Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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December 9, 2010

HOUSE DEMS MAKE THEIR DISPLEASURE CLEAR.... House Democrats haven't exactly been hiding their disagreement with the tax policy agreement struck by the White House and congressional Republicans. But this morning, that dissatisfaction was registered in a more formal way.

Defying President Obama, House Democrats voted Thursday not to bring up the tax package that he negotiated with Republicans in its current form.

"This message today is very simple: That in the form that it was negotiated, it is not acceptable to the House Democratic caucus. It's as simple as that," said Democratic Congressman Chris Van Hollen.

"We will continue to try and work with the White House and our Republican colleagues to try and make sure we do something right for the economy and right for jobs, and a balanced package as we go forward," he said.

The vote comes a day after Vice President Biden made clear to House Democrats behind closed doors that the deal would unravel if any changes were made.

By all appearances, House Dems weren't just bothered by policies that made up the compromise, but were also offended in a more personal way -- they didn't feel as if they had sufficient input on the pre-deal negotiations, and were bothered by Vice President Biden's take-it-or-leave-it message yesterday.

So, what happens now? The caucus' decision this morning is non-binding -- it expresses members' attitudes, but the leadership could choose to bring the measure to the floor anyway, and it could conceivably still pass with enough Republican votes.

More likely, though, is that House Democratic leaders will demand changes to the deal before it's brought to the floor.

At this point, questions abound. It's not clear exactly what kind of changes House Democrats want to see, when they might start a new round of negotiations, or with whom. What's more, if they scuttle the entire deal, as best as I can tell, House Dems have not yet crafted a back-up plan for how to extend unemployment benefits, how to secure the economic stimulus that's in this agreement, and how to get approval for an expanded earned-income tax credit and the continuation of a college-tuition tax credit.

They just know they don't like what's on the table now, or the way in which it was presented to them.

In light of this morning's caucus vote, it's safe to assume White House officials will have to pay a lot more attention to what House Democrats want, even as the Senate debate on the agreement gets underway.

Steve Benen 12:35 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (67)

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or the White House can wait for a "more friendly" House in just a few short weeks. I take it this House wouldn't know a lame duck even if it crapped right on its forehead.

Elections have consequences.

Posted by: CT Voter on December 9, 2010 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

This should unify uncompromising progressives in the House with their new best friend, the right honorable nutcase from the Confederacy, Jim DeMint. Wonderful. This is why I registered as an Independent twenty years ago.

Posted by: max on December 9, 2010 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

Now let's take the money saved, apply half against the deficit, and apply some good ol' big government job programs with the other half of the money saved.

Tax the rich. Rebuild the nation.

Posted by: Bless on December 9, 2010 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

Where were these jackasses in August and September?

They did not have a plan then, and they don't have a plan now. What did they think would happen after November 2?

Idiots. All.Of.Them.

Posted by: sue on December 9, 2010 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

I hope they hold-out and kill the entire deal. The unemployment extensions are smoke and mirrors anyway that don't help as many as they are suggesting. Crooks and Liars has a good posting to that end. Take a look-see. It's also galling that the GOP just stuck it to the "seniors" by killing the $250 in crease because it...wait for this..."Adds to the deficit". Sweet baby Jesus. They ALL want to add onto it for tax breaks for the rich and won't give the old folks a small break. I hope the Tea party sees just what the f#2k they did to us by screaming bloody murder to give the GOP power.

Elections DO have consequences and they are seeing what their stupidity has done at breakneck speed. Nauseating...

Posted by: stevio on December 9, 2010 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder if this will end up backfiring on progressives. I am extremely progressive, but looking at the hysteria in publications like the HuffPo has made me angry. What is most disturbing is that these democrats never (in my memory) were able to get together for a vote of "no confidence" for anything Bush had to offer.

I find this sickening. So perhaps Obama will have to listen to these democrats, or perhaps he is just being pushed further to the right by them, and they are making their own positions less tenable. (In screaming "no confidence" without a clear plan B, they are also calling for no extension in unemployment benefits, for example. That will play very well in two years, I'm sure.)

This was the wrong time to choose hysteria. Obama (no matter how disappointed progressives may be in him) is the wrong target.

Posted by: LBS on December 9, 2010 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

My beef in this is not with the House. They were pretty much out there, trying to things for the past two years. Maybe some of it too little too late.
It's the Senate. After not doing what the President and the House wanted, they kicked it down the road over and over again, and now, when Obama comes up with something, NOW they get motivated?
My favorite in all of this is "Typhoid Mary" Landrieu, wondering why the President didn't feel the Senate would have his back.
Uhm, Mare, between you, Nelson, Bayh, and others, you NEVER had his back. You were too busy sticking 'Senate Shivs' in his back.
You sat on your asses on this issue for two years. So now, STFU!

