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Posted at 8:33 AM ET, 12/10/2010

The Morning Plum

By Greg Sargent

* Obama tax cut deal will pass the Senate: Senate Dems have now unveiled their final $858 billion version of the tax cut deal, and the sweeteners added for Dems -- extensions of expiring subsidies for alternative-energy sources, among other things -- mean it's all but certain to pass the Senate.

The question now is whether the added goodies will be enough to begin to soothe angry House Dems, or whether they'll hold out for changes to the bill's estate tax provision. It's going to be up to Nancy Pelosi to decide how hard to fight and whether to insist on big changes before allowing a House vote on the tax package.

* The "triangulation" debate rages on and on: I noted the other day that Obama is not practicing Clinton-era triangulation, but the charge won't go away, and now White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer goes on the record with Politico to deny that the President is practicing that dark art:

"Triangulation as I understand it is an intentional political strategy to win favor with swing voters by pushing off the left. That's not what the President is doing and that's not our strategy. The president is responding to several very loud voices fromthe left who said we should fight even if people's taxes go up. The President strongly disagrees with that position and he is arguing his case."

* And David Brooks this morning makes a case similar to mine: Obama isn't triangulating; he's merely disagreeing with some on the left over what's achievable in the real world.

However, Brooks's argument about "cluster liberals" wanting nothing but confrontation because they hate their ideological enemies is total nonsense. The argument some on the left have with Obama is that adopting a more confrontational public negotiating stance early on, rather than telegraphing a desire for compromise, would work better for him in practical terms.

* Some House Dems are really, really, really angry about the tax deal: Rep. Jim Moran of Virgina is furious:

"This is a lack of leadership on the part of Obama," fumed Moran (D-Va.) "I don't know where the f*** Obama is on this or anything else. They're AWOL."

* But is it time for House Dems to approve the deal? Eugene Robinson says House Dems need to embrace the inevitable and live to fight another day, because for now their leverage is gone and defeating the deal would be a "phyrric victory."

* The view from the right: Charles Krauthammer is very unhappy about the deal, claiming the real story is that Obama rolled Republicans: "Barack Obama won the great tax-cut showdown of 2010 -- and House Democrats don't have a clue that he did."

* Power-liberal big-money types threaten revolt: Top Dem donors threaten to withold support from Obama in 2012 over the tax deal. Stick this one in the we'll-believe-it-when-we-see-it file.

* Obama backs new effort to repeal don't ask don't tell: With Joe Lieberman and Susan Collins vowing to introduce a stand-alone repeal bill, the White House "is willing to explore all legislative options to reach this goal during the lame duck session."

* And: Jonathan Capehart says Obama has to be the one to get it done.

* What to watch for: Look for the failure of DADT repeal to lead to even louder calls for filibuster reform. More on this later.

* And get ready for Chuck Schumer versus Obama: With Schumer adopting a lead messaging role, Shailagh Murray's report on tensions between he and Obama over the tax cut deal suggests we may be heading for a period of more confrontation and disagreement between the White House and Senate Dems. Could get very interesting.

What else is happening?

By Greg Sargent  | December 10, 2010; 8:33 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Plum  
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Next: Is the administration caving on federal criminal trials for Gitmo detainees?

Comments

"Triangulation as I understand it is an intentional political strategy to win favor with swing voters by pushing off the left."

It depends on what the meaning of "triangulation" is.

"The president is responding to several very loud voices fromthe left who said we should fight even if people's taxes go up. The President strongly disagrees with that position and he is arguing his case"

Spoken like a good Conservative Republican.

Obama doesn't need to meet w Bill Clinton today; he's already aboard with the DLC Program to destroy the Democratic Party.

Posted by: wbgonne | December 10, 2010 8:48 AM | Report abuse

"Former president Bill Clinton will come to the White House on Friday afternoon for a meeting with President Obama, the administration announced Thursday night".

"White House officials have not said what the pair will discuss, but their meeting comes at a very intriguing time: Some Democrats who thought Clinton hewed to the political center too much after the party lost in the 1994 elections have said they are worried they are seeing another Democratic president's attempt at "triangulation."

Now, let the lessons of 1994 begin.

Posted by: battleground51 | December 10, 2010 8:49 AM | Report abuse

"Eugene Robinson says House Dems need to embrace the inevitable"

No We Can't!

No We Can't!

No We Can't!

Posted by: wbgonne | December 10, 2010 8:50 AM | Report abuse

"Charles Krauthammer is very unhappy about the deal, claiming the real story is that Obama rolled Republicans: "Barack Obama won the great tax-cut showdown of 2010 -- and House Democrats don't have a clue that he did.":

Methinks Chuckie is fibbing.

