Friday, December 10, 2010

"Obama Speaks Ill of His Allies"


E. J. Dionne, Jr.:
In the short term, Obama did get more than most liberals expected. It is good news that he’s focused on the need to give the economy another jolt, even if some of the measures the accord includes are not very stimulative.

The rest of the package delivers tangible benefits to the unemployed and to lower- and middle-income taxpayers. For roughly $100 billion to the rich, Obama got $197 billion in benefits he sought for the non-rich, $146 billion in business tax cuts to push job creation, plus an extension of the $280 billion middle-class tax cut. Many Democrats insist the Republicans would have eventually given in on relief for the middle class; the administration is not so sure.

These substantial concessions have led many liberal policy leaders—among them, Bob Greenstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, John Podesta of the Center for American Progress and Larry Mishel of the Economic Policy Institute—to support the deal, partly on the theory that any next deal would be worse. Other liberals would go along if the estate tax cut could be made less munificent.

And at least these negotiations have had the benefit of proving conclusively that the only people for whom conservative Republicans will go to the mat are the country’s best-off citizens—and deficits be damned.

But in the long run, is Obama capable of winning the future battles with the Republicans that this temporary agreement sets up? By expanding the deficit, it will make it easier for the Republicans to push sharp cuts in all manner of domestic programs, including Medicare and Social Security. This accord will not stop Republicans from expounding regularly on “the Obama deficit,” or from trying to box him in again on the tax cuts.

One House Democrat, who because he respects Obama asked not to be named, offered an unexpected case for the package that tells the president how much ground he has to make up with those who were once his most fervent supporters.

“If I thought they were ready to go 12 rounds on this next year, I’d kill it in a heartbeat,” he said of the administration. “But if they’re going to keep leaving the ring after the first punch, this is the best alternative we’ve got to keep this recovery going and helping those who are hurting the most.” There was no sanctimony or purism here, just a sober and melancholy realism. MORE...
Howie P.S.: Paul Krugman:makes many of the same arguments today. Joan McCarter's post, "The Obama/Republican tax deal in picture form," (see image above) agrees. Digby complains
Democrats are always in the position of having to choose between some specific thing that will alleviate some suffering (however temporarily) in exchange for some heinous Galtian thievery and they end up taking the short term relief because they believe they have the responsibility to help people in the best way they can. Unfortunately, when dealing with nihilists, you end up creating more and more circumstances where such deals with the devil are necessary. MORE...
More disaffection: "Obama's tax-cut deal upsets many major donors" (LA Times). Paul Krugman: says "there are real reasons to worry here." Julian Zelizer writes on The War Room (Salon): "Obama is dealing away FDR's legacy." AND Steven D's post on Booman Tribune, "GOP Good Will is Obama's Strategy?" uses the graphic above and echoes many of the same points. Has Obama finally united the lefties?

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