Posted by: c u n d gulag on December 9, 2010 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

I detect serious rumblings in DC.

The WH cannot expect to ram this odious tax deal down our collective throats.

The scare tactics are actually just the fuel I need to confirm my suspicions that all is not well in the Democrat Party.

Perhaps we are now approaching a pivotal moment in our sense of ourselves as a nation.

Do we really need to appease the hostage takers? The rich?

Clumping unemployment extensions into this deal is fishy, but it's not all that smells.

To those democrats who have a spine.... Hurray!

Now we are in for some fireworks.

About time.

Do not believe the scare tactics. The WH is running scared and can't be trusted.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on December 9, 2010 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

This tax package is the right target for the long term damage it does to Social Security and potentially to other similar programs. Obama's "health care" read health insurance policy benefits insurance companies most and this one set out to gut social security with its moratorium on payroll taxes which will never be re-instated. Great work by the House Democrats.

Posted by: impartial on December 9, 2010 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

Let the republicans vote it through. Their leaders negotiated it, they can damn well vote for it if they want it to pass. They're going to blames the democrats for anything wrong with it anyway, but they should at least be forced to vote for it.

This thing where "bipartisanship" means letting two or three republicans vote for something while the rest of the caucus screams bloody murder and feeds more red meat to the base doesn't really do much good any more.

Posted by: paul on December 9, 2010 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

They'd better have a plan for how to turn raising everyone's taxes during a sorry-ass economy into a winning campaign issue -- or a _really good_ plan for how to blame Republicans for obstruction after, um, deliberately obstructing. But this is their constitutional role, so, hey, great, do what they want.

Posted by: FlipYrWhig on December 9, 2010 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

These so called progessive Dem's should be angry and hystical not at the White House but at the Blue Dogs who are nothing but Repukes in sheep clothiang and have done nothing but stymied anything that they or the white house has tried to do. They are worse than the Repukes. They also should be upset at their so called base who couldn't get off their fat asses and get out and vote in Nov. All becasue "I didn't get all the toys they wanted." Because of them we now have this Repub congress coming in in Jan.just because we are a bunch of big babies. We reep what we sow.

Posted by: nodak on December 9, 2010 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

You do indeed. We have a Republican in the White House as well.

Posted by: impartial on December 9, 2010 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

So they were offended by the process. Poor dears. It's too bad these cowards couldn't their f***ing act together when they had some bargaining strength.

Posted by: wordtypist on December 9, 2010 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

@ nodak: They also should be upset at their so called base who couldn't get off their fat asses and get out and vote in Nov.

Untrue, for better or for worse. See Nate Silver: scroll to the second half of this post, Obama's Tough Words for Liberals: Truth or Dare?. Relevant bit:

In addition, the share of liberal voters as a percentage of the overall electorate was not significantly changed from recent years. It was 20 percent, according to the exit poll; by comparison, it had been between 20 and 22 percent in elections from 2004 through 2008.

Democratic underperformance doesn't look to have been due to liberals staying home, but to conservatives surging and moderates taking a pass. That leads to a very different read of the source of Democratic weakness this past cycle.

Posted by: FlipYrWhig on December 9, 2010 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

From the desk of President Obama...

My fellow Americans, ladies and gentlemen, I assure you that I only compromise to the minimal extent necessary to achieve legislative success.

Therefore, I assure you, as part of the negotiations I have given the republicans almost everything that they want and received promises of a little bit of what I want in return.

However, I do not need to negotiate or compromise with democrats, especially progressives, so you can go to hell.

Posted by: Obominator on December 9, 2010 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

RIGHT NOW the immediate needs of the many unemployed are more important than not giving into the Republicans those handmaidens to the über rich. The Republicans should support raising the taxes of the excessively wealthy and restoring those taxes to the pre-Reagan era levels if only as an atonement for spreading the lies of "trickle down" economics and the Laffer curve, both frauds  which anyone with a basic knowledge of freshman economics should understand.  They know, but will not admit, that The über rich do not need more expensive trinkets like Hermes briefcases, Louis Vuitton IPad cases, or Rolls Royce cars.

The working classes do need an extension of unemployment insurance, another tax break, and a massive infrastructure program which provides good jobs, at good wages, for good people. 

The economy as a whole requires these basic programs to grow more than the rich need more expensive stuff to fill their empty souls, certainly your average unemployed worker could put price of a Cartier diamond bracelet to better use than the idle rich who would just toss it into a safe with a dozen others. Thus, I conclude, if the price to get the working classes more help is to toss Donald Trump another Armani suit, I suppose I have to accept that, in the short run.

