Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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December 8, 2010

A VISUAL BREAKDOWN.... Analysis of any compromise is invariably going to focus on who got what, and in this case, the New York Times offers this breakdown of the tax policy agreement between the White House and congressional Republicans.

Of its estimated $900 billion-plus cost over two years, roughly $120 billion covers the high-end tax cuts and the estate tax cut, $450 billion covers Mr. Obama's wish list and $360 billion covers the tax cut extensions both parties favored.

Tim Fernholz asked rhetorically, "Was anyone else expecting a $450 billion stimulus this year? Me neither."

I thought I'd go ahead and create a visual for this. The left column shows the cost of the Republicans' high-end tax cuts in the deal; the middle column shows the cost of President Obama's progressive priorities like an extension of unemployment benefits; and the right column shows the cost of the tax cuts for those making under $250,000, which both parties generally supported. (The y axis is in billions of dollars.)


The clear majority of the costs here are going to Democratic priorities. And why on earth would Republicans go along with a proposal that includes expenses beyond their own priorities? Because as Jon Chait noted yesterday, "Republicans love them some rich folk," and GOP leaders are "willing to bargain away a lot to help the very rich."

That doesn't necessarily make the agreement a great deal, but it's a context worth keeping in mind.

Steve Benen 1:45 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (58)

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Given that the economy urgently needs stimulus, I'll take it.

Posted by: Jamie on December 8, 2010 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

The problem is that of the $120bil the top end gets, $60bil will be spent on GOP ads in 2012. We desperately need to find a way to tax political ad expenditures over a certain level.

Posted by: Tim H on December 8, 2010 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

And why on earth would Republicans go along with a proposal that includes expenses beyond their own priorities?

Because it allows Republicans to keep blaming the deficit on Obama. And since this plan won't really improve the economy, just keep it from getting worse, they'll also be able to blame Obama for the continued low unemployment and sluggish economy in 2 years.

Posted by: thorin-1 on December 8, 2010 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

I'm still not a fan of destroying Social Security. Why not just take the 2% out of the general fund and pay everyone rather than stiff SS for the money? The first in the short slide to elimination of the safety net for retirement.

Posted by: jhill on December 8, 2010 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

The problem with the chart is that many of the "gains" counted under Obam's priorites are REPUB priorites. Tax breaks for businesses, etc, etc-- that have VERY little Keynesian stimulus effects (see recent posts by Krugman, Johnston, DeLong, etc).. BHO is a DINO-- a Republican "moderate".

If I'd wanted to elect a Republican in 2008, I'd have voted Republican. Hopefully, this entire episode, no matter how it turns out, will convince a propgressive or populist Dem to quickly challenge Obama. He willing to trade some billions in employment benefits that do little for unemployment percentages for hundreds of billions to trillions in tax cuts that do long term budget and policy damage -- and provide relatively little stimulus. It's truly selling a coat of many colors for 20 sheckels.

Obama has so many problems now of his own making that he must go. Otherwise Repubs are going to run against a nightmare combination of the worst of LBJ and Hoover for a generation. In foreign policy in Afghanistan and Iraq, Obama has set himself up for a costly no-win set of occupations/wars that are now his. His situation is at least as bleak as LBJ’s. In domestic policy, Obama now owns the Great Recession. He has no real understanding of Keynesian economics. He obviously believes that voters care more about bipartisan compromise and budget cuts than ending the economic crisis and that economic recovery requires Hooverian economics to balance the budget. Furthermore, he constantly acts as if he just compromises a little more, the Republicans might still meet him halfway.

Let's stop pretending. Barack Obama is a disaster as a crisis president. He has taken an economic collapse that was the result of Republican ideology and Republican policies, and made it the Democrats' fault. And the more that he is pummeled, the more he retreats and makes problems worse for any Dems but DINOs.

Unemployment measured broadly as it was in 1932 is around 18 percent. And unlike the 1930s, we don't have a strong Democratic president using Keynesian economics (at least in 1932-36) to dig our way out. Absent strong Progressive Democratic leadership, the Republicans going onto 2012 will easily (and with real justification) succeed in blaming the continuing crisis on Obama and the Democrats. Obama is rapidly becoming our Herbert Hoover who will produce Republican dominance of American politics for a generation.

The choices are stark:
Re-elect Obama to continue to undermine the economy, the Democratic Party, and the New Deal-Great Society legacy.

