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Posted at 9:02 AM ET, 12/ 7/2010

The White House takes on Pelosi and Schumer -- but why?

By Ezra Klein

Last night, the president said this:

Sympathetic as I am to those who prefer a fight over compromise, as much as the political wisdom may dictate fighting over solving problems, it would be the wrong thing to do. The American people didn’t send us here to wage symbolic battles or win symbolic victories. They would much rather have the comfort of knowing that when they open their first paycheck on January of 2011, it won’t be smaller than it was before, all because Washington decided they preferred to have a fight and failed to act.

So under what theory of politics did a "senior White House official" decide to tell Jake Tapper this:

"We wanted a fight, the House didn't throw a punch," a senior White House official tells ABC News, pointing out that for months before the 2010 midterm elections, President Obama was making the case against the Bush tax cuts for wealthier Americans. "The House wouldn't vote before the Senate, and the Senate was afraid they'd lose a vote on it."

"It was like the Jets versus Sharks except there weren't any Jets," the official said. "Senator Schumer says he wants a fight? He couldn't hold his caucus together."

For the record, if the White House had wanted a fight, it could have simply announced that it would veto any tax-cut compromises that retained the breaks for income over $250,000. That would've made it much easier for House and Senate Democrats to hold the line.

By Ezra Klein  | December 7, 2010; 9:02 AM ET
 
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Comments

Obama would rather fight with democrats than republicans. Fighting with his base seems to be a particular favorite.

Posted by: fuse | December 7, 2010 9:16 AM | Report abuse

For the first time since he was elected, the media seems to be agreeing with Obama and giving him support on this deal.

Why?

Was it the unemployment benefit extensions? Obviously not, since this has happened before and the media never said anything positive then.

So it must be because of the tax cuts extensions. Obviously the corporate media feels it has achieved something for itself (low tax rates for all those millionaire journalists and media moguls).

This is more stark proof that the media is corporate when it comes to fiscal politics.

Posted by: lauren2010 | December 7, 2010 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Hey, where are the deficit hawks?

Yoohoo.

Helllooooooo.

Anyone there?

Guess not.

Posted by: lauren2010 | December 7, 2010 9:21 AM | Report abuse

obama's totally right. Say that Sanders does filibuster this and everyone's taxes are raised come January 1st becuase of this. Don't you think that Republicans will take that message all the way to 2012 that the Democrats and their one represntative that's an avowed socialist raised taxes during the Great Recession? That won't play well but I'd love for them to have that fight.

Posted by: visionbrkr | December 7, 2010 9:22 AM | Report abuse

With this deal, Obama has shifted from wanting to be a good one-term President, to being re-elected.

This deal is proof noone except those who filibuster this deal are deficit hawks. And I predict there won't be many of them.

Posted by: lauren2010 | December 7, 2010 9:29 AM | Report abuse

Must be a difficult day for Ezra, having to decide which democrat talking points you will parrot today. Will it be your idol Obama or will it be the dems in the House or Senate/ How you must long for the days of JournoList when you could all easily coordinate things together.

Posted by: MrRealistic | December 7, 2010 9:32 AM | Report abuse

MrRealistic, Throw me the idol, I throw you the whip!

Posted by: MosBen | December 7, 2010 9:38 AM | Report abuse

MrRealistic

It's probably too complicated for you to understand (you being a neocon and all), but Ezra is more about writing about the consequences of nihilistic and saboteuring tendencies of the GOP than he is about glorifying Obama. From your position way over there on the extreme right, even centrist notions appear to be way over on the left.

Posted by: lauren2010 | December 7, 2010 9:39 AM | Report abuse

Great news. Now time to roll back the Medicaid program back to 2000 levels.

Posted by: krazen1211 | December 7, 2010 9:42 AM | Report abuse

"Must be a difficult day for Ezra, having to decide which democrat talking points you will parrot today. Will it be your idol Obama or will it be the dems in the House or Senate/ How you must long for the days of JournoList when you could all easily coordinate things together."

Obama was almost certainly hoping that witch Pelosi got lost and out of his remaining hair.

Posted by: krazen1211 | December 7, 2010 9:46 AM | Report abuse

krazen

I hope someday you need medicaid or medicare but can't get it.

My mom's life was saved by medicaid. Indeed, 1000s of lives are saved by medicaid and medicare. Lots of people are poor and have no access to quality care thru no fault of their own or thru lack of trying.

You are not on God's side on this issue.

Posted by: lauren2010 | December 7, 2010 9:50 AM | Report abuse

"I hope someday you need medicaid or medicare but can't get it.

My mom's life was saved by medicaid. Indeed, 1000s of lives are saved by medicaid and medicare. Lots of people are poor and have no access to quality care thru no fault of their own or thru lack of trying.

You are not on God's side on this issue."

And you're a deficit chicken on this issue. Next.

