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Posted at 4:58 PM ET, 12/ 7/2010

Where was the tax duel we needed?

By Matt Miller

"The issue is not, 'How do I persuade the American people?' They are with me," Obama said during Tuesday's press conference of his desire not to extend the Bush tax cuts for the best off two percent of Americans. "The issue is, 'How do I persuade Republicans in the Senate?' I have not been able to budge them."

But when did the president try? I mean really try -- not by sending Jack Lew and Tim Geithner to say "pretty please" behind closed doors, but by mobilizing public opinion. If polls showed Americans with him, and Republicans in the Senate against, why didn't the president challenge Senate Republicans to a televised debate on the single question of whether extending $120 billion in tax cuts for the top 2 percent over the next two years was sound policy at a time of war and surging debt?

Much as he did with that touted visit to the Republican caucus in 2009, Obama could have gone to the Senate floor, invited the cameras in and given Americans a tutorial in federal finance and the state of the economy by explaining why keeping taxes for the top below their rates during the Clinton-era boom shouldn't be a priority today. It won't boost job creation, he'd explain. It's not about "punishing the rich," he'd add; it's about asking all Americans to do what they can to move the country forward. He could have explained that it's wrong to keep passing the bill for Afghanistan to our children in order to keep taxes lower for the most fortunate members of our society. Obama could have also noted how strange it is that a minority of senators representing far less than a majority of Americans could hold economic policy hostage unless the wealthiest get theirs.

A creative exercise in political theater, in which Obama and his foes would have been forced to move past sound bites to explain the reasoning behind their views and to engage with the arguments of their opponents would have been a chance for Obama to reclaim the initiative -- and to reclaim $120 billion over two years for far better uses. Why didn't we get the tax duel we needed?

By Matt Miller  | December 7, 2010; 4:58 PM ET
Categories:  Miller  | Tags:  Matt Miller  
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Comments

Well, Obama answered this at the press conference. Launching into a protracted public debate over the tax cuts for the rich would have delayed action for months and would have put the decision into the hands of a congress even less disposed to listen to the opposition. You would seem to suggest, by your post, that this folly was preferable to the current compromise? This is more of a case that the bird in hand is worth the two in next year's bush.

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

"If polls showed Americans with him, and Republicans in the Senate against, why didn't the president challenge Senate Republicans to a televised debate on the single question of whether extending $120 billion in tax cuts for the top 2 percent over the next two years was sound policy at a time of war and surging debt?"

1. Polls don't show Americans with him. The most important poll of all, November's election, showed the opposite.
2. Such a debate would only give Republicans an opportunity to highlight that the Democrats' big spending of late is primarily responsible for the surging debt. Obama wouldn't risk further airing of that truth.

Posted by: sprintbare | December 7, 2010 5:11 PM | Report abuse

What he should have done was force a vote on the extension for all but taxpayers over $1m concept floated by Shumer. If the GOP didn't like that, they would have to actually filibuster, instead of threaten to filibuster, on TV. And it wouldn't have gone into next year, because if the tax cuts weren't extended by year end, they would have ALL expired, something the Repubs would not have wanted on their hands.

Posted by: fmjk | December 7, 2010 5:18 PM | Report abuse

Has anyone here ever heard of an IRA or 401k? As a 67 year-old retiree, they are what I live on. Those fortunate few who make more than 200k provide most of the volumn and velocity of the stock market. Thank God for them, cause they provide the "wealth effect" for all the rest of us.

Posted by: jibe | December 7, 2010 5:29 PM | Report abuse

A majority, probably a large majority oof Americans, do not hate the wealthy anywhere near as much as the Democrats/Liberals/Progressives. For the D/L/Ms it is pure hatred and envy.

The top 1% already pay close to 40% of the total income tax bill. How much more should they be expected to pay? For that matter, the top 25% pay about 85% of income tax bill. What we have is the Democratic Party/Liberals/Progressives catering to the bottom 50% who pay very little income tax but get a lot of freebies from the government.

In my opinion the present rates are legalized theft.