Yes, it is tacky and it is blackmail but RIGHT NOW the urgent needs of the many unemployed outweigh the natural impulse to not placate the whims of the über rich.

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on December 9, 2010 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

Pull out the payroll tax holiday, put Making Work Pay back in, make the cuts on

Posted by: dr. bloor on December 9, 2010 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

Meanwhile, across the pond, students are- live on MSNBC- rioting in the streets over tuition hikes.

Here at home angry Americans are furiously blogging their discontent. But, hey; it's cold as Hell in Washington, and I misplaced my pitchfork. . .

Posted by: DAY on December 9, 2010 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

Nothing will ever change in this country until money is taken out of politics. If we do not reform campaign finance laws, our democracy will continue to be sold to the highest bidder.

On a related note, I never would have thought in 2008 that a female liberal from San Fransisco would have bigger balls than a homeboy from Chicago.

Posted by: citizen_pain on December 9, 2010 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

Damn, why the hell didn't they act like this before the election?

I guess they only act out when it can't do any good.

Posted by: Ron Byers on December 9, 2010 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

To KurtRex1453 and others of his ilk who proclaim that we have to subvert social security and assure the expansion of the gap between the wealthy and the rest of us; because of the poor unemployed; because of xxx; because of yyy.


Every now and then I will agree with the crazies in whether they want legislation to pass or fail; just never for the same reasons that they do!

That one can agree with Jim DeMented on a desired outcome does not make him a kissing cousin or a BFF.

Yesterday, the noted economic historian from Minnesota, Michelle Bachmann declared that she is against the Obama-McConnell tax plan. I agree with her to that level. She stated that this tax plan unnecessarily raised the federal deficit and I agree with her on that.

Michelle stated that what she could accept the continued cuts to the top tax bracket, because they pay for themselves; but all the other tax rates should rise to their previous levels because they add to the deficit. She is opposed to the continued 15% capital gains tax rates because they are too low. She is opposed to the Obama-McConnell 'death tax' proposal because there should be no death tax. Needless to say, I agree that she is 100% wrong on all of this.

My point is that KurtRex, Benen, and all of you Obamanauts should stop impersonating Obama and stop using all of your invectives on those who publicly disagree with King Obama.

Key features of the Obama-McConnell tax plan that totally suck:
- the hedge fund managers who get paid hundreds of millions to billions a year to manipulate markets (like what is again happening to oil and gas prices) get to paid capital gains taxes (15%) on the bulk of their incomes
- the $35 Million a year income earners (like Glen Beck) get to keep their $1.4 Million a year gift from Georgie/Barrack Bush/Obama
- the $10 Million a year income earners (like Katie Couric) get to keep their $400K a year break
- a working individual making $20K a year WILL SEE THEIR FEDERAL TAX BILL INCREASE
- a working family of four making $40K a year WILL SEE THEIR FEDERAL TAX BILL INCREASE

I have stopped buying the "It's as good as Obama could get" bullshit!

Posted by: SadOldVet on December 9, 2010 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

Face it. With this deal, Obama and Biden have sold out the country for the sake of their re-election chances. It is up to Nancy to stop them. I wish her luck. She clearly has the guts.

Posted by: SW on December 9, 2010 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

This tax package is the right target for the long term damage it does to Social Security

Uh, except it doesn't do any damage. The provision includes a transfer payment from general revenue and sunsets in one year. Where's the damage? In one year it would need to be reauthorized, which it won't be.

Posted by: sue on December 9, 2010 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

The extension of UI is not worth holding your nose on the rest of the odious measures in this bill. Democrats should continue to force Republicans to vote against the extension of UI and not link it to a grab bag of Republicans favorites. The proposed cut in Payroll taxes should have been rejected out of hand as it is an obvious ploy to undermine Social Security finances and call any resumption of the current rate a tax increase.

Posted by: Simon on December 9, 2010 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

Clearly, the cut in the payroll tax will go away after this year is up. Obama would never support such a thing, any more than he would extend the Bush tax cuts or keep the Bush security state intact.

Posted by: calling all toasters on December 9, 2010 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK


I have a bridge I would like to sell you.

Posted by: impartial on December 9, 2010 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

'In one year it would need to be reauthorized, which it won't be.'

Because politicians are famous for raising taxes in the middle of an election year! It happens every time. You can count on it. Cross my heart and hope to die.

Posted by: SW on December 9, 2010 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

I find it stunning the amount of fight deem Dems have in them when they are eating their own rather than facing the threat of a minority party filibuster. Please. I have issues with Obama's approach to things, but it takes an enormous amount of balls- a previously undisclosed quantity, I add- for these Democrats to find their strength against the leader of their own party. Disgusting.

