It was partly the familiar logic of the filibuster. The forty-two senators really can, under current rules, shut down the chamber and stall a vote on the Dream Act or "don't ask, don't tell." But part of it was that the final deal, despite White House protestations, was likely not far from what Obama wanted. It's essentially what former OMB director Peter Orszag advocated in his first New York Times column, penned just a few weeks after leaving the administration.
My sense is that the White House economic and political team is starting to panic as they recognize the stubborn persistence of unemployment. They know the economy needs more stimulus, and that Republicans are loath to allow them to deliver it. Through this deal they were able to secure some stimulative tax cuts, like the payroll tax reduction. Briefing liberal writers, the White House sold the plan as stimulus 2.0. And even if tax cuts for the rich aren't stimulative, it's money into the economy. At this point, the White House will take what it can get.
It's the standard bribery model of legislating that has come to characterize Washington in the era of oligarchy: if you want to put food on the table of the unemployed, you must lavishly wine and dine the CEOs and bankers who laid them off. Obama didn't create this system, but he is making it stronger before our very eyes. MORE...
Friday, December 10, 2010
John Nichols: "So why did the White House compromise?"