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Defining "compromise"

By Greg Sargent

Can we please bag this idea that it's somehow a "compromise" in any meaningful sense if we temporarily extend all the Bush tax cuts, including the ones for the rich? Come on. It's really capitulation. Temporary capitulation, perhaps, but capitulation all the same.

Sam Stein reports that the White House is reiterating a willingness to discuss a temporary extension as part of some sort of deal with Republicans:

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs reiterated on Thursday that the president will be open to extending the upper-end Bush tax cuts for one or two years as part of a broader compromise with Republicans.

"He would be open to having that discussion and open to listening to what the debate is on both sides of that," said Gibbs, during an off-camera gaggle with reporters. "Obviously... making those tax cuts for the upper end permanent is something the president does not believe is a good idea."

There is a way a one-year or two-year temporary extension could represent a compromise of sorts: If Republicans signal a willingness to at least entertain the idea of letting the high end cuts expire after that temporary extension. But many of them aren't doing that. Their position is that the high-end cuts need to be made permanent. Full stop. And that's fine: That's their position. It's understandable that they would stick to it.

According to Dictionary.com, the definition of "compromise" is a "settlement of differences by mutual concessions." But it's unclear what Republicans would be conceding here. If they aren't willing to signal genuine openness to a discussion about letting the high end cuts expire later -- a fair line of inquiry for reporters -- a temporary extension is merely kicking the can down the road. It's doing it the Republicans' way for now, on the understanding that we'll have this same conversation again in one or two years.

Yes, even some Democrats support this approach, on the grounds that it's the only conceivable way to ensure that the tax cuts continue for those under $250,000. It's true that this may be the ony way to get that done. And Dem leaders ultimately may end up going along. But let's not call it a compromise.

By Greg Sargent  | November 4, 2010; 12:28 PM ET
Categories:  House Dems, House GOPers, Senate Dems, Senate Republicans, economy  
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Comments

"Their position is that the high-end cuts need to be made permanent. Full stop."

EXACTLY! So, anything short of that (including a "temporary" extension) is still a settlement of differences by mutual concessions. NOT compromising would look like this: "Permanent tax cuts or nothing!"

What is so hard to understand about that?!

Posted by: JakeD2 | November 4, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Jake, come on. Unless they are willing to entertain the possibility of letting them expire after two years, they are conceding exactly nothing by doing a temporary extension.

By contrast, Obama and Dems are conceding ground.

What is so hard to understand about that?

Posted by: Greg Sargent | November 4, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

"It's true that this may be the ony way to get that done."

No it's not! This is an totallywinning issue for the Dems...assuming they could muster a ounce of political courage. (Yes! It is a big assumption) The truth is, they do not have to compromise at all.

Just (at last, for God's sake you freaking cowards!!) force the GOP to be totally exposed on the public place with nowhere to hide. Have them say it: We want the rich to get richer and we do not care what'll take to get it.

Posted by: grosmec | November 4, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

BTW: a two-year "temporary" extension could also represent a great TEA Party campaign issue for Gov. Palin to bash the DEMS (and any remaining RINOs) who refuse to vote for a permanent tax cut in 2012!

LOL!!!

Posted by: JakeD2 | November 4, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

grosmec -- Dems would have to be willing to play one heck of a game of chicken for that to happen.

And if they all expired, including those for the middle class, Dems would get the blame (at least that's what they fear)

Posted by: Greg Sargent | November 4, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

I got a compromise.

Keep it at 36% for the next two years but then raise it to 45% after that to make up for lost revenue.

Then, make the rates permanent until the country is debt free.

After that, then they can start tweaking things.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | November 4, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

What a bunch of slow learners.

Both parties are supply siders. All this talk about the working guy needing a job and balancing the budget is akin to the vicious junta running Burma calling itself the State Peace and Development Council (and they do).

The rich buy the votes, what has it never occurred to anybody why people might spend millions and millions of dollars on candidates who pose as populists?

Posted by: shrink2 | November 4, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Democrats in the Senate should produce two bills. One extends the tax cuts for people earning under $250,000 a year and the other does the same for people above $250,000. That forces the Republicans to defend cuts for the rich without taking the rest of Americans hostage.

Both bills might pass, but if Obama has any courage, he can veto the second one.

Posted by: mthand111 | November 4, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

mthand, oohhh yeah, class war. It has to happen. It is going to happen. The sooner the better. And we need a trade war too, though actually, we are in the middle of one, but no one seems to care that we are being loaned the money to buy what we buy by our principal antagonist. I'll bet the Chinese leaders know ever detail about how the opium 'trade' went for them, feeling like you have no choice but to be on the receiving end of a very bad deal.

