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Posted at 3:17 PM ET, 12/ 7/2010

How the White House cut its deal and lost its base

By Ezra Klein

obamadealtwo.JPG

If you look at the numbers alone, the tax cut deal looks to have robbed Republicans blind. The GOP got around $95 billion in tax cuts for wealthy Americans and $30 billion in estate tax cuts. Democrats got $120 billion in payroll-tax cuts, $40 billion in refundable tax credits (Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit and education tax credits), $56 billion in unemployment insurance, and, depending on how you count it, about $180 billion (two-year cost) or $30 billion (10-year cost) in new tax incentives for businesses to invest.

But that's not how it's being understood. Republicans are treating it as a victory, and liberals as a defeat. Which raises two separate questions: Why did Republicans give Obama so much? And why aren't Democrats happier about it?

Let's start with the Republicans. For one thing, the things they wanted were things they really, really wanted. A number of sources with direct knowledge of the negotiations have fingered the estate tax as the major player in the size of the deal. "Republicans were extremely eager to get benefits for the top tenth of a percent of Americans," says one senior administration official.

It was the estate tax, in this telling, that secured Republican support for, among other things, the two-year extension of the refundable tax credits and the payroll tax cut. Republicans believe that the two-year extension of the estate tax at Lincoln-Kyl levels will turn into a permanent extension of the estate tax at Lincoln-Kyl levels. So they attached much more importance to it than the price tag might suggest.

And it went beyond the estate tax: Conservatives saw the extension of the tax cuts as an important pivot point in American politics -- full stop. As my colleague Jennifer Rubin puts it, Republicans "won the philosophical point (tax hikes impede economic growth) and, candidly, are more than delighted to have a repeat of this debate for the presidential campaign in 2012." The Obama administration didn't see the tax cuts as a philosophical point, and is similarly convinced that a repeat of this debate in 2012 -- when the economy is better and the deficit is worse -- will favor their side. So rightly or wrongly, they judged the two-year extension as much less of a loss than the Republicans judged it a win -- and that gave the Democrats leverage on the rest of the package.

Meanwhile, the partisan electricity of the past year had obscured a simple fact: Much of what the Obama administration wanted was not that noxious to conservatives. They were tax cuts, many of them for businesses. Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels had previously proposed both a payroll tax cut for 2011 and the tax breaks for business investment. Republicans have frequently said that they don't even oppose unemployment insurance.

In all these cases, Republicans have argued that it's not the policies they oppose -- it's that Democrats aren't paying for them. But perhaps the most important enabler of the deal is that Republicans don't care about paying for them, either. The basic deal was that if the Obama White House would give the Republicans their unpaid-for tax cuts, Republicans would give the Obama White House their unpaid-for tax cuts.

To put this in perspective, consider that last week, all Washington could talk about was the potential for a deal on deficit reduction. This week, it actually got a big deficit deal -- but it was a deficit-expansion deal. In the world that politicians claim they live in -- where the deficit is the overriding issue -- the deal couldn't have worked. But we don't live in that world. In this world, tax cuts, not deficits, are the Republicans' central concern, and stimulus, not deficits, obsesses the Democrats.

Which brings us to the liberals. My conversations with various progressives over the past 24 hours have convinced me that the problem is less the specifics of the deal -- though liberals legitimately dislike the tax cuts for the rich, and rightly point out that Obama swore to let them expire -- than the way in which it was reached. Put simply, Obama and the Democrats didn't fight for them. There were no veto threats or serious effort to take the case to the public.

Instead, the White House disappeared into a closed room with the Republicans and cut a deal that they'd made no effort to sell to progressives. When the deal was cut, the president took an oblique shot at their preferences, saying "the American people didn’t send us here to wage symbolic battles or win symbolic victories." And this came a mere week or two after the White House announced a federal pay freeze. The pattern, for progressives, seems clear: The White House uses them during elections, but doesn't listen to, or consult them, while governing. In fact, it insults them, and then tells them to quiet down, they got the best bargain possible, even if it wasn't the one they'd asked for, or been promised.

If you're worried about stimulus, joblessness and the working poor, this is probably a better deal than you thought you were going to get. "It’s a bigger deal than anyone expected," says Bob Greenstein, president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. "Both sides gave more expected and both sides got more than expected." The White House walked out of the negotiations with more stimulus than anyone had seen coming. But they did it in a way that made their staunchest allies feel left behind, and in many cases, utterly betrayed.

That the Obama administration has turned out to be fairly good at the inside Washington game of negotiations and legislative compromise and quite bad at communicating to the public and keeping their base excited is not what most would have predicted during the 2008 campaign. But it's true.

Photo credit: J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press

By Ezra Klein  | December 7, 2010; 3:17 PM ET
Categories:  Obama administration, Taxes  
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Next: Hubbard: 'I wouldn’t support a permanent extension'

Comments

Instead, the White House disappeared into a closed room with the Republicans and cut a deal that they'd made no effort to sell to progressives.

This isn't true. It should be: Instead, the White House abandoned its advantage months ago and dithered until it was in a position where they could say that this is the best they could get. They're only good negotiators if you believe that they wanted this all along and needed a way to get cover to protect them from their base. It really in the public option thing all over again in the worst sense of the phrase.

Posted by: eRobin1 | December 7, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse

What's also true, however, is that many of us underestimated the degree to which netroots activists needed to have their egos stroked as a part of making people's lives better (or at least not worse). We all thought that doing good, or at least no harm, would be its own reward but it turns out that that's not the case.

Posted by: reader44 | December 7, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

"The basic deal was that if the Obama White House would give the Republicans their unpaid-for tax cuts, Republicans would give the Obama White House their unpaid-for tax cuts."

This sums it up nicely.

"In this world, tax cuts, not deficits, are the Republicans' central concern, and stimulus, not deficits, obsesses the Democrats."

I would say that stimulus obsesses the Obama White House. Many Democrats in Congress and outside liberal/progressive groups seem more obsessed with income redistribution rather than stimulus per se. Hence their negative reaction to a stimulus proposal that doesn't redistribute income.

Posted by: jnc4p | December 7, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

One other point of correction:

"Republicans were extremely eager to get benefits for the top tenth of a percent of Americans," says one senior administration official."

I would characterize it as more like the Republicans were eager not to bifurcate tax cuts for the top earners from everyone else. Their position was never keep the tax cuts for the top earners and let the rest for those below $250k expire.

The real philosophical divide here is the Democrats being in favor of income redistribution via the tax code and the Republicans being opposed to it.

Posted by: jnc4p | December 7, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

"If you look at the numbers alone, the tax cut deal looks to have robbed Republicans blind. The GOP got around $95 billion in tax cuts for wealthy Americans and $30 billion in estate tax cuts. Democrats got $120 billion in payroll-tax cuts, $40 billion in refundable tax credits (Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit and education tax credits), $56 billion in unemployment insurance, and, depending on how you count it, about $180 billion (two-year cost) or $30 billion (10-year cost) in new tax incentives for businesses to invest."

You're forgetting the $360 billion in middle class tax cuts that would not pass without this bill? That means this package has about $840 billion of stuff Democrats like and only $120 billion of stuff they hate?

I know Obama is bad at messaging, but is it really worth it to oppose this package at cost America up to 3 million jobs, and make millions of unemployed people suffer suffer just because of a wasted $120 billion?

Posted by: wcampb17 | December 7, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

This was all one massive joke on all of us but the rich, they came out on top, higher than Mt. Everest this time, as always.

Posted by: mtravali | December 7, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

The pain of income and estate tax cuts for Billionaires while troops are dying and suffering casualties daily in two wars that are paid for entirely on borrowed deficit spending doesn't seem to hurt so much now.

Posted by: Airborne82 | December 7, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Yeh, "Obama cut a deal with Republicans, and lost his base."

Shows us all how inflexible and partisan his base is.

Posted by: bbwk80a | December 7, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

So, is the moral of this story that the "progressives" expect the prez to clear everything with them first? If that is true and I was Obama, I'd tell the progressives to go pound sand!. Of course, that is telling when the people getting the better of the deal gripe and moan because they didn't call the shots! These people simply have to go!

Posted by: panamajack | December 7, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

in the simplest of political ways it seems as if the President calculated his chances of winning in 2012 (on this point at least) by forgoing the progressive wing of his party but appeasing to independents and hoping to again garner their votes vs forgoing the independents but appeasing his base.

He's making a calculated gamble that come 2012 they won't stay away like they did in 2010. Time will tell I guess.

Posted by: visionbrkr | December 7, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

No, actually jnc4p, you are incorrect. Income redistribution is just another Beckism that has nothing to do with the actual struggles going on inside the beltway. By all means if it makes you feel better keep pretending you know what you're talking about. It helps the rest of us identify you as one not worth taking seriously.

Posted by: veritasinmedium | December 7, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

You are hilarious Ezra

"Democrats got $120 billion in payroll-tax cuts, $40 billion in refundable tax credits (Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit and education tax credits)... about $180 billion (two-year cost) or $30 billion (10-year cost) in new tax incentives for businesses to invest."

So are you sitting here trying to convince us republicans are against a payroll tax cut and starting to fund SS from general revenue.

Either your are uninformed (I doubt it)...or shilling for the WH (Stop it)

Posted by: justmy2 | December 7, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

If Obama really wanted to improve the lot of unemployed workers, he would have argued for continuing the COBRA subsidy that makes health insurance for unemployed workers affordable. My premium is increasing from $600 to $1750 on January 1.

Goodbye health insurance.

Posted by: MaxHenrik | December 7, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

I think the President did the right thing. I hope this means both parties can start to work together.

Posted by: slovelace | December 7, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

The anger expressed by the liberals over this tax cut deal is the result of two years of the Obama administrations repeated, uneccessary, eagerly entered into capitulations to a discredited MINORITY GOP on issue after issue.

They have repeatedly settled for one-quarter of the loaf when, by simply putting in some effort, they could have gotten three-quarters of it. Of course it does seem that Obama PREFERS Republican policies to those of the Democrats.

They then make a point of insulting, publicly and repeatedly, THEIR base. It's incredible! What school of political science teaches such stupidity and arrogance? And they wonder why that base is angry? Do they really care?

They need to go. A strong primary challanger will hopefully retire this fraud and failure of an administration.

Posted by: toc59 | December 7, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Obama doesn't have an explicit partisan team in his inner circle. They may talk the 'tough' talk on tv, but deep down they are not hardcore partisans. Candidate Obama in 2008 is very much Pres Obama in 2010. Liberals had their blinders on in 2008 expecting a mega liberal president.

The people around Obama: Geithner, Summers, Lew, Orszag, Romer, even Gibbs and Axelrod were not or have never been true Democratic partisans in the mold of Karl Rove and Dick Cheney. Call them Obama technocrats.

The so-called liberal base Ezra is referring to never truly put Barack Obama through a sieve/background check in 2008 -- they assumed Obama was a die-hard liberal and that he had to 'appear' moderate to win the general election. Wrong! If you look at Obama's history, he has ALWAYS been a pragmatist and a compromiser to get things moving. This will not please liberals.

Posted by: jasonr3 | December 7, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

the payroll tax reduction for next year reduces the amount withheld for your social security...
are we that stupid that we don't think we won't pay for it later...
it wasn't a tax break, they just took less...
and when you retire...
they will give you less...

Posted by: DwightCollins | December 7, 2010 3:52 PM | Report abuse

"I would say that stimulus obsesses the Obama White House. Many Democrats in Congress and outside liberal/progressive groups seem more obsessed with income redistribution rather than stimulus per se. Hence their negative reaction to a stimulus proposal that doesn't redistribute income.

"

Yep. Your average Joe doesn't share the liberal venom for the successful $250kers.

They just don't want their taxes going up.

Posted by: krazen1211 | December 7, 2010 3:52 PM | Report abuse

So, is the moral of this story that the "progressives" expect the prez to clear everything with them first? If that is true and I was Obama, I'd tell the progressives to go pound sand!.
Posted by: panamajack

==========================================

That was the secret to Clinton's success and if Obama wants any hope of getting reelected he better do the same.

Posted by: bbface21 | December 7, 2010 3:53 PM | Report abuse

"That the Obama administration has turned out to be fairly good at the inside Washington game of negotiations and legislative compromise and quite bad at communicating to the public and keeping their base excited is not what most would have predicted during the 2008 campaign."

Huh? The executive branch conspires with the legislative branch to cut taxes and increase spending and it's hailed as a "good game"? It's nothing of the kind--what it is, is simply disgusting.

As for Obama abandoning his base, the only thing that could motivate the Left at this point to lift a finger for him would be Palin as the 2012 nominee. If the GOP is smart, they'll avoid that, and coast to a victory margin unheard of before.

Posted by: SageThrasher | December 7, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse

"Many Democrats in Congress and outside liberal/progressive groups seem more obsessed with income redistribution rather than stimulus per se. Hence their negative reaction to a stimulus proposal that doesn't redistribute income."

Bingo

Posted by: justin84 | December 7, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Ezra,
This deal isn't robbing Republicans blind, it's robbing hardworking taxpayers (and the young) blind. That's what's stinking the place up and causing Dems to revolt. The country appeared to begin an adult conversation about the deficit over the past few weeks, then Obama and Congress turn around and spend a few hundred billion dollars.

I'm certainly no liberal, I'm an independent who voted for Obama. I thought I was demoralized at the health care debacle (NOT because of the public option, but because it failed to control costs), but this is worse. Obama is no leader, that much is now clear.