Posted by: Perspecticus on December 9, 2010 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

Oh screw it, whats a trillion dollars as long as most of it goes to the right people.

Posted by: SW on December 9, 2010 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

The House Dems ought to be mad as hell. They've been the White House's best allies these past two years. Hell, Nancy deserves a lot more credit than Obama or anybody else for getting HCR passed. And now they get a giant middle finger from the WH in the form of this noxious compromise on taxes. A compromise that is NOT clearly better for the country - and especially for poor, working class and middle class people - than simply letting the Bush tax cuts expire and trying to figure out how to get the UI extensions etc. some other way (or in a worst-case scenario, not at all).

So good for the House Dems. Their counterparts on Pennsylvania Ave. and in the Senate can start earning their pay and work through Christmas if they have to, to come up with something better. Though God knows making these jerks work overtime is almost as serious a privation as taxing millionaires a couple of percentage points more at the top marginal rate.

Posted by: D. Aristophanes on December 9, 2010 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

The following quotes are from Republicans regarding the payroll tax cut. The measure undermines the finances of Social Security and it changes how people perceive the program.

"Once something like this goes into place, a year from now, when it expires, it'll be portrayed as a tax increase," said Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.). So in a body like Congress, precedents matter and this is setting a precedent. I think that certainly is going to create some problems down the road if it passes."

"Once you bring a rate down, if it goes back up, people will feel that. They'll feel their paycheck being less and that argument" -- that letting it expire amounts to a tax hike -- "eventually is bound to be made," said Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.).

"There's always a tendency to continue those things... Once something comes in, it's very difficult to change it," said Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio.) He then volunteered, without prompting, that "It would be detrimental to the Social Security system, especially when it's in bad shape."


Posted by: Simon on December 9, 2010 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK


how much more will get done by the time this session is over with?

does anyone really think they would extend the session late into the year? I don't. It cuts into their vacation time and for members who are leaving, they just want to leave and get it over with.

So, kiss House Majority goodbye soon. And, for those expecting a lot out of them next year: do you now? do you think that they will actually have sway in the minority? Or, at best will Pelosi get some time in the spotlight like Boehner got during the past two years?

Just curious.

Posted by: gus on December 9, 2010 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

No for the next two years the best thing that we can hope for out of the government is as little damage as possible. Remember elections have consequences and the wingnuts are in charge now.

However, that presents an opportunity because we all know that the Senate is broken. And the broken Senate means that if you want to make sure an agenda dies, we have just the right tool for that. THis is going to enrage the right who believe that they have the same sort of mandate that we thought we had two years ago.

The result might be that there will finally be the vaunted bipartisan consensus for something. Reform of the Senate. And that would really be a good thing. In the meantime, the best thing that could happen on tax policy is nothing at all. The ideal tax rates are the Clinton tax rates. We've already done the god damn experiment. We collected the data and it proved that you can sustain economic growth and balance the budget with those rates. And we can return to them if we can just keep our pandering politicians including our President and vice President form giving away the revenue base of the government going forward. Giving it away for peanuts and a marginal improvement in their reelection prospects. Shameful.

Posted by: SW on December 9, 2010 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

I can't stop laughing at this clown show, Dems had and still have overwhelming majorities in both the house and the senate plus a transformational President with an "economic dream team" and it's nonstop stupidity 24/7.

Posted by: dualdiagnosis on December 9, 2010 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

The openness with which many of you rage-addicted "progressives" are expressing your willingness to throw the unemployed under the bus in the pursuit of your sweet, sweet anger quite literally nauseates me. You're as bad as any teabaggers, because, like them, the people living off these extensions are mere abstractions, not real people.

And please do spare me your new-found concern for the 99ers. Not a goddamn one of you was talking about them until "progressive" blogs invented the issue so you could have some soothing (if incoherent) balm for any little stabs of discomfort your rage-eroded consciences might give you.

Posted by: Another Steve on December 9, 2010 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

Of course the House is upset. They already passed a tax reform bill.

The House bill provided temporary tax relief for all income under $250,000. (Even millionaires get a tax break!)

The Senate refused to debate that bill. The Senate prefers a larger tax break for millionaires, and their offspring.

Posted by: jamie_2002 on December 9, 2010 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

As you sew so shall ye reap.. I welcome the chaos, it's about effing time though. My hope is that wikileaks starts impaling individual Senators (red or blue) with some damning information! Anybody seen the press corporations by the way?

Posted by: Trollop on December 9, 2010 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

Danged if you do, danged if you don't.

During the HCR debates, all we could hear from Congressional Democrats was "...where's the WH on this? Why aren't they more involved...where's the WH on this....?"