Posted by: shrink2 | November 4, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

mthand111:

Republicans in the House (you know, where appropriation bills are supposed to originate under the U.S. Constitution?) should produce one bill that extends all of the Bush tax cuts for two years. That forces the Democrats to vote AGAINST middle class tax cuts and, if passed anyway, Obama to veto.

LOL!!!

Posted by: JakeD2 | November 4, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Art. I, Sec. 7, Clause 1:

"All bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives ..."

Posted by: JakeD2 | November 4, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

I'm sorry but when do Republicans take over the gavel?

Posted by: mikefromArlington | November 4, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Boehner, where are the jobs and when are you going to "man up?"

Posted by: mikefromArlington | November 4, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Anyone else?

Posted by: JakeD2 | November 4, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

"WASHINGTON (AP) -- The number of people seeking jobless benefits jumped sharply last week, after two straight weeks of declines."

Must have been in anticipation of a Republican controlled House.

They know Republicans are anti-American worker and pro-outsourcing. Why else would the U.S. Chamber of Commerce overwhelmingly back Republicans?

Posted by: mikefromArlington | November 4, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

At last! Someone is headlining my big question. "POLITICO" headlines this:

"CAN OBAMA PULL A CLINTON?"

The full question is this:

Can Obama pull a Clinton to avoid becoming a Carter???

It's the big question of 2011 and 2012.

I don't think Obama will be as good as Clinton was in playing political chameleon.

And a lot depends on the quality of the Republican candidate. If Republicans nominate another, used up, old RINO in 2012, it will be playing right into Obama's hand.

Have Republicans learned their Dole/McCain lesson?? They had best learn.

NO MORE OLD RINOs<<<<<<<<<

Posted by: battleground51 | November 4, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Here's a winning strategy:
=================
Just (at last, for God's sake you freaking cowards!!) force the GOP to be totally exposed on the public place with nowhere to hide. Have them say it: We want the rich to get richer and we do not care what'll take to get it.

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

I sincerely hope that the Democrats run on the above concept. It should make getting a majority in the senate a snap.

I take it that the author of the above isn't rich. Just too funny.

I fervently hope that the rich get richer. I hope that everybody willing to work hard and take risks gets richer. Wealth isn't a zero sum game and success for one American does NOT mean failure for another. I wonder why the closet marxists like grosmec don't understand that.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | November 4, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Politico are a bunch of turds. Mike Allan has a childish smirk every time I see him on the TV I want to smack off.

They are a bunch of gossip columnists.

Politico is the TMZ of politics.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | November 4, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

battleground51:

Do you think that Mitt Romney is a RINO?

Posted by: JakeD2 | November 4, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Who is Mitt Romney? Oh now I remember, I thought his career in politics was over.

Posted by: shrink2 | November 4, 2010 1:25 PM | Report abuse

I wasn't asking you.

Posted by: JakeD2 | November 4, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

All, great stuff from Joe Klein:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2010/11/ideological_myopia.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | November 4, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

He sure was MIA yesterday.
Is he sick, on vacation?

Posted by: shrink2 | November 4, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

"Can we please bag this idea that it's somehow a "compromise" in any meaningful sense if we temporarily extend all the Bush tax cuts, including the ones for the rich? Come on. It's really capitulation. "

Two words. Presidential. Veto. C'mon President Obama, take charge. For god's sake the country needs you to step up. The Congressional ninnies just self-destructed. It's your turn to be in charge.

Posted by: wbgonne | November 4, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

"Can we please bag this idea that it's somehow a "compromise" in any meaningful sense if we temporarily extend all the Bush tax cuts?"

Hmmm, I think... not.

I'll keep calling it a compromise - because that's what it is. If what the GOP wants is a permanent extension, and what they'll concede to is a temporary extension, then that is a compromise.

Posted by: sbj3 | November 4, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Anyone know what Obama is asking for in return for a 2 year extension of tax cuts for the rich?

Posted by: sold2u | November 4, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Greg

Americans as a whole have never been comfortable dividing the nation along class lines.

Your position appears to be: Republicans agree to class warfare, or it is not compromise.


.

Posted by: PolarBearMadness | November 4, 2010 2:48 PM | Report abuse

I'll keep calling it a compromise - because that's what it is. If what the GOP wants is a permanent extension, and what they'll concede to is a temporary extension, then that is a compromise.