Posted by: rosefarm1 | December 7, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse

All things considered....I hope this fails in Congress. I hope it gets filibustered in the Senate. I'd rather pay the extra $80 a month in taxes than let Republicans gift borrowed money to billionaires. That doesn't even include the 'payroll tax holiday' which is the beginning of the end of Social Security. If you don't believe me, go over to Grover Norquists site. He's having multiple orgasms over the end of Social Security as we know it. He's filling up that bathtub too.

Posted by: kindness1 | December 7, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse

If this deal hurts, or even just is neutral to, Democratic chances in 2012 it's not worth taking. The harm is greater than the good, maybe much greater, and this is partly considering that perhaps it substitutes for action by the Fed, so the net effect may be even smaller than estimated.

But does this decrease the odds of a President Palin in 2012, or does it increase them?

There's a lot to consider.

What do you think Ezra?

Posted by: RichardHSerlin | December 7, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

If you don't like the fact that federal expenditures are causing deficits, cut the expenditures.

If you don't like the fact that the wars are running up deficits, stop the wars.

If you don't like the fact that farm subsidies are adding to the deficits, stop the subsidies.

If you don't like the fact that Medicare is adding to the deficits, cut back Medicare.

If you don't like the fact that Plan D added $140 billion to federal expenditures last year, eliminate Plan D.

If you don't like Social Security's insolvency, cut it back.

If you don't like Obama's current $700 billion plus record defense budget for 2011, cut the defense budget.

If you don't like the government spending millions on, among other smaller things, studying the mating habits of humming birds, stop the study, rather than ask the taxpayer to pay more to keep it.

But don't ask any taxpayer to shoulder the burden of cutting a deficit he/she had little to do with creating. ASk the creator to cut back its spending that caused the deficits.

Posted by: bbwk80a | December 7, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

What is the probability that the Bush Tax extension will expire in two years? I say zero. For it to expire, the President has to be re-elected and have the gumshoe to let it expire. A fantasy built upon a fantasy. His re-election chances are growing slimmer by the day. Let see: If you want a permanent tax extension vote against the President in 2012. If you don't want the tax extension vote against the President in 2012 because do you trust him anyway? What the President did was put a big bulls eye on his administration in the next Presidential election. In the meantime our country goes further into debt. We will be at the mercy of the bond markets now. The President was better off letting the extension expire and renegotiate a comprehensive tax.

Posted by: AMQ1 | December 7, 2010 3:58 PM | Report abuse

What's confusing to me personally about all this is that I'm the base!

I volunteered my heart out for Obama in 2008 in a "purple" state, have volunteered with or for OFA in every local race since then, am a lifelong liberal, progressive Democrat, watch Rachel Maddow all the time and enjoy her show and her intelligence, have read the Simpson-Bowles report (at least the executive summary) and totally agree about the long-term issue of addressing the deficit...

And yet I'm fine with this deal, given the political and economic realities of the moment and the actual beneficial policy outcomes that Ezra Klein accurately describes here. This is better than I expected.

I really don't care very much about process -- the point that pundits or politicians in Congress were not properly consulted or kept in the loop or given a voice. Politeness and courtesy is always best but I'm not going to man the barricades over some issue of discourtesy. That's the ultimate "inside game"--and who cares about the inside game on the outside?

Posted by: fairfaxvoter1 | December 7, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

corrections:

What is the probability that the Bush Tax extension will expire in two years? I say zero. For it to expire, the President has to be re-elected and have the gumshoe to let it expire. A fantasy built upon a fantasy. His re-election chances are growing slimmer by the day. Let see: If you want a permanent tax extension vote against the President in 2012. If you don't want the tax extension vote against the President in 2012 because do you trust him anyway? What the President did was put a big bulls eye on his administration in the next Presidential election. In the meantime our country goes further into debt. We will be at the mercy of the bond markets now. The President was better off letting the extension expire and renegotiate a comprehensive tax and spending bill.

Posted by: AMQ1 | December 7, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Obama, the rich rich rich Republican President!

Now lets see how many people disagree with me this time!

Posted by: beenthere3 | December 7, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

It's called STARVING THE BEAST.

This is, 100 percent, a Republican bill. They love tax cuts because serves their goal of ultimately strangling the size of government (ie., Social Security and Medicare).

Obama was conned.

Posted by: mroberts45 | December 7, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Why is it that the "rich & corrupt" in government can steal our money, all in the name of wealth re-distributuion. Then, when that same rich government has spent more money than it took, and there is no way to pay it back, liberals start blaming the rich who actually create wealth and are not responsible for the poor decisions made by this "rich" government. One example: Who stole our Social Security money? And the best part, who's still in charge of Social Security? The same thieves who stole it in the first place! And now "rich" business people are on the hook to pay it back, as if they're the ones who stole it? Whaaaa?? This government is no better than Bernie Madoff, and many of it's cast of characters (over the decades) should have been jailed for their theft!

Posted by: ssol4569 | December 7, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Actually, the more I see of this, the more I question the netroots types rather than the Obama types. Obama is correct that there is a way forward and a way toward political morass. If you put the deficit aside, as over 80% of Americans do, then this isn't a terrible deal. And there are better ways and better times to try to combat the inequality in our economy.

Posted by: willows1 | December 7, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

A big bonus of tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires is WRONG! I would rather have my taxes go up than give in to Republican blackmail for the richest 2%.
At the end of the meeting, I imagine President Obama bending over and saying to Senator McConnell, "Please sir, may I have another?"

Will Harry Reid now say that he will bring this compromise for a vote AFTER the Republicans agree to allow a vote of repealing DADT, START treaty, and Budget continuing resolution?

Democrats = Sell-Out

A dismayed former supporter.

Posted by: abowers1 | December 7, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

How does this work again?

"depending on how you count it, about $180 billion (two-year cost) or $30 billion (10-year cost) in new tax incentives for businesses to invest.”

Expense capital expenditures for total cost over two years versus depreciation over 10 years? Does not yet compute.

As for the deficit ~ deficit smecifit. Who cares. It was all a smoke screen to get elected.

Posted by: Airborne82 | December 7, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

We are already hurting with Social Security, now we take more out. The fight should have been fought. The real losers are the middle class. If your poor you get paid, if your rich you get richer. The middle class with little hope anyone will listen. Obama promised us and didn't even fight for us, he let us down. Time to keep money here how else would the rich be able to send it to other countries hide it. With obama's help and agreeing with the GOP. It is time for Americans to revolt and vote every politician elected out and start all over until Washington works for the Americans. By this I mean tax paying real Americans only send the rest home were they came from. GOD Bless America

Posted by: kburns1 | December 7, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

As for Obama abandoning his base, the only thing that could motivate the Left at this point to lift a finger for him would be Palin as the 2012 nominee. If the GOP is smart, they'll avoid that, and coast to a victory margin unheard of before.

Posted by: SageThrasher | December 7, 2010 3:54 PM

Yep!

Posted by: rosefarm1 | December 7, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

OK, now - is there anyone in the U.S. with a 3rd-grade education willing to believe Republicans give a rat's patootie about the deficits they've been beating us over the head with for the last 2 years? Anyone? I want to hear from you.

Hypocrites.

Posted by: fishellb | December 7, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

It's true that Obama doesn't really care about the liberal base. And that kind of hurts since they care about him. Sorry Virginia, he's not Santa Claus.

But make no mistake, he doesn't care about the Republican base either. And the tax code will be reset in two years to be more fiscally responsible either by veto or 40 vote majority. And then people will scream he's being a liberal. And it will hurt a little less then.

He's about getting things done. And in the long run, that will matter more for the country.

Posted by: BHeffernan1 | December 7, 2010 4:07 PM | Report abuse

RichardSerlin wrote:

"But does this decrease the odds of a President Palin in 2012, or does it increase them?"

What is your obession with Palin? You include her in many/most of your posts, even though barring economic catastrophe, you have a better chance at being president. I just don't get that aspect of your otherwise very readable posts.

Posted by: 54465446 | December 7, 2010 4:07 PM | Report abuse

The longer the conversation is about extension or expiration of the Bush Tax cuts, the less time there will be for the fundamental tax reform we really need.

PUNT!

Posted by: will12 | December 7, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse

It's the 60 vote thing that is the problem not President Obama. Fillibuster reform NOW.---or January 5 I hope.

Posted by: espell | December 7, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Yes, truly brilliant negotiations, but, alas, President Obama will get no credit. How could that have possibly happened? The Republicans claimed it as their victory and that is the public perception. So, President Obama, as he works on his next book (with much free time beginning in January 2013), will wonder why we progressives abandoned him in 2012 (actually starting in December 2010). We won't vote for the Republicans, but we won't work for him. And, believe me, as someone who did work hard for the Obama/Biden ticket, without foot soldiers, there is no victory. The problem is it is grossly apparent, the intelligent college professor is no match for the Republicans in the political mud pit. The Republican's, bless their hearts, fought for their wealthy base and won. Obama abandoned his and is perceived by the multitudes (somehow the vast majority of the voters will miss this subtle victory), as someone with NO convictions and no belly for a fight. He will be looked at as someone who sat on the field and watched the bigger players run around him and score. Could this be characterized as an Albert Haynesworthesque Presidency?

Posted by: bobwhite1 | December 7, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

The far left base that Erza Klein speaks of is TWENTY PERCENT of the American people.


The progressive/socialist/communist far left base that Erza Klein laments being lost, to which he is a part, is a CANCER to America.


Obama needs to ABANDON his Marxist base and move center.

Posted by: FormerDemocrat | December 7, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

I find it confusing why when we're talking about getting these small businessmen with net income over $250,000 hiring again (pretty successful small businessmen), why it's a Republican priority to reduce their income tax while it's a Democratic priority to reduce their payroll tax. It seems to me hiring an employee would be a business expense paid with pre-tax dollars so an income tax cut would decrease the incentive to invest in employees all other things being equal whereas a payroll tax is directly related to the size of the payroll so lowering that would increase the incentive to invest in new employees all other things being equal.

But in general I hope Obama improves his messaging to sell this "tax cuts all around" compromise as a win. He spent the whole 2008 election saying everyone under $250,000 will get a tax cut and income over $250,000 will get a small tax increase so now that he hasn't followed through on that, it strikes me as a bold move to set himself up for making it a key theme of the 2012 election too.

Posted by: keatnik | December 7, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

I second the following and add that Obama continues to display a tremendous lack of grace in all confrontations. If he does not like something he finds someone else to blame Bush, Republicans, Wall Street, etc. He never is at fault. As Robert Gibbs said sic ...get over it we won the election. Here are better words than I can find
"The anger expressed by the liberals over this tax cut deal is the result of two years of the Obama administrations repeated, uneccessary, eagerly entered into capitulations to a discredited MINORITY GOP on issue after issue.

They have repeatedly settled for one-quarter of the loaf when, by simply putting in some effort, they could have gotten three-quarters of it. Of course it does seem that Obama PREFERS Republican policies to those of the Democrats.

They then make a point of insulting, publicly and repeatedly, THEIR base. It's incredible! What school of political science teaches such stupidity and arrogance? And they wonder why that base is angry? Do they really care?"

They need to go. A strong primary challanger will hopefully retire this fraud and failure of an administration.

Posted by: toc59 | December 7, 2010 3:48 PM

Posted by: fcrucian | December 7, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Not only is Obama a Muslim but he is also republican. What a disappointment. He threw 98% of the people overboard to save the 2%. By the way all senators and congresspersons are part of the 2%. The republicans had Colon Powell and the democrates have Abu Obama al republicani. One term, One Term, One Term.

Posted by: seasail | December 7, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

"We are already hurting with Social Security, now we take more out. The fight should have been fought. The real losers are the middle class. If your poor you get paid, if your rich you get richer. The middle class with little hope anyone will listen. Obama promised us and didn't even fight for us, he let us down. Time to keep money here how else would the rich be able to send it to other countries hide it. With obama's help and agreeing with the GOP. It is time for Americans to revolt and vote every politician elected out and start all over until Washington works for the Americans. By this I mean tax paying real Americans only send the rest home were they came from. GOD Bless America"


Social security is a grand ripoff for the middle class.

My 12.4% of income will pay more in dollars into that wastehole that I will ever take out of it.

Posted by: krazen1211 | December 7, 2010 4:16 PM | Report abuse

seasail,

exactly how did Obama throw 98% of people overboard? Did I miss something and he raised taxes on EVERYONE BUT the richest 2%?

Posted by: visionbrkr | December 7, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

The GOP got $125 Billion plus Half of all else as the $120 Billion for payroll tax cuts, $56 Billion for unemployment, $30~$180 Billion for business investment tax incentives and $360 Billion in tax cuts for middle-class and poor benefits both parties constituents equally so long as they don’t mind throwing another Trillion on the deficit accounts of their children and grandchildren along with Trillions needed to address Climate Change damages.

Yes, COBRA subsidies should have been included too. You may as well go all in for COBRA subsidies plus immigration reform, the DREAM act, DADT repeal, EPA regulation of pollution, the START treaty to resume nuclear inspection and prevent nuclear proliferation, shutting down border state gun dealers, and free but equal trade with China and Korea balanced with tariffs.

Deficit Smeficit.

Posted by: Airborne82 | December 7, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Finally a Democrat puppet who will move regardless of the puppet master! Haha Rad Lib Dems are angry!
Think the Republicans can convince him to repeal the Big Pharma Demorat Healthscare Act and pass something to help HEALTH and not pockets of Mega Insurance companies!

Posted by: SavageNation | December 7, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse


It was a good Presidential move.
By 2012, he can campaign on the issue, again----- for the good.

As I read the Senate bill, I was amazed when I hit the sentence and read that 13 months unemployment was included.