Posted by: herlick | December 7, 2010 6:06 PM | Report abuse

26% of Americans want to extend all of Bush's tax cuts

53% of Americans want the tax cuts extended for all households making under 250k

only 14% want tax cuts to expire for everyone

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20024494-503544.html?tag=contentMain;contentBody

Posted by: muji8 | December 7, 2010 6:33 PM | Report abuse

The left is not interested in job creation. The focus of the left, until now, has been amnesty for illegals, repeal of DADT, cap and trade, climate change, health care nationalization and raising taxes. None of these things are job creators. And it has been said many times, DC doesn’t have a revenue problem, they have a spending problem.

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

Sorry, jibe, you are misinformed.

It is not true that "those fortunate few who make more than 200k provide most of the volum[e] and velocity of the stock market." That is provided chiefly by institutional investors like pension funds and insurance companies. The "fortunate few" invest in real estate, fine art, currency exchange rates, and other exotic vehicles that institutional investors won’t -- such as, say, subprime mortgage CDOs or credit default swaps. Or they invest in their own businesses, like Warren Buffett and Larry Ellison.

If you have indeed looked at your 401(k) recently, you would have seen that it reflected the damages wrought on the market by those "fortunate few" who are insulated from it. Private-equity partners with incomes of several hundred million dollars don’t have retirement accounts; any tax advantage of the trivial amounts they would be allowed to contribute would be meaningless.

Posted by: 54Stratocaster | December 7, 2010 7:11 PM | Report abuse

If the Democrats in the Senate with support from the President had forced the Republicans to filibuster the bill passed by the House last week, then the could have highlighted the Republicans position on this. When they chose not to, that pretty much dictated what the end game was going to be. Obama didn't show much leadership in the run-up to this, but given that letting all of the tax cuts expire and not getting help to the long-term unemployed would have put a lot of stress on a weak economy, his decision to compromise was probably the right one.

Posted by: seldoc1 | December 7, 2010 7:12 PM | Report abuse

If it is so important that we raise revenue, why are we giving anyone a tax cut? We ask the Republicans how they are going to pay for the $70 billion in tax cuts to the well-off. Well, I will ask the question of the "progressives," how are we going to pay for the $200 billion in tax cuts and outright payments to people who pay no taxes at all. What the Republicans have done here is put an end to the Democratic lie that we can balance the budget by taxing a few nasty rich people. We also proved that class warfare doesn't work in America. Now that the ideoligal battles are over, and you lost, we can get on to the serious business of cutting spending and limiting the over reach of hyper-liberalism that Obama is so found of. Sorry guys!

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

Anyone who believes that “the ideoligal [sic] battles are over” has no sense of history beyond their tax filing year. I would ask marknelso how we are going to pay for the $700 billion which Medicare Part D will cost -- not a dime of which has ever been offset by either other spending reductions or revenue increases?

It is part of the conservative Big Lie that low-income earners pay no taxes. They pay Social Security payroll taxes starting with the first dollar. On the other hand, the wealthy are protected by a ceiling on payroll taxes. Nor is payroll tax assessed on income from interest, dividends, and capital gains.

Another part of the Big Lie is that a MFJ who makes $250,000 a year pays TAXES on $250,000. Well... no. There are exclusions, exemptions, and deductions before we arrive at TAXABLE income. (The phaseout of the personal exemption for wealthy taxpayers has now expired, so they once again receive the exemption. http://www.irs.gov/formspubs/article/0,,id=177992,00.html)

There are indeed “a few nasty rich people” who scandalously underpay. In particular, those such as private-equity partners with multimillion-dollar incomes who pay at the 15% capital-gains tax rate rather than the ordinary income rate. Republican senators filibustered the attempt to eliminate this loophole.

“Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”
— Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan

Posted by: 54Stratocaster | December 7, 2010 8:49 PM | Report abuse

Another dweeb trying to tell Obama how to be President. This is hilarious. Maybe they should have taken the measure of the man before they backed him for President, with no executive experience, no known principles or strongly held beliefs, no knowledge of American history, and no connection with the American people.

