Wednesday, December 8

Obama and the Enemy of Perfection

Yeah, I heard Keith and I heard Rachel on how much a bad deal this tax deal is. I think they both amazingly impassioned and energized and dead wrong.

Keith position seems to be that Obama should have barnstormed around the country campaigning against the Republicans. a) He spent all summer doing that already and b) there's not enough time to put the screws to them before the rise of Speaker Boehner and all bets are off the table.

Rachel proclaimed repeatedly that this deal wasn't as good for Dems and the middle class as Obama said ti was, but these are the number via thinkprogress.

What Obama GOT in this deal helps 30 TIMES as many Americans and provides them with $80 Billion more than Republicans got from it.

Here's a newsflash. Obama is not a Progressive. He never said he was a Progressive. He came to Washington to get things done, and if that means cutting a deal - then that's what it means. The principles people seem to think he's betrayed aren't His principles. He's a pragmatist and a problem solver, not an ideological crusader.

What he's done here might not be good for Democrats, it might not be good for his Presidency, but it's good - or at least far better - for the nation than the various alternatives.

This nation wasn't founded in perfection. It doesn't exist in perfection now. The original Constitution as it was ratified as a Deal made between the North and the Southern States. It included a clause that specifically prohibited Congress for makling one law.

Congress was NOT ALLOWED to ban the importation of African Slaves until 1808.

It also included the 3/5th apportionment clause for taxation and representation of African Slaves, as well as the Fugitive Slave Clause which required Northern States to act as the police and recovery squads for slaves who escaped from the south.

It was because of clauses such as these that the Dred Scot decision was made where it was said that the Constitution Does not Recognize Africans as Citizens protected by the Laws of the State whether they be Slaves or Free.

Quite literally they didn't count. They had no rights.

That was because of the deal, but would standing up for the principle of true equal rights at that time have prevented the nation from forming as a single unit? The Articles of Confederation with it's incredibly weak central government had alraady failed. Would the Southern split that led to the Civil War have simply occured 70 years earlier if Northerners and anti-Slavery proponents have dug in their heel against the cold hard stump of principled perfection.

Admittedly it's hard to say in hindsight, but I dare say this wouldn't be the nation we have now if they had.

When Obama says that compromise is what this nation was founded on, he's absolutely correct. And sometimes, many times, it's not pretty.

This is a point that only Lawrence O'Donnell made last night.

Among all these Liberal Pundits, from Jane Hamsher to Ezra Klein, not one of them could name a single time where a Democratic President successful strong armed a pack of wild Republicans in the way they insist the Obama has to do now. The one possible case was to go all the back to Woodrow Wilson.

So basically, we're asking Obama to do the near impossible - and everyone's getting pissy because he knows it's functionally imposible in the time left in this session.

Obama is absolutely correct about Social Securiy and Medicare both begining as very limited, flawed and imperfect programs. Obama is correct that "We can't stand entirely on principle" and essentially hoist the American people high on the petard of our perfection. He's also correct that this is the Public Option debate once again. In all honesty, that debate didn't end and the heartburn from it is still clearly compounded by this latest deal.

I know I've pointed out repeatedly that the Final Health Care Bill actually DOES HAVE A PUBLIC OPTION it's simply managed by the Office of Personnel Management instead of HHS and subcontracted out, rather than administered directly by federal employees, but in all other aspects, premium controls, medical loss ration, economy of scale and cost containtment - It's the Same.

Contrary to Rachel's claims all the Repubs are not in love with every aspect of this deal.

“We cannot add on something like a year of unemployment benefits.” Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN).

“If we’re going to extend the unemployment insurance beyond its normal level, let’s at least pay for it and get this nation off its ruinous spending path.” Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX)

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) — the de facto leader of the Senate GOP and a past opponent of jobless aid — told National Review shortly before the deal was struck that the inclusion of unemployment benefits could influence his position. “The question [for Republicans] is: At what price are you buying?” he said.

“I would definitely look at how they were going to cover the expense of extending the unemployment [insurance].... I firmly believe we need to live within our means.” Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.)

Arkansas GOP Rep.-elect Steve Womack said “There’s a limit to just how much this country can afford,” and went on to say that enough was enough when it comes to jobless benefits

Club for Growth? Against It, because they wanted MORE.