This alone, makes this compromise worth it.
I don't care about the rich getting a tax break for 2 more years. The middle class get theirs too. I am in my real world. Not the rich world.

And the estate tax cap at $5 million is a drop in the bucket. I don't know why Ezra thinks it was a turning point in the compromise. The EIC and Child credits were more important. Like I, again, care if Paris Hilton has to pay taxes after she inherits more than $5 mil.

It's the rich vs. the poor and this compromise helps the poor common man. God knows we have more poor common men in America than rich. And after today, unemployment is gone for 1 million people. And another million will lose benefits by the end of the year.

MAKE THE DEAL !! VOTE BY FRIDAY !!

Write your congressman at www.house.gov and www.senate.gov

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | December 7, 2010 4:22 PM | Report abuse

The real philosophical divide here is the Democrats being in favor of income redistribution via the tax code and the Republicans being opposed to it.

The real philosophical divide involves wealth. Both sides use income and taxes as a tool to redistribute it.

Posted by: eRobin1 | December 7, 2010 4:22 PM | Report abuse

"The progressive/socialist/communist far left base that Erza Klein laments being lost, to which he is a part, is a CANCER to America.


Obama needs to ABANDON his Marxist base and move center.

"

Yep. Just look at what Marxists are doing in California.

It has gone from the great state of Ronald Reagan and prosperity to the abyss of Nancy Pelosi and illegals and druggies and welfare queens, where unproductive college kids holler and scream and whine and vandalize property because they aren't getting their taxpayer money.

Posted by: krazen1211 | December 7, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

"Progressives" if you can call them that,are miffed at Obama because he didn't fight hard enough for their agenda. Who cares? What he hasn't fought for are programs and policies that benefit the average American. Here we are in the biggest economic mess since the 1930's. What has Obama done about that, except to get the taxpayers to make sure the Bankers got their bonuses? What we don't have is leadership. Nor do we have the vision that we thought we had when we elected him. Right now, we don't have many progessives. We don't have ANY moderates. All we have are radical conservaives, nay-sayers and outright hate-mongers. And Obama cannot, apparently stand up to them.

Posted by: sameolddoc | December 7, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

*The basic deal was that if the Obama White House would give the Republicans their unpaid-for tax cuts, Republicans would give the Obama White House their unpaid-for tax cuts.*

This is basically the truth: you can convince Republicans to do *anything* if you give them tax cuts. I had a bunch of not-particularly-right-wing Republicans suddenly because right-wing pro-Bush dittoheads frothing at the mouth about John Kerry and celebrating Abu Graib and the Iraq war because Bush gave them a tax cut. So Obama offers the Republicans tax cuts for the top margins, and they'll eat up most everything else, because that's all Republicans really care about.

But Obama doesn't understand the nature of symbolic victories and the need to realign the nation around the Democratic party's vision. It's Bill Clinton all over again: spend 8 years cleaning up a mess and get left with a lot of Republicans feeling as though their ideas are still worth something. That's the opposite of what Obama should be doing.

Posted by: constans | December 7, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse

jnc4p wrote:

"The real philosophical divide here is the Democrats being in favor of income redistribution via the tax code and the Republicans being opposed to it."

You have it exactly backwards. Republicans have been wildly successful at redistributing the wealth via the tax code over the past 40 years. It's just that the wealth is distributed upwards in the interest of "fairness." Wealth distribution hasn't looked the way it does now since, well, ever—it's worse than it was during the Gilded Age.

The difference between Republicans and Democrats is that Democrats care whether Republicans have enough to eat.

Posted by: Ashikahotchu | December 7, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

I am sure Obama will want me to believe him in 2012 when he promises to let the Bush Cuts expire. Remember the reason for the cuts in the first place? Because we had a surplus. It would be nice if someone in the media could point out that little fact.

Posted by: DJMonet | December 7, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

george w obama
kept his taxcuts
and his wars
and his wall street buddies'

even obama's healthcare reform
is a boondoggle for Rich Insurance Companies, paid for by the working class.


Posted by: simonsays1 | December 7, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

bbwk80a wrote: Yeh, "Obama cut a deal with Republicans, and lost his base."

Shows us all how inflexible and partisan his base is.

_____________________________________________

hmmmmmm....if his base was indeed inflexible and partisan, wouldn't they be the one's who march in lock-step, and bend to the will of their party as whole.....the same way republicans do?

After all, it was the GOP who spent like drunken sailors and de-regulated their tails off during the good old Bush era?

Now, aren't you going to thank the GOP for getting us in this mess we're in today, especially given they stuck together like life-long best buds....through thick and thin?

Posted by: richdj25 | December 7, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

President Obama has not lost his base.
He is telling his base to step up to the plate.

This crying out loud of "oh President, you caved in on a campaign promise" or "oh President, why are you "siding" with the Republicans"........does one not know the meaning of the word compromise?
It's politics and compromises SHOULD happen.

The Dems are whiney girly men.

THIS MUST PASS!!! Or we are in deep doo doo with more foreclosures, more homelessness, and more violence (believe it or not, violence is rising).

Who cares if the rich get a tax break for 2 more years??? I mean really, do you care?

And if you bring up the argument of "the deficit that will be left to our children will be too high"........don't make me laugh...we never cared about them before.

It's typical WASH DC rhetoric to take up the "children argument".

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | December 7, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

I will not vote for Obama. I will not give time or money to the Democratic Party. It's back to voting for socialists for this progressive.

Posted by: anarcho-liberal-tarian | December 7, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse

@veritasinmedium "No, actually jnc4p, you are incorrect. Income redistribution is just another Beckism that has nothing to do with the actual struggles going on inside the beltway. By all means if it makes you feel better keep pretending you know what you're talking about. It helps the rest of us identify you as one not worth taking seriously."

I've never watched Glenn Beck's show nor read anything he's written. I base my argument that income redistribution is a key tenet of liberal/progressive thought from things like the series of articles that Timothy Noah wrote in Slate:

"The United States of Inequality"

http://www.slate.com/id/2267157/

Two basic points of the series:

1. Growing income inequality should be considered a significant problem in the United States.

2. The Federal Government should act to address it by redistributing income.

See also Ezra's commentary on the above series of articles.

Posted by: jnc4p | December 7, 2010 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Liberals are spinning hard the talking point that this whole episode is about tax CUTS, where in reality it was about tax INCREASES. Under the status quo, no one was going to get a tax cut on January 1 2011 if the existing law expired, but there would be significant tax hikes. It really matters only a little if the hikes were applied to all taxpayers or only the so-called "rich." The Democrats would have been branded with the "tax and spend" label that they dread. Under this compromise, the Obama Administration, and their media enablers, will sing Obama's praises as a populist TAX CUTTER, which should boost his public poll numbers, professional left be damned!

Posted by: braunt | December 7, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

The White House & Congress lost every American who wants to see the deficit go down. STOP the SPENDING. Politicians keep spending for 2 reasons: 1. it buys votes, and 2. that is their solution to every problem.

If the Tea Party ever gets any leadership, the first thing on the agenda should be to remove all the insiders (career politicians or political "consultants"). So far, all the Tea Party has attracted for leadership is grifters and ex-consultants/politicians.

Posted by: wmboyd | December 7, 2010 4:37 PM | Report abuse

*The White House & Congress lost every American who wants to see the deficit go down.*

Both of them.

Posted by: constans | December 7, 2010 4:40 PM | Report abuse

"That the Obama administration has turned out to be fairly good at the inside Washington game of negotiations and legislative compromise and quite bad at communicating to the public and keeping their base excited is not what most would have predicted during the 2008 campaign. But it's true."

It's a mistake to separate the two - effective communication with the public would have strengthened Obama's bargaining power by making it politically damaging to oppose his policies. Reagan understood this, and it made him an effective (and for the country, disastrous) president. I though Obama understood that - what a disappointment.

Posted by: BrianMiller1 | December 7, 2010 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Look, maybe the Dems got slightly more than half the money at a time when they control the WH, 59% of the senate and 60% of the house. Yeah, great job.

But, the 40% of the money the R's took will go to 1-2% of the country. It's enormous sums of money. And, it is a total waste. Those folks (which I am admittedly as close to as I am a family making $40,000) have had incomes (pre or post tax) skyrocket over the last 30 years, and it is simply not producing good outcomes.

Second, it makes ultimate repeal that much harder next time.

Third, the Dems had a year with 60 senators when they could have handled this as promised. Instead, they bickered with each other about (what seems to most to be) obscure details on health care. With a few members threatening to blow up the whole deal over small bribes. They simply squandered their time when they were invincible, and it burns each time the base sees more give-a-ways to get basic work done (such as UI).

Finally, this country can't afford to have the top 1% take such a huge chunk of flesch on every single thing that passes. Even when Dems are in charge, they veto the public option because it will make HC to cheap? Really, that's the problem? Too cheap? They veto negotiating under MED Part D? They veto everything, or extract a huge price to allow the masses some crumbs. (I won't even mention how things are when R's are in charge.)

The ultra rich simply have control of the system, and the base now sees that clearer than ever before. It burns them.

No academic argument will convince our lying eyes.

Posted by: rat-raceparent | December 7, 2010 4:40 PM | Report abuse

@Ashikahotchu "You have it exactly backwards. Republicans have been wildly successful at redistributing the wealth via the tax code over the past 40 years. It's just that the wealth is distributed upwards in the interest of "fairness." Wealth distribution hasn't looked the way it does now since, well, ever—it's worse than it was during the Gilded Age."

Nope. The Republicans are perfectly willing to let income distribution work out to wherever it ends up as a result of the "market". They aren't actively taxing the poor to pay the rich, just leaving the income where it is to begin with.

Given the distribution of who pays the total share of income taxes in the U.S. (I don't have the numbers handy, but I believe the top tax bracket pays something like 40% of all U.S. income taxes) this argument isn't credible.

Posted by: jnc4p | December 7, 2010 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Same old same old. Everybody loves tax cuts, so we'll keep borrowing our way into oblivion. If anything, the Tea Party has had the net effect of accelerating the deficit - as anyone who is not a fool knew they would.

Better start learning to speak Mandarin.

Posted by: NomoStew | December 7, 2010 4:42 PM | Report abuse

I find it depressing that the president can only find the spine to stand up to the liberals in his own party. With the America-destroying GOP with its teabagger terrorists, he's all, yes sir, whatever you say, sir, what else can I do for you sir.

Posted by: nicekid | December 7, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Yep, as a liberal, I agree with jnc4p. The skyrocketing income inequality and disappearing middle class in this country scares the hell out of me and I campaigned for Obama thinking he'd do something to stop it. Or at least TRY.

I agree with the article, too - if he'd fought for his constituency (the "other 98%") and failed, that would have been one thing. As it is, he gave in without standing up for us even rhetorically. I am deeply disappointed and would love to see a primary challenger who'd fight to reverse the massive concentration of wealth at the top.

Posted by: wrybread | December 7, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Given your nicely ironic conclusion below, mightn't you want to revisit you "Obama's bad poker" post? Not that that post was necessarily wrong, but there is some strange dynamic going on with Obama's "preconcession" negotiating style...is there a known approach to game theory anything like it?

"That the Obama administration has turned out to be fairly good at the inside Washington game of negotiations and legislative compromise and quite bad at communicating to the public and keeping their base excited is not what most would have predicted during the 2008 campaign. But it's true."

Posted by: sprung4 | December 7, 2010 4:46 PM | Report abuse

It's not the deal making that bothers me. Congress is busted and no way House Dems talk to GOP dems. What bothers me is the policy. the policy sucks.

Yes we got more stimulus, but not the kind needed. No infrastructure for example. Again, Obama misses a chance to communicate to Americans and offer a plan for the future. We kicked the can down two more years. We need full tax reform not more kick the can.

This is hope and pray economic policy. See ya in two years.

Awful policy.

Posted by: fiorehoffmann | December 7, 2010 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Obama just undermined Social Security. Just wait until the payroll tax holiday is over. The Republicans will oppose any return to the current rate on the grounds that it will negatively affect economic growth, just like they did with ending the tax cut for the wealthy. Goodbye Social Security, Medicare, and the social safety net. The Republicans are going to get their way and the American people will end up begging on the streets and dying in the gutters of a new third world country.

Obama caved again, just like he has for the last two years. Just dare ask the Democrats to re-elect you for another 4 years, Barack. You blew it. You have no base.

Posted by: Chagasman | December 7, 2010 4:46 PM | Report abuse

I hate how you guys lump all democrats together and say "he's lost his base."

It's just not true. I tend to be more pragmatic, like Obama. The point of politics is it gets you the opportunity to govern. I think that many of my friends on the left, who have spent the past several months hyperventilating, are just as guilty of bomb throwing as Boehner and his clueless bunch of henchmen. Their motives might be better, but ultimately, it's just as destructive.

Posted by: lcrider1 | December 7, 2010 4:46 PM | Report abuse

I agree that the "deal" is better than expected -- specifically, the payroll tax reduction is welcome.

I cannot get past the "bad policy" aspect of much of this. So much of what the Democrats gave up is just plain simply bad policy. That fact really distorts a direct dollar comparison of "our side -- their side" tallies.

This is bad planning -- this should have been dealt with last year, and bad messaging, why no significant public opinion campaign?

Baffling...

Posted by: neptune235 | December 7, 2010 4:49 PM | Report abuse

More importantly, with better long-term agenda planning, each of these policy elements included on the Dem side of this deal could have been won individually.

Good policy, and all.