Posted by: delusional1 | December 7, 2010 9:00 PM | Report abuse

I see we've forgotten Obama's position prior to this last election. If the people used their long term memory and not rely on the MSM to tell them what they remember, Obama didn't want any Bush tax cuts at all. Obama, the Democrats and especially the left wing wanted the tax cuts to expire. If Obama truly wanted tax cuts for the middle class he would have taken care of it prior to this last election when the Democrats had all the power. After the election Obama now wants the people to see him as a champion of the middle class fighting for their tax cuts. Obama is a far left radical. He doesn't believe in tax cuts. His agenda is only to raise taxes. Obama was forced to compromise for the tax cuts which is making him sick to his stomach

Posted by: houstonian | December 7, 2010 9:03 PM | Report abuse

I get the impression that the rich have some very strong lobbyists arguing their case.

Sadly, the middle class taxpayers appear to be without representation.

Posted by: postfan1 | December 7, 2010 9:04 PM | Report abuse

It is part of the conservative Big Lie that low-income earners pay no taxes. They pay Social Security payroll taxes

Actually, for low income earners the "payroll tax" is a good deal, and is extremely progressive in that at the low end the benefits far exceed the cost. At the higher end (people making $80k or more) it is akin to theft. You may want to get your analysis correct. More propaganda from the mathematically challenged left!

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

Miller--what planet have you been living on. First you had Boehner stating they would not work with the president soon as the president took office. They pulled every trick and lie in the book to try to blame him and I guess you are trying to do here.

We all know the republicans care about the rich and the rich only otherwise the middle class would not be so over taxed while the rich are not and sent their business overseas instead of keep jobs here.

Where is Boehner's big mouth now since he got that gavel from Peloski. All Boehner wanted was the gavel and now he has it so he shut up his ranting.Why? So he can pretend to be a dignified human being. I never forget that man's position against the people of this country and that has stayed that way just he wants to hide who and what he is behind closed doors now so he can keep that gavel.

Posted by: mac7 | December 7, 2010 9:50 PM | Report abuse

Where was the tax duel we needed if we are to have a hope of financing Democrat socialism?

Cut the "Liberalism" out of the Budget and the tax cut would still leave enough to pay for the necessary items.

The democrat mantra is to spend to create entitlements to buy votes.....taxes are their lifeblood

Posted by: georgedixon1 | December 7, 2010 9:53 PM | Report abuse

Dear Strato,
I'm afraid it's you who is misinformed. 50%of Americans have skin in the market through 401k's and IRA's. I have been a small investor for the past 30years. The Bush tax cuts let my wife and me pay the largest part of my son's college education at a selective school. He graduated with no debt for him or us, paid for largely by a 15% rate on capital gains and dividends.

Posted by: jibe | December 7, 2010 9:56 PM | Report abuse

Ridiculous opinion. Exactly which of the 41 Senators needed to stop the legislation would have suffered at the polls if Obama had the debate envisioned? Look what hanging tough for progressive values got Russ Feingold. People who are outraged with Obama for being weak just do not see the reality of the situation. If Obama had delayed this to find for more, the result would have been an immediate end to extending unemployment benefits, and that would have permanently damaged the Democratic Party's prospects in 2010.

Posted by: mapunapuna | December 7, 2010 9:58 PM | Report abuse

Jibe lives on his 401K and his IRA--guess he don't know the people who lost theirs. Does Jibe going to not take his social security? I cannot live on my 401K--it went for medical expense and was gone in 8 years for illness and prescription medication that our senate and congress got rich on from lobbyist. Guess Jibe is in good health.

Republicans are greedy and for the rich only and that has always been. Their trickle down trickled right out of the country. Business would rather outsource than give American jobs and take business out of the country. Builders brought the Mexicans over the border all during Bush administration to hurry up get those house up then right away sell them to those who did not qualify and first time buyers who did not understand the contracts and now send those Mexican back over the border and those mortgages that skyrocketed in interest that first time buyers did not understand lost their homes.

Now they want the American people to pay for this debacle while the banks got bailed out of those loans. Let Bush pay for them. Instead of trying to lie and say we spend too much when we are too taxed to spend. Republicans should get an award for being the biggest liars.

