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Tilting at Windmills

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November 11, 2010

AXELROD SIGNALS SURRENDER ON TAX POLICY.... [Updated below]

By now, everyone is no doubt familiar with the game of political chicken on tax rates. The question has been which side would blink first.

President Obama, with large Democratic majorities in both chambers, has said he would accept a permanent reduction in middle-class rates and a temporary extension of breaks for the wealthy. Republicans have ruled out all compromises, have said they will only accept everything they want, and have promised to kill middle-class tax cuts unless Dems agree to protect the rich.

The obvious call, at least to me, is for Dems to bring the White House's compromise to the floor and dare Republicans to kill the tax cuts. Yesterday, however, David Axelrod told Sam Stein and Howard Fineman that the White House is prepared to simply give in to GOP demands.

President Barack Obama's top adviser suggested to The Huffington Post late Wednesday that the administration is ready to accept an across-the-board continuation of steep Bush-era tax cuts, including those for the wealthiest taxpayers.

That appears to be the only way, said David Axelrod, that middle-class taxpayers can keep their tax cuts, given the legislative and political realities facing Obama in the aftermath of last week's electoral defeat.

"We have to deal with the world as we find it," Axelrod said during an unusually candid and reflective 90-minute interview in his office, steps away from the Oval Office. "The world of what it takes to get this done."

"There are concerns," he added, that Congress will continue to kick the can down the road in the future by passing temporary extensions for the wealthy time and time again. "But I don't want to trade away security for the middle class in order to make that point."

And that, in a nutshell, is how one loses at the negotiating table. Republicans have said they were prepared to kill the entire tax-cut package to get what they want, and Democrats have said they're not. Axelrod doesn't want to "trade away" what the administration wants, and Republicans were prepared to "trade away" everything to ensure their success.

The GOP pretended to negotiate from a position of strength and that, it appears, was enough.

"We have to deal with the world as we find it"? Well, this world features a Democratic president with a fair and popular tax-cut package, working with a Democratic House and a Democratic Senate, going up against a Republican minority that says it has no qualms about raising everyone's taxes.

Dems could have brought the package to the floor and dared the GOP to vote against tax cuts. I was actually looking forward to the headline: "Republicans kill tax cut compromise; higher rates kick in Jan. 1." Apparently, that's not to be.

I don't want to jump to too many conclusions here. Axelrod's position doesn't always win, and he may yet be overruled. For that matter, in this debate, positions have a way of shifting -- not too long ago, John Boehner said he'd settle for the Democratic tax plan if that's the best he could get, though he quickly changed his mind.

But as of yesterday, Axelrod's comments are what we have to go on.

I hope Axelrod also appreciates the precedent this sets: Republicans are told that if they just hold their breath long enough on key issues, the White House is willing to cave. When it comes to the debt limit and various Republican attempts to shut down the government, this isn't exactly the signal the president's team should be sending.

Update: Axelrod emailed Greg Sargent this morning, insisting, "There is not one bit of news here," and that the White House position has not changed.

White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer added, "The story is overwritten. Nothing has changed from what the President said last week. We believe we need to extend the middle class tax cuts, we cannot afford to borrow 700 billion to pay for extending the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, and we are open to compromise and are looking forward to talking to the Congressional leadership next week to discuss how to move forward. Full Stop, period, end of sentence."

Steve Benen 8:30 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (105)

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Comments

Obama is an effing pu**y.

Best damn Republican president the country has ever had.

Posted by: Bucky on November 11, 2010 at 8:32 AM | PERMALINK

I hope this is't true. If it is, Obama just signed his one term certificate. How many Presidents did NOT get the nomination for a second term? I'm guessing ZERO. Looks like he's gonna be another first.

Posted by: ComradeAnon on November 11, 2010 at 8:33 AM | PERMALINK

Say goodnight fellow travelers. Apparently we lost the Presidential Election in 08 and didn't even know it. I guess Obama wasn't truly ready for Prime Time.

I say he should go on TV and tell it like it is and instead of two American flags behind him he should switch them out for white ones. Nauseating....

Posted by: Stevio on November 11, 2010 at 8:34 AM | PERMALINK

Only two years left with little time to keep caving. I hate to tell you Mr President, but, there really is not a party made up of Liberal Republicans such as yourself, so spend some much needed time soul searching over the next several months and decide which party you really want to serve.

Posted by: berttheclock on November 11, 2010 at 8:35 AM | PERMALINK

Fighting and losing hurts, but not fighting leads to apathy. There is a clear-cut, strong case to be made here, one that puts Republicans on the defensive with no upside, and the Dems refused to make it.

Much as I hate the phrase, this was a "litmus test" for Dems. And they have failed it.


If there was any hope to prove otherwise, this was it. Plutonomy, meet thy enabler.

Posted by: terraformer on November 11, 2010 at 8:35 AM | PERMALINK

Why does Axelrod have to speak about this at all? Why not negotiate behind closed doors. That doesn't make any sense.

Posted by: Maritza on November 11, 2010 at 8:36 AM | PERMALINK

Why did the Democrats, with the House and the Senate, push this off until after the elections? Because they're scrounging for money from the same monied interests who want the those tax cuts to remain in place. There was never any intention of letting them expire.

Posted by: SaintZak on November 11, 2010 at 8:37 AM | PERMALINK

Why the eff is it that when I try to post something from Washington Monthly that I get a different thumbnail. I very well can't pass along what I think is a very good post if you guys want to post on FB. Get your shit together guys.

