Political Animal

Blog

December 31, 2012 2:41 PM More Fiscal Funnies

By Ed Kilgore

The President’s comments on the fiscal negotiations in the Senate were diffident, to say the least. Their main substantive burden was to make it plain that a “small deal” mainly dealing with tax provisions would not foreclose additional “sacrifices” on the tax front—presumably in the form of limitations on deductions—in a later deal designed to deal with the debt limit and spending sequestrations. And there were a lot more semi-contemptuous references to “Republicans” than he has usually made in non-campaign remarks (and even many campaign remarks). There’s already considerable speculation on Twitter that he was trying to reassure Democrats he hasn’t given up leverage by a pre-“cliff” agreement on taxes.

Republicans immediately started whining about Obama’s tone, and the right-wing blogosphere is already beginning to demand defeat of any deal—however “small” or contingent—that doesn’t include significant spending cuts.

It’s possible the White House thinks McConnell either doesn’t intend to make a deal, or can’t keep his Conference from killing it and/or filibustering it; then there’s the issue of whether John Boehner is in a position to keep his promise to bring a Senate-passed deal up for an up-or-down vote even if a majority of House Republicans aren’t on board. More likely Obama is just positioning himself for what could be the far more consequential fight that a “small deal” will simply delay a few weeks.

One silly wrinkle is that the House appears almost certain to delay any vote until after tonight so that it will be voting on a tax cut rather than a tax increase, which is yet another piece of evidence that the “cliff” hysteria is just that. But you wouldn’t know it from watching CNN, which is featuring one of those “countdown clocks” until midnight at the bottom of the screen.

No wonder Obama sounded sarcastic and annoyed.

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.

Comments

  • Josef K on December 31, 2012 3:10 PM:

    More likely Obama is just positioning himself for what could be the far more consequential fight that a “small deal” will simply delay a few weeks.

    Okay, fine. No deal. Great.

    Over the curb we go.

    Now, onto more consequential stuff. Anyone hear anything new on Secretary Clinton? Is India still burning?

  • c u n d gulag on December 31, 2012 3:10 PM:

    Why is it that I suspect that this is just the warm-up to the epic frothing-at-the-mouth hissy-fit we're about to see on the Debt Ceiling, which even shouldn't be an, issue.

    Hey, you kiddin'?
    You think Roger Clement's didn't practice seeing how close he could come to hitting a batter.

  • marty on December 31, 2012 3:12 PM:

    "One silly wrinkle is that the House appears almost certain to delay any vote until after tonight so that it will be voting on a tax cut rather than a tax increase"

    Is this party a joke or what? That these clowns have ANY influence on any economic matters after living through the complete failure of their whole ideological framework is just unfathomable.

    SS recipients should have their $1200/month benefit reduced so the richest people in the country (who have seen their incomes skyrocket WHILE their taxes have fallen) can have ANOTHER tax cut????? Are you kidding???

    I'm a Christian and these Republican clowns certainly have no knowledge of the Jesus I am millions of others know, despite all their constant bluster.

  • Jn1BGood on December 31, 2012 3:34 PM:

    In 2007, candidate Obama said, "the long term solution for Social Security is to remove the cap on FICA taxation."

    Bernie Sanders,US Senator, [I], Vermont introduced a bill to do just that. His bill sits in committee unable to make it to the floor for a vote.

    Contact your US Sentors and urge them to bring the bill out of committee and up for a vote on the Senate floor.

    By removing the cap on FICA taxation [currently set at $106,800.00 of annual earned income, the CBO estimates SS will be secure for another 75+ years.

    Furthermore, if capital gains and divident income is taxed for FICA purposes just like "labor income", the CBO says SS would be solvent forever.

    Contact your US Senator.

  • sjw on December 31, 2012 3:39 PM:

    I'm not sure Obama's negotiating style is funny. "Sad" is the word that comes to my mind. He says over and over again that his limit is 250K . . . and then he caves. He says over and over again that he won't "play games" with the debt limit . . . and then he caves. Per Ezra Klein, Republicans are laughing out loud at this. But not me.

  • jjm on December 31, 2012 4:02 PM:

    Diffident? that wonderful needling Obama does is the opposite of diffident!!

    The GOP HATED it; they claim it will queer the deal...

    The deal is actually not half bad, and Obama has signalled he intends NO CUTS without more revenue.