Now, the WH says, "step aside, we're going to get this thing done so that come January 1, people will still have some way to eat and keep a roof over their heads." -- And Democratic pols are now complaining that the WH was too involved.

Danged if you do, danged if you don't. Benen is absolutely right - what's Plan B. And what about the hostage demand the GOP loons sent to the Prez. How do you work around that? Now is not the time for crickets when that question is asked. So far, I haven't heard a damn thing from the "icy" or "angry" Dem pols as to their "better plan." Damn fools.

Posted by: June on December 9, 2010 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

Here's a better plan: fight for what you believe in. Or even fight for what you pretend to believe in, like controlling the deficit.
Here's another better plan: one that gets significant Democratic support. They're still a majority. If the Republicans filibuster it, then it is they who are holding up the tax cuts and unemployment insurance.
Here's even another better plan: make this budget-buster conditional on getting rid of the debt limit entirely.
Yet even another better plan: no breaks on the inheritance tax.
One final better plan: shit-can the whole thing and introduce unemployment benefits as a stand alone bill.

One year of some getting their unemployment extended is not worth crapping the entire economy.

Posted by: calling all toasters on December 9, 2010 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

another Steve

Kiss my sanctimonious ass.

Posted by: tko on December 9, 2010 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

Speaking as an unemployed person on UI (and not an abstraction) myself, Another Steve - spare me your concern. Or at least your over-the-top guilt trip. I have serious reservations about the Obama compromise because it contains elements that I fear could be even more damaging to the social safety net than allowing the Bush tax cuts expire and dealing with UI and other good parts of the compromise in another way, or even - God forbid - not at all.

There is far more to objections to the compromise than 'pursuit of sweet, sweet anger' and it does you no credit to say that's all there is to them. In fact, it makes you sound like the teabaggers you claim compromise opponents are behaving like.

Look, I readily concede that non-passage of the compromise would have very real, very painful effects. I am absolutely willing to listen to proponents' arguments for why the short-term relief in the compromise is a good trade-off for the long-term damage it could very well do. I have looked at the numbers and read the analysis and tried to gauge the likely political calculus for getting tax revenue back on track after the out years without gutting key entitlements to feed the larger deficit beast this compromise promises to create.

I still say let the compromise die, but perhaps I'm missing something. This is only Day 2 of this whole thing getting announced after all.

Posted by: D. Aristophanes on December 9, 2010 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

The Bush tax cuts 10 years ago were a trap. The offer of the temporary payroll tax cuts is a trap, of course. Everyone here seems to think that Dems can't take the bait without getting caught in the trap.

The Dems need to take the bait, and then break the trap.

The idea that taxes can never be raised is exactly the meme the repubs want. It means government will inevitably get smaller until the country is totally owned by the rich. Accepting the meme is a losing position. It's a Maginot Line Strategy. If Dems can't break the meme, they are doomed to eventual defeat, sooner or later.

Pass the bill, while making a royal stink over welfare for the rich. Then make it THE issue for 2012. Hang those tax cuts for the rich around the repub's necks like a dead, stinking albatross. Convince the public that Social Security is worth paying for, and that repubs want to kill it. And recover the revenue by raising the top rate, not to 39%, but to 50%.

Posted by: Tim H on December 9, 2010 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

@calling all toasters:

Sorry, but there's not a better plan in that list that accomplishes what's already in the Prez deal, let alone that will guarantee the continuance of the Recovery Act tax breaks, EIC, UIE, etc.

Republicans need to pay the price for insisting that the deficit be expanded in order to benefit their wealthy patrons -- not the people who are already struggling. That's my point.

Voters who find themselves with no income in a few weeks will NOT thank Democrats for balking at a 2yr extension of Bush tax cuts to the wealthy at their expense -- whichever way things go, the rich won't miss a meal, but if big-mouth "icy" and "angry" Democrats don't say what their brilliant plans are NOW, AND GET IT PASSED NOW, then while they're "fighting for what they believe in" (and not missing any meals themselves), guaranteed they will not be feeling the love from those who could have had some dinner on the table and now won't.

Posted by: June on December 9, 2010 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

Tim H - here's a single addition to the compromise that I would like the House Dems to try. De-couple the middle class tax cuts from the wealthy tax cuts by setting the former as 'permanent' or set to expire in something like three or four years, and the wealthy tax cuts as set to expire in two.

That very obviously removes the time bomb of Obama et. al. supposedly trying to make raising taxes their big issue in a presidential election year (there is no way the GOP-led House of 2012 puts out a bill that separates middle class and rich people tax cut extensions, so this whole 'I'm going to fight that battle later' shit is just at total friggin' non-starter).

