, which has historically been a tool of reactionaries.

  39. 39
    Chris says:

    @Dave:

    It’s hard to negotiate with people whose worst-case scenario (to them) is that the uber-wealthy just get a little-less wealthy. While with Democrats, the worst-case scenario is that people die.

    All The King’s Men thusly,

    Adam Stanton: What is my weakness?
    Jack Burden: You can’t look at something that’s broke without having to fix it.
    Adam Stanton: Why is that a weakness? WHY IS THAT A WEAKNESS?
    Jack Burden: It makes you do things you don’t wanna do.

    Aye, tis true.

  40. 40
    liberal says:

    @John S.:

    Sure, Harry Reid is a dismal failure. You really think someone else can get over 90% of the remaining caucus to vote for something?

    One problem with Reid and Daschl before him is that they’re not from safe seats. IMHO that’s not a good thing. Leaders should be from strictly blue states. Not for ideological reasons, but so they don’t have to fret over their own reelection.

  41. 41
    liberal says:

    @John S.:

    Elect more/better Democrats? How did that work out for us last month? Most of the seats lost were conservatives, and without them we have a coalition slightly easier to hold together. But we also lost the majority in the House.

    In the short run, it’s a difficult strategy to take. But in the long run, over decades, it’s not necessarily so.

  42. 42
    Chris says:

    And this isn’t entirely true. It’s a fact that Republicans can more easily live with the status quo than Democrats (because they really don’t care who gets hurt).

    But that doesn’t mean they won’t try to change it anyway; Reagan and Bush both tried to privatize Social Security and Gingrich’s Congress tried to strangle Medicare, in the last thirty years, and I’d say they’re determined to try again.

    If you get rid of the filibuster, how do you know the next time the GOP controls Congress they won’t succeed in passing it this time? I hate that it works that way, but I do see the logic of it.

  43. 43
    John S. says:

    @liberal:

    Sure. The only problem with your theory right now is that Harry Reid just got re-elected and will be there for the next 6 years. He doesn’t really have much to worry about for quite a while.

    Conversely, Nancy Pelosi has a safe seat. But that didn’t get her to force a vote on tax cuts before the election, now did it?

  44. 44
    liberal says:

    @Napoleon:
    Re the Senate, 50% of Senate votes isn’t necessarily representative either.

  45. 45
    terraformer says:

    @WereBear:

    Well put, sir (or m’am).

    Similar to JC’s “…her preference is for a meal of tire rims and glass” comment. Change cannot happen with this dynamic.

    What to do? Move? Soldier on, I guess…it’s going to be a long, long time before this country changes its focus from the rich to everyone–but I wonder more and more lately if that is even possible.

  46. 46
    liberal says:

    @John S.:

    The only problem with your theory right now is that Harry Reid just got re-elected and will be there for the next 6 years.

    He barely got reelected. The only reason he won is that the opponent was a total nutcase.

    IMHO it’s blindingly obvious that having leaders in vulnerable seats is a bad idea. I get the claim that you want someone who can hold a broad coalition together. Doesn’t mean they can’t be liberal.

  47. 47
    JPL says:

    @low-tech : I’m not much of a poker player but since the south is dictating the rules of the Senate and extremists have taken over the House, I worry that a lot of damage can be done.

  48. 48
    NonyNony says:

    @jwb:

    and if the Dems lose control of the Senate in 2012, which the sheer number of Dem seats open in that election makes a good possibility, we might be wishing for the filibuster.

    Ha. Don’t kid yourself. The next time Republicans take control of the Senate one of two things will happen:

    1. Democrats will fail to obstruct anything meaningfully, and Republicans will always be able to pick off enough to pass their crap and get whatever judicial confirmations they want done.

    2. Democrats will actually manage to come together enough to obstruct something and really piss off the Republican leadership in the Senate. At that point the leadership finds some constitutional trick to go nuclear on the rules and get rid of the filibuster anyway (but they’ll be careful to find a way to make it a “this does not set any kind of precedent for future use of the filibuster” sort of thing. Like Bush v. Gore in 2000).