Pressure the administration to change course and back real progressive leaders and policies. Good luck with that and on compelling Obama to grow a spine.

Encourage and support a progressive candidate against Obama in the 2012 primary. At this point in time, most any vaguely credible challenger to BHO is likely to gain traction via press coverage and progressive anger. Impossible to gain traction?? Who would have predicted McCarthy would give any credible challenge to LBJ?

Were a challenge to occur, it might initially come from a populist politician deeply disturbed by events of the last two years. Say Sen Webb of VA. Or from the Progressive center left-- don't laugh- Howard Dean. I think neither would make it to any nomination in 2012 because once ANY challenge is made and some blood is in the water, I suspect several other better candidates would come out. Why?? Because I suspect any challenger gets much press and near-immediate support of 20%-30% of Democrats--- and possibly many independents if polled against Republican Palinistas enabled by Obama's timidity and incoherent policies.

If an initial challenger stepped forward and Obama looked like he could really be beaten, my choice for a dark-horse who could catch on in a second wave of challengers would be Gov. Brian Schweitzer of Montana. Ridiculous?? Very few would have predicted and strongly supported Obama in 2006 [I'll count myself among one of the now very-disappointed few.].

Posted by: gdb on December 8, 2010 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks for the graph, Steve. I doubt it will stop the whining, even though it should. People would have to disengage from their emotions for a minute or so to let some facts penetrate.

Pony-addiction withdrawal is an ugly thing to watch.

Posted by: sue on December 8, 2010 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

Folks, please do what you can and call Collins' office to encourage her to vote for cloture on the defense bill and DADT repeal. You DON'T need to be a Maine resident. They took my call and noted my support without asking me where I'm from: 202-224-2523


Posted by: RS on December 8, 2010 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

Great chart. Now please redo it on a per capita basis for those affected by each of the columns.
Yeah, exactly.

Posted by: Govt Skeptic on December 8, 2010 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

Thing is, Republicans now have a stake in this economy.

Posted by: mikefromArlington on December 8, 2010 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

So blowing a major hole in Social Security's finances, shortly after appointing a "deficit panel" stacked with people who want to gut Social Security, is a Democratic priority? Republicans are laughing at Obama for accepting that one; for them it's a twofer: it's a tax cut and it damages Social Security.

And Republicans ran on extending the child tax credit; Obama falsely claimed that it was a Republican concession during his press conference.

The Republicans are also fine

And it's idiocy on the part of Democrats to have almost all the tax cuts expire in two years, right in the middle of a presidential election year. Republicans will then insist that the cuts be extended further and Democrats will cave once more. This won't stop until the IMF takes us over as an economic basket case.

We got the unemployment extension and a couple of minor things, in exchange for blowing such a massive hole in the country's finances as to make it easy for the Republicans, with Obama's acquiescence, to carry out Grover Norquist's dream of drowning government in the bathtub.

Posted by: Joe Buck on December 8, 2010 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

How much Red accounts for opening the door on gutting Social Security or would that reduce the other two columns? Won't the Social Security Tax Holiday running out count as a tax increase? I'm sure a Republicancer House and a gridlocked Senate won't be tempted to screw with social security with such a strong willed president in the White House.

Posted by: tko on December 8, 2010 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

Something happened to part of my message above, it should say

Republicans are also fine with the other minor tax cuts and credits in the bill.

Posted by: Joe Buck on December 8, 2010 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

It's not Obama's fault!

Of course the GOP is ultimately to blame, but within the family, the finger should be pointed at the Senate leadership for not doing away with, or reforming, the filibuster in January of 2009 (and I'll be really, really pissed if they don't fix it on January 5th, 2011 -- mark your calendars). Obama has to play the hand that, yes, Senate leaders dealt him in January 2009.

I'm calling my Senators and Congressman to ask them to support this budget agreement.

That said, my only question about Obama is did his negotiators even attempt to secure a promise to allow up-or-down votes on START, DADT (defense), DREAM, various judicial appointees, and the other legislation that GOP leadership promised to hold up if they didn't get a budget deal?

Posted by: Chris on December 8, 2010 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

The cost numbers in this report are significantly higher than what you reported yesterday from Pat Garafolo and Michael Linden (http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2010_12/026965.php) and higher than what Kevin Drum reported from Ezera Klein http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2010_12/026965.php. Why are the numbers so different?