And yes that will be obvious to Repubs, but it also is an on-the-surface deal sweetener - another concession! - to them, because they all say they want the tax cuts to last longer or be made permanent.

Than pass everything else in it untouched. And make them have to run on cutting taxes for the rich in 2012.

Posted by: D. Aristophanes on December 9, 2010 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

The House Democrats already passed a tax bill and reintroduce UI extension. The Senate Democrats should force Republicans to veto both plans.

Posted by: Simon on December 9, 2010 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

I only hope that this is the first step in a complete and total break of the non Blue Dog portion of the Democrats in Congress from Obama. Just as the GOP has just said "no", the Dems in the House this year and 40 Dems in the Senate for the next 2 years have to just say "no" to the GOP regardless of whether Obama agrees with his masters, McConnell and Boehner, or not. The future of the country depends on it. Pelosi and Sanders rock!

Posted by: Terry on December 9, 2010 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK


"Republicans need to pay the price for insisting that the deficit be expanded in order to benefit their wealthy patrons -- not the people who are already struggling. That's my point."

And Obama has just guaranteed that they won't.

Posted by: calling all toasters on December 9, 2010 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

D. Aristophanes-

It's been tried. Any decoupling will be filibustered in the Senate. Repubs have made that very clear in previous negotiations. That's why both the high end and the middle class cuts are temporary in the compromise.

Posted by: Tim H on December 9, 2010 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

@Another Steve - I'm not enraged. I'm deeply worried. There will always be another "hostage" for the rightwingers to use against the well-being of the nation. This time it's the longterm unemployed. Next time maybe it will be babies who need cancer treatments. Or grannies who will die of cold without a heating oil credit. We can salve our consciences by giving the terrorists all of their demands and they will immediately take another hostage and demand more. The 10 years of non-stop pillaging of the treasury were supposed to stop automatically at the end of this year. Many of us have been protesting against these tax cuts for the rich the entire time. We've watched our debt balloon needlessly, with social programs and benefits put on the altar as sacrifices. We know that come January the remaining social safety net will be tossed into the maws of the ravenous tax cuts beast, since it must be fed always at the expense of helping the other 98% of the country. We look at two more years of this and know that during the next crisis our country faces, the cupboards will be bare and there will be nothing anyone can do. A little anger would be justifiable, but mostly I feel pragmatic: it either stops here and now or our collective future as a viable nation is highly doubtful.

Posted by: GringoNoraca on December 9, 2010 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

Another way of looking at this is that there is NOT going to be another chance to get the wealthy to pay their fair share of taxes in years and years and years, because nobody with a brain thinks that these tax cuts won't get extended again and again and again if this compromise goes through.

That is going to have massive repercussions on all of us because either a) the lost revenue will have to come from somewhere else and it ain't gonna be the rich, b) government will have to gut spending, and it's going to be on important services to the most vulnerable people or c) we turn into Greece or Ireland on a much more massive scale and the whole goddamn global economy melts down.

Meanwhile, the UI benefits, while absolutely necessary to many actual people in the here and now, can be bargained over in the coming weeks and months. The GOP will own any obstruction to extending benefits for realsies when they take control of the House. They won't get to symbolically rail against them while not-so-secretly being pleased as punch that their own constituents aren't living in hobo camps and calling for their heads.

Is it a gamble? Hell yes it is, but it's not as risky of one as a lot of the dithering centrists seem to think it is. You don't think Boehner's going to take a helluva lot of heat for denying UI to desperate people when it's his hand on the lever and not in the minority position? Let his orange ass be the one to figure out how to get UI through while letting whoever it is on the GOP team plus Michelle Bachmann take a 'principled stand' with an ass-covering no vote.

So look - let's really play the long game here. Let's really fight. Not just say we are when in fact we're doing the opposite.

Posted by: D. Aristophanes on December 9, 2010 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

Tim H - tried in negotiations perhaps, but it hasn't been tried in the form of an actual House bill that goes to the Senate.

Posted by: D. Aristophanes on December 9, 2010 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

You don't think Boehner's going to take a helluva lot of heat for denying UI to desperate people when it's his hand on the lever and not in the minority position?

Um, I'm pretty sure that the people that put John Boehner and most of his caucus in office think that people on unemployemnt are too lazy to find a job. I wouldn't bet that Boehner, et al cares what anyone else thinks.

Posted by: AK Liberal on December 9, 2010 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

OK. This is the Political Animal I know and love--angry bickering, inane grasp of both policy and political reality, gratuitous profanity, empty threats and promises, and so on. You are the gift that keeps on giving. For a while there, while you were under your delusional perception of the Obama/Messiah, it wasn't as entertaining, but YOU'RE BACK, BABY!