Posted by: neptune235 | December 7, 2010 4:52 PM | Report abuse

the President is playing a good game of charades. He signals the hysterical left to squawk and behave as spoiled children when he finally gets this tax work done.
It was inevitable that the Bush tax cuts would continue. Do you think no Democrats
work and prefer to pay less in taxes?
All this faux angst coming from Pelosi, Reid, and their compadres on the left, is just that: faux. It is an attempt to filtrate out as much footage for the 2012 campaign showing a more "centrist" Obama.
I've seen gypsies be more credible pulling stunts than these phoney baloney Democrats.
Obama scolding the left? Come on. It's all theater. I notice Obama took advantage of a cheap trick to buy his own home and the adjacent property in Chicago. Democrats stand to benefit more from the Estate Tax
stay than Republicans. Don't you know
Democrats hold the personal purse with the most dough in Congress?

Posted by: realitybased1 | December 7, 2010 4:53 PM | Report abuse

You guys crack me up with all your whining about "income redistribution". You've been suckling the teat of Mr Limpballs too long. The huge income redistribution from bottom to top over the last 30 years suits you fine, but if we call you on your deregulation, fraud, and corner-cutting that leads to bilking the working class out of billions to send to your obese cash-hog overlords, then you cry foul.
We're not buying it anymore, sorry. If you want to cry about how the rich might have to give up that 3rd yacht so that an entire community can have firemen and teachers, take it to your local chamber of commerce. You won't find many sheep listening here. ;)

Posted by: SikoftheCONservatives | December 7, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Here's the problem I see which no one talks about. How many DEMOCRATS voted against the two measures that they voted on last Saturday? Clearly some of them did, yet everything get's laid at Obama's feet. When will Democrats start holding Democrats accountable? In the end Obama decided that he cared more for the people who could lose their unemployment insurance, he cared more for the people who could still use the tax cuts. In the end he stood up and acted like the President. If we listen to Democrats they would allowed the people who are in need to suffer to make some kind of point. As Obama stated these are people's lives here. Every seems to forget that. Obama isn't perfect no one is, but he did the right thing here.

Posted by: jhop1104 | December 7, 2010 4:55 PM | Report abuse

Barry's lost his base? Nah. If we know one thing about the liberals, it's that they're stupid. Barry knows they'll vote for him in 2012 -- he's the black Jesus!

Posted by: diesel_skins_ | December 7, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Where is the tea party? I haven't heard much from them lately. They are mentioned just once in these comments. Yet, if they are true to their principles, this add-on to the deficit should have them as enraged as progressives. It makes me wonder if they are merely a sheeplike political implement that can be frothed up by the richest 1 percent when their tax cuts are in danger. If so, that's sad, because many tea party members are decent, hard-working, earnest, middle-class Americans. But you've got to give credit to the rich for a great scam that turned the political winds and saved them millions of dollars.

Posted by: jeff01 | December 7, 2010 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Professionaliberals can argue forever on process and remain in the same frozen ideological place they are in now. Or, they can accept reality and understand what compromise is.

The question to ask a Professional Liberal is who are you going support in 2012? Sarah Palin out spite? I don't think so. Sit it out? Doubtful.

I am a non-professional Liberal who understands that pragmatism aces dogmatism. There are parts of the compromise I do not like. I would prefer to let the Bush tax cuts sunset. But, there are parts I do like. Extension on unemployment benefits, the earned income credit, the child credit and the education credits as well as relief from the marriage penalty and the alternative minimum tax.

All of these credits and features would be in jeopardy if the Bush tax cuts were allowed to sunset. And, so, I support the compromise.

The frozen, dogmatic, professional Liberals should, too.

Posted by: pbarnett52 | December 7, 2010 5:00 PM | Report abuse

I have to wonder at what point will Klein (& Obama, for that matter) come to understand this one simple economic truth: Tax Cuts ARE an Economic Stimulus; Government spending increases are NOT.

Government spending is the number one reason the recovery has been so weak. Goverment is spending an unprecedented amount, no matter how you measure it. This spending represents a huge drag on our economy; it reduces available capital for investment, it raises the costs of hiring (directly and indirectly), and (counter-intuitively) it contracts demand. Further, all that makes investment in the U.S. less competitive, which exacerbates the problems.

Tax cuts increase demand and make investment more appealing. Smart tax cuts make hiring more attactive. Cuts in the capital gains rates lead to more investments, thus more factories, and hence more jobs. Cuts in marginal income taxes increase demand, and thereby, increase production. Recent studies have shown that every dollar put into the economy by a tax cut adds three dollars to the GDP. Conversely, a dollar of goverment "stimulus" spending adds less than one dollar to GDP; many will not spend any of their stimulus money, and almost no one invests it.

Posted by: EddieNJ | December 7, 2010 5:00 PM | Report abuse

Hopefully Grayson / Dean or Feingold will step in for 2012

Posted by: peekrugman | December 7, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Since when is the Communist/Socialist/Progressive wing of the Democratic Party the BASE of the party?

Posted by: FormerDemocrat | December 7, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

As one of the disaffected liberals, i am hard pressed to tell which upsets me more--starting negotiations from the middle or the lies the conservatives spread. Let me just give two of the lies.

1. Obama never proposed a tax increase on a family making $250,000. They would have paid exactly the same. A family making MORE than $250,000 would have paid 4% more on the income over $250,000. So if they earned 250,001, they would have paid 4 cents more. Furthermore the family making a million or a Billion would kept the same tax cut on the first $250,000 as the rest of us who earn less than a Billion or a million or $250,000.

2. There are a bunch of claims that raising taxes causes job loss. Please give me an example. Clinton raise taxes in a recession, and 20,569,000 new private sector jobs were created. Bush cut taxes over $2 TRILLION, and 417,000 new private sector jobs were created. How do conservatives get away with persuading people that ideology is truth?

Posted by: lensch | December 7, 2010 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Instead of trying to block the tax plan that Obama had to enter into with the Republicans as the only way of getting the extension of unemployment insurance for 2 to 4 million Americans, I would like to see you mounting a campaign to drive home the fact that the republicans were willing to let the tax cuts expire, raise taxes for everyone and deny unemployment insure to the middle class and the poor to keep tax cuts for the minority rich and small business (investment firms, insurance companies, hedge funds) whose CEO's make over $250,000 a year...regardless of the fact that they would still get a tax cut on the first $250,000 of income. That is what I would like to see you and every "progressive" group actively exposing.

The President is not caving to the republicans, but has the interests of the majority of Americans in the forefront of his actions. Don't let the republicans and the media dictate your agenda!!!! The President is playing the hand he was dealt. Now on to dealing with pressing economic issues (financial and mortgage fraud indictments, ongoing mortgage crisis, ongoing unemployment, growing deficits), international issues (stalemate in Israeli-Palestinian talks, Salt Treaty impasse...thanks to the Senate republicans...and the potential for loose nukes getting into the hands of arms merchants who don't care who they sell to, growing tensions between North and South Korea, questionable ability of the governments of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq to control the insurgents within their borders, and then there is Iran.

I think that the President did the best he could do given the circumstances. You should be advising you readers to contact every republican who made it clear that they are more concerned about making sure that the top 1.1% who have not created any jobs in the past 10 years but have gotten richer, created the financial crisis that was fueled by insatiable greed, and benefited from the huge tax cuts that the Bush administration and that the republican congress rubber stamped without a worry about how they were going to be paid for. I'd like to see every progressive group take out banner ads in every newspaper and blog to keep pounding the hypocrisy of the republicans until the word republican and the word hypocrite are synonymous.

Obama is not the enemy of the people. Obama did not go back on his promise to cut the taxes of the middle class who make under $250,000 a year. He did that. You can thank the republicans for making sure that their allies continue to get richer as the poor get poorer. Wake Up!!! Don't be a part of the republican and media hype. You're supposed to be smarter than that.

Posted by: monte7340 | December 7, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

To the middle class. Enjoy your little tax cut, likely it will cost 5 times more in increased taxes and lost benefits in a couple of years. Make sure you buy Chinese stuff. We need to borrow the money. Average family gets a few thousand in benefits, million a year earners get a 100k break. Hows that for tax fairness. They can buy the kids a new BMW or Lexus.

Posted by: chucko2 | December 7, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Obama continues the calculation that paid off so well for him in 2010 - piss off the base, try to appease the economic and political terrorists of the GOP and hope against hope that the independents will be with him. Trouble is that independents like to see a politician with principles, and principles he/she is willing to fight for, and after two years they have not seen it with Obama. Bottom line, since he din't fight when he folded when he was holding a royal flush, what can we expect when the government shutdown fight comes? Or when the GOP demands that Social Security and Medicare be gutted because of the deficit (which they just demanded $900B be added to)? I think we have come to expect that Obama will cave once again.

Do progressives want him to check with us first? No. Can we expect the same respect he gives to the GOP forces that have sworn to destroy him? Can we expect him to fight with them, just once, instead of fighting with us? I would hope so, because unless he does, his base will not bother with him in 2012.

Posted by: pblotto | December 7, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps it it time, for Americans to restudy the constitution and understand how the 3 branches of government work, , perhaps most Americans , particularly on the left, forget that they live in a constitutional democracy and not in a dictatorship as it appeared to be during the first 6 years of the GW Bush administration when there were GOP majorities in the House and Senate and essentially no check on the White House

Posted by: gwbc | December 7, 2010 5:07 PM | Report abuse

Kick the can down the road is what it is along with bad policy. Obama got rolled. And the deficit will grow even larger. Tax cuts do not create jobs. Spending does and the notion that the rich will spend and create jobs is just ludicrous. Never happened in the 80's, never happened in the oughts, a good work for Obama. Ought to have done a lot of things. His idea of governing is let's all work together. He could have been on Chamberlain's staff. Both parties are corrupt and government is broken. Nader was always right, two corporatist heads of the same party. It will never be fixed by either of these parties because it is not in their political interests to do so.

Posted by: aguasticas | December 7, 2010 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Hopefully Grayson / Dean or Feingold will step in for 2012

Posted by: peekrugman | December 7, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

ya becuase they have as much chance of being elected in this country as I do.

2. There are a bunch of claims that raising taxes causes job loss. Please give me an example. Clinton raise taxes in a recession, and 20,569,000 new private sector jobs were created. Bush cut taxes over $2 TRILLION, and 417,000 new private sector jobs were created. How do conservatives get away with persuading people that ideology is truth?

Posted by: lensch | December 7, 2010 5:02 PM | Report abuse

lensch,

how come you don't mention that a Republican congress presided over many of those job gains and only when Clinton came to the center did it happen. Also there's this little matter of the internet and e-commerce that happened during that time too. I'd like to think you wouldn't think that Dems would take credit for that but I guess you would. Would you???

Posted by: visionbrkr | December 7, 2010 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Kick the can down the road is what it is along with bad policy. Obama got rolled. And the deficit will grow even larger. Tax cuts do not create jobs. Spending does and the notion that the rich will spend and create jobs is just ludicrous. Never happened in the 80's, never happened in the oughts, a good word for Obama. Ought to have done a lot of things but he dithers a lot and ruminates. His idea of governing is let's all work together. He could have been on Chamberlain's staff. Both parties are corrupt and government is broken. Nader was always right, two corporatist heads of the same party. It will never be fixed by either of these parties because it is not in their political interests to do so.

Posted by: aguasticas | December 7, 2010 5:09 PM | Report abuse

cockamamie BS, the deal gave the GOP what they want.

Obama got zip.

Posted by: newagent99 | December 7, 2010 5:10 PM | Report abuse

Essentially, what is good for America--angers the professional left. Cheers.

Posted by: MPNangle | December 7, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

"Starve the beast" is a key strategy in the Republican assault on the middle class. To agree to continue the Bush tax cuts is to simply encourage that strategy. I'm sure the top 1% is giddy with their winning brinksmanship and their wimpy opponent.

Posted by: jsmith09 | December 7, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

You don't get it, do you Mr. Klein? No sooner than getting his Deficit Commission to talk about making painful cuts to solve the budget deficits, Obama is now going along with the Republicans to make the deficit worse. One might be able to make a case for cutting tax for the middle class and the poor who would stimulate the economy, but to extend the cut for the wealthy who will be squirreling away the money is just irresponsible. Cutting tax for the rich was supposed to create jobs during the last 10 years. Where are they?

Posted by: pspox | December 7, 2010 5:16 PM | Report abuse

Ezra,

I'll say what I said yesterday. We have to prioritize. We have to hope that over time, we (the government) become more efficient at what we do, whatever the task happens to be.

In this case, it is clear that the stimulative effect of the tax cuts for high income earners is less efficient than spending that money in most other ways. I realize you can't get a coalition together for all the spending the libs would do.

But at least call out the GOP for hypocrisy. You can't care (conflate) about the deficits situation (short and long term) and then suddenly not care on your pet issues. This is the point libs are mad about.

Posted by: rcd2 | December 7, 2010 5:16 PM | Report abuse

Obama is genuinely sub-par negotiator. The GOP and even some Dems understands the concept of a walk-out. Obama would be wise to learn that concept too (although I suspect it is too late). He doesn't seem to have any capacity for saying no to the GOP or setting boundaries.

Posted by: JPRS | December 7, 2010 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, overall I agree with your sentiments, and as usual, despite progressive/liberal unhappiness with the negotiated results, I don't think Obama has lost his base on this, though we'll see when (if) the Obama campaign team decides to try and restart the organization they built up in 2008 for 2012.

Campaign and base issues aside, the bigger problem I have with this is that Obama has negotiated with the supposed intent of actually fighting for ideology later. Their argument would be that stimulus of any sort, not ideology, is more important now, but trying to argue for stimulus on the GOP's terms is kind of like arguing for climate change legislation with deniers. Until you win the basic ideological battle, nothing you end up with in negotiations will be worth it.