Posted by: Tom on December 8, 2010 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK


Posted by: mikefromArlington on December 8, 2010 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

Why not just take the 2% out of the general fund and pay everyone rather than stiff SS for the money?

I'm generally content to let these discussions go where they go, and not interfere, but this is important.

Not to pick on jhill, but as I already explained, the money is already coming out of the general fund. No one is stiffing the Social Security trust fund.

This criticism of the deal is a myth, and it's mistaken.

Posted by: Steve Benen on December 8, 2010 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

If this tax deal is passed, my prediction is it's a disaster for Obama. Cements his meme as a wimp--- By his own admission in his speach, he is giving in to terrorist hostage taking. I'd run that quote from his speach ad nauseum as a Repub media strategist. Better than "I voted for it before I voted against it"-- or wearing a funny helmet in a tank. Quite frankly, Palin may soon be viewed as the better choice by more and more voters-- with real justification. Who woulfd YOU sooner have negotiating with Dear Leader or Putin? They'll clean his clock.

BHO in 2012 is now stuck with keeping the tax rates in the current "deal" intact, unemployment at 9-11%, the Afghan war going on its winning ways, and contantly attacking Progressives. This will get kudos from Galston and the DINO bloggers at The New Republic and Politico, while losing support from Progressives and Independents-- and gaining no Repub support. This deal should enable BHO by 9/11 to stabilize his voter support in the 30's-- equal to that of Palin and a Progressive challenger.

Posted by: gdb on December 8, 2010 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

This graph brought to you by Elmo.

Posted by: Franks on December 8, 2010 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

I'd comment, but I'm just a sanctimonious purist, so my opinions are worthless.

Posted by: kw on December 8, 2010 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

Dear Mr. Benen,

I applaud your analysis because it's mostly devoid of emotional hyperbole. Never in a million years could the senate pushed through such an optimal deal as the president. Even though extending the tax cuts for the rich sticks in my craw.

Maybe, now, if we can get the heretofore QUIET congressional dems who only now take the microphone and pillory their president after abdicating responsibility, we can (unexpectedly stimulate the economy) have the time to really build a majority of citizens who will not stand for making tax cuts to the rich permanent.

Posted by: pamelabrown on December 8, 2010 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

gbd, the hostage taker is going to use Obama's action to protect the hostage against the hostage negotiator? Wow, what a concept.

Let's get real people. Obama's speach is playing wonderfully out in the countryside. The only people fuming are the on the wackjob DeMint right and the progressive left.

If I was Obama I would insist on a good percentage of Republican votes.

Posted by: Ron Byers on December 8, 2010 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

Those darn Republicans; tricked us agin, Pa.

Posted by: Les Ismore on December 8, 2010 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

Once again, Obama compounds bad politics with bad policy.

If Obama wants to add hundreds of billions to the debt, why not push policies that will grow the economy, lower unemployment, and result in economic fundamentals that would help his re-election?

I can't help but conclude that Obama is simply not a Keynesian and thinks that tax cuts to the rich actually will trickle down.

Posted by: square1 on December 8, 2010 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

I know a lot of upper income Republicans. I'm sure this will come as absolutely no surprise. They vote Republican because they want lower taxes. Period. Most don't give a damn about anything else. They don't care about the deficit. They don't care about the social issues (while certainly other groups of Republican voters do). They will accept any deal which means they will pay less in taxes.

Posted by: Ron Chusid on December 8, 2010 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

"That said, my only question about Obama is did his negotiators even attempt to secure a promise to allow up-or-down votes on START, DADT (defense), DREAM, various judicial appointees, and the other legislation that GOP leadership promised to hold up if they didn't get a budget deal?"

If I were king, I would tell the GOP to get the senate to pass the START treaty, then I would be willing to talk about keeping the tax cuts for another two years.

Also require up or down votes on the other items.

Posted by: catclub on December 8, 2010 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

square1 I don't think anybody thinks the tax cuts to the rich are going to help. They are the ransom we have to pay the hostage takers.

The Roman empire had Attila the Hun we are burdened with Mitch McConnell and John Bohner. At least they don't axe women and children and burn cities to the ground.