Posted by: BillyBobSchranzberg on December 9, 2010 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

AK Liberal - I think you have a cartoonish image of Boehner and the GOP. They play a certain role on TV for the teabaggers but they also know that lots of people who vote Republican (not to mention those all-important independents) have been laid off in the last few years. Maybe they really are nuts enough to let a pretty big chunk of their constituents starve just on principle, I really don't think they are. Remember that they have only been in the minority since the recession started. They have not yet been in a position to lead on legislation for the rescue effort. How they've acted in the minority is not necessarily a perfect gauge for how they'll act with control of the House.

Posted by: D. Aristophanes on December 9, 2010 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

Jesus, I just realized that my last comment defends the reasonableness of Boehner & Co. Strike that, I clearly need to think this out more ...

Posted by: D. Aristophanes on December 9, 2010 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

Hey SadOldVet...I totally understand you being mad because you think you're accused of agreeing with people and the libruls are attacking you BUT please stop being simplistic. While you're railing against Katie Couric and Glenn Beck keeping their tax cut and capital gains don't forget us 'middle-classers' that bought our houses, invested in the market, bought 401Ks and because you are TOTALLY PISSED OFF at Obama for 'caving' he just saved OUR ass until the tax code can be rewritten. Most of us are living paycheck to paycheck and when OUR jobs are outsourced and we have to sell stock we NOW pay at 15%. We COULD pay at 35-40%. It is NOT all one way or the other. MANY middle-classers have HOUSES that are worth $1 million and up. Along with there savings when THEY die they could be in the $5 million range and their heirs would have to sell everything to give 53% to the government. This package is NOT just giving EVERYTHING to the rich. It's also taking care of the middle.

Posted by: SYSPROG on December 9, 2010 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

For two years, all the noise and passion has been on the right. Maybe, finally, the left is outraged enough to do more than just wring their hands and whine on the sidelines.

If we are going to have a consumer economy, then we need policies that expand and strengthen the number of consumers--the middle class.

Robert Reich is right: "The solution is to reorganize the economy so the benefits of growth are more widely shared. Exempt the first $20,000 of income from payroll taxes, and apply payroll taxes to incomes over $250,000. Extend Medicare to all. Extend the Earned Income Tax Credit all the way up through families earning $50,000. Make higher education free to families that now can't afford it. Rehire teachers. Repair and rebuild our infrastructure. Create a new WPA to put the unemployed back to work." (from Huff Post, "Why the Obama Tax Deal Confirms the Republican Worldview")

The current tax compromise just doesn't do it.

Posted by: Seould on December 9, 2010 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

And Unicorns. Seould forgot the Unicorns...lots of Unicorns...for EVERYBODY.

Posted by: BillyBobSchranzberg on December 9, 2010 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

Another way of looking at this is that there is NOT going to be another chance to get the wealthy to pay their fair share of taxes in years and years and years, because nobody with a brain thinks that these tax cuts won't get extended again and again and again if this compromise goes through.

I don't see why that's true. Everybody seems to forget that the economy is bad right now, and that gives the repubs leverage. If the economy improves, the leverage is gone. And as I said before, if you aren't willing to actively argue for raising taxes, if you have to rely on passively letting tax cuts expire, you've already conceded the battle.

Posted by: Tm H on December 9, 2010 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

This whole pretense there isn't a "Plan B" is crap. Of course there is, and it is the original Democratic Plan A: pass temporary extension of the tax cuts under 250k, which saves up to around $6300 for the wealth anyway because of the savings in the lower brackets (as few of the dolts on the street realize, and few Villagers are willing to note.) That is what Democrats originally wanted to do, before chickening out - let them offer it again as a challenge to the Arrgghhs. I personally think there should be other adjustments like raising the top bracket to 1M ("LeBron James' dentist v. LeBron James"), raise cap gains rates, have fin-tran tax, etc. but those are wonderful yet elusive ponies.

Posted by: Neil B on December 9, 2010 at 5:56 PM | PERMALINK

Tim H - it's true because post-Gingrich Republicans won't raise taxes, let alone taxes on the rich. And they control the House through at least 2012, and with this year's gains, probably a lot longer. But who knows, maybe the warehouse where Grover Norquist keeps all those signed pledges will burn down in a mysterious fire and GOPers will get to exercise their inner tax-hike feelings.

Posted by: D. Aristophanes on December 9, 2010 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK

How they've acted in the minority is not necessarily a perfect gauge for how they'll act with control of the House.

