David Lightman and Margaret Talev (McClatchy Newspapers):
Nothing on jobs at all, or foreclosures, or the banks. Quelle surprise. If you didn't know that the Ds threw the working class under the bus in 2008, now you really know it, eh? MORE...
...the tax cut extension is seen as the truest litmus test of whether the president is still willing to fight for his base. Liberals want to extend the breaks only for the working and middle classes — a stand Obama championed all fall — but the president has signaled recently that he may acquiesce to Republicans, who want to extend the tax reductions for the wealthy as well.
If Obama is open to compromise on his once-firm stand, that will amplify questions that Democrats have been asking for nearly two years — essentially, what does he stand for when his back's to the wall? — questions that were vigorously, at times angrily, discussed this week at closed party meetings on Capitol Hill.
Liberals argue that too often they've watched Obama compromise on health care, financial regulation, climate change and other issues. So now they want to know: What will he demand? How much of his own political capital will he stake to defend the principles he ran on in 2008? And what consequences will befall lawmakers who cross him?
Many liberals are openly disappointed and angry, and don't seem to fear the consequences of challenging the president.
"I think the greatest failing in this Congress was that the House ... enabled the White House, and the White House was not always right," said Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore.
After a raucous House Democratic caucus this week at which liberals vowed to push Obama harder, DeFazio said, "We're beginning to revisit our relationship with the White House. I think we've got to push harder from our position to do what Democrats need." MORE...