Posted by: mac7 | December 7, 2010 10:07 PM | Report abuse

Obama is clever beyond words:

It amazes me that none of his ardent (former?) supporters can see Obama's big-picture vision. This decision is all about getting re-elected in 2012. A large tax increase on anybody right now would be a setback to an already fragile economy.
Note the time of extension of tax rates: TWO years. That allows the economy to continue its slow uphill crawl. The stock market will probably continue to celebrate, as it did today. And Obama will arrive in 2012 with no Republican able to say "It's the economy, stupid," to any effect.

And, scholars, note the parallels with the 1930s. First, a halfway recovery into 1936. Then re-election of FDR. Then a big tax increase and Great Depression, part 2.

I used to think of the Depression as one period, extending through the 1930s. It was not. Say, for example, an investor put all his money into the market in 1931. Cashing out in 1935, he had five times the money. In 1937, down the tubes again.

Look it up.

Posted by: qoph | December 7, 2010 10:17 PM | Report abuse

Why didn't the President challenge the Republicans?

Because that's not how he rolls.

Posted by: Itzajob | December 7, 2010 10:20 PM | Report abuse

postfan1 wrote: "I get the impression that the rich have some very strong lobbyists arguing their case."

The rich don't need lobbyists to argue for them - the GOP senate will take care of them for free. Almost all of the GOP Senate earns over $250K so they will vote for their own selfish interests, thank you very much.

If you are middle class or lower in America the Exceptional - BOAKYAG.

Posted by: fortenbaugh | December 7, 2010 10:51 PM | Report abuse

Right on, Mr. Miller. I don't see much spine or negotiating finesse from the White House.

I agree 100% that the Schumer proposal (tax cuts for everyone but those making $1,000,000 + per year) should have been voted on by the Senate. Had the GOP opposed this plan and if the GOP had filibustered, that would have told us where their interest lies.

Similarly, the Democrats could have let the GOP filibuster to prevent the passage of the bill providing tax cuts for those earning $250,000 or less. Again, that would have let the middle class see where the Republican Party stands.

Had the President shown the gumption to try either of these approaches, I would have more respect for the White House. Sadly, the President has demonstrated more interest in making things easy for the Republican Party, rather than supporting Democratic policy positions.

As it is, top wage earners and the wealthiest estates get two more years on easy street, while federal workers get a pay freeze and the long-term unemployed get a year of additional benefits (versus the two years given the plutocrats).

Yes, I understand that the President is playing to those Independents and Republicans who voted for him in 2008. But he is at risk of alienating his core supporters: middle-class Democrats who worked for him, financed his campaign, and nominated him for the office he now holds.

Can you spell H-I-L-L-A-R-Y for 2012?

Posted by: ANetliner | December 7, 2010 10:52 PM | Report abuse

Why he did not even tried? Because Obama is Democrat's Clarence Thomas. I gave up on him long ago.

Posted by: rappahanock | December 7, 2010 11:14 PM | Report abuse

Obama could not possibly have done anything to convince the 41 most conservative Republican Senators to give more or threaten them with electoral defeat if they did not. It is fantasy to think that Obama could have fought for more. It is also fantasy to think that forsaking this deal and allowing a tax hike and an end to unemployment extensions right before Christmas would not cripple Obama and the Democrats in 2012. He did the right thing and all of this complaining on the left only hurts the cause

Posted by: mapunapuna | December 7, 2010 11:21 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Miller-You are spot on. I truly believe this President is worn out ideologically, emotionally and politically, he's bereft of the energy needed to challenge republicans and make his case. Poll after shows we, the people are with him and ready to blame the Repubs for political gridlock. Unless Prez. Obama is a moron, he's out of energy. I sincerely hope he doesn't run for re-election.

Posted by: ArmchairGM | December 7, 2010 11:22 PM | Report abuse

Those fortunate few who make more than 200k provide most of the volumn and velocity of the stock market. Thank God for them, cause they provide the "wealth effect" for all the rest of us.