Posted by: Terry on November 11, 2010 at 8:39 AM | PERMALINK

Last I checked, Pelosi is House Speaker, not Axelrod. She should put a bill extending the middle class tax cuts to a vote and it will pass. Put forward a bill extending the wealthy tax cuts and it will probably pass too. Send them to the Senate for them to do the same. Axelrod can then tell Obama what he thinks he should do with the 2 bills.

There is zero reason for the Democratic House leadership to give a flying fuck what deal Obama is working out behind the scenes with the Republicans. Pelosi forced them to actually have a health care reform law when the WH wanted to capitulate and she can do this.

Posted by: Th on November 11, 2010 at 8:40 AM | PERMALINK

If Axelrod's comments aren't the official WH position, he should be fired IMMEDIATELY.

Otherwise, the other posts on this thread accurately reflect my disgust.

Posted by: bdop4 on November 11, 2010 at 8:41 AM | PERMALINK

..."if you guys want to post something different..." Sorry for the typo.

Posted by: Terry on November 11, 2010 at 8:41 AM | PERMALINK

A great way to launch the Dem enthusiasm gap for 2012.

Posted by: philonius on November 11, 2010 at 8:44 AM | PERMALINK

I say with disgust and despair: Jeebus.

Posted by: paradoxosalpha on November 11, 2010 at 8:46 AM | PERMALINK

I'm usually a defender of President Obama, but he and his administration have completely botched this issue. The shame of it is that they knew for two years that this issue was coming and they still botched it.

Posted by: JD on November 11, 2010 at 8:46 AM | PERMALINK

If this permanent extension passes, and Obama signs it, it will have lost me forever. Mr. President, if this happens, do not run in 2012, you will be slaughtered. I hope the dems put up a strong primary opponent.

Of course, this could all be Axelrod talking out his ass.

Posted by: Stetson Kennedy on November 11, 2010 at 8:47 AM | PERMALINK

i don't want my fucking tax cut!

Posted by: just bill on November 11, 2010 at 8:50 AM | PERMALINK

Do the math. Buying the House of Representatives was cheap compared to paying all those darned taxes.

Why is it that when conservatives say "freedom isn't free!" they always mean death and never taxes?

Posted by: chrenson on November 11, 2010 at 8:50 AM | PERMALINK

Hmm. Do you see any other news organization reporting this?

Posted by: ppol on November 11, 2010 at 8:56 AM | PERMALINK

The Republicans still have to get it through the Democratic controlled Senate.

Posted by: Stephen on November 11, 2010 at 8:57 AM | PERMALINK

I smell a trial ballon, or the biggest bunch of fucking incompents ever seen in DC. Let me spell this out for you, mr. Axelrod:

In 2008, I for the first time ever, worked on a presidental campaign. Many people did. Many people worked way harder, because, naievely, we believed that your guy stood for something. If this tax bullshit is true, then, that's it. I will delist for OFA, and all the other bullshit dem groups. Game is over.

Because now you have made it clear that you are a willing accomplice in the creation of the American Oligarchy. I gave your guy, and the dems, some slack because frankly you were handed the worst stinking economy possible, and two stupid pointless wars.

You decieded on a middle path - rescue banks to save the economy; no real accountability for the swindlers, the crooks, the thieves, and the liars.

No real progressive posture on Afghanistan - you capitulated to the pentagon. All the brainaics who, by reading 1-2 books, would know that Afghanistan is where great powers go to get their heads handed to them.

And now, here was an issue that was so squarely a democratic win, that you all first couldn't, according to the NYTimes, figure out howto make it work on the legislative calender. The one fucking think you can do when you have the senate, the house, and the presidency is control of the calender.

You let yourselves get beatup by lying, manipulating right wing media.

Here, finally, is a chance for a leader to say: No. I will sign a tax cut for people below 250 k, but not for the wealthy. No. What you are doing is giving away the store. The opposition threatens to hold their breath, and you fold.

If you haven't noticed, the opposition is a mean-sprited bunch of bastads that have no interest in making deals. They isnult your heritage; they insult our patriotism; they insult our intelligence on a daily basis.

And now, this.

Pathetic. Game is over. Forget my help, my money, and anything else. I will take my tax cut and do what the republicans want me to do. i will invest in cheesy offshore funds, and make scads of money for me and mine. I guess that was Amerika is all about today.

Thanks Axelrod, for clarifying what a bunch of complete pansies and totally incompetent, spineless feebs I stood for. Thanks a alot for nothing.

Posted by: bigtuna on November 11, 2010 at 8:57 AM | PERMALINK

"...President Obama, with large Democratic majorities in both chambers, has said he would accept a permanent reduction in middle-class rates and a temporary extension of breaks for the wealthy..."

Why aren't they calling on citizens to descend on Washington in massive protests to help them support this? Where is the leadership?

Posted by: Varecia on November 11, 2010 at 8:58 AM | PERMALINK

John Boehner holds a gun to his head and tells everyone, "Hold it! The one of you who makes a move, the @sshole gets it!"

Obama immediately gives in, telling everyone that the country can't afford to lose such a dedicated public servant.

As soon as he's behind closed doors Boehner says, "Oh Baby, you're so talented. And they're so DUMB!"

BERNIE SANDERS 2012

Posted by: SteveT on November 11, 2010 at 8:59 AM | PERMALINK

Are they fucking kidding?

Obama really does want to be a one-term president, doesn't he?

I am a die-hard Democrat, and Obama was the first politician I believed in enough to actually donate to his campaign, not once but twice.