Posted by: wbgonne | December 10, 2010 8:51 AM | Report abuse

"Power-liberal big-money types threaten revolt: Top Dem donors threaten to withold support from Obama in 2012 over the tax deal. Stick this one in the we'll-believe-it-when-we-see-it file."

By the time you see enough to believe it it will be too late. Sort of like Global Warming for the Cons.

Posted by: wbgonne | December 10, 2010 8:53 AM | Report abuse

"Senate Dems have now unveiled their final $858 billion version of the tax cut deal, and the sweeteners added for Dems -- extensions of expiring subsidies for alternative-energy sources, among other things -- mean it's all but certain to pass the Senate."

Because that strategy of giveaways, payoffs and bribes worked oh-so-well for health care reform. Oh, wait a minute ....

Posted by: wbgonne | December 10, 2010 8:56 AM | Report abuse

Greg:

"What else..."

Not sure if anyone here has mentioned this one yet, but apparently one Dem had some choice words for the Prez.

http://blogs.abcnews.com/thenote/2010/12/which-democrat-said-fk-the-president.html

Posted by: ScottC3 | December 10, 2010 9:09 AM | Report abuse

wbgonne, there is more spending than tax cuts in the final deal. "Chuckie" makes a good point that "In exchange for temporarily forgoing a small rise in upper-income rates, Obama pulled out of a hat a massive new stimulus - what the left has been begging for since the failure of Stimulus I but was heretofore politically unattainable." Obama may have just saved his own re-election.

Posted by: clawrence12 | December 10, 2010 9:17 AM | Report abuse

I'll believe filibuster reform when I see it. The Senate seems too accustomed to regard 57 out of 100 as a defeat. America is on a turbo-charged trajectory toward self-destruction on a gleaming track of market fundamentalism and other irrational conservative beliefs. The momentum is too great at this locomotive to be slowed.

All aboard!

Posted by: caothien9 | December 10, 2010 9:17 AM | Report abuse

-- * The "triangulation" debate rages on and on: --

Sure Obama isn't triangulating. That's why this morning's NYT top two articles are about:

A) Signing onto the catfood commission tax recommendations and

B) Backing off on tougher emissions controls.

Because everybody knows the left will love weaker pollution rules and of course they just absolutely swooned over Obama's deficit commissions recommendations.

Get used to it Democratic base. This is what you'll see for the next two years.

And the only people denying it's triangulation will be the administration and their apologists in the "left" blogospere...

Posted by: unymark | December 10, 2010 9:24 AM | Report abuse

All these pundits are getting it wrong, as is Obama. The tax deal isn't just the last straw in a series of back-breakers, it's the deal-breaker of all deal-breakers. There's no earthly reason to give tax breaks to the wealthy; not only is it bad for the country, not only is it renegging on a promise really important to us, not only is it a grotesque capitulation to the infantile Republicans .. the only reason for doing it is to pay homage to a supply-side myth without a shred of truth in it.

And coming on the heels of such vast transfers of wealth to the super-rich under Bush and the bailouts, it's not something we're going to forgive nor forget about. As far as I'm concerned we're in Bush the Lesser's third term.

Posted by: caothien9 | December 10, 2010 9:26 AM | Report abuse

Obama is backing down on CO2 emissions and he already backed down on Israeli settlements. We're playing with the end of the world in both cases.

Ask yourself: what would W be doing any differently? Aside from histrionics, I mean.

Posted by: caothien9 | December 10, 2010 9:30 AM | Report abuse

"Obama isn't triangulating; he's merely disagreeing with some on the left over what's achievable in the real world."

I think this is right, and a reasonable strategy, but why wait until now, with Pfeiffer's statement, to say so? It's come across as hippie-punching because WH public statements have mostly been along the lines of whining about "the professional left" or whatever.

Jonathan Berenstein had a very good observation about how effective the Bush WH was at providing dog whistles and symbolic victories to social conservatives, even as he couldn't deliver on substance. Yet, the Obama WH has been utterly incapable on this front. Yes, liberals want substantive legislative achievements that won't always be delivered, but the WH could go a long way toward making them feel he is one of them.

Posted by: jbossch | December 10, 2010 9:33 AM | Report abuse

Well I suppose I could sell one of my houses here and buy this place, where I could live life as a proud socialist, instead of a petulant, thumb sucking bed wetter...

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/12/08/greathomesanddestinations/20101208nz_ss.html?hp#1

I still can't believe Peter Orzag is going to Citi the same week Citi got out of the TARP program. No shame.

Posted by: shrink2 | December 10, 2010 9:34 AM | Report abuse

caothien9, the tax breaks to the wealthy are only 1/5 of this total Stimulus II. Hopefully, the Democrats in the House scuttle this compromise.

Posted by: clawrence12 | December 10, 2010 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) may vote with the Democrats to oppose the final bill. Then the Republican-controlled House can take over in January.