    IOW – Democrats will never be using the filibuster in a meaningful way again. The Republicans will just nuke it from orbit like they threatened to during Bush’s term. In fact, the best thing that could have happened then is if the Dems had just let the Republicans nuke it – would they really have put two worse judges on the bench than Alito and Roberts? Doubtful – it’s not like they were compromises on Bush’s part (though he did have to compromise on one of his first choices – but that was because fucking REPUBLICANS blocked him from nominating Harriet Miers – it wasn’t like there was a filibuster threat there from Democrats that stopped it).

    Might as well get rid of it – in the long run it makes things more democratic anyway, even if it means losing it as a tool in the short run.

  49. 49
    liberal says:

    @John S.:

    But that didn’t get her to force a vote on tax cuts before the election, now did it?

    From what I’ve read, the House was pretty tired in general of sending legislation to the Senate, only to see it disappear down a black hole.

  50. 50
    liberal says:

    @NonyNony:
    Exactly.

  51. 51
    John S. says:

    @liberal:

    I’m all for the long game, but I think you’re overestimating most people. Most people have no patience, and care very little for the big game plan. They want it all RIGHT NOW. Don’t you read these message boards? Didn’t you see the last election?

    It’s a nation of Veruca Salts all whining about not having their golden ticket. They don’t care how, they want it now.

  52. 52
    El Cid says:

    @MikeJ:

    Getting rid of the filibuster wouldn’t get rid of the problem of president Lieberman or Snowe, merely change the critical vote from the 60th to the 50th.

    I’ve said many times that if Democrats had had 70 or 80 Senators, there would have been new and more creative reasons why they didn’t have quite enough votes to pass legislation for good policies supported by most Democrats.

  53. 53
    liberal says:

    @batgirl:

    The vast majority of these people don’t follow politics. They are scared and angry and just want a fair chance to be able to support themselves and their families.

    OTOH, that’s their own fault—no one’s stopping them from getting more involved in politics. OTOH, making progress in politics is pretty much a collective action problem, and those are very difficult to solve.

  54. 54
    John S. says:

    From what I’ve read, the House was pretty tired in general of sending legislation to the Senate, only to see it disappear down a black hole.

    Funny, they just did that last week. Three fucking weeks after the goddamn election. And the fucking Senate voted on it last Saturday. It didn’t disappear down a hole, it failed to pass.

    Sorry, your explanation is not credible.

  55. 55
    liberal says:

    @John S.:
    I totally agree. I’m just saying there’s no choice but to look at the long term. All fundamental change takes a long time, unless it happens in the wake of a terrible disaster. And even then it’s not guaranteed. (See BP and banksters.)

    Of course some resources have to be devoted to short-term gain. The question is what fraction.

  56. 56
    liberal says:

    @John S.:
    It’s your retort which isn’t credible. Why would anyone think that tackling this problem _after_ the midterm elections is a good idea? The Dems had two years to deal with this.

    Furthermore, strictly on the evidence, Reid has been a terrible leader. So was Daschl. Pelosi’s been good, if not awesome. IMHO the _a priori_ case that you don’t choose a leader from a red or purple state (unless they’re extremely popular) is very strong; this should be blindingly obvious, because they’re going to always be that much more worried about their own election. The onus is on you to prove otherwise.

  57. 57
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @MikeJ: If you have a majority, jockeying for that 50th vote is going to be easier than trying to round up 60. Smart leadership could almost make Blue Dogs bid for the privilege of being that final vote, make it a reverse auction, where whoever asks for the least in exchange for his or her vote gets to be difference maker. Right now, you have to hold on to every vote you already have while corralling the 60th. With 50, you could lose a block of 3 votes in order to get a block of 4 and the “moderates” would have less leverage. Of course, this is why the filibuster has hung on; senators like having leverage.

  58. 58
    WyldPirate says:

    @Ija:

    Are Democrats just too stupid to even play that game? Not good at being the majority, hopeless at being the minority, what exactly are Democrats good for?

    Good for nothing. From the top down as the one in the White House isn’t a Democrat he works for the other side when he raises taxes on the poorest Americans.

    Neo-Feudalism here we come.

  59. 59
    Rick Taylor says:

    First, there’s a real asymmetry between liberal and conservative goals. Liberals want active change. This means they can’t just obstruct. They have to figure out a way to build a supermajority coalition for complicated legislation, and that means compromise.