Posted by: Ron Byers on December 8, 2010 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

that is stupid talk. It takes this deal in isolation and assumes that there will be no associated budget cuts. That is stupid thinking. This will not happen. The ink will not even be dry on this agreement before the nearly $1 trillion that it adds to the deficit will be used as a club to force more spending cuts when the new Congress comes into session. We will be fighting a rear guard action against this with every single discretionary program in the cross hairs for the next two years. When it is all said and done these numbers will not mean what you think they mean.

Posted by: SW on December 8, 2010 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

kw for the (purist) win; finally something to smile about!

Thanks kw! Remember your sanctimonious manners here or else you'll get clobbered by the Obamapologists!

Posted by: Trollop on December 8, 2010 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

They'll find the votes after they tease out the ideologues and true believers on both sides of the aisle. We have seen this movie already - the triangulation during the Clinton Administration. But Clinton's bacon was saved by the tech boom. The DOW was marinating at 3,800 in 1994 and the NASDAQ went over 6,000 before the roof caved in on during W's stupid tax cuts. But I don't know where this mythical economic growth to pay for all of this is going to come from in this massive recession. NPR reported this tax compromise will cost as much in two years as the Affordable Health Care Act will cost in ten years. Over 40% of the corporate profits in the U.S. came from the financial sector in recent years - basically moving money around Vegas style. Aside from airplanes and movies, what do we produce here anymore. What will these new jobs be.

Posted by: max on December 8, 2010 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

I'd comment, but I'm just a sanctimonious purist, so my opinions are worthless.
Posted by: kw on December 8, 2010 at 2:26 PM

No, just that sanctimonious purity is a distorting lens so that you can't see and evaluate reality correctly.

Did you actually listen to all of Obama's press conference (see whitehouse.gov), or just the answer to the last question?

Posted by: Johnny Canuck on December 8, 2010 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

So Obama supposedly "wins" yet he winds up looking like a wimp and a traitor to his base? Wow, that's an incredible political trick to pull off.

Obama trades away some things he could have easily gotten anyway (unemployment extension and a payroll tax holiday) for something he was going to have to take (tax cut extensions). I understand he may have had to compromise, but there were far better deals to be made. That's why he looks weak and why liberals like me are raging mad.

Posted by: polcereal on December 8, 2010 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

The information you fail to provide is the increased tax burden on those making $40,000 and under.

The high-end tax cuts should be allowed to lapse in order to help pay for the rest of the package.

The rich in this country receive enough financial benefit that their share of the wealth has increased exponentially over the last ten years. It's time for them to give back.

This compromise is bullshit, no matter how much you try to convince us otherwise, Steve.

Posted by: karen marie on December 8, 2010 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

Can someone explain why push back from the WH is somehow equivalent to hippy punching?

Is the WH just supposed to stand there while the left gives them the middle finger?

Posted by: mikefromArlington on December 8, 2010 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

The two year payroll tax freeze which includes Social Security taxes, will obviously result in less income to the fund. The proposal is to make up this loss from general revenue funds which changes the source of income for the self-funded program.

Posted by: impartial on December 8, 2010 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

SW, congressional Republicans are salivating to cut the budget. That is why they had a hard time lining up people to be on the appropriations committee. The pressure will be on to slash the budget. The problem with budget slashing is that the slasher is probably not going to be reelected. Michelle Bachmann figured that one out. I would hope some Dems would figure it out as well. I suspect there will be a lot of talk but little action. Remember the Republicans are the party of K-Street. K-Street only exists because of the federal budget.

Posted by: Ron Byers on December 8, 2010 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

What are the chances that this could cause a major split among the repubs? DeMint wants to kill it. The 'baggers are going to hate it. The Wasilla Wonder issued a Profound and Insightful Bit-o-Wisdom against it. Delaware's favorite non-witch likens it to Pearl Harbor. It might be worth passing the damn thing just to put Romney on the spot about it. He must be squirming mightily about now- pro-rich or anti-spending?

Posted by: Tim H on December 8, 2010 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

Great thought, Govt Skeptic. The chart you describe should be a requirement when posting this RGB chart. We don't get a full story with this one.

Posted by: cb on December 8, 2010 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

Karen Marie: The rich in this country receive enough financial benefit that their share of the wealth has increased exponentially over the last ten years. It's time for them to give back.

while the first sentence is true,the second doesn't follow. They operate from self-interest. If the rest of the population could only see their own self-interest and get out the vote, and get out and vote, your sentence could then be written:it's time to take it back from them.