Posted by: jibe
~~~
That's nonsense. Why is the country in a financial mess then? Where's this wealth effect now?

Posted by: ArmchairGM | December 7, 2010 11:25 PM | Report abuse

Why didn't we get the tax duel we needed?

Because Obama is a wimp. He's as smart as they come, but he's a wimp. If the Republicans want a fight, which they've been daring him to do since he got in office, I think he ought to bring it to them. I guarantee that if someone slung dirt right back at the Republicans with as much force as they've been, they would crumble. It's the same with every bully.

I personally would like to see him on national tv every day naming names and kicking butt, but I don't think it will happen because he's a wimp.

Posted by: toreador | December 8, 2010 1:16 AM | Report abuse

The election in November was supposed to be about fiscal responsibility. These tax cuts were always fiscally irresponsible and we are just going down the same rabbit hole as we have for the last 10 years. Unpaid debt on two ongoing wars and the huge expansion of government under Bush and we still cannot sacrifice to put our house in order. All the tax cuts should go because we all need to pay for the wars we wage and the spying we do.

Posted by: marlenepitts | December 8, 2010 1:44 AM | Report abuse

Amen Mr. Miller.

Posted by: TomCantlon | December 8, 2010 1:59 AM | Report abuse


In a traditional refinance, insist on a good-faith estimate of the costs up front, before you give the lender a penny, search the web for "123 Mortgage Refinance" I would strongly recommend them. They got me 2.891% rate!

Posted by: celiaspears | December 8, 2010 2:59 AM | Report abuse

Truth is, rich democrats like the tax cuts as much as republicans. So they let the republicans take the heat and enjoy the spoils - all a sham.

Posted by: Barryr01 | December 8, 2010 3:40 AM | Report abuse

"and to reclaim $120 billion over two years for far better uses"

By definition, the best use for money is to let the person who earns it keep it.

We agree to pay taxes to support infrastructure and common use items that must be shared such as roads, military etc.

You have a strange idea that the government knows better than me where to spend my money.

Posted by: Ombudsman1 | December 8, 2010 4:26 AM | Report abuse

What goes around comes back around. Obama took turns first ignoring then blasting repubs for the last 2 years (BTW do the math- the reubs had no control to do anything!)
Now that they have the control, he MUST give in if he wants to get anything for 2 years.
Once again this "brilliant" man has figured out about 2 steps too late what's going on.

Posted by: dcjayhawk2 | December 8, 2010 6:01 AM | Report abuse

Miller's post reminds me of that scene from The American President where President Shepard asks his chief of staff, A.J., if they could have won the last campaign by being more forthright about their liberal ideals.

"Could we have won?" asks A.J. "I don't know. But I would have liked that campaign. I would have liked that campaign a lot."

I would have liked the campaign Miller suggests above as well. I still believe one is possible two years from now and I am guessing (hoping, rather) that the President and his people are thinking the same thing. I am hoping that they are calculating they have a better chance of actually winning such a campaign if they give in to Republican ransom demands today and earn both a few more chits with independnents for showing a willingness to compromise and get things done, as well as the gratitude of the middle class and out of work who will not be asked (if the fight was held today) to take one for the team.

Posted by: TedFrier | December 8, 2010 6:27 AM | Report abuse

Matt - Why didn't the president challenge Senate Republicans to a televised debate? Because the minute he began to explain his position and the details of his tax policy he would have been labeled an "elitist".

The Republicans have (successfully) made a virtue out of ignorance and blind allegiance to a flawed ideological stance - tax cuts for all, at all costs.

How do you counter that?

Posted by: spinanic1 | December 8, 2010 6:58 AM | Report abuse

A duel? I thought Obumbler was a uniter? ROFL!

Posted by: illogicbuster | December 8, 2010 7:06 AM | Report abuse

On other issues as well, Obama's claims to be seriously trying are belied by his refusal to go, as Ronald Regan used to do, over the heads of his opposition to make his case to the people. Having a base of support on an issue that shows up in polls is not enough, as he should have, yet apparently hasn't, learned by now. That base must be mobilized, energized, enlarged by winning over opponents and, to put it simply, led -- not neglected and left to wither in despair.

This has gone on so long that one must wonder if Obama is a covert Republican using hopeless negotiations as a cover for implementing the Republican agenda while pretending to be a Democrat.

Posted by: Adam_Smith | December 8, 2010 7:42 AM | Report abuse