Posted by: krazen1211 | December 7, 2010 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Hey, where are the deficit hawks?

Yoohoo.

Helllooooooo.

Anyone there?

Guess not.

Posted by: lauren2010 | December 7, 2010 9:21 AM
'

the funny thing is that if deficit hawks went after the tax cuts and they didn't happen for anyone then the poor would suffer the most. The "rich" as you despise them would simply increase their accounting fees to evade the taxes. The poor don't have that ability to do that. If you looked at the big picture you'd see that.

Posted by: visionbrkr | December 7, 2010 9:59 AM | Report abuse

@Ezra: "For the record, if the White House had wanted a fight, it could have simply announced that it would veto any tax-cut compromises that retained the breaks for income over $250,000."

And then the Republicans could have argued that it was Obama allowing the tax cuts to expire (thus, taxes to be raised) on the middle class. Obama took the role as defender of the middle class, and he's not going to be any worse off for it. I realize many good liberals were prefer to have had their own taxes go up, as long as the rich also had their taxes increased, but some people care less about getting even with the rich than getting to keep a little money in their own pocket come April 15th.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | December 7, 2010 9:59 AM | Report abuse

@Kevin,

well said except that for most of the middle class that tax increase comes January 1st. Now they get a slight tax cut with this deal. now as you'll agree they don't get their pound of flesh from the evil rich people but i guess that's why its a compromise. The only loser here is the deficit.

Posted by: visionbrkr | December 7, 2010 10:05 AM | Report abuse

This deal is all about taxes. There appears to be no direct jobs creation component, nothing to get the long-term employed back into the workforce. Looks like Pres. Obama didn't learn from his mistake in the 2009 stimulus bill, the weak impact of tax cuts to stimulate the economy in this type of recession.

He must be betting that the economy will be much stronger 13 months down the road when those extended unemployment benefits run out again. It is hard to imagine his bargaining position will be stronger given that in all likelihood the unemployment rate in the U.S. will still be in the high 8% to low 9% range at the end of 2011.

And you just know the GOP is going to use the mounting federal deficits as a result of this all tax deal to bash Pres. Obama and the Democrats through 2012 up to the presidential election.

Posted by: tuber | December 7, 2010 10:09 AM | Report abuse

The president is really mired in this idea that as long as he puches hippies, the indies and David Broder will l-u-v him.

BTW, my eight-year-old son was born with a genetic disease, and thanks to a Medicaid waver program started by that flaming liberal, Ronald Reagan, he's doing well.

Posted by: scarlota | December 7, 2010 10:19 AM | Report abuse

"The president is really mired in this idea that as long as he puches hippies, the indies and David Broder will l-u-v him.

BTW, my eight-year-old son was born with a genetic disease, and thanks to a Medicaid waver program started by that flaming liberal, Ronald Reagan, he's doing well."

Another deficit chicken sighted!

Medicaid cost then less than 1/6 of what it does today.

Posted by: krazen1211 | December 7, 2010 10:30 AM | Report abuse

"The president is really mired in this idea that as long as he puches hippies, the indies and David Broder will l-u-v him.

BTW, my eight-year-old son was born with a genetic disease, and thanks to a Medicaid waver program started by that flaming liberal, Ronald Reagan, he's doing well."

Another deficit chicken sighted!

Medicaid cost then less than 1/6 of what it does today.

Posted by: krazen1211 | December 7, 2010 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Ezra:

How about writing one last post on the importance of the findings of the deficit reduction commissions, any of them.

C'mon, do it for old times sake!

Posted by: 54465446 | December 7, 2010 10:38 AM | Report abuse

When this fight happens again and Obama is either a lame duck or (more likely) elected for his last term, taxes will go up. As they must. Though at that time it may well be in the context of a tax code re-write.

Ripeness is all.

Posted by: BHeffernan1 | December 7, 2010 10:58 AM | Report abuse

I love how a true liberal's first reaction in any political discussion is to get personal

"I hope someday you need medicaid or medicare but can't get it." I.e. I hope you need government-sponsored medical care that the rest of us pay for one of these days, and aren't entitled like my mom was, and die so I don't have to listen to you. Nice.

"You are not on God's side on this issue."
Last I checked, God's not a registered voter. He doesn't even have his own political party, hasn't for years. He's kind of above these kinds of things. His medical care plan is what you walk around in every day...before we invented cigarettes, alcohol, asbestos, marijuana, and McDonalds to screw it up.

The Dems had plenty of fight in them when they owned both chambers...and they still managed to let the minority dictate the pace, through, as Time's Mark Halperin put it, "continued discipline and verve in driving the same message since Election Day." I find it interesting that the Dems are demanding a fight not when the odds were in their favor to win, but when the battle is already lost, and it's a matter of who gets to leave the battlefield riding an ass rather than walking...