Until then think you should actually appreciate having a President who has achieved a compromise which will have a stimulative effect, when the congressional leadership had proved incapable of accomplishing anything.

Posted by: Johnny Canuck on December 8, 2010 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

Further, shorting the collection of SS taxes will give the appearance of the fund running in the deficit--and hands those who would see its demise a nice argument for doing the same.

Posted by: impartial on December 8, 2010 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder what the super-rich will do w/that >$100bn. I'll bet they create jobs and stimulate the economy. What they won't do is spend any of it on laying the ground work for future political success. Who would want 'full spectrum dominance' on every conceivable front of policy debate by funding sympathetic media/think tanks/candidates, etc?

Posted by: shroup on December 8, 2010 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

Byers. If your correct, you'll see BHO's appreoval ratings immediately jump significantly. If not, you're dreaming. I suspect the latter. The final giveaway that you're in LaLa land is expecting Repubs to like BHO. That's also his belief. Lets elect a Democrat as Prez asap.

Posted by: gdb on December 8, 2010 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

"Thing is, Republicans now have a stake in this economy." - Posted by: mikefromArlington

And they didn't before? Do you really think this is going to change their behavior? Repubs SEEMED to not have a stake in the game because Dems let them get away with it. Obstruction is an action that affects policy and Dems aren't doing anyone any favors by letting them off the hook.

I don't have the time to go through multiple levels of links to this story. Is there a breakdown of the various measures that comprise these three columns? As others have posted, I suspect there are a lot of elements that have little or no stimulative effect.

I'm hearing people talk about a $600 to $900 billion stimulus. Sorry, but other than unemployment benefits (which is really only treading water), most of these are not "dollar for dollar" stimulus programs. Certainly not any tax cut extensions.

Posted by: bdop4 on December 8, 2010 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

Krugman nails it:

The Sorrow And The Self-Pity
There is a case for the tax cut deal, as the best of a very bad situation. But Obama did not help that case yesterday by lashing out at “purists”.

Leave aside the merits for a moment: what possible purpose does this kind of lashing out serve? Will activists be shamed into recovering their previous enthusiasm? Will Republicans stop their vicious attacks because Obama is lashing out to his left? It was pure self-indulgence; even if he feels aggrieved, he has to judge his words by their usefulness, not by his desire to vent. This isn’t about him.

And beyond that, who are these purists? Yes, a few people on the left refused to support health reform over the lack of a public option — but not many. To the extent that Obama has had trouble selling that plan, “purists” weren’t a factor; his own lack of effective messaging was.

On taxes: there might be more forgiveness now if Obama had shown any sign of fighting before now. A new article by Noam Scheiber confirms the impression I and others had that the administration really didn’t push Congress to take up the issue:

Within the administration, the split over whether to mount a tax-cut offensive broke down largely along wonk-operative lines. The wonks spent the last year mystified that the White House was ducking the fight when the substantive merits were so one-sided. The operatives brooded that the politics could abruptly turn against them, despite polling showing little public appetite for the upper-income cuts. “They view it through the class warfare stuff—Kerry in 2004, Gore in 2000,” says one administration official. “They worry that they’ll get painted as lefties, tax-raisers.”

Let me add that Obama has never, as far as I can recall, pointed out that these horrible tax increases on the rich the GOP warns about would bring rates back to what they were under Bill Clinton — a time of enormous prosperity. But then, Obama has always had a weirdly hard time making the case that the Clinton economy refuted Reaganism.

Add in the White House’s repeated validations of the right-wing position on the evils of public spending, from the spending freeze to the pay freeze, the appointment of a conservative Democrat and a paleo-conservative Republican to head the debt commission, etc. — and now Obama expects trust and praise from progressives?

What’s particularly striking is that Obama seems passionate about denouncing his progressive critics, even as he has nice words for the people who have spent two years trying to destroy him.

So look: there’s a policy issue here, and it’s a tough one; you trade off the stimulus Obama extracted now for the increased likelihood that low taxes for the rich will be made permanent, crippling policy for decades to come. But there’s also a character issue: what we really don’t need right now is a president who blames everyone but himself, and seems more concerned with self-justification than with sustaining the alliances he needs.