    __
    I originally viewed things this way, but recent events have made me question this. Conservatives wanted to get tax cuts for the wealthy. That wasn’t a matter of obstructing something, that was active change they needed. And they got it, even with a minority in both houses.

  60. 60
    John S. says:

    @liberal:

    My retort isn’t credible? You’re not even making sense.

    Why would anyone think that tackling this problem after the midterm elections is a good idea?

    I don’t know, but Obama sure didn’t think it was a good idea. Yet that is EXACTLY what Harry and Nancy did. Clearly, you have some hero worship of Nancy Pelosi going on, and that is clouding your judgment.

    Overall, Reid has been awful and Pelosi has been great. But on the current tax issue, they BOTH fucked up. There isn’t any further onus on me than to simply state the facts, which I already have. You’re simply contorting yourself into a pretzel to reject the obvious reality, so I will take one last stab at spelling it out for you.

    The votes we just had on taxes AFTER the elections could have gone down BEFORE the election in precisely the same way. There is absolutely no reason it couldn’t have happened a month ago or even a year ago. Obama had been calling for precisely that since the summer, but congress ignored him.

    The failure of leadership on this matter belongs to Reid AND Pelosi. Period.

  61. 61
    agrippa says:

    @batgirl
    got it in one!

    People are hurting.
    The rank order of priorities is as wrong as wrong can be.

  62. 62
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @Rick Taylor: And that is why Obama was pushing Congress to pass something before the election. Part of the problem, though, is the asymmetry in the consequences of not acting. If the Republicans fail to get the upper class tax cuts extended, then the wealthy only save a whole lot of money instead of a huge amount of money. If the Democrats don’t get the tax cuts extended, people start having to make decisions about buying food versus buying a new toy for their kids. If the Democrats had passed something before the election, they could have had the popular advantage. Since they waited until just before the cuts were set to expire, they lost the advantage to those who can absorb a tax increase.

  63. 63
    WyldPirate says:

    @Michael:

    Hence the moniker “Daily Slinkerwink”. Now the lazy twit is shedding prospective criticism by pulling the deaf card.

    sounds like ABL…

  64. 64
    John S. says:

    @liberal:

    Oh, and perhaps it’s worth pointing out that the two Senators who pushed Reid the hardest to NOT hold a vote prior to the elections were Boxer and Murray. Both “liberals” who came from blue states with seats that should have been “safe” but which were anything but since they both felt they couldn’t afford to go on the record in defense of good tax policy.

  65. 65
    Elie says:

    @Norbrook:

    You hit that nail on the head. And that is why they always target Obama. He is visible and easy to kneecap — even if it hurts our side, it makes them look “effective”.

    Meantime, real boots on the ground organizing and politicking is never done — never.

  66. 66
    John S. says:

    Since they waited until just before the cuts were set to expire, they lost the advantage to those who can absorb a tax increase.

    Exactly. And only a Firebagger would try to pin this failing on Obama in the face of reality, and try they have. Kevin Drum pointed this out in a previous post, that the situation was created by congress, yet Obama gets the blame for it, though he doesn’t deserve it.

    You can knock Obama for how he played his hand, but it was the congressional Democrats who dealt him a shit hand to begin with.

  67. 67
    sparky says:

    @John S.: sorry, that’s just not true. see below:

    Obama administration officials and Democrats in charge of Congress said a vote on the tax cuts won’t happen until after the Nov. 2 election. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, said on “Fox News Sunday” that a pre- election vote in the House would be a “specious act,” given the Senate’s inaction.

    Republicans called for quicker action, saying business owners need more certainty to make plans. Indiana Republican Representative Mike Pence, on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” called for “an up-or-down vote” on the tax-rate extensions “before Congress adjourns for the political season.”

    Sept 27, 2010

    there are plenty of reasons to (a) say it would be helpful to have “more liberal” democrats, and (b) that the D leadership, such as it is in the Senate sux, and both are true. but Obama bears a lot (most?) of the blame for these missteps as well.