After watching his first two years in the presidency, I'm starting to get the impression that Obama kicks the can down the road on actually fighting the GOP from the bully pulpit and never actually gets there. So let's just say I am HIGHLY skeptical that he'll actually come out fighting on this in 2012, though perhaps when its his job on the line he'll actually use the bully pulpit more than he did for the 2010 midterms.

Posted by: scotbrad | December 7, 2010 5:17 PM | Report abuse


Jesus, can WaPo hacks possibly use any more of the Photoshop skin bleach treatment on photos of Barry? He looks whiter than Sylvester Stallone.

Posted by: screwjob22 | December 7, 2010 5:19 PM | Report abuse

"how come you don't mention that a Republican congress presided over many of those job gains and only when Clinton came to the center did it happen."

The answer is obvious. Because the tax rates stayed high throughout the administration. The Republicans were never able to get them lowered until Bush won and then you can see the results.

Posted by: lensch | December 7, 2010 5:22 PM | Report abuse


Barry looks whiter than Ezra in that photo. Is this how you rehabilitate your president, Klein? By using Photoshop?

Hilarious leftist hack

Posted by: screwjob22 | December 7, 2010 5:23 PM | Report abuse

Here's some history on taxes.

In 1946 the debt was 120% of the GDP, It went straight down to about 32% in 1973. During this period 1946 - 1973 taxes were much higher. Marginal rates were at least 70%; they were 93% under Eisenhower. The economy was better than what we now have. For example, median wages went up 3 times as fast as since 1973. CEO's earned 50 times what their workers earned; it is 500 times today. Staring in 1973, the percent of wealth and income taken by the richest 10%, 1%, and 0.1% has gone up at an ever increasing rate. In fact, can you point to a period in US economic history where high taxes have negatively impacted the economy? Perhaps in the '90's when Clinton raised taxes? Nah.

Since 1900 the two periods with the most economic inequality were the years leading to 1929 and 2008. These happened to coincide with the two periods of lowest taxes on the Rich and the greatest financial speculation. Here's a theory which fits this data.

The Rich hate to pay taxes. You may have heard of the rich guy who will spend $2 to avoid $1 in taxes. So when marginal rates are high, they will leave their money in their companies and use it to pay their workers more, improve their means of production and perhaps hire more. This works out because when there are more workers with more money, there is more demand. When marginal rates are low, the Rich take their profits out of their businesses. Since they can only buy so many houses in Barbados, they use the money to speculate. They buy Argentinean railroad bond (1920's) and CDO's, CDS's and oil futures (2000's). Notice that both these periods of low marginal rates, high inequality and great speculation lead to economic disaster.

Posted by: lensch | December 7, 2010 5:25 PM | Report abuse

This deal isn't about taxes, this is about getting elected in 2012--without a solid recovery with jobs, President Obama doesn't stand a chance.

So he's willing to do what he has to to generate a positive picture going into the election. I hope it works, for all our sakes, because if the economy doesn't pick up, this last election was just the opening act: the Dems will be going down, hard, and with the Reps in charge it will get even worse.

Posted by: joelgingery1 | December 7, 2010 5:28 PM | Report abuse

Ezra and the other lefties have had their feelings hurt so now they claim "Obama has lost his base"....that is childish and stupid. The leftist are mad at obama now, but they will continue to support Obam, especially in the 2012 election, but there simply isn't enough of these limp-wristed socialists to get Obama the win.

Posted by: Realist201 | December 7, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse

I don't know if I would be considered Obama's base or not, but it doesn't really matter.

When the tax cuts passed almost 10 years ago I thought they were ill-advised at best and an abdication of financial responsibility at their worst. Up until then I was willing to give GWB the benefit of a doubt (this was pre 9-11, of course.) After that, I patiently waited for the day that fiscal sanity would arrive and undo the tax cuts. I'm not even sure I cared that the doer would be R or D.

Now we get this. My support for Obama has been wavering with his other decisions and basic inability to control the public perception of what are basically decent results since he took office. Caving on the tax cuts, while the D's still control both houses, is the last straw. I am left with the conclusion that he is either incompetent at managing the political tug of war, or that he really did want this result and was seeking cover as others have suggested.

I am, in a word, disgusted. And I am no knee-jerk liberal. And I stand to benefit nicely from the tax cut.

Posted by: beebopareebop | December 7, 2010 5:32 PM | Report abuse

Obama mischaracterizes the debate over tax cuts as a debate over the public option all over again. But let’s not forget that very early on in the public debate over health care Obama expressed support for the public option. Then when the debate started getting underway he dropped his support in a compromise that he made with himself and Pelosi reluctantly went along and the public option was dropped from the legislation.

Likewise, months ago Obama made another compromise with himself expressing support for an extension of the Bush era tax cuts for the wealthy as long as the compromise also included an extension of the tax cuts for the middle class.

The so-called “compromise,” initially expected to cost around $400 billion, has now been expanded to a package of tax cuts estimated to cost up to $900 billion – all to be paid for by an increase in the national debt – probably by selling more treasury bonds to the Chinese.

I suppose that if it were up to the Republicans income taxes would be reduced to zero with the deficit financed entirely by selling treasury bonds.

But tax cuts have never been shown to stimulate economic growth or reduce unemployment and I don’t think that the Republicans have won the argument on this score. Indeed, after WWII we had marginal tax rates of up to 91 percent with high levels of economic growth and no trouble at all in finding plenty of work for the GI’s returning from the war.

But as long as we keep sending good paying jobs overseas we’ll continue to have what many call a “structural” unemployment problem (estimated by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke on 60 minutes to last 4-5 years) and tax cuts won’t help. There’s more effective ways of stimulating job growth in the U.S. such as repairs to our deteriorating infrastructure.

Posted by: billeisen1 | December 7, 2010 5:34 PM | Report abuse

"Why is it that the "rich & corrupt" in government can steal our money, all in the name of wealth re-distributuion. Then, when that same rich government has spent more money than it took, and there is no way to pay it back, liberals start blaming the rich who actually create wealth and are not responsible for the poor decisions made by this "rich" government. One example: Who stole our Social Security money? And the best part, who's still in charge of Social Security? The same thieves who stole it in the first place! And now "rich" business people are on the hook to pay it back, as if they're the ones who stole it? Whaaaa?? This government is no better than Bernie Madoff, and many of it's cast of characters (over the decades) should have been jailed for their theft!"
-------------------------------------
Dude: Can you remember back to 2008 when the Senate was asked to approve in two days GIVING $700 BILLION to the Wall Street banks that almost caused a global meltdown with their "exotic financial instruments"? Depending on which particular conspiracy theory you like, you may or may not consider Wall Street part of our government. Lots of people blame Wall Street speculators for national job losses, trillion dollar losses in real estate, stocks and 401(k)s – and while I concur that plenty of those guys should be doing community service; they were unable to convince the Bush Administration to privatize Social Security. The Social Security Trust Fund was reduced by Mr. Grassley and The Senate Finance Committee to fund the Bush Tax Cuts ten years ago.

Posted by: shadowmagician | December 7, 2010 5:34 PM | Report abuse

It Boggles the mind to no end. That America is ok with being taken to the cleaners with Gas Prices are Killing the American Economy as we once knew it to be! It will be dead by January. Alread AT&T, Verizon, Time Warner, Direct TV, Dish Network, Comcast are feeling the pangs of Americans cancel there services with them above. The business we Americans all took them for granted & will all go out of business. Gas rises then America stops shopping Abuptley how could they not know this? It is the ruin of American Economy is doomed?

Posted by: JWTX | December 7, 2010 5:36 PM | Report abuse

The Tea Party Caucus has already taken 764 earmarks valued at $1,049,783,150.00

Deficit Smeficit.

http://washingtonexaminer.com/blogs/beltway-confidential/2010/12/tea-party-caucus-gets-1-billion-earmarks?sms_ss=twitter&at_xt=4cf7c98d5a083b67,0

I like this Good Stuff: Posted by: BHeffernan1

It's true that Obama doesn't really care about the liberal base. And that kind of hurts since they care about him. Sorry Virginia, he's not Santa Claus.

But make no mistake, he doesn't care about the Republican base either. And the tax code will be reset in two years to be more fiscally responsible either by veto or 40 vote majority. And then people will scream he's being a liberal. And it will hurt a little less then.

He's about getting things done. And in the long run, that will matter more for the country.

Posted by: Airborne82 | December 7, 2010 5:37 PM | Report abuse

Glad to see both parties are more than happy to break out the credit card again. Mitch McConnell won't be around when the bill comes due and Barack Obama might be regarded as the weakest POTUS ever.

This "plan" has never worked. Higher tax rates in the 50's and 60's never impeded the US turning into the economic might she once was. Taxes were slashed in the 80's and the middle class has been losing ground ever since. Bush's "economic growth" was nothing but a bubble of real estate speculation.

Silly us who thought Obama could actually patch up festering wound this country has had since Reagan. Of course, I didn't have much of a choice in 2008 seeing a woman who couldn't name one notable SCOTUS case or periodical she routinely reads was on the opposing ticket.

This country is screwed. Unfortunately for me, I am in my 20's. You folks close to retirement might get to see out the tail end of America's "good life". Of course you are also responsible for its fall by the policies you supported when I was a toddler.

Posted by: BurtReynolds | December 7, 2010 5:38 PM | Report abuse

If anyone thinks Obama negotiated a good deal for his side (assuming he's actually on the Democratic side, which is increasingly unclear), they don't understand negotiation. It's the classic ploy of being totally unreasonable and then seeming to budge a little on something you never cared about anyway in order to get the other side to make real concessions. Perhaps it's because Obama never really practiced law and never lived in a real world of negotiation that he doesn't get it. That's the most hopeful way of looking at his sell-out. The other way is that he's more corrupt than inept, that he never cared about anything other than getting elected and staying elected. Like Clinton he's banking on Democrats having no place else to go and short memories. Maybe he thinks he doesn't need "the left" if the economy recovers and independents return to the coalition. But whose going to donate and canvass for him in future. Not me.

Posted by: fjwas | December 7, 2010 5:39 PM | Report abuse

"2. There are a bunch of claims that raising taxes causes job loss. Please give me an example. Clinton raise taxes in a recession, and 20,569,000 new private sector jobs were created. Bush cut taxes over $2 TRILLION, and 417,000 new private sector jobs were created. How do conservatives get away with persuading people that ideology is truth?"

And Odumba passed a stimulus in February 2009 and 2.5 million private sector jobs were lost. Hmmmm....

Posted by: krazen1211 | December 7, 2010 5:40 PM | Report abuse

President Obama is right. Hurting people should come before scoring political points. Besides, the GOP will now be defending the cuts for the rich and trying to get them extended in and around the 2012 elections. They can defend their stance that the rich should receive huge tax cuts to the voters and let the voters decide.

Posted by: tinyjab40 | December 7, 2010 5:40 PM | Report abuse

His so-called netroots "base" turned out to be a bunch of political naifs whose favorite pastime is sitting around complimenting each other on how "intelligent" they are and proved to be worse than useless in the mid-term elections.

He should have dumped them within 3 months of inauguration as any smart President would have done.

Posted by: corco02az | December 7, 2010 5:44 PM | Report abuse

Obama has never been, is not, & will never be a Liberal or a Progressive, & he doesn't care about pleasing this segment of the Dem Party because what are we gonna do, vote Repub? There's nowhere to go that isn't worse. O makes no effort to work with the Left, just wants us to shut up.

Obama is a center-right politician who ran as a Liberal, center-left pol. And this basic disingenuousness is part of what's so disappointing.

Posted by: nyskinsdiehard | December 7, 2010 5:45 PM | Report abuse

Defunding Social Security and Medicare isn't a tax cut, it's a reduction in savings. Sure, they say it'll all be covered by general revenues. Suuuuuuure it will.

Taking a measure that is 95% unfunded "tax cuts" and calling it a win for Democrats is maybe the stupidest thing I've ever read from Ezra. Politicially it says "Even Democrats don't believe their own schtick", Policy-wise it is a fiscal disaster that cannot be afforded. Oh but the unemployed get kicked down the road for 13 months before being dropped forever! Why did Republicans give so much? Unbelievable. The American Empire is already a fading memory, I just hope you guys go out with a whimper not a bang.

Posted by: Bullsmith1 | December 7, 2010 5:55 PM | Report abuse

Damn..the trolls here.....You may want to thin the heard of the racists who dog whistle a tad too much.

Posted by: kindness1 | December 7, 2010 5:56 PM | Report abuse

Kinda make you think: it's not just about political points

http://community.nytimes.com/comments/www.nytimes.com/2010/12/07/opinion/07tue1.html?permid=34#comment34

John
Marysville, Ohio
December 7th, 20109:27 am

I have been unemployed since April, 09.

I've used every trick to get face time with decision makers during these challenging economic times. I've networked. I've contacted friends and colleagues from previous jobs....but to no avail.

During better times, I earned in the mid 50s. Within just the last 2 months, I interviewed for 4 jobs, quite an accomplishment. One was in low 30s, high 20s, $9.00 an hour, and $11.00 per hour. The third shift juvenile delinquent prison guard position ($11.00 per hour) was the only one to let me know by mail that I had been passed for another more qualified candidate.

