Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 9, 2010

NOT MUCH OF A 'COMPROMISE'.... Our discourse can be awfully frustrating sometimes.

House GOP Leader John Boehner offered a concession on tax cuts, suggesting Republicans would accept a two-year extension of all the Bush-era tax breaks rather than the permanent extension they have been seeking.

The GOP proposal is an alternative to Democratic leaders' plan to allow the top two rates to rise next year to pre-Bush levels.

Boehner's Senate counterpart is offering a similar pitch.

Sen. Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky) office expressed openness on Wednesday to a compromise proposal on the Bush tax cuts, saying that the Minority Leader would entertain a temporary extension of all tax cuts even though a longer extension remains his preference.

A spokesman for the Kentucky Republican told the Huffington Post that the senator would consider punting the issue of what to do with the Bush tax cuts down the road by supporting a two-year extension of the current rates.

"If what it takes to prevent a tax hike is to start with two years, if that's what it takes to talk Democrats out of raising taxes, that would be a good start," said Don Stewart, McConnell's communications director. "But we're not for raising taxes in two years."

So, let's be clear about what kind of "compromise" is on the table. Going into the dispute, Republicans want to keep all the Bush-era tax rates for everyone; President Obama wants to keep the lower rates for the middle class, but allow the lower rates for the wealthiest Americans to expire on time.

As part of the proposed "deal" GOP leaders are willing to make, Republicans would get everything they want for two years -- while adding billions to the deficit that the GOP no longer even pretends to care about -- at which point, they would demand the exact same thing all over again.

Describing this as some kind of "concession" is truly ridiculous.

Steve Benen 11:05 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (26)

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Why is it ridiculous? That is what Peter Orzag proposed.

Posted by: square1 on September 9, 2010 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

The Republicans have been screaming about the deficit all year, and now they want to explode it to give more money to the wealthiest, at the same time that they want budget reforms that will raise taxes and cut benefits for the poorest.

It was ridiculous when Orzag proposed it too.

Obama should just explain that, hard as it was to get 60 votes for Democratic ideas, the Republicans need 67 (and 2/3 of the House as well) to get their way. He should pledge to veto this idea.

Posted by: Joe Buck on September 9, 2010 at 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

By "temporary" they mean until we get back in control- then it will made permanent.

Posted by: DAY on September 9, 2010 at 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

at which point, they would demand the exact same thing all over again.

Yes. So they can recycle it for the 2012 elections so they can use it as a fundraising tool among the plutocracy while Obama is running for reelection.

Posted by: Realist on September 9, 2010 at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

If Obama is smart, he'll tell 'em to "stick it" over and over again in every public venue from now till November.

Posted by: sjw on September 9, 2010 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

As a fall-back position if the Dems had no leverage, this wouldn't be so bad. But they do have leverage. They can let everything go back to Clinton-era levels, put forward a bill then to cut taxes for the non-rich, and let the Republicans hold it hostage to their paymasters.

Posted by: CJColucci on September 9, 2010 at 11:26 AM | PERMALINK

Here's a compromise, we'll extend the Bush cuts one week for every Republican candidate for representative who drops out of the race and one month for every Republican Senate candidate who quits.

Posted by: doubtful on September 9, 2010 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

the politics should be totally in the dems favor here: how will they screw it up? will it be the blue dogs selling out first or obama selling out first?

Posted by: howard on September 9, 2010 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

"Why is it ridiculous? That is what Peter Orzag proposed."

I thought he proposed permenently extending the middle class cuts and only a 2 year on the high end. What the Republicans are trying to do is get Obama to give up the permenent extension which means in 2 years when the Rep try to permenently extend them they are not stuck with a naked extension that only benefits the rich.

Posted by: Napoleon on September 9, 2010 at 11:37 AM | PERMALINK

"The timid man yearns for full value and asks a tenth. The bold man strikes for double and compromises on par." — Mark Twai"

Posted by: theAmericanist on September 9, 2010 at 11:37 AM | PERMALINK

"Why is it ridiculous? That is what Peter Orzag proposed."

Peter Orzag was being a "useful idiot" with that proposal.

Posted by: wab on September 9, 2010 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

Almost fell our of my chair in shock. The americanist post one sentence.

Posted by: Gandalf on September 9, 2010 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

On further review I reverse my earlier post. It is what Orzag proposed.

Posted by: Napoleon on September 9, 2010 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

Hang on, the problem isn't that "the GOP no longer even pretends to care about" the deficit.

The problem is that they have recently started pretending to care, whereas before they were not even pretending to care.

Just because they're not convincing us with the pretense doesn't mean they're not pretending!

Posted by: Matt on September 9, 2010 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

Give the rich the tax levels Reagan thought were fair - they can't possibly complain against that.

There's a compromise for you - Saint Reagan is never wrong.

Posted by: SteinL on September 9, 2010 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

heads I win, tails you lose

Posted by: mike reilly on September 9, 2010 at 11:53 AM | PERMALINK

THE RICH should pay their fair share. They do not exist in isolation, the more money they make the more people, public infrastructure, and government services they and those who supply them with their money use.

while they may EAT as much as another person, everything else is outsized.

It's only fair and just.


Boycott the Wall Street Journal. it's Dated, Ugly, and Biased.

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on September 9, 2010 at 12:06 PM | PERMALINK

KR -- I've been saying this for years: rich people should pay more in taxes, because they get more public benefits than poor people.

I know why conservatives are against the idea. But I dunno why progressives resist it.