  68. 68
    Paul in KY says:

    @liberal: Totally agree with you. Sen Reid cannot really espouse Democratic principles as he feels he must be really conservative to get re-elected in Nevada (seems sort of weird, as I would think your typical Nevadaite is a live & let party kind. Guess I’m sterotyping them).

  69. 69
    sparky says:

    @Elie: you know, i love the taste of burnt straw in the morning. but go ahead, keep blaming your purists who get nothing done for sabotaging Obama. give the berserk rationalizations ginned up for Obama here (11th dimensional chess, anyone?) i’m sure you’ll be able to explain how the empty powerless bloggers defeated Obama, while being powerless. maybe they have extra-powerful magic pixels?

  70. 70
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    @WyldPirate:

    Fuck. You will whine about anything, won’t you?

    Someone get WyldChyld a baba.

  71. 71
    Corner Stone says:

    Maybe Democrats in Congress actually thought letting the tax cuts expire was the real right move.
    That’s speculation, but if true it would mean the WH is pre-empting the Congress because they have their own agenda.
    President Obama may not like the political calculations of tax rates increasing but it’s still slightly possible that a majority of D Congresspeople want the tax cuts to expire.

  72. 72
    WyldPirate says:

    @Napoleon:

    Playing to the vote that puts you over the 50% mark is what representative democracy is suppose to be. Having to play to the vote to put you over the 60% mark is not representative democracy

    This is why nothing is going to really change now that the “New Deal” is sliding towards obsolescence, labor unions have been crushed and there is no threat of some other party like the Soc-cialist or Comm-unist or whatever to drive the Dems and Rethugs out of simply working for the highest bidder.

    Any fundamental change is going to require a radical crash in the economy followed by widespread social unrest. If we keep the system as it is–with the Senate set up in its current structure–nothing will get done except the continued concentration of the wealth of the country in the hands of top 1%–and servitude of the bulk of the rest of us.

  73. 73
    beergoggles says:

    @Dave:

    Democrats care about who is affected by their policies, while the GOP doesn’t give a shit who suffers.

    I think you’re wrong. The GOP does care if their funders suffer. And having money like the GOP funders do, basically makes it so that they don’t suffer from silly policies like the laws that the rest of us need to follow. The only way that the rich can be hurt is by taxing them more, and of course the GOP is against that because they DO give a shit who suffers.

  74. 74
    Jinchi says:

    But conservatives, to a much larger extent, are often OK with simply preventing things from changing, either as their first best or second best position.

    This view of Republicans is extremely annoying. Kevin has embraced the belief that Republicans would be perfectly happy shutting down the government, ending spending on local projects, or letting the tax cuts expire for everyone.

    This belief is utter BS.

    Republicans want lots of things. They want deregulation. They want gifts for their millionaire friends. They want their Bridges to Nowhere. Hell they fill out their staff’s with lobbyists from every major industry. Do you think those guys want everything to just stay the same?

    Kevin doesn’t just give Democrats an excuse for caving, he actually pats them on the head for it. Republicans are only successful with this game because they’ve convinced Democrats to believe it.

  75. 75
    WyldPirate says:

    @Odie Hugh Manatee:

    Fuck. You will whine about anything, won’t you?
    Someone get WyldChyld a baba.

    So let me get this straight, ODH. It’s OK for someone to make an O/T comment criticizing a poster on another board not once, but twice, but it’s not OK to comment on the similarities with one of our own FP’ers?

    I must have hit a nerve with the truth.

    Maybe you like FP’agers that make shit up out of whole cloth and can’t be bothered to read the BS the wrote, much less correct it. Me, I’m not impressed by that.

    I’m not worried about it. She’ll get savaged even worse next time. She can’t help it because she’s careless in her thought and in her writing. Moreover, she is too egotistical to admit she’s wrong. Many more people saw through her sloppy, horseshit reasoning on that Tuesday post than they did the Sunday one. She’ll fuck up again and more people will begin to see the pattern.

  76. 76
    Nick says:

    @liberal:

    He barely got reelected. The only reason he won is that the opponent was a total nutcase.

    he won by 6 percent. that’s not “barely”

  77. 77
    beergoggles says:

    @Jinchi: This. Absolutely. If the Democrats stopped pandering to the Republicans, Republican’s lobbyists would freak out because they would get nothing for all that money.