So today's news about the President's compromise greeted my family during this holiday season with some relief since the state of Ohio sent us notification that our Unemployment Benefits were set to end on December 19, 2010. While I feel as though we dodged a bullet as a family, I have an extreme pain in my head knowing that I will be starting my 3rd year without gainful employment next April.
I genuinely believe the President when he states that he reads letters of pain and suffering each night before he retires for rest. My family is a living testimony of the "collateral damage" he referenced in his remarks.

From my family to yours Mr. President, I wish you the best this holiday season.

Posted by: Airborne82 | December 7, 2010 5:57 PM | Report abuse

Obama mischaracterizes the debate over tax cuts as a debate over the public option all over again. But let’s not forget that very early on in the public debate over health care Obama expressed support for the public option. Then when the debate started getting underway he dropped his support in a compromise that he made with himself and Pelosi reluctantly went along and the public option was dropped from the legislation.

Likewise, months ago Obama made another compromise with himself expressing support for an extension of the Bush era tax cuts for the wealthy as long as the compromise also included an extension of the tax cuts for the middle class.

The so-called “compromise,” initially expected to cost around $400 billion, has now been expanded to a package of tax cuts estimated to cost up to $900 billion – all to be paid for by an increase in the national debt – probably by selling more treasury bonds to the Chinese.

I suppose that if it were up to the Republicans income taxes would be reduced to zero with the deficit financed entirely by selling treasury bonds.

But tax cuts have never been shown to stimulate economic growth or reduce unemployment and I don’t think that the Republicans have won the argument on this score. Indeed, after WWII we had marginal tax rates of up to 91 percent with high levels of economic growth and no trouble at all in finding plenty of work for the GI’s returning from the war.

But as long as we keep sending good paying jobs overseas we’ll continue to have what many call a “structural” unemployment problem (estimated by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke on 60 minutes to last 4-5 years) and tax cuts won’t help. There’s more effective ways of stimulating job growth in the U.S. such as repairs to our deteriorating infrastructure.

Posted by: billeisen1 | December 7, 2010 6:00 PM | Report abuse

I cannot recall a president selling out his party as much as this one has done with this deal. It goes to the heart of the Democratic Party that all efforts must be made to keep Social Security intact. Yet, here is a president who signed off on a deal that threatens the future of Social Security by draining funding from it for the next two years for other purposes. That shows that the leader of the Democratic Party has surrendered totally to Republican ideology. What is the next step, to dismantle Medicare?
But there is even worse news for Democrats in this "compromise" that erodes what Repubicans have contended is the death tax, and extends the tax break for the wealthy. In both these issues, Democrats had the American public on their side, as polls showed. Yet these two issues were given away for nothing.
This was not a compromise, it was a capitulation. And by doing it, Obama wrote himself out of the 2012 Democratic nomination and any place in the history books as a notable president.

Posted by: edwardallen54 | December 7, 2010 6:01 PM | Report abuse

Let me be the forth on the thread to say it:

Kick the can (with elan!)

And that from a president who promised he wouldn't kick it down the road. That's why the base is irate Ezra. This is weak presidentin' that makes a lie of that other thing Mr. Obama said the other day. To paraphrase: He'd rather be a good one-termer than a sell-out two-termer. Yeah right...


Posted by: AgaBey | December 7, 2010 6:05 PM | Report abuse

"And Odumba passed a stimulus in February 2009 and 2.5 million private sector jobs were lost. Hmmmm...."

Ah come on, the stimulus was about half tax CUTS. there were no tax inceases.

Pay attention.

Posted by: lensch | December 7, 2010 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Cutting the social security payroll tax only makes social security more insolvent.

Posted by: ravitchn | December 7, 2010 6:29 PM | Report abuse

Cutting the social security payroll tax only makes social security more insolvent.

Posted by: ravitchn | December 7, 2010 6:29 PM | Report abuse

I think Obama did OK with the progressive base. I meet it only on the web. I think that expectations were so pessimistic that many people who have long been very irritated with Obama were very relieved.

I mean Atrios's take is "meh." When was the last time that he was that enthusiastic about anything that happened in Washington ?

On the other hand, your post might be missinterpreted as presenting progressives as self centered and vain and caring about whether Obama pays attention to us. My objection (which is more about the whimps in Congress than the Whimp in the White House) is that they didn't use the issue to defeat the Republicans during the mid terms.

In particular, Democrats support for tax cuts which Republicans don't like was expressed in private. There was no public campaign for the making work pay tax cuts. The EITC expansion extension and refundable child and tuition credits were mentioned only when the final deal was described. Keeping this struggle private was very politically costly to Democrats, because the vast majority of Americans don't remember that the Democrats cut the taxes of the vast majority of Americans. Debating extension of those cuts would have reminded people that they exist *and* taht Republicans oppose them. It would have been political dynamite.

Posted by: rjw88 | December 7, 2010 6:31 PM | Report abuse

You clearly don't understand, Ezra. Republicans like ALL tax cuts (in other words, everything in this package), they just like tax cuts for rich people the most. On the other hand, most thinking Democrats don't mind seeing taxes go up some if it reduces the deficits and they especially think taxes should go up on rich people as a matter of fairness (so nothing in this package is really satisfying to them). Seen in that light, this "compromise" is a total victory for the Republicans.

Assuming Obama is not a secret Republican, I can only assume somebody sold him this thing on the bases that (1) if would help improve the unemployment numbers which seem to be the only economic statistic Obama focuses on or (2) he listened to Bernanke's latest plea for fiscal stimulus.

Posted by: BTinSF | December 7, 2010 6:32 PM | Report abuse

Some of you guys will never get it ... this is NOT the government's money ... the government is not borrowing money to give to the so called "rich" it is the hard earned money of it's own citizens that it is TAKING to fund a govetnment that they have little faith in when it comes to responsible spending ... the government as an entity generates ZERO income aside from having it's own printing press ... it is not YOUR money it belongs to private hard working citizens ...

Posted by: cunn9305 | December 7, 2010 6:34 PM | Report abuse

Well, Ezra, just who is going to pay down the additional debt all of those deals will incur? Not the rich! Not Wall Street! Not large corporations? The public knows who will pay. That is why is are angry!

Posted by: jamesls | December 7, 2010 6:34 PM | Report abuse

Cutting social security payroll taxes only puts social security in greater jeopardy.

Posted by: ravitchn | December 7, 2010 6:37 PM | Report abuse

And perhaps the deepest cuts of all: The only time Obama gets pissed is at his own party's base (the people who are supposed to back anything he does have been sold out for the moderate/right)- never at Repubs. And (no surprise here): Dems in the House are expected to vote for this because Boner won't guarantee Repub support!

Every Repub should be called out to vote for this before a single Dem has to do so.

Posted by: nyskinsdiehard | December 7, 2010 6:39 PM | Report abuse

Well, Obama didn't win over all of the moderates. I for one would like some sensible fiscal policy, which means lowering deficits. That includes raising taxes and reducing spending. This is particularly discouraging to me as a federal employee, since freezing our pay seems OK, but increasing taxes for those making millions is not OK. To top it off, Obama only froze the pay of civilian workers, not the military, contractors, CONGRESS!!, and postal workers (although I am not sure if he can freeze Congressional pay). I was OK with a pay freeze, but am not OK if federal workers are the only Americans asked to make sacrifices.

I also don't see what is so difficult about framing the argument that your taxes were raised by Republicans, since it was the Republicans that voted against the original tax extension. But what do I know, I am only a lazy, overpaid federal employee...

Posted by: evanpickford | December 7, 2010 6:48 PM | Report abuse

Just WAIT until the rich REALLY come out on TOP with the Deficit Commission's fall out... Obama for MORE tax-RATE cuts for the rich, and for nothing but benefit cuts, sales taxes and new gas taxes for the American poor and middle class. WHAT A JIP.....

Posted by: project3 | December 7, 2010 6:50 PM | Report abuse

The Republicans didn't "give up" anything. They are not opposed to tax cuts and credits, even if they are targeted to bottom 98% of Americans. They want the government pushed into greater debt to weaken it further. All the better to cut social services in the future. The corporate oligarchy wants and needs a weak democratic government. Any cut in taxes works for them, and especially one that goes hand in hand with a giant gift to them.

Posted by: rlrhett | December 7, 2010 6:51 PM | Report abuse

At this point, I'm not sure that President Obama deserves to beat even SARA PALIN...

Posted by: project3 | December 7, 2010 6:52 PM | Report abuse

stop complaining you liberals, the democraps have had control of BOTH houses of Congress for the last FOUR years, you controlled every single spending bill, you got us into this mess, were you asleep. The Clinton tax surplus was because the Republicans controlled both house of congress during the hounddog's presidency. See a pattern--when democraps control you get financial disaster.

Posted by: mightyheidi | December 7, 2010 6:53 PM | Report abuse

It is Obama who is being sanctimonious by attacking the progressive dems.

Obama simply gave the GOP everything they wanted. Everything .

History shows us that other presidents, namely FDR, did fight against seemingly unsurmount able odds and he WON.

The protracted battle to create Frances Perkins' dream, otherwise known as Social Security, was considered to be absolutely unwinnable - not a snow balls chance in hell, as they said at the time.

But they stood and fought and they WON.

No amount of Obama excuses by saying that "the odds were against us - this is the best we can do, etc." is necessary.

When you know the history of what Frances Perkins and FDR created, Obama is a mere shadow, and a very pale one at that.

Posted by: kirby2 | December 7, 2010 6:55 PM | Report abuse

Tax Cut Deal KILLED Obama Presidency whether or NOT it stands...

Posted by: project3 | December 7, 2010 7:01 PM | Report abuse

I am tired of the obsession with the criticisms of this self-appointed progressive base. Im a liberal, Im a democrat, I presume Im part of the base and I like this deal.
It was obvious in the campaign and it is obvious now that Obama is a realist who is ruthless in his realism. What matters to him is not the short run, but the long run; not today's news cycle but the final result and being realistic about what can be achieved in this political system, not some non-existent fantasy of a political system. The point of Obama's 2008 campaign promise to continue the existing tax rates for the middle-class but not the wealthiest marginal rate, was to establish that he was not interested in increasing middle class taxes, not that he was out to increase taxes on the rich. The reason to not permanently continue the lower rate on the top 2% was because of its effects on the deficit. For many on the left, it was about making the rich pay more as a matter of principle but that is not what it was for Obama, either during the campaign or since. It has been obvious for months that the tax rate for the uppper 2% was going to be temporarily extended because of the economic situation. Democrats in Congress indicated as much. The question was always whether the middle-class tax cuts would be increased permanently or only temporarily as well. What primarily mattered to Obama was that the middle-class tax cuts be continued because he had promised to do so. In the end, he has only given up having them made permanent now. He obviously believes that the American people are with him on this issue and that after the 2012 election (and this deal clearly enhances his already probable victory) he can get the permanency and so he is really not giving anything in the long run, which is what matters to Obama. He is basically taking advantage of the GOP's mistaken belief that the electorate is on its side. In exchange for this, he has obtained a great deal of additional stimulus which will help the economy to grow and help working and middle-class Americans. The reason for not extending the top tax rate's reduction is because of its effect on the deficit, but with all the short-term deficit being increased by the other parts of the deal it would be quite silly for Obama to say that he cant let those tax rates stay the same for two more years because of the deficit. Is this a perfect deal or the best possible stimulus as a matter of economics? Of course not, and Im sure Obama agrees. But what he would say, and where I think he is right, is that in our political system, in the current economy, this is realistically as much as could be achieved on these matters.

Posted by: gregspolitics | December 7, 2010 7:04 PM | Report abuse

EVERY Democratic Party United States Senator who voted with dixiepublicans to kill middle-class tax cuts put forward by The Speaker of the House and The Majority Leader of the Senate MUST face a primary challenge come 2012. Every one of them.

Like Blanch Lincoln: Good BYE, GO and STAY gone.

Posted by: project3 | December 7, 2010 7:05 PM | Report abuse

gregspolitics: Spoken like HERBERT HOOVER, the last FAILED depression era President and the butt of jokes for all posterity. Obama keeps listening to you and he'll take Hoover's place in the long line of deserved ridicule... Stop sucking up and help him see the light...

Posted by: project3 | December 7, 2010 7:09 PM | Report abuse

On top of everything else: the FAILED deal will NOT jumpstart the economy OR reduce unemployment below 8 percent. And, in two years, Obama will NOT be credible in challenging bush/Obama tax cuts for RICH...

Posted by: project3 | December 7, 2010 7:13 PM | Report abuse

Kinda make you think: it's not just about political points

http://community.nytimes.com/comments/www.nytimes.com/2010/12/07/opinion/07tue1.html?permid=34#comment34

John
Marysville, Ohio
December 7th, 20109:27 am

I have been unemployed since April, 09.

I've used every trick to get face time with decision makers during these challenging economic times. I've networked. I've contacted friends and colleagues from previous jobs....but to no avail.

During better times, I earned in the mid 50s. Within just the last 2 months, I interviewed for 4 jobs, quite an accomplishment. One was in low 30s, high 20s, $9.00 an hour, and $11.00 per hour. The third shift juvenile delinquent prison guard position ($11.00 per hour) was the only one to let me know by mail that I had been passed for another more qualified candidate.

So today's news about the President's compromise greeted my family during this holiday season with some relief since the state of Ohio sent us notification that our Unemployment Benefits were set to end on December 19, 2010. While I feel as though we dodged a bullet as a family, I have an extreme pain in my head knowing that I will be starting my 3rd year without gainful employment next April.
I genuinely believe the President when he states that he reads letters of pain and suffering each night before he retires for rest. My family is a living testimony of the "collateral damage" he referenced in his remarks.

From my family to yours Mr. President, I wish you the best this holiday season.