I don't blame Obama as much as I blame the feckless democrats and the absolutely shameless republicans.

"Democrats" like ben nelson and blanche lincoln - who are really more in line with the republicans, and will typically vote that way.

The republicans know no shame. The make the deficit a campaign issue and their first order of business is to needlessly increase the deficit with additional tax cuts for the top 2% that will have no stimulative effect on the economy. They obviously care nothing about this country and it's economic recovery or the deficit. They want the president and the nation to fail, it's never been clearer. Never before have the politicians refused to extend unemployment when the rate was above 7% - absolutely pathetic. It's a resounding message to the working class and the unemployed - Merry Christmas and FU.

The president secured extensions of unemployment and tax credits that benefit the working class - it's a shame that the republicans are unable or unwilling to see the necessity - their actions are despicable.

Posted by: notfooledbydistractions1 | December 8, 2010 7:47 AM | Report abuse

jibewrote:Dear Strato,
I'm afraid it's you who is misinformed. 50%of Americans have skin in the market through 401k's and IRA's.
=========================================
Probably one of the greatest republican acomplishments over the past thirty years was fooling people into IRA's and 401k's and off of company retirement plans. Up until then there was a stigma attached to the Stock Market and Bankers as being part of the crowd that cause the Great Depression. So getting people tied into the market broke that hex and gave everyone the idea that they were players, and in that they would be less inclined to opposed any and all efforts to keep the financial sector regulated. And it worked! Flush with all that cash, the market took off, most of the regulations that were put in place to safeguard against another depression were removed, and the financial sectors power and influence grew especially in Washington, where big money donations have effectively captured the legislative process. Now both parties are compromised by big money donations, and the values of the rich have supplanted the values of everyday working people in DC, which leads to Obama's comment about 'political reality.'

Posted by: bromisky | December 8, 2010 8:00 AM | Report abuse

This president, a president I supported with my wallet, my voice and my vote has proven to be the lightweight that Hillary tried to tell us he was. God how I wish I and the Democratic party had listened to her. This President is totally overmatched, poorly advised and clearly has no loyalties to his base. He will almost certainly be one and done, which is just fine with me.

Posted by: dem4life1 | December 8, 2010 8:03 AM | Report abuse

seldoc1 says: "Obama didn't show much leadership in the run-up to this, but given that letting all of the tax cuts expire and not getting help to the long-term unemployed would have put a lot of stress on a weak economy, his decision to compromise was probably the right one". When only one side (Obama) compromises it is not compromise it is capitulation. When it comes to standing up to the Republicans Obama is as stiff as a wet noodle. I wish now that I had supported Hillary in 2008 instead of Obama. She has more balls (gravitas).

Posted by: nitrames | December 8, 2010 8:09 AM | Report abuse

jibe @ December 7, 2010 5:29 PM wrote "Those fortunate few who make more than 200k provide most of the volumn and velocity of the stock market."

You mean of course the volume and velocity that retreated to 1997 levels by 2008. That is, lost 12 years growth after 8 years of Republican rule. Correct?

Ah ... why did we lose wealth while those tax rates were in effect? I thought they help the economy grow.

Posted by: AMviennaVA | December 8, 2010 8:35 AM | Report abuse

Matt Miller, you speak the welcome truth.

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

Is it criminal that the Republicans pushed things this far? Yes. But look at it this way: In six months, anything an armed robber is likely to take from you can be replaced. Likewise, this whole thing will be ancient history to the public in even less time than that.

On the other hand, had unemployment benefits been cut off, had taxes gone up for the middle class, if the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 1,000 points, had the economy started to move into a double-dip recession -- and all of that COULD have happened -- the impact could have been felt for years.

And let there be no doubt about it, the Washington Republicans would have gladly taken things that far. They would have pulled the trigger. There would have been blood on the pavement. Partisanship in Washington has become that severe.

What do you do in a case like that? You let the bastards have the wallet. You live to fight another day. I think that’s what Obama did. He let he bastards have the wallet – for now – in order to avoid what could have been a catastrophe.