Posted by: theAmericanist on September 9, 2010 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

Hope Obama realizes he is going to have to have this fight either in 2010 or in 2012, and he is MUCH better off having it this year then facing the issue of a potential middle class tax rise during an election year. Things are probably not going to get much worse for the Dems even if he calls the Republithugs bluff this year and they actually follow through with refusing to extend the middle class cuts, the Dems are about down to the bone on the losses they are likely to take, and Obama can use the tax rise on the middle class as a cudgel to beat the Republicans beginning when the new Congress convenes. I personally doubt Repubs would in fact let the under $250000 rates go up, but politically, I don't see net harm to the Dems if they do. (It might harm the economy, true, but Dems don't seem to be winning this game by thinking about the common good, so I think it might be time to start playing by Republithug rules. I can justify it by saying that the economy will be better in the long run if Dems can get back in real control, as the graph from Noah's Slate series showed yesterday.)

Posted by: dcsusie on September 9, 2010 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

It's NOT what Orzag proposed.

Orzag has made it clear that he's reluctantly willing to make a deal with the GOP Obstructionists for a two year extension IN EXCHANGE FOR an agreement for a permanent end in two years.

As McConnell says in so many words, they are talking about a two year extension now, and then fighting for more later. In other words, their offer is, "Give us what we want now, and we'll stop arguing until we want more later."

Orzag's whole op-ed was based on trying to imagine a deal that the Republicans would agree to. Of course his proposal sounds like something the Republicans would suggest.

But it isn't what they are now suggesting. They want more.

The naivete of thinking the GOP would stick to any deal is one of Orzag's most comical aspects.

Posted by: biggerbox on September 9, 2010 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

You'd think the Dems would learn how to play this game.

Step 1: announce that all of the Bush tax cuts will expire on Dec. 31.
Step 2: introduce legislation that will restore all tax cuts except those for the wealthy effective Jan. 1, 2011.
Step 3: force GOP to filibuster/vote against tax cuts. As many times as possible before the elections.
Step 4: announce that if the GOP will not allow the tax cuts to pass, Democrats will renew them as first order of business after being returned to the majority in the new Congress.

If you wanted to twist the knife a bit, you could even say "we've heard the public concern about deficits and the debt, and we agree that $100 billion in tax cuts for people who are already millionaires are something we can't afford right now. If those tax cuts were going to create jobs, they would have by now, after being in place for 9 years. They haven't and we can't afford them. But we also can't afford to tax the people who have suffered most in this recession - raising their taxes will cut the amount of money flowing through the economy, which is what actually creates jobs."

As for the bait about "we'll let them expire 2 years from now," certainly there can be no Democrat currently sitting in House or Senate who believes the football wouldn't get pulled away again 2 years down the road.

Posted by: Jennifer on September 9, 2010 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

Jennifer, that's what the Dems would do if they were smart. Unfortunately, one of the major weaknesses in the Democratic party is the fact that we never project as unified a front as the GOP. Which sucks really, because in a situation like this, we'd have the 2010 elections in the bag if we did.

Posted by: Layla on September 9, 2010 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

Hey Paul/Americanist, why did you run away from Yglesias's blog? We miss having you to kick around, provoke into embarassing yourself, misrepresent even the very recent past, etc...

Posted by: Anthony on September 9, 2010 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

This is a horrible idea. Let's make tax cuts a presidnetial year issue, too. Better idea: extending the cut for three years.

Posted by: The O on September 9, 2010 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

Um, dcsusie sez: "MUCH better off having it this year then facing the issue of a potential middle class tax rise during an election year."

As opposed to, er, 2010? There are 435 Representatives up this year, with 428 Rs running against 412 Ds, not to mention I think it's 34 Senate races.

Layla echoes what I (and many others) have observed about the schoolfish characteristic of conservatives: "...one of the major weaknesses in the Democratic party is the fact that we never project as unified a front as the GOP."

True -- although I'd put it differently: somehow, we never manage to turn our political diversity into a source of strength.

I said in a different thread that progressive political culture is more interested in making heretics than converts. The Blue Dogs are a pretty fair example -- cuz they ARE converts, formerly Republican districts that elected Democrats.

The thing is, the Congressional dynamic necessarily rewards Reps from safe districts with seniority, since after all competitive districts pretty much by definition turn over once a decade or so. Very few Reps win re-election by less than 5% for long, so committee and subcommittee chairs wind up being most representative of their respective parties center of gravity: to the left, for Ds, to the right, for Rs.

It would have taken a significant change in strategy for the Democratic majority, particularly in the House, to have insisted on finding 220 votes or so from within the Democratic Caucus before proceeding to the floor on a long list of issues -- but that's my point: the legislative and political mess we're looking at derives from the 'give the Blue Dogs cover' strategy -- the idea is that they needed Republican votes and "bipartisanship" in order for Blue Dogs to support Democratic bills.

That's bass ackwards, and it's largely due to progressives insisting that directly working it out with the Blue Dogs wasn't worth it: as if there were sufficient "moderate" Republicans to cut deals with, instead?

Like I keep observing (even as the likes of Anthony pop up to prove my point), Ds had a majority of 260 Ds in the House: why DIDN'T we get the 218 we needed from within that majority?

It's the simplest explanation (and the one with the longest legs) for how progressives fell so far, so fast.

Don't blame the media, or the American public, or the Republicans.

We did it to ourselves.

Posted by: theAmericanist on September 9, 2010 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

It's not Orzag; it's Orszag. "Country", in Hungarian. Otherwise, yes, it's pretty much what he had proposed in his shitty op-ed. Boner and the rest of the Repubs now can use that piece of garbage as their shield.

Posted by: exlibra on September 9, 2010 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK



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