Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Embracing Opponents, Isolating Supporters


In his statement last night announcing the deal he has struck with those whose friendship he so yearns for, the President remarked

This is where the debate has stood for the last couple of weeks. And what is abundantly clear to everyone in this town is that Republicans will block a permanent tax cut for the middle class unless they also get a permanent tax cut for the wealthiest Americans, regardless of the cost or impact on the deficit.

We saw that in two different votes in the Senate that were taken this weekend. And without a willingness to give on both sides, there's no reason to believe that this stalemate won't continue well into next year. This would be a chilling prospect for the American people whose taxes are currently scheduled to go up on January 1st because of arrangements that were made back in 2001 and 2003 under the Bush tax cuts.

I am not willing to let that happen. I know there's some people in my own party and in the other party who would rather prolong this battle, even if we can't reach a compromise. But I'm not willing to let working families across this country become collateral damage for political warfare here in Washington. And I'm not willing to let our economy slip backwards just as we're pulling ourselves out of this devastating recession.


I am not willing to let that happen. I know there's some people in my own party and in the other party who would rather prolong this battle.
On Saturday, the Senate rejected two proposals, each needing 60 votes to break a threatened filibuster. One, which had been approved by the House, would have ended the cuts for incomes above $200,000 (individuals) or $250,000 (families) and fell 53 to 36- seven votes shy of invoking cloture- with 53 of 58 Democrats in favor. The other, proposed by Chuck Schumer (D- NY), would have ended the break for income above $1,000,000. That too was rejected, 53 to 37, seven votes shy of gaining cloture, with only five Democrats (including pseudo-Democrat Lieberman, who voted against cloture also on the previous proposal.)

No republican- zero Republicans- voted for either proposal. And "I know there's some people in my own party," the 2008 Democratic presidential nominee says, "who would rather prolong this battle." Sure, Obama included in this criticism "and in the other party." But without drawing a distinction between congressional Democrats, who were in favor of a tax cut for the middle class, and congressional Republicans, who were opposed a tax cut for the middle class, people blow off the knock of the opposition party as mere politics as usual. They may give Barack Obama credit for bipartisanship- surely this is the calculation- but assess Democrats blame for obstructionism.

This appears to be the plan, opposed by Ari Berman on Alternet, reporting

Five major progressive groups--MoveOn, Democracy for America, TrueMajority, Credo Action and the Progressive Campaign Change Committee--are now urging the Senate not to ratify the imminent Obama deal. Says DFA chair Jim Dean: "Voters - and activists - are not buying the notion that tax cuts for high income earners are the only path to extending the middle class tax-cuts. As for any Democratic members of Congress who are going along with extending the tax cuts for high income earners. This is the stuff primaries are made of.

But, then, that is the plan- even from critics of Obama's scheme, the response is "as for any Democratic members of Congress who are going along with (the proposal).... this is the stuff primaries are made of." Not for the allegedly Democratic president- but from members of Congress who are following his lead. Obama, it seems, is invulnerable to such a challenge, despite a willingness to appease which renders him unable even to contemplate the possibility of a veto- of anything. This weakness, though, reflects a callous indifference to principle, a trait John Mellencamp once sang about.

Boldly, Senator Bernard Sanders, an Independent who knows what it means to be a Democrat, has threatened a filibuster of the plan (video below). But it would take more, even extraordinary, boldness for Senate Democrats to take on the president of their own party who has cut a deal with the other party. They are on the team and they, as in the Tom Tomorrow illustration (below), must "compromise." The other side? Not so much- or at all.












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