If he thought a lot of people sat home in the mid terms, wait till he gets a load of the next presidential.

Posted by: karen marie on November 11, 2010 at 8:59 AM | PERMALINK

This is a lousy way to get things done. The lack of fight in these people is just amazing. They need a stree brawler to come in a kick some ass. Yeah you lost the house and have fewer votes in the senate -- in January. Go for it there is nothing to lose. Put a name on the bill The Deficit Reduction and Fair Taxation Act of 2010.

Posted by: Bob O'Reilly on November 11, 2010 at 9:00 AM | PERMALINK

Cutting Social Security, Medicare, Tricare, VA and almost every entitlement for the middle class....and giving the VERY, VERY rich a tax cut.....

GETTING SCREWED WITHOUT EVEN GETTING A REACH AROUND!

Posted by: LTC on November 11, 2010 at 9:00 AM | PERMALINK

Nothing, but nothing is done yet. This is one news outlet reporting this.

This is a trial balloon.

Posted by: pol on November 11, 2010 at 9:05 AM | PERMALINK

@ppol, suggest you peruse the lead at HuffPo.

Posted by: berttheclock on November 11, 2010 at 9:06 AM | PERMALINK

Alert: Give tax breaks to the rich, which will cost Americans trillions of dollars, and then cut Social Security and Medicare to pay for it, should be an abomination to the people. I do not believe Pres. Obama will sign off on this insult, Nancy Pelosi has alredy spoken with a resounding No! We cannot keep taxing the people to death, while the wealthy and big business do not pay their fair share due to tax cuts, tax breaks, tax shelters, etc. Until we replace Greed, with the prinicpals of sharing, we will be unalbe to solve our problems. Greed and tax cuts for the rich is not the answer -- it is the problem!

Wake-up Call: The soon to be Speaker, John Boehener, is the man who recently campagined for an Ohio Congressional Candidate who dresses up as a Nazi on the weekends! You know the Nazi uniform that stands for separatism, white power, kill off all Jews! This is who the U.S. Speaker of the House Palls around with -- God Help This Country!

We have to stop making Deals with the Devil....

Posted by: angellight on November 11, 2010 at 9:06 AM | PERMALINK

I guess Obama is looking to switch parties for his second term.

Posted by: ElegantFowl on November 11, 2010 at 9:07 AM | PERMALINK

Well, I'm not going to go all ballistic based on a report from the Huffington Post. Let's wait and see how this plays out. It may well be a trial balloon, to gauge the strength of the reaction.

That said, here is my reaction. This is my own personal line in the sand (and I suspect it is for many other progressives as well). If Obama signs a permanent extension of the upper-class tax cuts, he will not get my vote in 2012.

I speak as somebody who has not, up to now, been disappointed with Obama. I certainly believe that governance involves compromise. But a leftist party does not give freebies to billionaires at a time of skyrocketing inequality and impending government default.

Posted by: rae on November 11, 2010 at 9:08 AM | PERMALINK

@berttheclock, suggest you read Steve's update.

Posted by: pol on November 11, 2010 at 9:09 AM | PERMALINK

How often in life is the right thing to do also the easiest route, consisting of doing absolutely nothing? This should be a no-brainer: let the already scheduled Republican tax increase go into effect.

Later, raise a stink about how the Republicans are hurting the middle class and make a highly visible effort to try to pass a Democratic tax relief bill targeted at the first $100,000 of income, for everyone.

Posted by: N.Wells on November 11, 2010 at 9:10 AM | PERMALINK

Fine. it may be a trial ballon. So, shoot it down. This is the lamest piece of politics, and we should let them know, with both barrels. Excusing the tea party metaphor.

Posted by: bigtuna on November 11, 2010 at 9:10 AM | PERMALINK

The update sounds far more encouraging.

It certainly wouldn't be the first time HuffPo used a Drudge/Politico-like headline to troll for site hits.

Posted by: Holmes on November 11, 2010 at 9:13 AM | PERMALINK

Whether this was a trial balloon or not, the end result will be the same --- they're going to cave. That train left the station months ago.

Posted by: DZ on November 11, 2010 at 9:14 AM | PERMALINK

Why vote Democrat when they act like Republicans? If this is a true account of the tax argument, I will abandon the Obama administration in a flash. Selling out to Pharma, Wall Street and now the current Republican Minority.

Posted by: Peter M. Puch on November 11, 2010 at 9:14 AM | PERMALINK

Giving the tax cuts to the wealthy is the last straw for me. This is a deal-breaker for me. Obama made this a major part of his campaign promise. He compromises too early and does not have any leadership. I am done - not sure what that means.

Posted by: Sharon on November 11, 2010 at 9:14 AM | PERMALINK

Since it's a federal holiday, no one in Congress is answering their phone, so I sent Nancy Pelosi a note:

"Dear Speaker Pelosi:

I am reading this morning that the Obama administration intends to cave to the Republicans -- yet again -- and extend the Bush tax cuts for the very wealthy which have failed to create jobs (an oxymoronic expectation) and will result in deep cuts having to be made to social programs which benefit the poor.

If the Democrats were disappointed in the turnout for the recent mid term election, they are going to be very unhappy with turnout for the next presidential election.

The Democrats have continually folded and capitulated on every important issue -- from investigating and prosecuting the Bush administration for war crimes to health care to DADT.

