Political Animal


November 16, 2012 9:59 AM Two Signs 2012 Mattered To the Fiscal Negotiations

By Ed Kilgore

There’s been an awful lot of talk about the impact of the 2012 elections on the ongoing fiscal negotiations in Washington in terms of the additional leverage the president either has or doesn’t have, or in the enhanced ability congressional Republicans either have or don’t have to depart from hard-core conservative ideology, particularly on taxes.

But it’s sometimes forgotten that the election—not just the outcome, but the experience of contesting it, and the resources built up to win it—had an effect on other political forces with a deep interest in the fiscal negotiations, and we’re already seeing them mobilize, viz. this report from HuffPost’s Sam Stein:

A coalition of top labor organizations is launching a major ad campaign targeting House Republicans and a group of Senate Democrats centered on pushing them toward a progressive resolution to the so-called fiscal cliff, The Huffington Post has learned.
The American Federation Of State, County and Municipal Employees, the National Education Association and the Service Employees International Union are teaming up on the project. It will include a “six-figure buy” with an “opening salvo of ads” focused on protecting health care, education and Social Security in any deficit or debt reduction deal, according to a labor source. The unions have argued that any final deal should instead lean more on higher tax rates for the wealthiest Americans.
Copies of the ads were not immediately available. But a source familiar with the campaign says they will air in Virginia, Missouri and Colorado, among other states. The Democratic senators in those states — Mark Warner of Virginia, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, and Mark Udall and Michael Bennet of Colorado — have all already voted to extend the Bush-era tax cuts only for income below $250,000. But they also considered to be among the likelier suspects to cut a deal with Republican lawmakers on a measure that would include more dramatic entitlement reforms.

It’s also often forgotten that congressional Democrats will have something to say about the fiscal negotiations, and they seem to have a renewed determination to make sure the short-term needs of the economy are met, as FireDogLake’s David Dayen notes:

One new wrinkle here is that Democrats are starting to talk about more stimulus as a bright line in the debate, a must-include in any deal. That could take the form of extending the payroll tax cut or something like it, or infrastructure spending. This hearkens back to the “barbell” approach, with spending up-front and deficit reduction on the back end. [Kent] Conrad, in his interview with Suzy Khimm, floated something like $300 billion of stimulus in 2013 as part of the deal.

So I wouldn’t be too quick in assuming the payroll tax holiday will be allowed to expire without protest even as the poor little rich folk fill the air with piteous cries over the possible expiration of the lowered top marginal rate on income that was “temporarily” enacted in 2001 to deal with an impending budget surplus too large to tolerate.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • David in NY on November 16, 2012 10:25 AM:

    piteous cries over the possible expiration of the lowered top marginal rate on income that was “temporarily” enacted in 2001 to deal with an impending budget surplus too large to tolerate.

    Nice ...

  • jhm on November 16, 2012 10:37 AM:

    I saw a TV yakker the other day say that even thought the Dems have leverage because of the Dec. 31 deadline for end of BushCuts, the GOP will regain the edge with the Feb. approach of the debt ceiling. I'm not sure I understand this logic and I haven't heard anyone else saying it either. Does anyone else think this makes no sense? or am I missing something ?

  • zandru on November 16, 2012 10:56 AM:

    I'd like to call for taking the vast bulk of spending cuts from the Pentagon's hide. Monies spent on "defense" are among the least effective, in terms of economic multiplier effect; it should be a no-brainer.

    I'd start by calling for a new BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure Commission), which would look at US military bases throughout the world and select which ones to close. On the top of the list would be all facilities in states which have threatened to secede from the United States since the President took office.

    per Captcha: "$67,500-DUTCH mistear" Frankly, I don't see why folks gripe so much.

  • c u n d gulag on November 16, 2012 11:06 AM:

    If the Democrats want a stimulus package to pass, may I respectfully submit to them that they name it after that Republican hero - Ronald Reagan!
    Call it, "The Ronald Maximus Reagan 'Financial And Economic Er*ctile Quicker-Pecker-Upper Pill To Perk-Up And Arouse Morning in America's Fleshy Future And Harden Its Resolve' Stimulus Package!"

    Republicans will vote for anything with Reagan's name on it.
    And if they want Reagans face on some money, may I heartly submit that, for compromising on the 'Reagan Stimulus Package,' we let Republicans slap his visage on the penny, and tell everyone that we know the Republicans wanted it on a hundred dollar bill, but that it's now tricled down to 1 cent. Take it, or leave it.

    If Obama had changed the narrative from "Death Panels" to "Reagan Panels," we'd have single-payer right now.

  • Mark on November 16, 2012 11:16 AM:

    I worry about my two Senators, Udall and Bennett. Those two would sell out their constituents in a heart beat in the "bi-partisanship" Two more weak Senators I have never met.

  • FlipYrWhig on November 16, 2012 2:06 PM:

    The "barbell" should have been the basis for bringing together Keynesian liberal Democrats and deficit-hawk techno-moderate Democrats all along. Stimulus now, deficit/debt reduction later. Call it something sexy like A Grand Bargain.