Posted by: shreddr53 | December 7, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

shreddr wrote:

"Last I checked, God's not a registered voter. He doesn't even have his own political party, hasn't for years. He's kind of above these kinds of things."

Shhh, don't tell that to the Republican Party, let alone the Tea Party. The shock might kill them!

Posted by: 54465446 | December 7, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

"I hope someday you need medicaid or medicare but can't get it."

I second that, but only because that would mean those programs no longer exist.

"You are not on God's side on this issue"

And you really think he's on yours?

Posted by: justin84 | December 7, 2010 11:17 AM | Report abuse

What of leadership on this matter?
President Obama could have taken on both sides of the aisle and both the Senate and the House. This was HIS campaign promise. I didn't vote for him to fail to take action on his own.

Posted by: stevepj | December 7, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

What of leadership on this matter?
President Obama could have taken on both sides of the aisle and both the Senate and the House. This was HIS campaign promise. I didn't vote for him to fail to take action on his own.
YES WE ShOULD!

Posted by: stevepj | December 7, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Ezra, in several posts you assert that a veto threat would have backed the Republican position into a corner (you're not alone in this). As evidence you cite that Republican operatives say as much. But taht claim seems pretty unexamined. How does a veto threat change the dynamics? Sure, it's a bold seeming tactic - but a) is it credible? b)whose mind / behavior does it change?

Posted by: damnpost1 | December 7, 2010 12:31 PM | Report abuse

vision: "the funny thing is that if deficit hawks went after the tax cuts and they didn't happen for anyone then the poor would suffer the most."

You obviously missed the point of my post about wondering where the deficit hawks were/are. Let me be more clear for you. This deal proves there are no deficit hawks in either party. The GOP just won a landslide election mostly on the deficit issue and here they are adding unnecessary $100s of billion for more tax cuts for the absurdly wealthy. If the GOP had a soul and truly cared about deficits and the poor they would not favor extending the high end tax cuts. Those high end tax cuts are the very worst thing that we can do right now to help the economy, the deficits, and the poor.

vision: "The "rich" as you despise them would simply increase their accounting fees to evade the taxes."

Wherever did you get the idea I despise the rich? I'm one of them. Just because I favor a certain tax policy doesn't mean idiots like you should assume I despise the rich. You need to take a course in logic.

vision: "The poor don't have that ability to do that. If you looked at the big picture you'd see that."

I'd love to look at your crayon drawings that reflect your understanding of the world. Please post them somewhere.

Posted by: lauren2010 | December 7, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

"The GOP just won a landslide election mostly on the deficit issue and here they are adding unnecessary $100s of billion for more tax cuts for the absurdly wealthy. If the GOP had a soul and truly cared about deficits and the poor they would not favor extending the high end tax cuts. Those high end tax cuts are the very worst thing that we can do right now to help the economy, the deficits, and the poor.

Wherever did you get the idea I despise the rich? I'm one of them. Just because I favor a certain tax policy doesn't mean idiots "

You obviously married some sugar daddy then. No sane rich person would refer to $300k income as 'absurdly rich'.

Posted by: krazen1211 | December 7, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Obama could have played hardball with the bully pulpit, just by picking some non-controversial items, like interstate bridges, block grants for police coverage, and saying, "Here's how much this will cost for one year for such-and-such a place. The voters said they want us to get tough on the deficit, and on earmarks, those locally-targeted expenditures. And I say to you, that all you have to do to get rid of "big government" -- including these items -- is to extend the tax cuts. I won't sign another credit card bill for you, that's not what you told us you want. So please call your member of Congress and let them know which of these services and facilities you want to go first. But bear in mind, within five years, they will ALL be gone anyway."

Posted by: revelz | December 7, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

"You obviously married some sugar daddy then. No sane rich person would refer to $300k income as 'absurdly rich'."

To be more specific, it's any income above 250K, which again, in today's economy, unless you're living in a rural area, is nowhere near rich. Saving up $1M is no sure-fire retirement nest egg anymore.

Warren Buffett says rich people should pay more taxes...and he is absurdly rich...I think that answers the question. My next question is this...even if this passes...what about the bipartisan commission's recommendation to raise taxes on a sliding scale? Just because you dodge this tax proposal doesn't mean you'll dodge that one. And that one had Republican (albeit minimal) support. Noted, they lost the vote to bring the whole thing to floor--but that doesn't stop individual measures being brought to the floor by singular sponsors...the comisssion's recommendations can still be passed piecemeal...

Posted by: shreddr53 | December 7, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Barack Obama has shown me for the LAST time, that he is a GUTLESS pansy without ANY core principles! This clown would compromise the welfare of his girls, if the teabag/Republicans demanded such. The kid and his crew are clueless when it comes to playing major league politics, Obama's words ain't worth a hill of beans because they can't be TRUSTED.