I am a 54-year-old female who has voted Democrat her entire life. Up until now, despite the failure of Democrats to stand up to the Bush administration in any way, I believed that elected Democratic officials would, if nothing else, enact sensible policies.

I am greatly saddened to discover that I am wrong. From the President on down, you are none of you interested in anything apparently but making Republicans like you. You are certainly not interested in doing what the American need or want.

Good luck with that."

Posted by: karen marie on November 11, 2010 at 9:14 AM | PERMALINK

Another reason why I never read HuffPo. It's a rag.

Posted by: David on November 11, 2010 at 9:15 AM | PERMALINK

You know what makes me crazy? All the back and forth from lib/progressives and media hacks over the FAKE assertion that Jon Stewart was making an equivalent comparison between the "good guys in media" and the "bad folks - mostly FAUX and conservative radio"...but look at the text of this piece and you'll find that ALL DEMS must be "good and sane and rational" (thereby giving our president ALL THIS POWER in Senate/House) while all REPUGS are "bad" (well maybe I can accept that one - HA)...get real...part of that "world they live in" as Axelrod states it is that there are plenty of congresspeople who have a "D" next to their name that are not ON THE TEAM!!! Good God!....

Posted by: Dancer on November 11, 2010 at 9:16 AM | PERMALINK

For the 109,874th time: You do not balance the budget in the midst of a depression. You run deficits, stimulate jobs, then pay for it when things get better.

But apparently we have to learn this lesson every 80 years or so.

Posted by: Tom Allen on November 11, 2010 at 9:19 AM | PERMALINK

Well, I wouldn't put a lot of stock in this report. But if this is Obama's position. If he signs off on this. I will work as hard as possible to upset him in a primary challenge in 2012 even if that means a replay of 1980. That level of incompetence needs to be challenged.

Posted by: SW on November 11, 2010 at 9:20 AM | PERMALINK

Obama is no poster-boy for intestinal fortitude but I have a hard time seeing this as a cave. Not even the Democrats are stupid enough to believe that the GOP will vote against tax cuts. Occams razor tells us that this is simply the latest example of Obama pretending to have his arm twisted in order to arrive at his policy preference.

My hope -- limited though it may be -- is that Pelosi will wake up and realize that she will never be Speaker again if she allows the WH to drive the Democratic position on policy debates.

Posted by: square1 on November 11, 2010 at 9:20 AM | PERMALINK

Settle down, folks; you sound like a bunch of Tea Party Crazies.

Forget all the TALK; wait until something is actually DONE. (That's when we found the new Progressive Party. I nominate Bernie Sanders. . .)

Posted by: DAY on November 11, 2010 at 9:23 AM | PERMALINK

This is exactly why they did not vote on it before the election. The Dems knew they were going to cave and give the Repubs everything they wanted. They figured if they did it before the elction the "enthusiasm gap" would have rivaled the Grand Canyon and even candidates like the witch in Delaware would have had a shot.

Posted by: MW on November 11, 2010 at 9:25 AM | PERMALINK

And I voted for this clown. Never again.

Posted by: msmolly on November 11, 2010 at 9:26 AM | PERMALINK

I don't think this issue even needs a trial balloon - that just shows more weakness.

Posted by: Marko on November 11, 2010 at 9:29 AM | PERMALINK

If this is a trial balloon, it's the stupidest fucking trial balloon I have ever seen.

Saying shit like that damages your cred big time, even if you don't mean it.

Who are they trying to appeal to?

Posted by: bdop4 on November 11, 2010 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK

square1, if I had a dime for every time I thought, "Republicans would never do THAT!" and was wrong -- well, I'd probably be a Republican.

Posted by: Tom Allen on November 11, 2010 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK

'This is a trial balloon.'

Exactly. Save your outrage or really vent it. They will float and lower the balloon repeatedly until all the outrage is spent and then reluctantly do what they had planned to do all along. Learned helplessness is more than a lab experiment. Just like Clinton, Obama is helping to teach the American people to bend over.

Posted by: Michael7843853 on November 11, 2010 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK

Dancer: I completely understand that not all Democrats are on the same team. Some of us are just pointing out that among the Dems playing for the opposition are the occupants of the WH.

Posted by: square1 on November 11, 2010 at 9:33 AM | PERMALINK

America can barely afford the tax cuts for those making less than $250,000. It definately can't afford the tax cuts for the top 2%. Now as a member of the group who stands to gain, I have to say thank you David Axelrod. As an American, I have to say, where can we find a President with balls. I suggest we find a new candidate for 2012, this guy is a joke.

Just tell the Republicans tax cuts for below $250,000 only or no tax cuts. If they don't go for it, Americans will survive. The Clinton era tax rates weren't so bad. If we keep the Bush wealth moving to the rich engine in place it might not.

Posted by: Ron Byers on November 11, 2010 at 9:38 AM | PERMALINK

Day: You miss the point. Putting up middle class extension for a political winner no matter what. If the GOP passed the cuts, the cuts for the wealthy would be decoupled.

But even if the GOP shot down the middle-class extension, it would be a winner. Fiscally, we would be better off if we went back to Clinton era tax rates permanently. And having the GOP force the issue would allow Dems cover for the superior policy.

Dems avoided a win-win showdown because THEY WANT TO EXTEND ALL THE TAX CUTS.

Posted by: square1 on November 11, 2010 at 9:41 AM | PERMALINK

I've said it before and I'll say it again: we cannot assume that Democrats (now apparently including the White House) actually want these top marginal tax cuts to expire. Sure, they have to make a show of it for the base, but actions speak louder than words. They never offered a credible explanation for why they didn't force a vote before the election, and they're not offering one now. I try to be cautious about judging people's motives, but we need to at least consider that they don't really want to let the top bracket cuts expire.