Posted by: gdb on December 8, 2010 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

This is a question for gdb, further up the comments list. What I need to know is how Brian Schweitzer or anyone else would approach the 60-vote requirement due to permanent filibuster, because that is what has shaped the last 2 years, everything else has been simply a reaction to that, or trying to deal with that. So what would they do differently that would ensure Democratic priorities are enacted into law?

Second, we could use some lessons about simple loyalty. We didn't exactly have the President's back in the recent election, and yet we expect him to just make things happen. The truth is a president's power can be very limited if multiple institutional forces are arrayed against them AND the base takes their ball and goes home after a year out of disillusionment. Look at the GOP - their leaders are batshit insane and they're still loyal. They are unquestioningly loyal and we have no loyalty. Most Dems can't even be bothered to stand up for Nancy Pelosi as she is smeared by right and left. No wonder we lose

Posted by: Justin on December 8, 2010 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

I think the Republican's desire for this is an extension of the Bush Tax Trap you described the other day: If they are renewed for another 2 years, it will be that much harder to overturn them without seeing them as a "new tax."

Posted by: MichMan on December 8, 2010 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

I sure wouldn't have expected hundreds of billions in UNPAID stimulus this year, passing in bipartisan fashion. It's imperfect, but if it gooses growth and jobs, then 18 months from now it will be worth it. And if Obama uses this engagement for progress on the few areas where there SHOULD be room for compromise with the GOP (energy, START, free trade), it will allow him to get more accomplished (yes, those deals will be distasteful too). And lastly, if he then pivots and puts out a plan for a balanced budget that throws these tax rates out the window...it's a win-win-win. I'm not in this for revenge, I just want the economy to start rolling again and for the country to going in the correct direction once again. This deal helps that.

My only concern is that the dimwits on the other side may see this chart and have serious second thoughts...

Posted by: Mark on December 8, 2010 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

In response to Steves remark about how the 2% payroll tax holiday is coming out of the general fund:

That is true. But, when we talked a lot about the Obama's Deficit Commission (I repeat OBAMA's Deficit Commission) lots of liberals (I believe Steve among them) were wondering why SS was part of that discussion, since it is separately funded and, therefore, not part of the deficit problem.

Well, tada! Now it will be part of the deficit problem because the payroll holiday will require using general funds to pay for the difference. Voila, those who would destroy SS now can legitimately say it is blowing up the deficit.

Way to go Democrats. And keep cheering them on Steve.

Posted by: Vince on December 8, 2010 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

Is the WH just supposed to stand there while the left gives them the middle finger?

Well, they just stand there when the Right gives them the middle finger, the crowbar, and the blow torch. Is it too much to ask for some bipartisan capitulation from Obama?

Posted by: square1 on December 8, 2010 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

Justin. The filibuster could and should have been eliminated in 3/09. It's called the nuclear option. Google it-- it takes 50 votes plus the VP (Biden) or a friendly Senate Parliamentarian. The Repubs figured it out 5 years ago-- and will use it when they need to.

As for loyalty, the Prez aint breen loyal to his base-- and won';t be in the future. They HAVE been loyal until now. Now it's time for a change. . While keeping the tax rates in nthe current "deal" intact, unemployment at 9-11%, the Afghan war going on its winning ways, and contant attacks on Progressives, BHO Will get kudos from DINO bloggers above while losing support from Progressives, Independents-- and gaining no Repub support. This should enable BHO by 9/11 to stabilize his voter support in the 30's-- equal to that of Palin and a Progressive challenger.

Posted by: gdb on December 8, 2010 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

Am I the only one having trouble with the semantics of the tax rate haggling?

We are being told we can't let the Bush tax cuts expire because it would be a reduction in spending power and would hurt the fragile recovery. Compared, I guess, to the status quo of current tax rates.

Now I hear that extending the the Bush tax cuts is actually a stimulus. So extending the status quo is an increase in spending power which will boost the economy? Isn't that double-counting??

Seems like a shell game somehow.

Posted by: jeri on December 8, 2010 at 8:06 PM | PERMALINK

"This should enable BHO by 9/11 to stabilize his voter support in the 30's--equal to that of Palin and Progressive challenger." gdb @ 3:59 PM.

