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Posted at 10:03 PM ET, 12/ 6/2010

Obama sells out the left: a Republican win on taxes

By Jennifer Rubin

There really is no other way to say it: the Republicans won, the liberal Democrats lost, and the president sided with the Republicans. The subject, of course, is an agreement to extend all the Bust tax cuts. The president tonight announced a "bipartisan framework" for agreement on, among other things, to extend the Bush tax cuts for two years. A Republican House aide tells me tonight it is "a damn good deal." And so it is, from the perspective of conservatives.

As they've been demanding, all of the Bush tax cuts are extended for two years. The estate tax that was due to pop back up to a rate of 55 percent was retained, but with a $5 million exemption and at a rate of 35 percent (better than Republicans privately expected). For that huge concession, the president extracted... a 13 month extension in unemployment benefits.

Now it's true that the deal includes a one-year payroll tax cut of 2 percent. Plus other tax credits -- the earned income credit, the child tax credit and the newly-created college credit -- all remain in place. And businesses will be allowed to expense 100 percent of their purchases for equipment. Liberals and White House spinners will argue that the White House "wanted" many of those tax credits and breaks, but in point of fact the Republicans didn't mind giving more tax breaks. It sounds better to slide those items into the White House's column, but really the only concession by the Republicans was on extension of the unemployment benefits.

So you can see why liberals are morose. A Capitol Hill aide described Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid's demeanor upon returning from the White House: "He looked like someone shot his dog."

To say that Republicans are triumphant would be an understatement. They won the philosophical point (tax hikes impede economic growth) and, candidly, are more than delighted to have a repeat of this debate for the presidential campaign in 2012. Ryan Ellis of Americans for Tax Reform, which strenuously pushed for extension of the Bush tax cuts, tells me,"If 2012 is a referendum on Obamacare and tax hikes, we win." Well, there will be lots of other issues, and 2012 in political terms is a long way off. Still, I see his point.

In public, Republicans were more restrained. Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell issued a statement that read:

"I appreciate the determined efforts of the President and Vice President in working with Republicans on a bipartisan plan to prevent a tax hike on any American and in creating incentives for economic growth. Their efforts reflect a growing bipartisan belief that a new direction is needed if we are to revive the economy and help put millions of Americans back to work. Members of the Senate and House will review this bipartisan agreement, but I am optimistic that Democrats in Congress will show the same openness to preventing tax hikes the administration has already shown."

Translation: the White House sided with the Republicans. And it was Democratic gloomy faces all around. The president looked solemn as he announced the deal. Reid pointedly refused to endorse the deal; his spokesman issued a statement that Reid would have to consult with his fellow Democrats. One Senate adviser said that the party caucus meeting tomorrow should "be interesting." We'll have much more tomorrow.

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 6, 2010; 10:03 PM ET
Categories:  Senate GOP, Taxes  
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Ok, Dems loose on taxing their way to Euro-style prosperity. Lots of added stimulus to help everyone's (especially Obama's) re-election chances. But another $1 trillion or so in deficits. Hmm, I thought the price for more unemployment benefits was going to be spending cuts. Business as usual all the way around.

Posted by: BCinTX | December 6, 2010 10:16 PM | Report abuse

Jennifer--such a breath f fresh air and honesty here. Always a joy to read.

Posted by: clarice2 | December 6, 2010 10:45 PM | Report abuse

2% payroll tax cut not limited to income ... wasn't expecting that ... maybe death isn't a sure thing either ... ;)

Posted by: cunn9305 | December 6, 2010 11:05 PM | Report abuse

It is amazing that everytime the democrats get in office, they jam-pack every budget with as much spending as they can.

AND then the democrats blame the Republicans for not making taxes high enough.

And the democrats give every excuse in the book - class warfare, taking money from the poor, hurting the unemployed.

Stealing from grandchildren....

Everything - EXCEPT admitting that the democrats increased the spending in the first place, and the spending needs to be cut drastically.


Posted by: RainForestRising | December 6, 2010 11:13 PM | Report abuse

As Obama has said ad-nauseam, "we won". HAHAHAHA.

Posted by: Kansasgirl | December 6, 2010 11:16 PM | Report abuse

I guess Obama is in the parking lot doing doughnuts with the car in "R" and sipping a slurpee...

Posted by: sold2u | December 6, 2010 11:17 PM | Report abuse

Americans have to seriously evaluate Obama's effectiveness in the Wikileaks situation over the past six months.

Everyone has known about the impending leaks for at least six months - and Obama has failed to do ANYTHING about it.

One has to wonder if Obama has ever wanted to do anything, take any action or do anything which would stop these leaks. Obama has been a complete disaster in his position.