Posted by: Airborne82
*********************
It does Airborne - unfortunately, these stories rarely reach the far left or right in this country. Too concerned about political purity tests - which is easy to do when you have a job, food on the table, etc...

Posted by: LABC | December 7, 2010 7:17 PM | Report abuse

What's also true, however, is that many of us underestimated the degree to which netroots activists needed to have their egos stroked as a part of making people's lives better (or at least not worse). We all thought that doing good, or at least no harm, would be its own reward but it turns out that that's not the case.

Posted by: reader44
********************
Well said - well, that whining sound they make is loud enough that even folks like Klein make them out to be entire base, rather than a part of it. A loud mouth part of it...

Posted by: LABC | December 7, 2010 7:22 PM | Report abuse

Guess might as well vote for Sarah Palin

Posted by: jjgpeppernick | December 7, 2010 7:31 PM | Report abuse

Guess might as well vote for Sarah Palin

Posted by: jjgpeppernick
*****************
Might as well get ready to fight South Korea...

Posted by: LABC | December 7, 2010 7:35 PM | Report abuse

I don't think Obama understands how angry and betrayed his "base" feel now. He will, in 2012. Without his base, he has no chance. Most of the so called "independents" who voted against his party in 2010 really voted against him and will never be wooed back by him. Apart from the health care bill (which was really due more to Pelosi's work), he has nothing to show for in his 4 years. He will not be remembered as a "good one-term president" but he can compare Nobel prize stories with Carter in his abrupt retirement, though.

I, like several posters here, also won't vote for Obama in 2012 unless his opponent happens to be Palin.

Posted by: KT11 | December 7, 2010 7:37 PM | Report abuse

Wow! Such inane dribble about Obama failing the middle class. Ezra is just playing to the echo chamber controlled by progressive mouthpieces with jobs. In fact they make their living off fighting Conservatives and Republicans. They promote a delusion that inhibits our ability to stay focused on reality. They would rather live in a fantasy world where they inflate their importance. Yes, they had hoped for a true believer like the Tea Party hopes for what they consider a true conservative. But they poison everything by casting the world in only black and white and believe it is always wiser to fight regardless of the consequences. I am sick of the fools and the commentators who play to them. The accusation that Obama went behind close doors with Republicans is such a shameless mis-characterization it diminishes Ezra as a thoughtful commentator. The only people who need their hands held are the unemployed and the working families that Obama helped today. Not so called progressives who can't or won't understand how much pain a long-drawn out battle would have caused for the most vulnerable in this country

Posted by: richarddyoung | December 7, 2010 7:37 PM | Report abuse

Great article Ezra and encapsulates that issues Progressives have with this President. Secrecy, lack of transparency, arrogance, and what appears to be a pathological avoidance to conflict, even if it assaults your core beliefs. I am not sure that President Obama or Harry Reid has ever really stood up and fought for what they believed was right and important. THAT is the core issue. Though this deal is not great, it's fairly ok and I would have supported it if I didn't think that the President wouldn't sell my mother as well.

Posted by: mjcc1987 | December 7, 2010 7:49 PM | Report abuse

The main problem with the deal is strategic, over the long run. It sets the stage for drastic cuts in Social Secuirty and Medicare because it is a continuation of the Repbulican "starve the beast" strategy, which is working.

We have the lowest Federal tax burden as % of GDP since 1970, and Repbulicans want to keep it that way and balance the budget primarily through benefits cuts. Setting the tax rate on the wealthy at a low rate now, plus low estate tax rates, will make it that much harder to increases taxes on them later to what they need to be.

Plus, the Democrats weren't willing to fight this battle during election season 2010; why would they do better in election season 2012?

Posted by: Poster3 | December 7, 2010 7:52 PM | Report abuse

Nice work by Mr. Klein, except for the part where huge substantive issues get written off as a communications problem. The ideological Left, less than 20% of the electorate, demands the immolation of the rich, or of capitalism itself. Obama refuses to comply; the Left threatens to turn their torches on Obama.

Sad that the singular bipartisan achievement of President Barack Obama is causing such trouble for him with the noisiest of his supporters. Like Clinton, he will find that gains in the vast middle will more than make up for loss of the fringe.

60% of the country that owns stocks or mutual funds watched their wealth increase today, UNTIL Harry Reid and other dinosaurs spoke darkly of sabotaging their president's accomplishment.

Posted by: mark31 | December 7, 2010 7:53 PM | Report abuse

I did not vote for Obama and am certainly not part of Obama's 'base'. But I can tell you this. The GOP is already on my hit list. Their obscene concern about those earning over $250,000 and reckless disregard for the deficit which threatens our nation will not be forgotten by this citizen between now and November 4, 2012.

Posted by: whachmacallit | December 7, 2010 8:01 PM | Report abuse

This will not be a boon for Obama.

Whatever job creation occurs over the next two years will be impossible to trace to the tax cut extensions.

The more likely scenario is that unemployment will remain high, the deficit will be huge, the debt huge as well, and the Republicans will bash Obama for (1) allowing huge deficits (to which they contributed) and (2) threatening a tax hike. And we all know that even the faintest whiff of a tax hike, even if it's for the richest of the rich, has now been rendered and legitimized as toxic by none other than Obama himself.

Good work, barry-O! You just inherited a sh%t economy and a hopeless philosophy.

Posted by: mw-bkly | December 7, 2010 8:30 PM | Report abuse

Ending tax cuts for the wealthy is something Obama campaigned on, it's part of why I supported him. This is betrayal, no less.

And as Klein suggests, I'm also disgusted because he and other Dems didn't fight for this. Any number of senators could have led a charge on this issue over the past year. Is Patrick Leahy even alive, still? You wouldn't know, from the news. Such a winnable issue in the midst of a recession--we're rewarding the very people who brought the economy down!

Couldn't they still use reconciliation to pass any bill? Isn't that how the tax cuts passed in the first place?

I've heard dems deliberately decided not to make the tax cuts an issue in the last election. So, they were beat over the head with the deficit issue before the election, and with raising taxes immediately afterwards. Apparently republicans are genius at strategy, dems nearly clueless.

Posted by: michaelmelius | December 7, 2010 8:46 PM | Report abuse

In an administration where the message has been on redistribution rather than growth and an ideology based on hating the rich, soaking the rich, demonizing the rich, taxing the rich, and blaming the rich, any outcome that didn’t somehow punish all those evil rich, (and successful) citizens was a real let down to the progressive base. But the fact is that there is a big constituency of Democratic Party donors who are very rich themselves and who will secretly embrace this compromise any public equalitarian pronouncements to the contrary. Warren Buffet was never going to pay more taxes, progressive demagogy notwithstanding. Now that this is out of the way, maybe businessmen will get over their fear of the quickly fading socialist agenda of the Obama administration and start hiring more employees, provided they can ignore the implications of the further expansion of the deficit which has been kicked further into the future as only politicians can do. Things would really work out now if all those ideological progressives would now put in the effort to earn a larger salary rather than waiting get their handout from the government, but there is still plenty of handout for all those progressives who would rather let the government take care of them.

Posted by: droberts57 | December 7, 2010 8:49 PM | Report abuse

In an administration where the message has been on redistribution rather than growth and an ideology based on hating the rich, soaking the rich, demonizing the rich, taxing the rich, and blaming the rich, any outcome that didn’t somehow punish all those evil rich, (and successful) citizens was a real let down to the progressive base. But the fact is that there is a big constituency of Democratic Party donors who are very rich themselves and who will secretly embrace this compromise any public equalitarian pronouncements to the contrary. Warren Buffet was never going to pay more taxes, progressive demagogy notwithstanding. Now that this is out of the way, maybe businessmen will get over their fear of the quickly fading socialist agenda of the Obama administration and start hiring more employees, provided they can ignore the implications of the further expansion of the deficit which has been kicked further into the future as only politicians can do. Things would really work out now if all those ideological progressives would now put in the effort to earn a larger salary rather than waiting get their handout from the government, but there is still plenty of handout for all those progressives who would rather let the government take care of them.

Posted by: droberts57 | December 7, 2010 8:49 PM | Report abuse

So what if he broke his "I won't extend the Bush tax cuts for the rich" promise? He kept his "I'll close Gitmo in a year" promise, right? And his "I'll end DADT" promise, right? Oh, never mind...

Burn, liberal idiots, burn yourselves up with your hate, lies, and propaganda...

Posted by: independentgeorge | December 7, 2010 8:52 PM | Report abuse

Majorities have the unfortunate habit of robbing those in power of clear thinking.

The President got yet another stimulus that he may not have gotten if he dragged the Republicans into a fight, and his base continues to believe that they are much maligned, after getting one of the largest expansions of government health care in U.S. history.

These political parties make me sick.

Posted by: moebius22 | December 7, 2010 9:06 PM | Report abuse

It's difficult to be fair in light of this, particularly, if you supported Clinton, mainly, for her leftist creds, her expertise on health care, the fact that she is a two-fisted-in-the-trenches fighter, who does not "delegate." Not an "inclusionist," either. She, btw, did not promise a new day in Washingron, Kumbaya. On the other hand, she and her nemesis, John McCain, worked very well together in the Senate, while John and the Inclusionist did not.

That said, the president's achievements have, in fact, been monumental. He said, when he took office, that the economy would take YEARS to fix, and it will.

Now, however, is the time for the jobless, those who have lost their homes to mobilize. This is not there fault. Time to ACT. Get moving. Write. March. Find a leader. ORganize.

Decent people will be there with you. That would be an inclusionist path I'd certainly walk down.

Posted by: FarnazMansouri2 | December 7, 2010 9:17 PM | Report abuse

I, too, am "part of the base" and he hasn't lost me! What are you talking about? The Republicans care nothing about the 'average" American citizen. The care about the other 2%. You fight the fights you can win. President Obama won this one and I thank him.

Posted by: cfsIIII | December 7, 2010 9:26 PM | Report abuse

One poster said, "Obama is a republican who is a muslim." No, Obama is a marxist communist who is a muslim. He has already lost his independent base - they have seen what he is. The other base - 12% of the voters - do not matter. They are racists who can not see any further than his color.

Posted by: annnort | December 7, 2010 9:27 PM | Report abuse

If Bloomberg runs as an Independent and Palin as a Republican and Obama as a Democrat in 2012, say hello to Prez. "You Betcha".

Posted by: rgv1129 | December 7, 2010 9:27 PM | Report abuse

This is all silly stuff. Everyone who defects in a huff today will be back like a runaway child by nightfall in summer of 2012.

Where else will they go?

Posted by: 54465446 | December 7, 2010 9:37 PM | Report abuse

The art of politics is the art of negotiation and compromise. The left-wing Democratic base can still not absorb and comprehend the magnitude of the national shift against their positions. They continue to act like spoiled children and think that if they can just scream loud enough, their emotive reasoning can overcome logic.

Obama obtained the best deal possible, under the circumstances. If the same battle was fought two years ago under different circumstances, the outcome would have been different...but the Democratic leadership was laser-focused on just one objective: health care. They won that tactical battle and lost the war.

Posted by: strategiesinter | December 7, 2010 9:39 PM | Report abuse

and, depending on how you count it, about $180 billion (two-year cost) or $30 billion (10-year cost) in new tax incentives for businesses to invest.
----------------------
Uh, this sounds like a special loophole for business and should be counted toward the Republican side.

Of course, the total number looks good because most people aren't rich. On per capita base, it is a big win for the rich.

Posted by: lohengrin | December 7, 2010 9:42 PM | Report abuse

It is absolutely complete betrayal by Obama. He betrayed on every issue he campaigned for..I am done with him. He is a pathetic individual with no conviction...he should not be renominated...how sad. So much promise and how disappointing.

Posted by: Swap | December 7, 2010 9:51 PM | Report abuse

You can't look at the numbers alone. The GOP has won on principle if this tax cut goes through. After all the bluster for nearly a decade about how these cuts are supposedly bad, Democrats, given the chance, are poised to sign onto the Republican economic plan. This, despite the fact that the public supports the president's original position. That's why the base is crestfallen.

Posted by: mypitts2 | December 7, 2010 9:51 PM | Report abuse

President Obummer strikes again. What a surprise! Well, only if you are still drinking the Obamanut KoolAid.

I did not vote for President Obummer because it was easy to see what sort of character he has. It has now taken only two years for working-class Americans to see that you could sum up President Obummer's character:

"you could carve out of a banana a man with more backbone."

In Obummer's case the banana is so large that it appears as a yellow streak down his back!

For the rest of the Bananbacks (elected DemocRATS whose symbol should be a Cringing Coward instead of a rearing donkey) they might want to reflect on one point: the near destruction of the Republicant Party came about by blind allegiance to President Bush.

It is time, already, for the working class to start the search for a replacement for Obummer because he has become like the rankest of actors- he audience has lost its ability to suspend its disbelieve. To put it another way, who will believe Obummer's future promises of anything. I sure as hell never did and the growing majority of Americans will never believe him again.

This capitulation being pasted off as a compromise is to save one job and one job only: Obummer's!

So let's send Obummer a message. We are Starting the search for a different Party nominee now!

Posted by: jmcauli1 | December 7, 2010 9:55 PM | Report abuse

APPARENTLY THE DEMOCRATS CONTINUE TO BELIEVE THEY WON ON NOV.2nd. I SUSPECT IT WILL TAKE A LANDSLIDE VICTORY IN 2012 FOR THEM TO WAKE UP AND REALIZE WE THE PEOPLE WOULD PREFER LESS GOVERNMENT, LESS TAXES AND MORE INDIVIDUAL RESPONSIBILITY.