Can I have some of whatever you're on? Or are you just that unintelligent? There never has been a "progressive" elected to the Presidency and probably never will be.
Progressivsm surfaced as a political concept in the 1890s as a REPUBLICAN reaction to corrupt politcal bosses in various major cities. Apparently borrowing ideas from the Republicans is something not limited to the present Administration.
Even though various progressive ideas were enacted during his terms, I'm not certain one could qualify Wilson as a "progressive". He opposed several "progressive" measures while in office; female suffrage is an excellent example.
The economic circumstances of the Great Depression, WWII and then industrial reconversion, during FDR's and Truman's administrations were, hopefully, sui generis. Neither man either considered himself or was considered by those who knew them, as progressives. Much of what we think of as the "progressive" legacy of those years would never had passed Congress had the country not been in, and RECOGNIZED as being in, such dire straits.
JFK certainly was no liberal, although he could give very good liberal-sounding speeches. LBJ is probably the closest we have ever gotten to a serving "progressive" President, but most of what he got enacted were the remaining pieces of the New/Fair Deal agendas.
Clinton, I believe, meant well, but again is no liberal/progressive. Nor is Mr. Obama, even though much of what he champions is what progressives want.
Various measures that would be termed "progressive" were passed by Republicans in the 19th and early 20th century; ie, Civil Service Reform, National Park system, "trustbusting", but there was never any "progressive" agenda for the Republican Party and the one time such an attempt was made, it split the party.
I suppose that just because there NEVER has been a "progressive" elected President doesn't mean there never will be one but, short of another major catastrophe such as the Great Depression, I fail to see it occurring.
May I suggest that borrowing yet another idea from the Republicans would better serve our interests? While I am normally averse to using the Republican Teabaggers as anything other than a BAD example, I must admit that they have again led the way and shown how to effect a progressive takeover of the Democratic Party.
Better start now, though. It took them forty years to get where they are today...

Posted by: Doug on December 8, 2010 at 8:40 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, this "compromise" blows an even bigger hole in the federal budget over the next ten years, expanding it from $3 to $4 trillion to who knows what, meaning that even more government programs and services will have to be cut to make up for this increased federal budget shortfall.

Oh, right, Bowles' and Simpson's Cat Food Commission was established early this year specifically to come up with federal budget cuts, which they just announced would amount to $3 to $4 trillion in budget cuts over the next ten years, including cuts to Social Security.

Hmmmmmm. Strange. This sounds like this "compromise" was arranged long ago, doesn't it?

Posted by: The Oracle on December 8, 2010 at 10:59 PM | PERMALINK

The rethugs love it because it's the beginning of the end of Social Security. The SSTF will now have huge shortfall that will never be repaid from the general fund. BO will roll over on this in the face of R outrage just as he has on all the rest. He wants to kill SS anyway, just to show how good he is at reaching out to the Rs.

BO is worse than GWB.

Posted by: elbrucce on December 8, 2010 at 11:49 PM | PERMALINK

This does nothing to harm social security. It simply prevents the Trust Fund from being used to hide the true amount of the federal deficit. And don't tell me how much you care about that deficit when two weeks ago you were telling the "catfood commission" that the deficit didn't matter.

Posted by: Sandy on December 9, 2010 at 3:55 AM | PERMALINK

The SSTF is self-sustaining; there are currently enough T-Bonds in the SSTF account, with interest, to continue paying full benefits through approximately 2037, without drawing from the general fund, assuming contributions remain steady. A simple, miniscule tweak (there are several options) would bring the SSTF completely into balance long after that.

Reducing contributions by 2% in 2011 will severely impact that schedule; drawing from the general fund to "make up" those missing contributions will create a nightmare.

BO won't "fight" tax cuts for the rich now, not in two years, not ever. He certainly won't "fight" to restore the missing contributions.

I think BO is Karl Rove's ultimate dirty trick.

Posted by: elbrucce on December 9, 2010 at 9:47 AM | PERMALINK

I think BO is Karl Rove's ultimate dirty trick.

Let me correct that:

I think BO is Karl Rove's ultimate wet dream.

Posted by: elbrucce on December 9, 2010 at 10:24 AM | PERMALINK

I wonder if the Republicans still had the votes in both chambers and the White House they would have passed something that gave tax cuts only to the upper 2%, using the "in a time of war" canard (because they would have attacked Iran by now) and the "proven" effectiveness of trickle down economics.

Posted by: max on December 9, 2010 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

poglejte si tole Plezalne elade

Posted by: abee on February 2, 2011 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK
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