Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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November 30, 2010

WHY WE CAN'T HAVE NICE THINGS.... It's not exactly a secret that congressional Republicans and the Obama White House have a difference of opinion when it comes to tax policy. By GOP design, Bush-era tax rates are set to expire -- the president wants to keep the breaks for the middle class; Republicans want to protect breaks for the wealthy.

With the GOP holding middle-class cuts hostage, there's an impasse. Obama doesn't want to sign the Republican plan, and Republicans won't let the Senate vote on the Democratic plan.

Hoping to find some kind of common ground, the president today assigned Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and White House Budget Director Jacob Lew to oversee a working group, talking with four members of Congress -- one from each party in each chamber -- to try to, as Obama put it, "break through this logjam."

If we're laying odds, it's probably safe to assume the working group won't make any progress. Greg Sargent talked to a senior Republican aide who shared some details on this morning's discussion at the White House.

On the Bush tax cuts, Boehner agreed to a proposal from the President to create a working group to negotiate over the continuing standoff over how to proceed. [...]

But the GOP aide says that in the meeting, Boehner made it clear to the President and Dems that he "believes this is no substitute for immediate action to cut spending and stop the coming tax hikes -- for all taxpayers."

Does anyone seriously believe Boehner is prepared to approach this working group with an open mind, and with an eye towards reaching a compromise? He knows what he wants, and he'll accept nothing short of everything.

The same aide note that the president, talking about the nation's fiscal challenges, urged GOP leaders to think about the problems in terms of short-term, medium-turn, and long-term problems. Republicans rejected the formulation, insisting that these issues must be addressed "right away."

Anyone looking ahead with any modicum of optimism probably isn't paying close enough attention.

Steve Benen 3:55 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (29)

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Comments

Optimism? I've practically forgotten what that is.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on November 30, 2010 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

I guess I missed something big here, so I have to ask, Why don't the Dems just put the middle class tax cuts to a vote and let the public damn the Republicans for blocking the cut? Sorry for being obtuse.

Posted by: Bob M on November 30, 2010 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

Happy days. With Tim Geithner in charge it is pretty clear the recommendation will be no taxes on anybody making more than $250,000.

Sorry for the snark, but I just couldn't help it.

Posted by: Ron Byers on November 30, 2010 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

Obama never seems to have learned the first rule of negotiating: Always be prepared to walk away from the table.

If the republicans are holding the tax-cuts hostage, fine, let them kill the hostage. As they say, no negotiating with terrorists.

Posted by: martin on November 30, 2010 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

Until anyone on the Democratic side of the aisle steps up and forces the Republicans to more fully explain their vision of America including safety nets, economic recovery, unemployment, and all the other sundry ills facing our naton, the Democrats can expect only one thing - the Republicans will continue to relentlessly attack the Democrats as ineffective, while pulling the Lucy ploy at each moment the Democrats think they can find common ground, make compromise or see the end of a legislative process!

I have been falsely hoping for some time now that if the Democratic party wasn't such a patchwork of milktoast intellectuals, it would be able to at least hold its own in the political discourse of governance!

But alas, the Democrats are fools! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on November 30, 2010 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

Is it too late for Hillary to give Obama one of her testicles? Maybe Nancy Pelosi could loan him one of her's on a temp basis...two years should do it.

Posted by: Ranger Jay on November 30, 2010 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

Let's see.... stop unemployment benefits,hurt economy, blame "uncertainty" on tax cuts for rich-win-win for them

Posted by: golack on November 30, 2010 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

Obama hasn't learned any of the rules of negotiating. He gives up key negotiating points before the fight. He has no idea of the relative strengths and weaknesses of both sides. He mostly hopes for the best. He doesn't seem to stay focused on the matter at hand. He hasn't identified really good backups. He doesn't know how to push a bad position to get the most possible. He doesn't know how to close a deal. Is Obam really a lawyer? Did he ever practice law? Frankly, I personally know at least 100 small town lawyers who could play Obama's hand with greater skill.