I must have forgotten how reasonable they were back when they were in the majority. I expect them to talk about shared sacrifice and not saddling our grandchildren with crippling debt, etc. etc. Meanwhile, look for the GOP lead House to pass an extension on the Bush era tax cuts and a lot less for the unemployed. If Senate Democrats balk, they'll be painted as playing politics with people's unemployment benefits. Once again, Democrats get the pain and none of the gain.

Posted by: AK Liberal on December 9, 2010 at 6:45 PM | PERMALINK

My comment could bear approximate repeating here where most relevant:

I think we should applaud and appreciate the laudable backbone of the progressive caucus and the political challenge their revolt presents to Republicans: introduce an acceptable tax bill, maybe even with the top bracket raised to 1M on behalf of dentists etc. (although it seems to me they can do OK on 250k most places, and the top rate only applies to that part over 250k or so.) Then if the Repubs vote no, they own the expiration of Bush tax cuts.
1. If the Arrgghhs "win" the chicken game, they and the usual hacks will blame it on Democrats - but the latter can always say "well, you could have have the tax cuts for *everyone* up to X$, and *you* voted against the bill that would have extended at least most peoples' tax cuts! Now you own the expiration of all of them!" I don't think they would have an answer to that in the long run. And, deficits will go down as revenue ticks up, although indeed things will be shaky with the economy. (Note that those sectors of "the market" concerned about debt will pull up some to help comp the possible sinking factors.) In that case, Repubs will have to admit that tax cuts don't pay for themselves and that tax increases do pay.
2. If the Arrgghs lose the game and vote for the "new" (old!) plan, then we get something more to our liking and they are forced to compromise, look like crap to their base base, and so on. And remember, the wealthy still get up to $6300 in lower-bracket savings anyway, so the complaint that they didn't get anything would be a lie too. I think it's a win for Democrats despite e.g. understandable worries from some.

As for the help to 99-ers etc: It could either be put into the new bill or otherwise, but we can't always ensure everyone getting what they deserve. There are already thousands (millions) of homeless, how can we save them? With new revenue if the better Democrat offer fails, some of that money should find it's way to stimulate jobs, and paying down some debt frees up money later etc. The long-term harm of letting Republicans keep kicking the can of raising taxes back up, attack Social Security (they're already openly gloating on how hard it would be to pull back that "holiday") etc. could easily outweigh the good of the UI extension.

Finally, let's still try to appreciate Obama's basic MO: he tried to come up with a deal that would be agreed on in advance to pass since he doesn't like brinkmanship (to give him benefit of doubt.) But now I expect *him* to be the one accepting what his party in Congress wants to do, since actually (easy to forget!) that is *their job* to propose and vote on. He's really first and foremost an inspiration and grand leadership provider (kind of blew that off recently) and a veto pen. He needs to remember that and act like he does.

Posted by: Neil B. on December 9, 2010 at 7:36 PM | PERMALINK

Obama is just now becoming familiar with the first vestiges of bi-partisan negotiation.
Coming from a one party town like Chicago, from what was pretty much a one party state, Obama is just now becoming familiar with the concept of herding cats.

Posted by: Neo on December 10, 2010 at 1:07 AM | PERMALINK

A minority in the Senate are preventing the tax bill passed by the House from coming up for a vote. A majority in the House are against Obama's tax compromise. So, which side does President Obama decide to attack? The Republicans or the Democrats? Right, he attacks his own party while playing nice with the Republicans. Maybe we should all re-register as Republicans then President Obama will fight for the things we want.

I agree with many that this deal provides significant money for the middle class, working class and unemployed. I'm concerned that it gives away too much for this benefit. Most of all the payroll tax deal is the thin end of the wedge the Republicans will use to attack Social Security.

Sweet deal. The Republicans agreed to significant spending on the non-rich by using the national credit card. In return they gain a number of strategic advantages that the will use to further their positions in the future.

I'm sorry, President Obama did not negotiate a good deal, he got played.

If the Bush tax cuts are allowed to expire we still have opportunities to help workers. If we give away these advantages we will suffer for years and years.

Posted by: John K. on December 10, 2010 at 1:40 AM | PERMALINK

It is actually refreshing to see what's happening.

Folks are realizing that we are being duped to extend the tax-cuts two years...take the vote right up to the wire and scare everyone.

When the history books are written, America's decline will be when the 2000 cuts went into effect.

For a decade, our country has spiraled downward.

Some have continued to get obscenely rich on a slew of sleazy scams, suckering us all into trillions of loans, yes trillions.

That means those who have sucked the well dry, love the sucking sound, therefore they want the extension.

Look at the Big picture. I'm not stupid.

Which is why my mantra..... a government for the rich and nothing but the rich, so help us god. Ketchup is a vegetable. and so am I.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on December 10, 2010 at 7:19 AM | PERMALINK
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