Posted by: Dan on November 11, 2010 at 9:44 AM | PERMALINK

Agree with what has been said. Government by the rich, for the rich, and of the rich.

Posted by: Agree on November 11, 2010 at 9:45 AM | PERMALINK

Simple Dem plan: Offer the compromise of permanent middle class cuts and temporary extension of the wealthy. Republicans reject.

Announce time has run out on fixing the Bush tax rates. The Clinton rates go back into effect.

First announce that the deficit will be reduced by the amount of difference in rates and claim credit. End of deficit crisis claimed in the State of the Union.

Next announce a proposal to REFUND in monthly payments the amount of WAGE taxes collected for those up to $250K, evenly divided over all filers in 2011 and 2012. Let the Republicans vote that down or cave.

I emphasize refund and wage because refunds go to people, such as the unemployed, who file but do not have to pay income tax and wages means no capital gains cut.

The small amount of the checks will illustrate that the Bush cuts were small for ordinary people.

Posted by: OKDem on November 11, 2010 at 9:46 AM | PERMALINK

So R's call Dems spineless Pu**ies, and then Dems prove them right. AGAIN

With this and the Simpson Bowles garbage that just flowed out of the RNC sewer I'm starting to lose it.

The idiots on the other side always get everything they want by lying and nobody cares. They claim that Obama was a Muslim plant, and we find out he was a Republican plant after all.

Kill Social Security, Medicare, and any other social safety net, I mean why not, it offends the rich so why should they have to be offended, how are they going to feel superior if they have to play on level ground with the rest of us.

I'll still work myself into the ground so I can drop dead at my lousy job I'll be lucky to keep, because I'll never be able to retire with this F'd up genetic disease I was born with that costs a ton of money to keep at bay. If I was rich, like some people who have this disease are, I'd dump tons of money into finding a cure, not a way to treat the symptoms @ $7000 a pop every 8 weeks.

So screw it, come kill me now you Mother******* !!! Why should I have to work until I'm dead ? Come take my house, run off my family and shoot me with my own gun.

I hate you all, because you do exactly what decent people shouldn't.
All you poor working stiffs who vote Republican. You drop dead first.

I shouldn't have a chance to be a more valuable member of society. Why would anyone want that. Good thing its just me though. It would be tragic if it happened to millions of my countrymen.
For gods sake. Try a little evolution on purpose.
Good thing I'm too Da** mad to quit fighting. So I RAGE and feel alive while I die slowly.
I'm going to miss Alan Grayson

Posted by: Hoggy on November 11, 2010 at 9:47 AM | PERMALINK

The Bush tax plan was the biggest fiscal disaster in the history of the United States. Let the rates expire!

The best thing that can happen over the next two months is for Congress to argue incessantly and get nothing done on this issue.

Posted by: danimal on November 11, 2010 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

Once again The Obomination administration proves (my) old adage...

Q: Why should we always elect a democrat as president and never a republican?

A: When we elect a republican, we know that working people are going to get screwed. When we elect a democrat president, we can PRETEND to be surprised when working people get screwed!

Posted by: AngryOldVet on November 11, 2010 at 9:49 AM | PERMALINK

Can I play poker with President Obama and the Democrats? Heck, I cannot lose, they always fold even when they have pat hands.

They should have led but they did not. They decided to follow the radical extremist republicans by carrying their water for them.

Now is the time for them to get out of the way and turn their leadership over to the young Lions--the Aggressive Progressives that are determined to fight for the American people and the true values of the Democratic Party.

Posted by: ghostcommander on November 11, 2010 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

is it too late to take my vote back and give it to Hillary?

Posted by: andyvillager on November 11, 2010 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

Cutting Social Security, Medicare, Tricare, VA and almost every entitlement for the middle class....and giving the VERY, VERY rich a tax cut.....

GETTING SCREWED WITHOUT EVEN GETTING A REACH AROUND!

Posted by: LTC on November 11, 2010 at 9:52 AM | PERMALINK

I bet Obama would be a lot better President the next two years if Howard Dean announced his run for the Democratic nomination for 2012. Nothing like a primary to make people focus.

Posted by: Th on November 11, 2010 at 9:52 AM | PERMALINK

Please note that the quote which leads into this post is not accurate. There is one word missing from the original, and that word is "temporary."

"President Barack Obama's top adviser suggested to The Huffington Post late Wednesday that the administration is ready to accept an across-the-board, temporary continuation of steep Bush-era tax cuts, including those for the wealthiest taxpayers."

The addition of this missing word lowers the freak out factor considerably.

Posted by: smallddem on November 11, 2010 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

That must be some bubble the President is in if he doesn't see what a total clusterfuck Axlerod's statement is.

It seems all Axlerod, Emmanuel, and Gibbs ever do is undermine the Hope and Change that got millions of Americans to believe in Obama.

I'm predicting right now that a few months after Obama loses in 2012, Axlerod will be the new Dick Morris on Fucksnews.

Posted by: Winkandanod on November 11, 2010 at 9:58 AM | PERMALINK

In a related note, the Democratic caucus announced that they would accept a Republican proposal that only Democratic members of Congress would be paid in the future, with the proviso that they would then be required to play poker with their Republican colleagues.

Posted by: Steve Paradis on November 11, 2010 at 9:59 AM | PERMALINK

To Winkandanod...