    I think mistermix needs to start going over his assumptions. Taking professional political media types at their word in this day and age without insisting on proof or any substantial backing is an indication that you’re using them to push an unfounded claim of your own.

  78. 78
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @John S.:

    So how do we fix the problem?

    We work at creating a better informed and more progressive electorate. The election tactics and Congressional tactics we spend so much time talking about are top-down attempts to squeeze more progressive results out of less progressive material (the voters and their reps). This approach has limits to what it can do, and it works best in the short term. In the long term we need more progressive voters. We can get that a number of ways – the population as a whole can shift its opinions to the left and/or the more progressive fraction of the population can start registering to vote and showing up on election day in larger numbers.

    These are large rocks to roll up a steep hill – which means they require an actual grassroots social movement, something on the order of the labor movement or the civil rights movement. The question is: are there enough Americans who actually give a shit and are willing to do something about it to make up such a movement? Judging from past experience it looks like we are more easily motivated by an acute crises like a war or a sudden economic collapse than we are by slow moving disasters. That is why we are in such trouble now, because our big problems are chronic, systemic and slowly unfolding disasters, not the acute kind. Americans need to get smarter about understanding their world and start looking at the tide coming in and the slow rising waters rather than just watching for that one big wave which makes a huge splash and sweeps your house out to sea.

  79. 79
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @liberal:

    Furthermore, strictly on the evidence, Reid has been a terrible leader. So was Daschl.

    How many effective Senate majority leaders have there been since LBJ? Who should we take as a role model, by which to judge Reid’s performance? I’m not snarking, it’s an honest question. Off the top of my head I’d say Dole was fairly effective for the GOP, but who on the Dem side has been best over the last 50 years?

  80. 80
    Elie says:

    @sparky:

    Sparky:

    I can criticize some of the lefty big mouths and still acknowledge where Obama is wrong or has problems. That is what you guys can’t get and makes it impossible to discuss meaningful reality. Your theory is that because I criticize the do nothing armchair and keyboard brigade on the left, that I do not have any problem with what Obama is doing.

    What I am pointing out is that real change requires real action and so many of the critics are not willing to mix it up in the real world of making change a reality — setting up opponents to some of the blue dogs, active involvement with campaigns.

    I am very concerned about some of Obama’s current decisions and what they mean. But I am also observant and interested in calling it like it is and many of the left critics are not without fault. I would like to talk about the issues without the polemics that too many of your chronies like to engage in — extremes like: Just like George Bush, Hitler, Stalin, do not help that goal much.

  81. 81
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @MikeJ:

    Getting rid of the filibuster wouldn’t get rid of the problem of president Lieberman or Snowe, merely change the critical vote from the 60th to the 50th.

    There is a big pyschological difference in terms of how the news is reported. With a 60-vote threshold the minority party can block legislation and then the discredit for the failure to pass that legislation falls on the head of the majority party, since most Americans assume that the majority rules and the news media doesn’t bother to inform them otherwise. At least with a 51 vote threshold the majority would be responsible for its own failures.

    Some of the structural problems with our system of govt today lie in a severe disconnect between responsibility and power. People wield power without having to take any responsibility for their actions because our system is so complicated and has so many places to hide their exercise of power behind screens. The Senate is the worst in this regard – opaque cloture votes, anonymous holds, etc. If you set up a system like that, it is no wonder that the participants gravitate towards shameful behavior.

  82. 82
    aimai says:

    @John S.:
    No, lots of us have been pointing out the failings of the entire party for quite a while. People have been asking for tighter controls over the Dems in the Senate, Dems in the house were held together masterfully by Pelosi and by the House Rules. There’s also better use of the DNC and its fundraising clout.

    We lost a boatload of dems in this last midterm–we mostly lost those who were bad/fragile/blue dog dems. Like a lot of people I thought that Dems should have worked harder to force those dems, while they were in office, to support the President and his policies. The dems have always prized more dems over better dems but one of the prices you pay for a broad but weak coalition is that your own party stabs you in the back over and over again. I’m opposed to that and I think using the power of the purse from the DCCC and the DSCC to promote better national dems instead of blue dog dems is the way to go. But you will never get the national democratic party to do that because its national aspirations are to get into power not to securely do something with that power.

    aimai

  83. 83
    goblue72 says:

    Whatever – Kevin Drum is a pundit at Mother Jones – why would I take anything he says about whether or not the Democrats are good negotiators at face value? He has zero experience in the matter – he’s a pundit, an opinionator with a thesaurus.