Posted by: Ron Byers on November 30, 2010 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

Things are awful, and they won't change for two years. Are only worthwhile strategy is to publicly fight for more jobs, and to make it as obvious possible who is blocking that. Obama will get no points for showing how willing he was to be bipartisan with an opposition completely uninterested in anything less than complete capitulation..

Posted by: Rick Taylor on November 30, 2010 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

Are Obama's advisers really this stupid or is Obama determined to be a one term President? He better fire his new chief-of-staff and move Hillary over there so maybe he doesn't get rolled on every issue. God, what a disappointment.

Posted by: Th on November 30, 2010 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK
By GOP design, Bush-era tax rates are set to expire -- the president wants to keep the breaks for the middle class; Republicans want to protect breaks for the wealthy.

Actually, the President wants to keep certain tax breaks for all taxpayers while the Republicans want to keep additional breaks that are exclusive to the wealthy.

Why do so few people in this debate understand how a progressive marginal income tax system works?

Posted by: cmdicely on November 30, 2010 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder if Obama isn't positioning himself for January when the whole damn thing blows up, and the tax cuts expire in toto.

Please don't throw me in the briar patch!

Posted by: Frank on November 30, 2010 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

What bothers me most about Obama is that he and his team are totally reactive. They don't seem to have an idea where they want to take the country, let alone a plan as to how to get there.

Long ago a long dead attorney told me that in any serious matter you plan your work and then work your plan. I don't see much planning out of the Obama team.

Posted by: Ron Byers on November 30, 2010 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

Please, if there is a gawd, just let the gawd damn things expire and be done with it. I like taxes!

Posted by: An Angry Trollop on November 30, 2010 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

@Bob M asks - Why don't the Dems just put the middle class tax cuts to a vote and let the public damn the Republicans for blocking the cut?

The same reason they didn't do it before the election when it might have made a big difference.

Reid and Pelosi are idiots. And Democrats in Washington have no spines or willingness to stand up and fight for what they claim to believe in.

Posted by: thorin-1 on November 30, 2010 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

A political party is not operating in good faith, literally walking away from there own ideas. The senate leader openly said it's main goal was to make Obama a one-term president and other leaders of the party are comparing themselves to World War II generals in their fight to defeat the President.

My point is shouldn't the major story be that a political party has opted out of any semblance of responsible governance, instead of it constantly being, "Obama's weak for believing Republicans are operating in good faith?".

Posted by: Archon on November 30, 2010 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

@BobM and @Thorin-1 -- this is for you:

Democrats to Test Republican Mettle With Tax-Cut Vote
http://noir.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601070&sid=aOTGVEKX_Gns

Nov. 30 (Bloomberg) -- Congressional Democrats are ready to test Republican resolve on taxes this week by forcing showdown votes on their proposal to extend middle-class tax cuts.

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will schedule a vote this week on legislation that would retain lower tax rates and increased credits that apply to the first $250,000 of a married couple’s gross income or $200,000 for a single person, said her assistant, Maryland Democrat Chris Van Hollen.

The Senate will vote “by next week” on Democrats’ proposal to extend middle-income tax cuts, Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus told reporters yesterday.

Posted by: June on November 30, 2010 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

To me it's obvious that the Baggers believe that the middle class, poor, the laid off, and the disabled are completely responsible for the mess our nation's economy is in. And so they should have to pay for it by giving up the meager programs that help them.

I say let all the tax cuts expire by simply doing nothing per the original plan. Then pass new tax cuts for the middle class. When the GOP votes against them their days are over.

Posted by: chrenson on November 30, 2010 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

Simple solution. Let them expire. They had no difficulty allowing the lifeline to millions--unemployment benefits expire. No effort whatsoever from the administration on those. No slurpies here.

Posted by: impartial on November 30, 2010 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

I see only two possible explanations for Obama's strategy:

1. Obama is the worst negotiator of all time and is giving away everything to get absolutely nothing in return.

Or

2. Obama has joined the other side and is getting everything he (and the Republicans) want.

Posted by: jeri on November 30, 2010 at 6:31 PM | PERMALINK

"Why we can't have nice things."