The mention of Dick Morris makes me want to puke my lunch. And I have not eaten it yet!

If I had gone twenty more years without the mention of Dick Morris, it still would have been too soon! The asshole who was Billy Bob Clinton's advisor on how to be more rethugnican than the rethugs.

Posted by: AngryOldVet on November 11, 2010 at 10:10 AM | PERMALINK


Isn't the issue that the Democrats would lose a vote in both the House and Senate to only extend the sub-$250,000 tax cuts? There are enough Democrats in the current Congress that agree with Republicans to block this. Then the story isn't 'Republicans block middle-class tax cuts'. The story is 'Divided Democrats screw up again'.

Posted by: Andrew on November 11, 2010 at 10:15 AM | PERMALINK

rae @ 9:08 captures my sentiment exactly.

Posted by: Oh my on November 11, 2010 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

Democrats and their neighbors,

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_C6K4wQCgXDc/SUXSdKP-aiI/AAAAAAAAEjI/iq7MQdA2Gwk/s1600-h/tim02.jpg

Posted by: cld on November 11, 2010 at 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

Why did Democratic voters GOTV this past election? It wasn't to capitulate to Republicans increasing the deficit yet again.TAX THE RICH!and REDUCE THE DEFICIT! should be the rallying call from all Democrats. Instead Democrats prefer to give in, not hold anyone accountable and increase the deficit by 4 trillion dollars and continue to destroy America. Third world Country here we come!

Posted by: ML Johnston on November 11, 2010 at 10:23 AM | PERMALINK

The question has been which side would blink first.

No, sadly, Axelrod's denials notwithstanding, that isn't really in question at all.

To give Axelrod his due, it wasn't even before he signaled weakness.

Posted by: Gregory on November 11, 2010 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

They Gave us A Republic Story: "If you read it in the Huffington Post, It *Might* Be True"
http://theygaveusarepublic.com/diary/6963/if-you-read-it-in-the-huffington-post-it-might-be-true

If you read it in the Huffington Post it *MIGHT* be true
by: Blue Girl
Thu Nov 11, 2010 at 09:00:00 AM CST

| More

...or it might not.

Everyone would be well-served to remember that piece of advice and resist the urge to slit their wrists or stick their heads in the oven over something they read in the freakin' HuffPo.

It appers that there are quite a few people who have failed to learn that lesson. Either that, or they are just looking for something to be pissed off and gnash their teeth over. This is what my Nana used to refer to as "borrowing trouble" and she was against it. It's another one of those lessons that took.

That is why I didn't freak out an hour or so ago when I saw Greg Sargent's post at thePlum Line this morning that linked a Huffington Post story that indicated the White House is ready to cave in and make the Bush tax cuts deficit exploders permanent. It came from HuffPo fercryinoutloud, and no one with a lick of sense jumps to their death over something that appears in just one place and that one place is the Huffington Post. At best, it's where trial balloons go to get shot down.

Well, well, well. Looky here.

Posted by: jjm on November 11, 2010 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

Axelrod told Greg Sargent this morning, insisting, "There is not one bit of news here," and that the White House position has not changed.

Of course it hasn't changed; they've always planned to do what the Republicans wanted.

Posted by: doubtful on November 11, 2010 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

I share the outrage, but I think we have to realize that Obama is not a dumb guy--he wants to screw the country for everybody but the filthy rich. Personally, I am going to write to my new GOP Senator and the 2 new GOP members of my states delegation to the House and ask them to start impeachment proceedings against Obama. I am also going to send some money to Orly Taitz to tell her to keep up the good fight that Obama is a sleeper Kenyan agent who was never qualified to be president. This guy is killing the middle class and the country and is worse than Dumbya--at least Dumbya made no pretense of what he was doing. I could live with Biden as president for the next 2 years and he might even have a shot at getting re-elected if he remained true to his roots. Hillary said she will not run in 2012, Dean would not have a chance and as much as I like Sanders, he would not either. The best approach is to get Obama impeached or get something on him that will force a resignation like Nixon. At this point, he has betrayed the country worse than Nixon.

Posted by: Terry on November 11, 2010 at 10:33 AM | PERMALINK

"The question has been which side would blink first."
-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

This is not a question anyone should have had any trouble answering. On past performance, the Democrats were more likely to offer to
-- extend tax cuts on the wealthy,
-- entirely privatize Social Security,
-- repeal the health care act,
-- and pledge to vote exclusively for Republicans for the rest of their days,

in exchange for a Republican offer to
-- possibly come to the negotiating table,
-- maybe,
-- if it rains in Santa Rosa, CA, between 3:00 AM and 3:15 AM next Tuesday,
-- but only in order to refuse to lower taxes on anyone else --

than they were to be the last ones to blink.

I mean ... think about it. Did you really need to even ask?

Posted by: Fleas correct the era on November 11, 2010 at 10:35 AM | PERMALINK

"White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer added, 'The story is overwritten. Nothing has changed from what the President said last week. We believe we need to extend the middle class tax cuts, we cannot afford to borrow 700 billion to pay for extending the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, and we are open to compromise and are looking forward to talking to the Congressional leadership next week to discuss how to move forward. Full Stop, period, end of sentence.'"

The operative portion of the statement is "we are open to compromise." On what? The only compromise I would find acceptable would be to extend tax cuts on those earning $250,000 - $500,000, and jack the tax rate above $500,000 to 65-75%.

That would be a worthwhile compromise.