Obama should resign.

Complete incompetence. Complete lack of any effectiveness at all - in shutting down the website, cutting off their money, arresting this guy - ANYTHING. Virtually nothing had been done until all the damage was incurred.

Someone should take responsibility.

At this point, it is Obama - he should be responsible.

Posted by: RainForestRising | December 6, 2010 11:23 PM | Report abuse

Shhh! You are going to drive all these lefties crazy, Jennifer.

Also, if you keep saying 0bama caved, he'll get really really mad, and then we'll really be in trouble if he gets really really mad; he might even blurt out something honest like 'f... this s...!' or "I'm done with this s , I'm going to go back to Chicago and be the mayor and really make some money."

PS: How will we know if and when Charlie Rangel pays back all that tax money he owes?

Posted by: ZoltanNewberry | December 6, 2010 11:34 PM | Report abuse


Obama doing donuts in the parking lot

That's pretty good.

I would say he's driving a 70s model Camaro


Posted by: RainForestRising | December 6, 2010 11:35 PM | Report abuse

I think that the Lame Duck Congress will throw Obama to the wolves on this.

Posted by: rcaruth | December 6, 2010 11:47 PM | Report abuse

Elections have consequences.

On the bright side for Obama, now he can throw Nancy and Harry over the side and try to restore the economy through pro-growth policies. This is a good start.

Posted by: eoniii | December 6, 2010 11:48 PM | Report abuse

I think that the Lame Duck Congress will throw Obama to the wolves on this.

Posted by: rcaruth | December 6, 2010 11:48 PM | Report abuse

These are not tax cuts. These are an extension of the Bush tax rates. Also, the GOP is celebrating by extending unemployment benefits...therefore subsidizing the high unemployment rate. Finally, the GOP is bragging they reduced the estate tax to "only 35%"...that's winning?

Frankly, looks to me like the GOP swallowed the bait hook line and sinker. It should have pressed for real tax reduction...a 15% cut across the board on all tax rates, and a flat tax estate rate of no higher than 15%.

Meet the new boss...same as the old.

Posted by: deeprock7 | December 6, 2010 11:52 PM | Report abuse

Hahahahahaha, wooweeeee!

Thank you Mr. President for your first truly bipartisan achievement.

When are the memorial services for the most recent incarnation of the progressive movement, RIP?

Posted by: mark31 | December 6, 2010 11:53 PM | Report abuse

Stephen Dinan writes:

"Members of Congress on Monday called on President Obama to issue a public correction after he incorrectly labeled E pluribus unum the U.S.'s motto in a speech last month, rather than "In God We Trust."

The lawmakers, members of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, also said the president was making "a pattern" of dropping the word "Creator" when he recites the self-evident truths of the Declaration of Independence.

"By misrepresenting things as foundational as the Declaration of Independence and our national motto, you are not only doing a disservice to the people you represent you are casting aside an integral part of American society," the representatives said in a stern letter asking for him to correct the speech."

Posted by: RainForestRising | December 6, 2010 11:55 PM | Report abuse

Obama was basically dragged INTO being bipartisan by the American People.

Kicking and screaming, saying he was against it, Obama reluctantly agreed to a Compromise.

Thank you, American People - without your votes on Election Day Obama would have never compromised - never, ever, no way, he would not haaaaaavvveee, no way, absoulutely no waaaaaaaaaaaaaay.


Posted by: RainForestRising | December 6, 2010 11:57 PM | Report abuse

Pyrrhic victory for Obama. The country loses and the millionares win. I won't be voting for him in 2012. Time to vote for Ron Paul and finally make the rich pay their fare share or deport them all to Kuwait.

Posted by: Irreverent_inDC | December 6, 2010 11:58 PM | Report abuse

We win!

Sarah Palin 2012!

Posted by: HostileKnowledge | December 7, 2010 12:11 AM | Report abuse

This was a bunk compromise. This was a fight over the least beneficial tax cut and the president gave in.

He would have been better off making the other cuts permanent instead of temporary (for certainty to the markets) and the compromise should have been lowering the corporate tax rate and the capital gains tax rate. The argument for extending tax cuts to the rich is "it will spur investment" which it never does. But cuts to these two rates WILL have that effect. I think the Republicans would have gone for it and it would have been stimulative.

Posted by: porkbellies37 | December 7, 2010 12:24 AM | Report abuse

It's more that a little premature to declare this tax package as a great Republican victory. As I listened to Obama, I heard him frame the issue as an appeal to the poor, unemployed, and overtaxed middle class. Thus setting up himself and his party as their defenders and benefactors, all the while defaming the Republicans as the Daddy Warbucks party which cares only for the rich. A familiar and sometimes winning theme.