Why not tell the rich they have to give up a few. Where is their sacrifice?

When you see a family looking through your recycling for bottles and cans to turn in for change, it gets to be a little much to stomach what is going on in Washington and the lack of concern on both sides for ordinary people and their struggles in this economy. Nice things indeed.

Posted by: impartial on November 30, 2010 at 6:50 PM | PERMALINK

Hoping to find some kind of common ground, the president today assigned Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and White House Budget Director Jacob Lew to oversee a working group

Damn, Obama is a slow learner, isn't he?

Posted by: kc on November 30, 2010 at 6:56 PM | PERMALINK

Can anyone tell me just what was dicussed, regarding proposed legislation, at today's meeting?
*crickets*
Ok, so what is the whining all about? The President didn't whack, literally, the Great (in HIS mind, anyway) Orange One from Ohio? Or start calling the Republicans present hyper-partisan scumbags (which IS the truth)?
The Executive and Legislative branches of the Federal government have agreed to set up a commission to consider the nation's short-term, medium term and long-term fiscal problems. This is bad? How? Not one person has provided a single example of such "badness" to support their bitching. Nor has anyone provided any example to show how President Obama has lost any advantage to the Republicans.
What the President HAS done is corral the Republicans into agreeing that the fiscal problems of this country deserve enough attention to warrant a bipartisan committee to study methods to meet those problems. I repeat, this is bad how? Anything to come out of this "working group" won't see the floor of either chamber until well AFTER the new session of Congress begins.
Perhaps that's the reason that the soon-to-be Speaker immediately returned to the campaign trail with his demands "...to cut spending and stop the coming tax hikes -- for all taxpayers." Why does cutting spending and maintaining GWB's tax rates have to be done RIGHT NOW? If those two items are of such importance and aren't accomplished before the lame-duck session ends; why, Boehner and his Republican majority can pass them afterwards. Can't they?
Well, can't they?

Posted by: Doug on November 30, 2010 at 7:10 PM | PERMALINK

Unemployment benefits expired today. No one in the administration cared. That's the problem.

Tax cuts for the rich can be allowed to be expired also, yet a huge deal is made of this--commission appointed etc. It's the priorities that's the problem.

Posted by: impartial on November 30, 2010 at 7:31 PM | PERMALINK

Further, a study came out today sponsored by Democrats which has some good effective proposals for solving the economic problems we face as a nation. Interesting that Obama appoints his own group to study the same on the day of release. Report and recommendations too unfriendly to the establishment for the White House tastes?

Posted by: impartial on November 30, 2010 at 7:54 PM | PERMALINK

Apparently quite a few people haven't figured out that Obama isn't exactly in a position of strength here.

To start with, I think we can all agree that there's no way that a bill will ever make it to his desk that doesn't include tax cuts for the wealthy.

True, Congress can do nothing and the tax cuts will expire, but be prepared for a Teabagger Lying Storm about how Obama raised everyone's taxes.

The best case scenario here is all the tax cuts expire and Obama finds someone who actually knows how to play the media game and out maneuvers the Teabaggers and Fox News on the message (I can dream).

Posted by: DK on November 30, 2010 at 7:59 PM | PERMALINK

You cannot govern out of fear.

Posted by: impartial on November 30, 2010 at 8:15 PM | PERMALINK

We already know what Tim Geithner's position on taxes is: don't pay them. So it matters not, what the tax *rates* are.

I join all of those above who say: let all the tax cuts expire, per Bush's schedule. And, for goodness sake, don't extend those on the uppermost strata, not even for a month. If you extend them, they'll never be allowed to expire; the incoming Repubs, with their new powers in the House, will make them permanent.

Posted by: exlibra on November 30, 2010 at 8:40 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks, June.

Posted by: Bob M on December 1, 2010 at 10:22 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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