Posted by: bdop4 on November 11, 2010 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

I used to think Palin wouldn’t have a chance against Obama in 2012.

Posted by: Joe Friday on November 11, 2010 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

Something like what OKDemocrat and ML Johnston above said. If Obama was capable of actually framing anything for the American people to understand, this would be simple.

Ten years ago the Republicans pushed through an income tax reduction for everyone, going mainly the rich and super rich. They were only able to pass it by including a ten year sunset provision. That is now. I promised you to not raise taxes on the middle class and in the recent election you expressed overwhelmingly a desire to fix the defecit problem, not make it way worse. The only deficit reducing option the R's are now allowing is to let their original plan passed ten years ago to happen. We will propose A, B, and C to compensate for the slight rise in income taxes for the middle class to levels of the previous decade, which were the lowest in the post war era (I made that part up. Probably true though.). I refuse to add a 700 trillion to the deficit by continuing the lowest income tax rates in history for the rich and superrich for a day, a week, a month, a year, or another decade.

In other words, make it simple, take a stand, hang em on their own petard, vow to fulfill campaign promises.

Oh, wait, Obama has never done that before.

Posted by: emjayay on November 11, 2010 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

Re the above: 700 billion, 700 trillion, whatever.

Posted by: emjayay on November 11, 2010 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

I certainly hope this isn't true; it's the first place where I part ways with this Administration. Obama should be insisting that the only tax bill he will sign will be one extending the tax cuts for those with incomes under $250k (or a negotiated slightly higher number) with no extension for higher incomes. Let the Republicans vote it down or filibuster it in the Senate and take the blame for middle class tax increases.

This issue has been a centerpiece, not just of the Presidential campaign in 2008 but of the Administration economic position for the last 2 years. Why abandon it now and risk losing his support on the left?

Posted by: DRF on November 11, 2010 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

Clever how you lead with the rumor and innuendo, and then finish with the facts.

New style you're trying out, Steve? Like FOX, except you add a little bit of truth at the end?

Posted by: cr on November 11, 2010 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

When President Obama gets back fro Asia will he appear on TV, carrying an umbrella ans announce that he has secured "Tax cuts in our time!"

Yes, yes, of course the president is a wise leader like Lincoln, FDR and LBJ, all three of whom were wise enough not to get too far ahead of public opinion. After all, the public LOVES tax cuts for the rich!

Posted by: Omahaha on November 11, 2010 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

Most of the commenters here are the real pussies. No idea how the world works. That's exactly what Axelrod was talking about.

Posted by: cr on November 11, 2010 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

Elections certainly do have consequences!

Posted by: CT Voter on November 11, 2010 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

All those advocating not freaking out are wrong, imo. If there is not huge pushback against this trial balloon, or whatever it is, the tax cuts for the rich will be extended -- permanently.

Call your congress critters, write them letters, and protest this outrage.

Posted by: karen marie on November 11, 2010 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

Benen is usually not part of the problem, but the headline he ran with for this post was not well-considered.

One has to read all the way down to the last paragraph of his post to find the truth of the matter:

White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer added, "The story is overwritten. Nothing has changed from what the President said last week. We believe we need to extend the middle class tax cuts, we cannot afford to borrow 700 billion to pay for extending the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, and we are open to compromise and are looking forward to talking to the Congressional leadership next week to discuss how to move forward. Full Stop, period, end of sentence."

I also have to wonder if Benen had had a couple glasses of wine when he wrote his post, because the GOP will kill the tax cut extensions for the middle-class knowing full well that the headlines in the "lib'rul media" would not have read "Republicans kill tax cut compromise; higher rates kick in Jan. 1." -- but would be closer to "Democrats Raise Taxes on Middle-Class" "How Much More You'll Pay in Taxes Under Obama's Tax Increase""Democrats Fail to Block Middle-Class Tax Increase." "How Obama's Tax Increase Will Affect Your Family Budget".

Republicans are salivating at the opportunity to be able in 2012 to claim that Obama raised taxes on the middle class. It does not matter that they would in reality be the ones who caused the taxes to be raised. The "lib'rul media" echo chamber would bury that reality and advance the political framing that the Democrats raised taxes.

This is what the WH has to consider and deal with. So, for those calling Obama all kinds of names, stop. think.

Where are the thinking people in this country? Where are the critical thinking skills that make one pause to consider different aspects of what's going on beyond the purple-rage-tinged view of one's own immediate emotional response?

This stuff is not happening in a vacuum. Benen "dares" the GOP to raise taxes on the middle-class. Why doesn't he know by now that when you "dare" the GOP to do something, no matter how insane, they will do it BECAUSE they know the truth of what they've done will never penetrate beyond liberal blogs. Joe and Jane Voter won't see it on the local news and Fox News and the local right-wing echo chambers of hate will lie about it. The GOP can do ANYTHING they want, because the the truth about their actions will be buried and their lies will be amplified and disseminated.

So, Obama and Democrats have to figure out HOW to keep middle-class tax cuts in spite of this craziness. But as usual, Democrats, and the left's version of teabaggers, are chomping at the bit to eat our own.


Posted by: June on November 11, 2010 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK


Why do leftists have such conniptions over the possibility that Americans will be able to KEEP MORE OF THEIR OWN MONEY??????????

Posted by: Tom on November 11, 2010 at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, now, I understand - If Axlerod only comments to a left wing blogger/writer from HuffPo, then, it is a "Trial Balloon", however, if he retracts, moments later, to a former left wing blogger/turned professional by joining WaPo, then, it becomes gospel.