Considering the lameness of Republican leaders to articulate and sell a different narrative, not to mention the general low opinion people have for Republicans, Obama may be on to a winning strategy for 2012. We can only hope that the Democrat's left wing will revolt and sabotage Obama's low key appeal to class envy by overplaying it and blowing it into scorched earth class warfare as they usually do.

Posted by: pmackinnon1 | December 7, 2010 12:29 AM | Report abuse

I heard that the Russians and the Chinese had been hired by the Republicans for their gold-plated advice on how to spank Obama.

In other words, I'm happy for a small economic victory for America, but just remember, that same woefully inadequate college professor supposedly represents American interests overseas.

Posted by: metanis | December 7, 2010 12:53 AM | Report abuse

Both sides are acting as irresponsibly as possible - dems continue to pretend they can tax their way to prosperity (or into their cronies bank accounts) and Republicans (and the President) seem to think they can just reduce taxes without doing a d*** thing about spending. What is wrong with our leaders?

Posted by: hostdude99 | December 7, 2010 12:58 AM | Report abuse

Elsewhere it's said that a speedy vote on this leaves time for START.

Say NO to START, it's not a good deal for us at all.

Posted by: Stan46 | December 7, 2010 12:58 AM | Report abuse

I agree with hostdude99, adding not only are both sides behaving irresponsibly, but still with the wrong priorities.

Dealing with the original tax cuts that were made temporary only because of the looming surpluses should have been Obama's first priority in 2009, tied to funding the stimulus. Did they really think they had a permanent majority?

Pelosi and Reid have reaped what they sowed, and Obama has just lost any leadership role for the next two years.

I wish I could move to Finland.

Posted by: K2K2 | December 7, 2010 2:10 AM | Report abuse

'Now it's true that the deal includes a one-year payroll tax cut of 2 percent.'

This will be used shortly to justify a cut of some sort in SS benefits. It means less money in the 'trust fund'.

Posted by: dflinchum | December 7, 2010 6:36 AM | Report abuse

If these moves work to improve the economy and employment rate, in contrast to what the Democrats' preferred policies have done to us, then Obama will be helped in 2012. Obama may know that; Reid doesn't.

Posted by: rgeaste | December 7, 2010 8:45 AM | Report abuse

as a conservative i am happy anytime that irresponsible, overspending govt. gets less money to waste. However this agreement is worthless without a tie to reduced spending and debt reduction. Our generation has lived high these past 45 years on the backs of cheap labor overseas while at the same time giving away american manufacturing base and American wealth with the devaluing of the dollar. We as a country need to make smart choices in foreign trade and need to be willing to make real sacrifice now for the well being of future generations. An aside Jennifer great work. your writing is always thought provoking.

Posted by: eddiehaskall | December 7, 2010 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Not so fast, because the the national debt is only get extended, as well as the costs of keeping the unemployed provided, neither political parties come out looking like "problem solvers". It was a given that when tested any of Alinsky's followers will fail. All one needs to do is look at the horrible record of Mme. Clinton who began her public life making up 100 pages of "theories" on the "Alinsky Way" as a "student", to become a common law breaker, as a certified lawyer, working for the "Nixon Impeachment" group in Congress, hiding discovery material from the Nixon defense team...this Chicago grifter disappeared from D.C when her lawbreaking was discovered, launching a career as a public advocate in Arkansas accosting local nabobs questioning her philandering husband about his governing methods. Her health plan failed, her attempts to warm up to Iran failed, her abusive treatment of Bibi backfired, and she is supposed to be the best hope for the Democrats other than Obama, who also taught the "Alinsky Method" in Los Angeles, to his ACORN cronies in Los Angeles. Both are failures, representing the sad state of the American left. Gloating by Republicans is not in order, they have not been a shining example over the years and when it comes to any principals, they are prepared to bend over.

Posted by: ar3103 | December 7, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Apparently Biden and Mc Connell met secretly to "hammer" out this Tax deal...and in typical progressive liberal mode the Dimis have turned into eating their own...BUT have they forgotten that they practiced these tactics for the last two years by keeping their policy meetings closed to any opposing views??? So now Obama is caught in a non win position by having Reid and Pelosi keeping the tax issue from being brought up until December in =favor of naming Post Offices when they are facing losses in their rolls after 3 Dec 2011.... have at it Loons .. 2 years and 2012 ..Try thinking it throught rationally.. YOU ARE BOXED IN!!!

Posted by: redhawk2 | December 8, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

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