(The Plan) didn’t make both the Bush tax cuts and the estate tax repeal permanent. Their plan: “Instead, Congress should pass a permanent extension of current rates, including a permanent repeal of the death tax, and drop all new spending.” The only “new spending” included in the plan, of course, is a desperately needed extension of lapsed unemployment benefits that will ultimately help at least 7 million jobless Americans and prevent the loss of another 600,000 jobs next year

Heritage Foundation? Against it because it Wasn't Enough for them.

“By allowing for only a two-year extension of current tax rates, the President’s agreement provides no long-term certainty that is essential for economic recovery. Heritage, too, denounced the inclusion of jobless benefits, calling them a “permanent entitlement” while repeating the canard that they will discourage the unemployed from seeking work at a time when unemployment is at 9.8% and there are five job seekers for every one available job.

And the worst part is the Obama's own base, is REALLY against it.

A new Survey USA poll finds that 74 percent of those who contributed to Obama’s presidential campaign are against his tax cut deal. The poll also finds that 57 percent of contributors are less likely to donate to Democrats who support the deal, and 51 percent are less likely to donate to Obama in 2012 because of the deal.


Yes, this deal is essentially a can kick down the road - it's a stalling tactic for 2012 when (with luck) we can win back the House and set this ship back on course by Raising the top marginal rate to 42%. These rates can't continue forever, and if someones going to take a hit - it ought to be the ones who can afford it.

But we're not going to do any of that without an energized and fired up base. That won't happen unless we look at this as just one battle in a long war, one where we gained for more than the other side did, and certainly prevented them from taking for more than we could have ever afforded by making ALL the Bush tax cuts permenent as they would have certainly attempted next session.

This deal ain't perfect, it potentially continues to blow a hole in the deficit and it's stimilative are questionable (although it does include all of the most stimulative tax policies available as documented by the CBO)

But I can guarantee that loss of the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit, the Making Work Pay Credit, the Payroll Tax Holiday that essentially gives everyone a 2% raise and cutting off Unemployment Benefits for the Next year while making the Bush Cadillac Paris Hilton Tax Bonuses Permanent would have been much, much worse.

I know that defending Obama from the Center can be a dangerous thing to do around these parts, and I've had my head chewed off more than once for agreeing with him and his positions - but this is how I see it.

It ain't pretty, but it's a victory.


Tuesday, December 7

Has Obama Lost us for Good? I Certainly Hope Not.

I for one certainly hope not, because the alternative is far too horrible to contemplate.

President Palin? President Romney? President Huckabee?


I'm not crazy about extending the Bush Tax Cut Bonus for the Paris Hilton crowd. Not one bit. I see it as a deficit buster, than the Right will use a bludgeon to force through harsh cuts on the middle class and working people just when they need them most.

But let's keep in mind one thing.

About 2 Million Americans have just avoided joining the ranks of the Cat Food Nation, and that's a good thing.

Without this relief, could we have seen a double-dip recession? I wonder.

Let's realize the times we live in, people are Desperate. Obama didn't simply "cave" - he got something, several things, in this deal that are desperately needed. From my perspective he put the American People First, maybe even ahead of his own prospects for reelection with an hyper-energized Right and a Demoralized and Pissed-Off Left.

I've already read this morning that some economists argue that the extension of Unemployment and the stim-styled payroll tax holiday won't create that many jobs. It'll only create about 700,000 they say.

I guess we'll have to see, but what about this...

We may agree that Paris Hilton cuts won't do much to push the economy forward since that forth bottle of Cristhal and Bedazeled Lexus Logos aren't really an emerging world-wide market. But look, the top four most stimulative items as rated by the CBO, starting first and foremost with a 13 month extension of Unemployment, as well as several forms of PAYROLL TAX HOLIDAY to the tunes of over $260 Billion are what we got in this deal in exchange for $90 Billion (over two years) of leaving the tax rates exactly where they already are.

It's not the deal I would have liked (Filibuster Moratorium Anyone?), but it's really, seriously, not that bad.

Nobody wanted to raise taxes on the middle class (except Republicans, who only care about that as a talking point, not actual policy).

Historically speaking Obama is taking a big gamble here, one that doesn't shy that far away from what occurred with Ronald Reagan at about this same point. Despite being known as the "Great Tax Cutter", by this point in his Presidency Reagan was actually Raising Taxes including SSI and Payroll taxes. At the time it was called the Greatest Tax Hike in History.