Posted by: clawrence12 | December 10, 2010 9:46 AM | Report abuse

What else?

"Ron Paul, Walter Jones Write Letter Opposing Obama’s NAFTA-Style Korea Free Trade Deal"

http://fdlaction.firedoglake.com/2010/12/09/ron-paul-walter-jones-write-letter-opposing-obamas-nafta-style-korea-free-trade-deal/

The hits just keep on coming.

Posted by: wbgonne | December 10, 2010 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Why do Republican voters worship rich people? They think people who recognize the danger inherent in ever widening income disparity are just envious of the rich and pride themselves in not being so. But actually, they are so enthralled by the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few, they can't understand the danger.

And with so much focus on the federal debt crisis, people have simply ignored the ongoing disaster of the state and municipal debt crisis.


Posted by: shrink2 | December 10, 2010 9:54 AM | Report abuse

The most bizarre thing about this tax cut deal is that House members are ticked off at Obama, when really this is ALL the Senate's fault.

If Democratic Senators had demanded a functioning Senate--eliminating or severely reducing the filibuster--we would have passed much, much better legislation on these tax cuts months ago (and House members could have campaigned on it!). We also would have passed Energy legislation, DADT, a stronger finreg package, a better and more effective stimulus (lower unemployment rate!), and probably a whole bunch more helpful things for middle class earners. And all these would have been budget-neutral, except the middle class tax cuts and the stimulus. In fact, the energy bill would have cut the deficit.

But instead of being mad at the Senate and at the incredibly childish and selfish Senators who would rather see failure after failure after failure than have people stop sucking up to them, they are mad at Obama.

Its unquestionably the dysfunctional Senate's fault the House flipped. The only thing they really had to run on was fin reg, which wasn't as strong as it needed to be, and the health bill which became extremely unpopular as the process dragged out for over a year and we had to strip out good provisions and add pork to get 60 votes.

The House's problem is the filibuster, not Obama. If we had a functional Senate, we wouldn't be talking about the tax cut bill because it would have passed already, and we'd still have the House, as well as Senate seats in PA, IL, and maybe even IN.

Just unreal.

Posted by: theorajones1 | December 10, 2010 9:55 AM | Report abuse

-- * Power-liberal big-money types threaten revolt: --

This one I actually agree with Greg on. I too will believe it when I see it. And the same goes for most of the base that is currently complaining so loudly about Obama's sellouts.

Unlike rank and file conservatives who followed through on threats to abandon Bush I when he broke his "no new taxes" pledge, and have been catered too ever since, rank and file Democrats, and their filthy rich big money counter parts always come slinking back when election time comes around.

And the only thing more disgusting and pathetic than a sell-out corporate you know what is a self defecating, tail between it's legs, whipped pup coming back to get yet another beating.

Eventually rank and file Democrats will figure out that nothing will change until they make the Democratic Party, and leadership, pay a price for constantly selling out to the corporations and Republicans.

Needless to say I won't be holding my breath waiting for this to happen.

Posted by: unymark | December 10, 2010 10:01 AM | Report abuse

just wasted my time on the Krauthammer article.....that guy is wrong about EVERYTHING and this time is no different.

Posted by: SDJeff | December 10, 2010 10:02 AM | Report abuse

"...just wasted my time on the Krauthammer article..."

are you kidding, why? that guy is a psychopath and stupid to boot

Posted by: shrink2 | December 10, 2010 10:05 AM | Report abuse

theorajones1, you do realize that the "final" tax cut deal was negotiated by, and mainly written from, the White House, right?

Posted by: clawrence12 | December 10, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse

shrink:

"Why do Republican voters worship rich people?"

Why do shrinks beat their wives?

Posted by: ScottC3 | December 10, 2010 10:09 AM | Report abuse

@jbossch: ah, but social conservatves AKA the religious right are a completely different crew.

(1) Religious conservatives never had any doubt Bush was one of them. To see him thwarted was perfectly in line with their paranoia, ever beset upon by the forces of evil. That he couldn't deliver decapitated liberal heads only meant that the Evil One was afoot; they were perfectly confident that he'd tried.

(2) Religious conservatives are *patient*. When they don't get their way the don't give up, they think in generations. They know that Gawt is on their side and Gawt is ever thirsty for blood. When the Scopes trial set them back forty years they stayed organized, got their people into the school boards and the little municipal posts nobody paid attention to. They got another shot with Goldwater, they scored with Reagan, and with Bush the Lesser they hit pay dirt. Theirs has been a series of increasing victories and in the incurious idiocy of Palin they're ready to bring about the end of the world that is forever their fascination., They can know that she WILL deliver, and not just abortion doctors, but a dead planet, and boy are they excited about THAT.