    So why the hand-wringing?

  • Patrick Star on December 31, 2012 4:05 PM:

    Given the fact that a large chunk of the people being hit the hardest by going over the cliff are rich Beltway types, then by all means, let's take the plunge, just for the pleasure of watching these coddled arseholes crying in their cognac.

  • James E. Powell on December 31, 2012 4:46 PM:

    @ Patrick Star

    It might also have the added benefit of encouraging them to give even more money to our era's most successful con man, Karl Rove.

  • j on December 31, 2012 5:06 PM:

    Oh my - I am so sorry that the president's remarks offended the republicans, after all, they are alwqays so kind and thoughtful whenever they talk about him!

    Seriously - they blame him for everything and anything, are always really nasty about him and should be ashamed.

  • MuddyLee on December 31, 2012 6:47 PM:

    "Dittoes" on the FICA taxation post and the idea to get some social security revenues out of dividends and capital gains. The workers are carrying too much of the load - the investors need to be taxed. So do the subchapter S corporation (small business "job creators") guys that Boehner loves so much. Next get rid of business deductions for cruises where doctors/attorneys spend "some time" in classes or seminars. Maybe you just have to get significantly reduce deductions for people who are "rich", however you define it.

  • emjayay on December 31, 2012 7:06 PM:

    MuddyLee: Yes.

    Going for a non-limit on FICA might be too big a leap, but 2X or 3X or 4X might be a good place to negotiate dowm on. No that the teabagger paralysed Congress can do much of anything.

    As has been pointed out a lot recently (NYT today, for example) our hallowed Constitution, while being awesome and wonderful for a couple of centuries ago, is maybe just a bit too on the side of preventing tyranny, and way too (particularly as interpreted by the Supreme Court recently) not unsurprisingly unaware of a lot of stuff like corporate lobbyists and rich guy's campaign contributions and AK-47's. They apparently weren't even really anticipating political parties. Although Madison's anlalysis of factions (Federalist 10?) is amazing.

  • exlibra on December 31, 2012 8:39 PM:

    Going for a non-limit on FICA might be too big a leap, but 2X or 3X or 4X might be a good place to negotiate down on. -- emjayay, @7:06 PM

    Although I'm, basically, for taking the cap off altogether, your idea of doubling, tripling, or quadrupling the current limit might has charm, though I doubt it would be more palatable to the Congress pashas. But, if we're to talk about dreams, I have a slight tweak to your idea: set the cap at the same level as the tax breaks. If we agree to keeping only those earning 200K (for singles) from having their taxes raised, then let's have the SS cap *also* set at 200K. If we're to go to 400K income being excluded from the reversion to pre-Bush levels, then let the cap be set at 400K too, to match. Has a certain elegance of pattern, no? And would be easy to remember, too (important, at my age)...

  • dp on January 01, 2013 12:23 AM:

    He gave up leverage for essentially nothing.

    I am trying to figure out if I'm more pissed at Obama or Les Miles, both of whom screwed the pooch today for no apparent reason.

  • d on January 01, 2013 8:51 AM:

    "It's possible the White House thinks McConnell either doesn't intend to make a deal, or can't keep his Conference from killing it and/or filibustering it; then there's the issue of whether John Boehner is in a position to keep his promise to bring a Senate-passed deal up for an up-or-down vote even if a majority of House Republicans aren't on board. More likely Obama is just positioning himself for what could be the far more consequential fight that a "small deal" will simply delay a few weeks."

    No. What Obama was doing was trying to mask how big a loser he was and was accepting as the Republicans took it to him up the wrong end yet again. This was Obama losing to the Republicans, accepting it, and trying to play like he was a badass when all he was was a pussy. Obama knows he's a pussy. And he knows Republicans know he's a pussy. He was trying to mask that from Democrats. The Tea Potty isn't going to save us from Obama's spinelessness this time.

    They know they've won. Obama let the Tea Party beat him again. Obama makes me sick to my stomach.

  • DisgustedWithItAll on January 01, 2013 8:54 AM:

    You can tell how successful Obama's remarks were by reading the clueless comments here. People here are actually pumping their fist in defiance at Republicans because the Republicans were playing angry.

    Get a clue people. You were had. By Obama. He's selling you on selling you out and you went right for it. Well there's one thing Obama can play and it's not Republicans. It's you. But Republicans hand him his ass every time.