Posted by: sbj3
-------------------------------------------

I don't know if you can sell that. But does it really matter? If the House passes a 2 year extension for everyone, all anyone is going to remember is if the Democratic Senate passes it or if Obama vetoes it.
All this other stuff is a fun debate and all, but if Obama were to veto that bill nobody is going to care whether the 2 years deal was a compromise or not.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | November 4, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse

In terms of fiscal responsibility, there isn't much difference between extending all of the tax cuts for 10 years ($4T) and all but $250K+ ($3.3T). It's like someone being in deep debt and talking about economizing by purchasing a new Chevy instead of a Buick.

BTW - Has anyone seen sPeaker Boehner's birth certificate? ;-)

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | November 4, 2010 2:58 PM | Report abuse

@ashotinthedark: I tend to agree with you. If the cuts go through in any form then Obama, the Dems, and the GOP all get to declare they worked together for the good of the country. If Obama vetos anything - permanent or temporary extension - then Obama and the Dems will get all the blame. It's a lose-lose for Obama and the Dems.

Posted by: sbj3 | November 4, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Also, let's not call it an incredibly stupid thing to do since six months ago they would have gotten credit for it, and now they look like they have been whipped into doing it.

Just another reason that for the Dems, this year was the most poorly conceived re-election strategy in a generation.

Posted by: 54465446 | November 4, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Anyone know what Obama is asking for in return for a 2 year extension of tax cuts for the rich?

Posted by: sold2u | November 4, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Sure. Mitch McConnell will promise not to call Obama names for an hour. Hey, what more can you expect when you only control the White House and the Senate?

Posted by: wbgonne | November 4, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

@ashotinthedark: I tend to agree with you. If the cuts go through in any form then Obama, the Dems, and the GOP all get to declare they worked together for the good of the country. If Obama vetos anything - permanent or temporary extension - then Obama and the Dems will get all the blame. It's a lose-lose for Obama and the Dems.

Posted by: sbj3 | November 4, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

So I guess the deficit is gone now. Good to hear. Anyhow, I'm sure you have the Dems' best interests at heart.

Posted by: wbgonne | November 4, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

@wbgonne: On a personal note, you are coming across as very bitter and angry at everyone lately.

"Banish all dismay
Extinguish every sorrow
If I'm lost or I'm forgiven
The birds will still be singing"

After Obama won I noticed that the sun still rose the next day. The union is not broken and you will survive.

As to your comment: "So I guess the deficit is gone now. Good to hear."

Even Obama wants to make the middle class rates permanent... sounds as if your disagreement is with him.

Posted by: sbj3 | November 4, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

FairlingtonBlade:

As you know, Boehner is not the Speaker of the House yet AND that position does not require "natural born" citizenship ; )

Posted by: JakeD2 | November 4, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

As far as actual compromises go, has anyone proposed creating a new tax bracket at, say, $500k or $1,000,000? I'd personally prefer seeing the tax cut expire for anyone earning over $250k, but I could live with keeping it there for some of them, if a higher bracket were put in place at the pre-tax cut levels, so at least the very well-off could pay their share relative to the advantages they enjoy in our society. Wouldn't Republicans have a harder time defending their position if the only group facing higher rates were millionaires?

Posted by: zenarcade | November 4, 2010 3:51 PM | Report abuse

The tax cuts are for EVERYONE that pays income tax! Even millionaires will receive a tax cut. The only question is, do we all receive a tax cut on the first $250K or do we all receive a tax cut on the first $1M we make or the first $10M?

People talk about this as if the rich will be left out if we don't extend tax cuts over $250K. They will still get a tax cut, just like everyone else.

Posted by: Yardbird123 | November 4, 2010 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Yardbird123:

Some of us are well aware of that. We just know that it's not the government's money in the first place. Did you know there isn't much difference between extending all of the tax cuts for 10 years ($4T) and all but $250K+ ($3.3T)? It's like someone being in deep debt and talking about economizing by purchasing a new Chevy instead of a Buick.

Posted by: JakeD2 | November 4, 2010 5:07 PM | Report abuse

Where were you yesterday, Joke, stocking up on diapers?

Posted by: Observer691 | November 4, 2010 5:43 PM | Report abuse

He was busy copying my metaphors.

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | November 4, 2010 11:49 PM | Report abuse

The REpublicans must be adopting obozo's definition of Compromise: Shut up idiot and do what I tell you.

Posted by: Incredulous52 | November 4, 2010 11:58 PM | Report abuse

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