Posted by: caothien9 | December 10, 2010 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Palin is a reader. (Note the last graph)...

http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/254927/palin-touts-bookworm-side-katrina-trinko

Posted by: bernielatham | December 10, 2010 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Curious:

When a Dem president slippery slopes off and away to the center it's called triangulation. Never mind all the non-stuff nuance fluttering around whether O. is triangulating or not. My question: what's it called when a GOP president slides to the center?

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

All, new post from Adam Serwer asking whether Obama is caving on Gitmo detainee trials:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2010/12/is_the_administration_caving_o.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | December 10, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse

shrink said: "why do republicans worship rich people?"

Not sure. Why do you toss in the hints that you are in possession of wealth yourself?

By the by... it seems that STRF has been blocked. Do I have this right?

Posted by: bernielatham | December 10, 2010 10:34 AM | Report abuse

"From Judith Miller to Julian Assange
December 9th, 2010 by Jay Rosen

Our press somehow got itself on the wrong side of secrecy after September 11th..."

http://pressthink.org/2010/12/from-judith-miller-to-julian-assange/

It's only over the last few months that I've discovered and begun attending to Jay Rosen. Very smart guy.

Posted by: bernielatham | December 10, 2010 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Palin is a reader. (Note the last graph)...

http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/254927/palin-touts-bookworm-side-katrina-trinko

Posted by: bernielatham | December 10, 2010 10:17 AM.

..........................

A Palm Reader, that is. Rim shot please. Try the veal. I will be here all week.

Posted by: Liam-still | December 10, 2010 10:55 AM | Report abuse

The extension of the clean energy subsidies is a huge, huge deal and makes the deal worth passing. Especially if next year the GOP does really go after the ethanol subsidies and even some of the oil subsidies.

Gene Robinson is right. the time for all this breastbeating and grandstanding was a few months ago when the House wouldn't take up the tax issues because the Blue Dogs weere too scared. This is mostly posturing by people who would have done much better if they'd had more fight mopnths ago.

Posted by: Mimikatz | December 10, 2010 10:56 AM | Report abuse

"Why do you toss in the hints..."

Its ok to be rich if you don't think its fair, right?
My mother's Quaker Meeting on Brattle Street in Cambridge used to torment themselves in this regard. They had tons of money, but they were Quakers...doesn't bother me a bit. Like someone said, I've been rich and I've been poor and rich is better. Besides, in a nod to the global warming problem, I got rid of the helicopter lawn ornament.

Actually, I kinda miss the WaPo trolls Zouk and JakeD; though their pestilential posts were intolerable, a good way to waste time (the whole point of a post it board) was in making fun of their bragging about their lavish lifestyle claims, the boats, the cars. But doesn't that house in New Zealand featured in the NYT today look awesome?

Posted by: shrink2 | December 10, 2010 11:00 AM | Report abuse

So what's the difference between throwing in special sweeteners, to get Senators from agricultural states to vote yes, on the tax deal, that the business as usual in DC, that Obama said he was going to put an end too.

It is still the same old : turning a bill into a Christmas Tree, on which to hang special gifts, regardless of what name President Obama wishes to call it.

Pay no attention children; those are not earmarks hanging from that lovely tree. They are just toys for needy rich tots.

Posted by: Liam-still | December 10, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

It appears that the 2010 Midterm elections was a mandate on raising the debt ceiling by 1 trillion dollars. I'm confused....

Posted by: dozas | December 10, 2010 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Just another post from a keyboardist without the key for "9." Like putting two of them side by side, together and coming up with one less than 100. And then the skill to transform a number (99) to a noun: 99er. As in, those who have exhausted their benefits from as far back as three years ago. Maybe longer. Call us millions the FOLI family: First Out, Last In.

At $300/wk for UI, three years would net $45,000, less 10% tax is roughly $41,000. Throw in the interruptions (the Bunnings of the world) and the complete disregard for millions of very long-termed unemployed, and there is a kettle of hot stew that needs tending. Nobody of a solid mind and long work history getting older wants to or can survive on a shaky $15K/yr.
Blow whatever smoke you want at it, if you see or know someone "gaming" the unemployment "free ride," shame on YOU for not reporting it. A teenager in high school might crave $15K/yr with a job after school and weekends, but not someone who worked forty-plus years, raised a family, supported the economy and government, and believed in the American Dream.

If the millions of us castigated for (supposedly) switching parties in the mid-terms or the millions of us who didn't have a choice between which party was least likely to strand us on an ocean atoll and skipped the privilege of voting are not part of the "deal," there will be a reckoning and there will be an enormous loss of votes. It's not just the 99ers themselves. Their families and friends are going the same path. We've already lost about everything so lecturing about consequences and "What ifs?" is harmless. We didn't quit on them. Quite the opposite.

Posted by: kickoradell | December 10, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

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