Posted by: jackwbarnes1 | December 7, 2010 9:55 PM | Report abuse

Obama is no Ghandi-he's a cheap suit of Wall Street and Comm ED.
RECALL -DEAN or Hillary
the 3 am phone is ring!!!!?

Posted by: crrobin | December 7, 2010 9:59 PM | Report abuse

Klein writes "The basic deal was that if the Obama White House would give the Republicans their unpaid-for tax cuts, Republicans would give the Obama White House their unpaid-for tax cuts." His point that this deficit handwringing is theatrics on both sides is certainly true. However the average american will not feel that there is a tax cut, rather they have avoided a raise.
It is a mistake to say that extending the Bush rates is a tax cut. Take hypothetical apolitical Sally who made $x in 2010 and had $y withheld from her paycheck every two weeks. Now suppose the current tax rates expire and we go back to the pre-Bush rates. Sally, who unfortunately did not get a pay raise, now has $y+z withheld from her paycheck. Ask Sally - did your taxes go up, go down or stay the same? She does not say, "Oh my taxes stayed the same because the Bush tax cuts were meant to be temporary". Clearly Obama couldn't possibly face every worker who actually pay federal income taxes and explain that they should feel good that they are paying more in taxes, because by god we're really making the "rich" pay. We wanted you to pay less, but those republicans wouldn't let us even though we controlled congress.

Posted by: Observer21 | December 7, 2010 9:59 PM | Report abuse

"If you're worried about stimulus, joblessness and the working poor, this is probably a better deal than you thought you were going to get."

And if you're a progressive and only worried about how much power the state and its cronies can claim then the lost tax revenues are a disaster.

Posted by: cprferry | December 7, 2010 10:00 PM | Report abuse

In the President's defense, it's not easy to sell a program to progressives when the activists are claiming that you are caving even BEFORE you are done negotiating.

Posted by: charlekenghis | December 7, 2010 10:05 PM | Report abuse

Am I missing something here?

The $120B payroll "tax cut" just means workers won't be contributing as much towards their social security retirement fund. They will have to either make up the money later, or accept reduced benefits.

The $180B in "tax incentives" won't create any new jobs. Corporations are already sitting on a ton of cash they're not spending.

So the Democrats didn't even break even.


Posted by: Ted181 | December 7, 2010 10:21 PM | Report abuse

Why would the Democrats want a payroll tax cut? That one seriously damages the underpinnings of Social Security.

Posted by: MagicDog1 | December 7, 2010 10:21 PM | Report abuse

Keep the sharp objects and silk scarves away from poor little Ezra and his "base". Shocker! Only 15% of all Americans are gay or communist. The adults have spoken.

Posted by: carlbatey | December 7, 2010 10:30 PM | Report abuse

FormerDemocrat wrote:
The far left base that Erza Klein speaks of is TWENTY PERCENT of the American people.
----
Yes, but it is the smartest, most compassionate twenty per cent of the American people. We do not hold liberal views. We hold the CORRECT views.

Posted by: nyrunner101 | December 7, 2010 10:31 PM | Report abuse

project3 how you can find a similarity between Obama, who with this deal will have achieved over $1 trillion in stimulus, and Hoover, is a mystery to me.
But back to the main event, the fundamental friction between Obama and the ideological left is that much of what that left considers to be ends in themselves are for Obama merely means. The left condemns Obama for caving on principles, but, from his perspective, he is doing no such thing and so he understandably is unhappy to be accused of caving on his principles. The reality is that his principles are not always what the left wants them to be, but the left doesnt want to acknowledge that and so instead accuses Obama of caving on his principles. From his perspective, he is not compromising ends, only means, while leaving a way to reconsider those means at a later date. For instance, for much of the left the public option was an end in itself, while for Obama, it was just a means for cost control, but hardly the only means or a necessary means now, and it can always be pursued again in the future when the benefit of it may be more apparent. For the left, increasing taxes on the wealthy is an end, but for Obama it is merely a means to the end of funding the government long term. But in the short term, stimulus is more important and so he is willing to forego the means of this revenue for the next two years in exchange for the end of more stimulus. For Obama, continuing the current marginal rates for the middle class is, I believe, an end, and so he wanted to make sure that they continued. The price for making them permanent now was to make the lower tax rate for the wealthy permanent which he views as detrimental to the long run deficit and so he refused to abandon that principle. Instead he accepted a momentarily temporary extension of the middle class cuts because it keeps those rates in effect for now and he is confident of winning the argument for making them permanent at a later date. I think that is another thing that the left misses. Obama doesnt think that every fight has to be won this year because he is confident that they can be won in the long run. His view is to get what you can now and then try for more later when the circumstances may be more accomodating. You may agree or disagree with his confidence and what he considers ends and means, but that is a lot different than accusing him of caving on his principles.

Posted by: gregspolitics | December 7, 2010 10:41 PM | Report abuse

project3 how you can find a similarity between Obama, who with this deal will have achieved over $1 trillion in stimulus, and Hoover, is a mystery to me.
But back to the main event, the fundamental friction between Obama and the ideological left is that much of what that left considers to be ends in themselves are for Obama merely means. The left condemns Obama for caving on principles, but, from his perspective, he is doing no such thing and so he understandably is unhappy to be accused of caving on his principles. The reality is that his principles are not always what the left wants them to be, but the left doesnt want to acknowledge that and so instead accuses Obama of caving on his principles. From his perspective, he is not compromising ends, only means, while leaving a way to reconsider those means at a later date. For instance, for much of the left the public option was an end in itself, while for Obama, it was just a means for cost control, but hardly the only means or a necessary means now, and it can always be pursued again in the future when the benefit of it may be more apparent. For the left, increasing taxes on the wealthy is an end, but for Obama it is merely a means to the end of funding the government long term. But in the short term, stimulus is more important and so he is willing to forego the means of this revenue for the next two years in exchange for the end of more stimulus. For Obama, continuing the current marginal rates for the middle class is, I believe, an end, and so he wanted to make sure that they continued. The price for making them permanent now was to make the lower tax rate for the wealthy permanent which he views as detrimental to the long run deficit and so he refused to abandon that principle. Instead he accepted a momentarily temporary extension of the middle class cuts because it keeps those rates in effect for now and he is confident of winning the argument for making them permanent at a later date. I think that is another thing that the left misses. Obama doesnt think that every fight has to be won this year because he is confident that they can be won in the long run. His view is to get what you can now and then try for more later when the circumstances may be more accomodating. You may agree or disagree with his confidence and what he considers ends and means, but that is a lot different than accusing him of caving on his principles.

Posted by: gregspolitics | December 7, 2010 10:41 PM | Report abuse

sorry for double post above
Meanwhile
ted181 there will be no reduction in benefits which will be calculated in accordance with current law. The government will sell bonds and credit the proceeds to the trust fund. The federal reserve will be happy to help.
The incentives are intended to get business to spend some of that cash now on investments they know they are going to make sometime anyway.

Posted by: gregspolitics | December 7, 2010 10:53 PM | Report abuse

It's a Pyrrhic victory for Obama. After continuing to take more and greater abuse from Republicans, he will be in no position to fight for the lapse of the gravy train for billionaires in 2012. The "economy," defined as how the richest two percent who own half, will be "doing fine" but wage earners will see negative growth, stagnation, and continued unemployment, as their corporate masters use this windfall to continue to ship jobs and livelihoods to slave labor wage countries abroad.

Posted by: davidkerlick | December 8, 2010 7:10 AM | Report abuse

This opinion-spun article gets it right - no one in Washington wants to pay for the policies they enact. As a voter, I philosophically reject the "re-distribution of wealth" and therefore, liberalism. Our politics have been built on distributive policies and it seems impossible to attain any meaningful separation from all-about-me politics and good policy. But, this "deal" is bad policy and a third stimulus in disguise. When will adults start taking the lead in our government policies?

Posted by: dennikenni | December 8, 2010 8:39 AM | Report abuse

If "the base" is unhappy with Obama, just who is it that they like that has a chance to win in 2012. The Dems are stuck with him because they picked this community organizer in the first place. Of note, he is incapable of change until he has to concede something to get anything. This is frightening that he cannot negotiate with the GOP and get much of what he wants. ARe we supposed to believe that when he negotiates with the Russians that he becomes a tough negotiator? I think not.

I say bring out Hilary if the Dems want a prayer in 2012. Otherwise, we will get the GOP candidate unless the primary process gives us Sarah Palin. But the "progressives" might be surprised at how many people would hold their nose and vote for Sarah if Obama runs again. He IS that hopeless and the only people hopeless than his supporters are those who think he should "achieve" more of their absurd agenda.

Posted by: buggerianpaisley1 | December 8, 2010 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Very clever, Ezra: "Put simply, Obama and the Democrats didn't fight for them. There were no veto threats or serious effort to take the case to the public." If you can't tell that there were no actual congressional Democrats involved in this deal, maybe you shouldn't be writing about politics.

Posted by: DaveinNorthridge | December 8, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

WE ELECTED OBAMA TO BE A MAN OF THE PEOPLE, A LINCOLN, A ROOSEVELT, A MAN WHO CARES ABOUT THE MIDDLE CLASS, NOT ABOUT THE SUPER RICH, NOT ABOUT THE BANKS, THE INSURANCE COMPANIES & WALL STREET... SADLY OBAMA IS "NOT" A MAN OF THE PEOPLE, HE IS A MAN THAT HAS "NO" BACK BONE, A MAN WITHOUT THE ABILITY TO STAND UP FOR ANYTHING, A MAN THAT IS AFRAID OF THE RIGHT WING, A MAN THAT IS AFRAID TO STAND UP FOR THE PEOPLE WHO PUT HIM INTO OFFICE. WE NEED TO FIND A REAL MAN/WOMAN OF THE PEOPLE & CHALLENGE & WIN THE NOMINATION FOR 2012. WE WILL LOSE IN 2012 WITH OBAMA, FOR SURE... BETTER TO LOSE WITH A REAL PERSON WITH PRINCIPLES RATHER THEN A MAN WHO IS SPINELESS.....

Posted by: MrReal | December 8, 2010 10:18 AM | Report abuse

The public option debate is actually a good analogy. In both cases the President allowed his Republican opponents to use bad arguments based on bogus economics by holding all negotiations in backrooms instead of on the nightly news.

That makes many of us question not only his competence but also his motives.

Posted by: RandyMoor | December 8, 2010 10:20 AM | Report abuse

I support President Obama's deal with Republicans now that I know more of the benefits for all Americans. At least with this plan, both the Unemployment rate and the Deficit as a percentage of GDP are projected to go down.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/business/tax-cut-compromise/index.html?hpid=topnews

When Billionaires such as Rupert Murdoch and the Koch head brothers absolutely own the Soul and control the actions of the entire Republican/GOP political party you must pay the Devil his due to protect Six Million long term unemployed workers from losing benefits and to get the START treaty passed to protect against nuclear proliferation. Billionaires must be paid in cash and with the lives of American troops dying on borrowed money. Mansions, Villas and Yachts must be paid for on the backs of the working class. So be it. Obama must do what’s necessary to prevent throwing Six million more Americans and their Children out in the street.

Posted by: Airborne82 | December 8, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

What you are missing, Mr Klein, is not that we on the left are upset with the policy; we are upset with the process. Mr. Obama should have let the Majority Leader run his course of action. From this point forward, Mrs. McConnell will never feel like she needs to negotiate with Senator Reid. The President kicked the Congressional leadership in the teeth, and then lectured his base. It's the process we are decrying.

Posted by: gottaknowy2 | December 8, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Democrats got $120 billion in payroll-tax cuts, $40 billion in refundable tax credits (Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit and education tax credits), $56 billion in unemployment insurance, and, depending on how you count it, about $180 billion (two-year cost) or $30 billion (10-year cost) in new tax incentives for businesses to invest....
This is a bogus comparison. Biz tax credits and UI insurance are two things the GOP would not have been able to oppose and survive the public outcry. They did NOT belong in the deal, he didn't need to give them away.

Posted by: annie20009 | December 8, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Whoever wrote:
"The real philosophical divide here is the Democrats being in favor of income redistribution via the tax code and the Republicans being opposed to it."

Mmm-Hmm, income redistribution via toxic assets, betting against oneself and other financial fraud - no problemo!
Pffff.

Posted by: jujy54 | December 8, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, I just don't want to be forever indebted to China or Afghanistan! Can you tell me how, to get our debt under control and what can we do to stop the GOP from "clever negotiations" with the President that result in cuts to medicare and social security?

Posted by: Njeanous | December 8, 2010 8:39 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, I just don't want to be forever indebted to China or Afghanistan! Can you tell me how, to get our debt under control and what can we do to stop the GOP from "clever negotiations" with the President that result in cuts to medicare and social security?

Posted by: Njeanous | December 8, 2010 8:40 PM | Report abuse

toc said
They need to go. A strong primary challanger will hopefully retire this fraud and failure of an administration.

Do you really believe that a primary challenge strong enough to get rid of Obama will leave you with the White House Election Day 2012??? DO you really think the country is going to vote for someone to the LEFT of Obama??? I'd like to see how this will happen in our right-of-center country. You bet the liberal base was a great value in helping Obama build a lead in 2008, but the Indepedents taking a flyer on an unknown leader are what put him over the top, allowing him to win swing states like Ohio, Florida etc, etc. You can't win without moderate indepedents and you can't govern entirely from the left. I would think the 2 years of h*ll we have gone through have shown that.

Posted by: chuck2 | December 8, 2010 10:36 PM | Report abuse

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