Posted by: JustTheFacts | December 8, 2010 9:04 AM | Report abuse

Handing my wallet over to an armed robber is hostile to everything I have ever stood for. But if the criminal had a gun to the head of my son, I'd hand it over in a second and would not apologize for doing it.

Why? Because there is such a thing as a tactical retreat -- it's about living to fight another day, protecting others from being victimized in order to save your own pride and keeping your bigger priorities in mind.

Is it criminal that the Republicans pushed things this far? Yes. But look at it this way: In six months, anything an armed robber is likely to take from you can be replaced. Likewise, this whole thing will be ancient history to the public in even less time than that.

On the other hand, had unemployment benefits been cut off, had taxes gone up for the middle class, if the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 1,000 points, had the economy started to move into a double-dip recession -- and all of that COULD have happened -- the impact could have been felt for years.

And let there be no doubt about it, the Washington Republicans would have gladly taken things that far. They would have pulled the trigger. There would have been blood on the pavement. Partisanship in Washington has become that severe.

What do you do in a case like that? You let the bastards have the wallet. You live to fight another day. I think that’s what Obama did. He let he bastards have the wallet – for now – in order to avoid what could have been a catastrophe.

Posted by: JustTheFacts | December 8, 2010 9:10 AM | Report abuse

I agree with this article. Most Americans don't want to see tax breaks in this economy for people making $1M a year. Shumer proposed extending the tax cuts only for those making under $1M a year and Obama didn't even put THAT on the table. In addition to the needless giveaways (estate tax), he is also to be faulted for waiting til the last minute to negotiate this deal. He knew for two years this so called "tax increase" was coming and did nothing until the last minute. He should have been working on this a year ago. Horrible strategic blunder. Just like waiting until 2 months before the midterm to start campaigning, while other presidents started in January. Who's advising him?

Also he did not use the bully pulpit to call the republicans out on their bald faced lies about taxes. Some of the lies: most small businesses make $250K/yr and will be hurt by expiration of Bush tax cuts. Reality: less than 2% make this much. Another lie: most people don't pay any taxes. Reality: people pay taxes through withholding. They may not owe taxes at the end of the year, but they are still paying taxes through withholding.

Posted by: Afraid4USA | December 8, 2010 9:13 AM | Report abuse

The real reason we didn't get a debate is because it was Obama's plan all along to give the super rich their wasteful tax breaks and pretend to do so reluctantly. He is a sham and a fraud selling out to the super rich so he can become one of them like Bill Clinton did for selling out.

Posted by: jklfairwin | December 8, 2010 9:21 AM | Report abuse

Once again, libs don't get it - I see a quote from Dan Moynihan - an old lib who came up with the infamous rule 1706 back in the 80's that screwed people like myself (independent contractors). Anytime a democrat gets involved in the market, you can bet the working man will get screwed.
Democrats, contrary to popular belief, are no friend of the middle class worker. They just make it harder for the middle class producer to earn a living with onerous taxes, regulations, unions, etc.

Posted by: rknapp0205 | December 8, 2010 9:23 AM | Report abuse

Can you spell H-I-L-L-A-R-Y for 2012?
Yes we can!

Posted by: mikelemm | December 8, 2010 9:53 AM | Report abuse

The answer to this questions is short - we did not get it for the same reason he has caved on everything else - he was born without a spine and refuses to grow one. End of story. Thank you Democrats and fellow Independents for what you wrought in your dislike of Hillary. One thing she DOES have is a spine. At least I can look myself in the mirror on the question of who I voted for - I wrote in a name.

Posted by: nana1ellen | December 8, 2010 9:58 AM | Report abuse

The answer to this question is short - we did not get it for the same reason he has caved on everything else - he was born without a spine and refuses to grow one. End of story. Thank you Democrats and fellow Independents for what you wrought in your dislike of Hillary. One thing she DOES have is a spine. At least I can look myself in the mirror on the question of who I voted for - I wrote in a name.

Posted by: nana1ellen | December 8, 2010 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Has anyone here ever heard of an IRA or 401k? As a 67 year-old retiree, they are what I live on. Those fortunate few who make more than 200k provide most of the volumn and velocity of the stock market. Thank God for them, cause they provide the "wealth effect" for all the rest of us.