So, Sam Stein, until you receive a gig at a major print paper, then, we can not really believe you, eh? But, Greg Sargent, well, he has been granted "Believeability"

Posted by: berttheclock on November 11, 2010 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

@Tom - that's not the point. The wealthiest 2% in this country want the United States to borrow $700 billion from China - $700 Billion that will go directly into their own pockets - or they want the middle-class to pay higher taxes, while they still enjoy lower tax rates than they had under Saint Reagan.

That's it in a nutshell.

(Oh, and while the wealthiest demand this, with straight faces they still describe themselves as "fiscal conservatives" and "deficit hawks.")

Posted by: June on November 11, 2010 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

@berttheclock

Read the stories. What Axelrod said is not what Stein wrote. It's Stein's interpretation of what Axelrod "suggested." That's journospeak for "he didn't really say this, but it'll make a nice headline and get lots of page views."

Posted by: cr on November 11, 2010 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

Someone---anyone---anybody at all, get me Dave Axelrods's mailing address. I'm sending that fool a lump of coal for Christmas---wrapped in a piece of pink paper with the words, "YOU'RE FIRED!" scrawled in red crayon!

Posted by: S. Waybright on November 11, 2010 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

"Dave, Rahm needs you badly in Chicago. Please go there immediately and, Dave, please don't come back to the White House cause you are killing us."

Barack and Michelle

Posted by: robert on November 11, 2010 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

Dems could have brought the package to the floor and dared the GOP to vote against tax cuts. I was actually looking forward to the headline: "Republicans kill tax cut compromise; higher rates kick in Jan. 1." Apparently, that's not to be.

except that wouldn't have been the headline. the headline would be: "Democrats fail to pass tax cut extension; higher rates kick in Jan 1"

haven't you realized by now that as far as the media is concerned, everything is done or not done by Democrats? if it's popular and it fails, it's the Democrats fault. if it's controversial, complicated, or unpopular, then the Democrats made it happen. The media folks all talk to Republicans and they all talk like Republicans.

Posted by: els on November 11, 2010 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

Why do leftists have such conniptions over the possibility that Americans will be able to KEEP MORE OF THEIR OWN MONEY??????????
Posted by: Tom on November 11, 2010

May I explain? As long as there is a federal deficit, and you are borrowing money from outside the USA, it is China's/ Japan's/ Saudi Arabia's money you are using.

A better constitutional amendment than any being considered would be prohibition of tax cuts until budget in surplus for year; and then only a % of surplus could be applied to tax cuts

Posted by: Johnny Canuck on November 11, 2010 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

@cr at 1242

that was my reaction exactly. the first part is *not* a quote. its a summary of something (what?) that Axelrod actually said. and i have no confidence in anyone at HuffPo (or alot of other places, frankly) accurately summarizing anything.

Posted by: els on November 11, 2010 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

If Obama is going to play DINO, then I'm voting against him or not for him in 2012. As a matter of fact, seeing that repubs are the only ones with backbones to stick to their guns (pun intended) then I might as well vote repub from now on or not vote at all.
You get what you vote for? Well, I really didn't think I was voting for spineless hacks that would cave-in to the repubs, but looks like I did. Guess I'll hafta wait for a viable third party to evolve or the dems to finally get a spine. I figure that one or the other should happen really soon. Like on the 12th of never.

Posted by: Schtick on November 11, 2010 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

I would actually like to see what would happen if Obama told the republicans to fck off and let the tax cuts expire. The right wing noise machine has already been claiming Obama raised taxes on everyone for the last couple years and according to polls most people believe it so what's the harm in allowing it to happen?

Posted by: matt on November 11, 2010 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

Axelrod told Greg Sargent this morning, insisting, "There is not one bit of news here," and that the White House position has not changed.

Right, they were prepared to csve from Day One!

Posted by: kc on November 11, 2010 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

AS Jim Hightower once said, America doesn't need a third party - we need a second party.

Posted by: dr sardonicus on November 11, 2010 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

Trial Baloon.....really?

Lets review shall we, first we hear that Obama will CAVE on taxes...same day we hear that the deficit commission will cut taxes on the rich and corporations, cut SS and Medicare by 70%, and pass on a tax increase to the middle class by 30%....oh and don't forget the administration is just about to declare forever war in Afghanistan.....hmmm

Seems to me the Republican's have been wasting their time with Joe Manchin they should just switch and get Obama to switch....after all he is doing a pretty good job of carrying the water so far.

Posted by: latimlf on November 11, 2010 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

If there's ever a question of who will blink first... well, Obama is like the Usain Bolt of blinking. He will blink faster than is humanly possible. He will blink so fast he actually travels backwards in time.

Posted by: Kuas on November 11, 2010 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

what, pray tell, is there to compromise about???

Posted by: bigtuna on November 11, 2010 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

The MO reeks of Mr. Emmanuel, but I thought he went back to Chicago? Or is this "RAHMBO II", only with Axelrod trying out for the starring role?
For what it's worth, these "trial balloons" are almost always being released by those who, for want of a less vulgar name, I call "corporate whores" and are trying desperately to maintain their waning influence.
Elections DO have consequences, you know...

Posted by: Doug on November 11, 2010 at 8:50 PM | PERMALINK

I would rather kill all of them[and lose that small tax break than have to give away billions to insanely rich. But to voluntarily curl up in a ball on floor while you are still in power is despicable

Posted by: dan on November 13, 2010 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK
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