    I do negotiate business deals for a living and they generally involve lots of zeroes. Drum doesn’t know what he is talking about. The Dems DO have an option of just walking away. He completely misreads the analysis is saying the Republicans don’t have any positive gains they need or want (as opposed to just wanting to oppose).

    If the Dems walk away, the Bush tax cuts expire. They don’t have to lift a finger and they will expire. And as we know, all the Dems need to do is get 40 votes to stop any extension. And since the Democrats control the Senate and the White House, if the GOP wants tax cuts, then it HAS to do a deal. The Dems have a LOT of leverage here. There isn’t another election for two more years.

    By that time, the tax increases will have been absorbed & the economy will be in whatever shape it will be in. (probably crappy, but there is little the government can really do in the short term to goose it enough – the amounts of govt. spending or tax cuts needed to move the needle on the GDP dial far, far, far exceed what is politically possible. and there is still a LOT of deleveraging the economy still needs to go through – loading on debt for decades doesn’t just disappear overnight).

    The best point in time the Dems have to go to the wall are RIGHT NOW, not a year down the road when election seasons starts up. Their leverage will continually decrease as we move forward. Does it involve some risk of short term pain – certainly. But the “American people” have been dealing with crap for a long time now – its not like some marginal increase in the crap is going to end the world.

    But what WILL create some long term pain is the revenue trap the GOP are setting up with this deal. Whatever short term, marginal goose to the economy we get out of this is being paid for out of Social Security’s stability – the deal decreases the payroll tax by 30%!!! – that would be the tax that funds Social Security. And just try to keep it from being made permanent when the cut expires in two years. Just. Effing. Try.

  84. 84
    pattonbt says:

    @goblue72:

    I don’t think your negotiating strategy holds here. The Republicans didn’t have to do anything at all. Truthfully you do not understand their position – tax cuts expire, Republicans win (maybe not “the day” but the battle), tax cuts get renewed, they win bigger (the day and the battle). This issue was weird because the the tax cuts were expiring, this wasn’t two sides trying to do something new where both sides needed something from the other. Sure, the Republicans had preferable outcomes (tax cuts for the wealthy) but all outcomes for them were positive. And all they had to do was sit quietly in the shadows and do nothing.

    So, cuts expire, Republicans say “you can kiss any tax cut legislation getting through later that doesn’t hand out to the rich”. And that’s not bluff with the Senate rules. Easy stance there. So no tax cuts for the middle and low income earners win for Dems later. Plus great electoral message “look at those Democrats raising your taxes again! And in a recession no less!!”. And please do not count on the media or Democratic messaging machine to win against that nice sound bite. So negotiating on expire, Republicans, who have the upper hand because of the Senate and that this situation requires no action on their part, simply say “You’ve got to come through us. We win if the cuts expire, we win if they don’t”.

    The only way the Democrats had any leverage in this fight was if they were willing to let the cuts expire and realize nothing else was going to get through. That was their one bargaining chip in this case – bluff that they had the balls to let ALL cuts expire and pass no new cuts. And enough Dems had already signalled (including Obama) that raising taxes on the middle and low income earners was a no deal. And really, what leverage is that. Dems take a tax hike on the chin and Repubs get to play “we told you so” and win. How do Dems remotely come close to having any leverage? And you say you negotiate for a living?

    I mean, my brother and I make a great living and have no fear of hard times and we were both really hoping the cuts would expire permanently. But then we realized that’s easy for us to say. Sure, the D’s look like they’ll get some good crumbs from the deal, but those crumbs to my brother and I are lifesavers to those in need.

    As I said before, the Dems were screwed on this six ways from Sunday before it ever became an issue, Bush and his cronies made damn sure that whoever was in office when these cuts were coming up to expire would be in a no win situation (unless of course they were Republicans). This was gamed from jump street.

Comments are closed.