Posted by: mdavis0505 | December 7, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

krazen

Make whatever assumptions about me you wish if it makes your permanent and subservient status to your corporate masters feel more acceptable. Fool!

BTW, 99% of people who have at least $250,000 of taxable income per year are doing quite well and are indeed on the threshold of being, or are, absurdly wealthy. They can easily afford a return to Clinton-era tax rates, which are still among some of the lowest in the entire western world. These same people did quite well prior to 2003 with those same tax rates, a time when the economy and jobs increased.

Posted by: lauren2010 | December 7, 2010 1:35 PM | Report abuse

"...[Clinton/Dems passed] the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 which cut government spending, created a 36% individual income tax bracket, raised the top tax bracket, which encompassed the top 1.2% earning taxpayers, from 31% to 39.6%, and created a 35% income tax rate for corporations.[10] The 1993 Budget Act also cut taxes for fifteen million low-income families and 90% of small businesses. After Clinton's re-election in 1996, [Democrats and Republicans] were able to cooperate and pass the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997, which lowered the top capital gains tax rate from 28% to 20% and the 15% rate to 10%.

So even though Clinton raised income taxes on the wealthy in 1993, he dropped the capital gains tax on them 4 yrs later...


Posted by: shreddr53 | December 7, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

lauren,

wait, didn't you say at one point a couple of days back that you don't take personal attacks at me? Your post from 12:35PM EST is nothing but personal attacks.

---------------------

vision: "The poor don't have that ability to do that. If you looked at the big picture you'd see that."

I'd love to look at your crayon drawings that reflect your understanding of the world. Please post them somewhere.

Posted by: lauren2010 | December 7, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

so wait does someone who makes minimum wage have a stable of accountants available to them (or even the need for them) while the rich have them readily available on retainer?


Do you own a dunce cap or just rent it by the hour?

Listen I don't care if you're Warren Buffett or don't have a pot to pis$ in. The point is that you don't have an idea what you're talking about because you incorrectly (as many others around here including me pointed out to you and including some admited progressives around here) believe that the elimination of the MID would hurt the poor more than it would hurt the wealthy of which now you claim to be a member of.

If you honestly spent as much time working to make something of yourself as you do on railing against me and the "rich" (of which I am not one of) then maybe you actually could be what you claim to be.

Posted by: visionbrkr | December 7, 2010 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Case in point, the majority of the so-called, color tv, cell phone carrying, satellite tv owning POOR do NOT pay any taxes.

Posted by: candyzky | December 7, 2010 3:18 PM | Report abuse

"The point is that you don't have an idea what you're talking about because you incorrectly (as many others around here including me pointed out to you and including some admited progressives around here) believe that the elimination of the MID would hurt the poor more than it would hurt the wealthy of which now you claim to be a member of. "

No, her point in this discussion has been that the tax breaks reduce revenue available to kill the deficit...which some form of tax raise is going to be required at some point in order to address--spending cuts are not the cure-all. There is going to have to be a balance. What gets cut and what gets taxed is the next piece...the reason this topic is hitting so close is that folks who feel more taxes and less cuts are the answer are losing the opening round...

Posted by: shreddr53 | December 7, 2010 3:20 PM | Report abuse

shreddr53,

you addressed the question without calling me an idiot several times over as lauren has done countless times. When she doesn't agree with someone its either an idiot or she'd refer to justin's "logic and facts" as incoherent babbling. that's not the way to make a point.

you're correct we do need to address taxes and a simpler tax code that could raise more and in turn be easier for all to understand. I'm all for that but you need to have both sides. Entitlement reform AND tax reform and no amount of childish name calling is going to change those facts.


As far as the mortgage interest deduction that I reference Lauren has said on here several times that removing deduction is a move pushed by the rich to help then when everyone else (including Ezra for what its worth) correctly knows that it being in place helps the upper middle class and rich more than the poor (many of whom rent).

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

Vis--completely agree on her being overly personal in her responses, hence my first post about true liberals...

Also find it interesting that she says her mom was saved by medicaid...but she says she's wealthy...so more than likely she has the money to pay for a decent health plan for her mom? If not, one must ask some interesting questions there...

The MID is not just about the upper class anymore...unless you're just one of those statistical anomalies whose house was not affected by the bubble burst and didn't lose thousands/10s-of-thousands/100s-of-thousands in equity when the value of your home and mortgage dropped like a stone, yet you're still making the same payments...

Posted by: shreddr53 | December 7, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

shreddr53,

if i cared at all i'd call her on the "i'm poor, no I'm rich thing. As I said, "who cares".

Agreed about your point on the MID but she was trying to state before that it was some sort of conspiracy that the rich wanted it removed to make them richer or some non-sense like that. IMO it would affect the rich more but then again they can afford to take the hit more than the poor can.

Posted by: visionbrkr | December 8, 2010 9:38 AM | Report abuse

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