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

Great for you! Pretty awful for the rest of us who can barely afford rent. Maybe one day, I'll be able to help support your retirement. For now, though, I have to concentrate on surviving.

Sincerely,
America's Youth

Posted by: damascuspride04 | December 8, 2010 10:05 AM | Report abuse

dcjahawk2 wrote:

What goes around comes back around. Obama took turns first ignoring then blasting repubs for the last 2 years (BTW do the math- the reubs had no control to do anything!)
Now that they have the control, he MUST give in if he wants to get anything for 2 years.
Once again this "brilliant" man has figured out about 2 steps too late what's going on.

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

If the Republicans "had no control to do anything" as you say, then how do you explain the filibuster being used more times in the last two years than in ANY period in US history? Our system of government is specifically designed to prevent any group having unilateral control. The Republicans were just as influential in the last two years as the Democrats.

Posted by: damascuspride04 | December 8, 2010 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Where's the TAX DUEL? What I wanna know is: Where did all these MIDDLE CLASS TAX CUTS come from? I've NEVER heard the LEFT mention anything about "Middle Class Tax Cuts". Now, Tax Cuts are the new Black. We can't get by without them. I thought there was only Tax Cuts for the RICH?
Now, come to find, there's $3 TRILLION in Middle Class Tax Cuts. And GOD help us, if they don't get to keep them.
I thought that "The BULK of these tax Cuts went to the TOP 1%"? That's what the NON-BIASED Main Stream Media has been saying for YEARS.
Is it ME? Am I crazy? Or is it time to start SCRUTINIZING the CONTRACT RENEWALS of these LYING Media Outlets?

Posted by: GoomyGommy | December 8, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Where's the TAX DUEL? What I wanna know is: Where did all these MIDDLE CLASS TAX CUTS come from? I've NEVER heard the LEFT mention anything about "Middle Class Tax Cuts". Now, Tax Cuts are the new Black. We can't get by without them. I thought there was only Tax Cuts for the RICH?
Now, come to find, there's $3 TRILLION in Middle Class Tax Cuts. And GOD help us, if they don't get to keep them.
I thought that "The BULK of these tax Cuts went to the TOP 1%"? That's what the NON-BIASED Main Stream Media has been saying for YEARS.
Is it ME? Am I crazy? Or is it time to start SCRUTINIZING the CONTRACT RENEWALS of these LYING Media Outlets?

Posted by: GoomyGommy | December 8, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Although we have added over 1.1 million private sector jobs this year, we are still down over 7 million jobs versus 2007. The country needs continued fiscal stimulus to maintain the recovery. This was the biggest temporary stimulus package that was attainable. Yes it gives some tax cuts that provide little stimulative benefit (incomes over $250,000, estate tax breaks). But we can revisit those issue in two years when the economy is on sounder footing and won't need continued stimulus.

The Republicans were willing to tank the economy to get their tax breaks for the top brackets. Thankfully President Obama put the country ahead of political gain.

Posted by: stichmo | December 8, 2010 11:03 AM | Report abuse

This is exactly right. Even if Obama passes some good bills he is never seen as fighting for anything. Making a statement about what he prefers and then capitulating isn't good enough. So he never bothers to create public support thereby leaving a vacuum that is gladly filled by the right wing destruction machine. He criticized Clinton for not being transformative like Reagan was and he's doing exactly the same thing.

Posted by: rramos01 | December 8, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

When Miller on anyone else recommends an action by the President, indeed any President, he ought to know that our Constitution provides for a separation of powers. No President can go to the Senate floor and do what Miller advises. He can come to a joint session of Congress at the invitation of the Congressional leadership. But he cannot do what the British Prime Minister can do. We must understand our own system before we ask the President to do something that our system does not allow. This holds true for all those commentators and writers who speak of the President forcing Congress to do anything. The President may lead, encourage, even inspire the Congress but he cannot force it to do anything that its members do not choose to do, with the some exception of returning for a special session after it has formally adjourned. If you do not like this you have a problem with the Constitution and that is probably your problem not ours.

Posted by: jweley | December 8, 2010 11:41 AM | Report abuse

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