The Democrat blame game
One senior House aide I talked to last night predicted rank-and-file Democrats would be "in riot mode" today. Whatever you call it -- circular firing squad? blame game? -- it's not pretty for the Democrats. The Post reports this morning:
Some liberal lawmakers and activists angrily attacked the Obama administration Monday night for striking a deal with Republicans on extending Bush-era tax rates, an issue that has the potential to worsen the divide between the White House and what it has called the "professional left."
ABC News's Jack Tapper reports on the flipside of what I 've been hearing on the Hill. The White House is now in a defensive crouch:
The White House has two arguments for what they acknowledge are "frustrated" Democrats:
1) We wanted a fight on these tax cuts, and Congressional Democrats never took up the charge and held a vote;
2) This is a good deal -- and we weren't willing to let taxes go up on middle class Americans, or to deprive the unemployed of insurance benefits, just to prove a political point.
"We wanted a fight, the House didn't throw a punch," a senior White House official tells ABC News, pointing out that for months before the 2010 midterm elections, President Obama was making the case against the Bush tax cuts for wealthier Americans. "The House wouldn't vote before the Senate, and the Senate was afraid they'd lose a vote on it."
"It was like the Jets versus Sharks except there weren't any Jets," the official said. "Senator Schumer says he wants a fight? He couldn't hold his caucus together."
There is something to that. The point of the Senate votes over the weekend was not merely to provide a feel good moment for the left. It was, presumably, to demonstrate that the Senate had bargaining leverage. But, oops. It didn't. The Senate wound up underlining the lack of options for the White House.
But the left is also out of options. "How does the left keep Obama 'honest' without a credible primary threat?" a plugged-in Democrat mused this morning. Good question. If your party loses an election, loses the House majority, faces an effective center-right majority in the Senate and doesn't have a primary challenge, there really isn't much to do other than complain. That's partly why there is so much of it coming from the left this morning.
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