Reagan came into office proposing to cut personal income and business taxes. The Economic Recovery Act was supposed to reduce revenues by $749 billion over five years. But this was quickly reversed with the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982. TEFRA—the largest tax increase in American history—was designed to raise $214.1 billion over five years, and took back many of the business tax savings enacted the year before. It also imposed withholding on interest and dividends, a provision later repealed over the president's objection.

But this was just the beginning. In 1982 Reagan supported a five-cent-per-gallon gasoline tax and higher taxes on the trucking industry. Total increase: $5.5 billion a year. In 1983, on the recommendation of his Special Security Commission— chaired by the man he later made Fed chairman, Alan Green-span—Reagan called for, and received, Social Security tax increases of $165 billion over seven years. A year later came Reagan's Deficit Reduction Act to raise $50 billion.

By 1984 the Economy had finally begun to recover, despite his tax increases, and Reagan won a near landslide re-election. THIS is what Obama is gambling on, that by rolling the bones and Saving the Nation's Economy he will be ultimately rewarded for his sacrifice. This is what he's done so far, 9 Straight Months of private sector job growth and continuing...

And if the the gamble pays off, he bloody well SHOULD BE rewarded.

Just 750,000 jobs is about 80% of the growth we've seen this year, and if the economy truly begins to recover we could easily see twice that - or more.

We're talking about people's livelihood's here. About their ability to eat, survive, maintain shelter and safe environs. This deal has real life consequences that will be felt almost immediately and reverberate for months, if not years.

We're inches away from having DADT repealed, a policy that was previously implemented by Democratic President Bill Clinton, who also signed into law the ridiculously titled "Defense of Marriage Act". Clinton had many failures and disappointments too. He permanently modified welfare and turned it into a temporary (and far more cruel) system. When he came into office he promised to implement a BTU tax to help curb OIL and Carbon consumption, as well as a middle-class tax cut.

He never accomplished any of those goals, yet he was still re-elected for a second term and is thought as probably our best Democratic President since Kennedy.

No, Obama is far from perfect but if you still have heart-burn over the lost Public Option, here's some Pepto - as I've stated repeatedly it wasn't just removed with was Replaced with another Option that Scored just as cost effective as the P.O. according to the CBO. The P.O. was never the be-all-end-all, there are other ways to accomplish the exact same thing, and that may - ultimately - be true in this case.

Yes, it does kick the can down the road, and in the next round I think we shouldn't just go back to Clinton Rate but actually raise the Top Marginal Tax Rate to 42% in order to pay for extending Middle-Class Cuts - but the Senate this time around was completely cock-blocked. In a year or two we'll be dealing with a different economic situation, and with luck a different filibuster scenario in the Senate.

Yesterday was frustrating, but it's just a battle - it's not the last fight in the war.


Sunday, December 5

Letting ALL the Cuts Expire would be Best Thing, 2nd Best - Force Up or Down Vote on Everything!

It appears that Mitch McConnell is feeling a bit Cocky today after successfully blocking Democratic attempts to implement tax cuts for All Americans on their first $250,000 of income.

Signaling confidence that Democrats will stop blustering and cave on tax cuts, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell predicted today that all of the Bush era tax rates will be extended temporarily.

"I think it's pretty clear now taxes are not going up on anybody in the middle of this recession," McConnell said on Meet the Press. "It isn't going to happen."

Well, gee, since he asked so Nicely I think the only charitable thing we can do is NOT GIVE THEM SQUAT!

Unless of course, they drop to bended knee - and BEG.

Now we all know that White House is negotiating some kind of deal, and it's looking like it might be a 2-fer. Extend current tax rates for a year or two, while also extending unemployment benefits for a year (or maybe two). I'm thinking if Paris Hilton is going to get her Bonus Tax Cut for Tchotke's and a new Bedazzled Droid then the Unemployed should be able to keep paying their mortgage and utility bills.

And that does seem to be the plan right now, and if anything the ones who seem to be pre-caving are the GOP.

President Obama himself all but signaled that the Democrats lost this fight during a statement about a recently-announced Korea free trade agreement yesterday. "We need to redouble our efforts to resolve this impasse -- in the next few days -- to give the American people the peace of mind that their taxes will not go up on January 1st," Obama said. "It will require some compromise, but I'm confident that we can get it done."

The White House is pressing the GOP to allow an extension of unemployment benefits and the tax breaks in the stimulus bill in exchange for an extension of income tax rates. According to the Huffington Post, Obama will allow the cuts to expire if the GOP refuses. On that score, McConnell claimed there's no impasse.

"I think we will extend unemployment benefits," he said.