The Power Of The Bully Pulpit: Boehner Caves On Tax Cuts For The Wealthy

For 20 months now, Beltway Dems have derided the bully pulpit of the Presidency. Let this be Exhibit A:

House Minority Leader John Boehner says he would vote for President Obama's plan to extend tax cuts only for middle-class earners, not the wealthy, if that were the only option available to House Republicans.

Boehner, R-Ohio, said it is "bad policy" to exclude the highest-earning Americans from tax relief during the recession, and later Sunday he accused the White House of "class warfare." But he said he wouldn't block the breaks for middle-income individuals and families if Democrats won't support the full package.

(Emphasis supplied.) Lessons learned about political bargaining one hopes.

Speaking for me only

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    Indeed (4.25 / 4) (#1)
    by andgarden on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 08:36:18 PM EST
    NB: Boehner has his eyes on the gavel right now. He (probably rightly) believes that this fight would be bad for him, so he gave up--Democrat style.

    Boehner Knows the Game (none / 0) (#13)
    by msaroff on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 11:57:22 PM EST
    The house 'Phants support this, and it dies in the Senate, which helps the house 'Phants, and hurts the Senate ones, which boosts Boehner's star with the house Republican caucus.

    Be careful what you wish for (3.00 / 2) (#7)
    by diogenes on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 10:03:17 PM EST
    Now the GOP doesn't get blamed for supporting extending the tax cut for all as long as the under 250K crowd gets their extension.  In exchange, the Dems get the blame if they don't extend the cut for the rich and the economy continues to struggle in 2011, whether or not there is a connection.  And how embarassing would it be if enough blue dogs suddenly join the republicans in a fit of preelection jitters and decide to extend the Bush cuts for all.
    All in all a big winner for GOP.

    Not when the tide is turning against Republicans (none / 0) (#17)
    by NealB on Mon Sep 13, 2010 at 01:17:32 AM EST
    . 90% of what's broken now, Republicans broke. They admit it. They're proud of it. If it's broken, they broke it.

    Republicans have about a month left and they've got nothing but a three-ring freakshow to offer. Voters don't want that.


    It's all part (none / 0) (#2)
    by JamesTX on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 09:16:36 PM EST
    of the show, but there is some subtle entertainment in seeing Republican pretend to fold.

    It's almost like...it's real! There sure are a lot of people who make less than $250k, so it is interesting to see a vote framed in this way. Usually it's poor people chomping at the bit to vote against themselves, being made to believe they are "small businesses" or that their friends have small businesses and such, or some other fable like that.

    Dumb (none / 0) (#3)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 09:19:11 PM EST
    You really believe what you wrote? If the President had not stepped up anmd does not stick to his guns, the Bush tax cuts for the rich will be extended.

    I am amazed how Obama makes people, adulators and haters alike, so stupid.


    The (5.00 / 2) (#20)
    by lentinel on Mon Sep 13, 2010 at 02:00:51 AM EST
    track record for Obama "sticking to his guns" is not too inspiring.

    I don't believe he would have even shown up if the November elections weren't around the corner.

    When the Dems actually present a package that allows the tax cuts for the very rich to expire, I will sense a light at the end of the tunnel.

    At the moment is Obama's performance an example of the "bully pulpit", or is it simply a resurrection to the campaign style that impressed so many?

    You said that it is amazing how Obama can make people so stupid. On the other hand, it is possible that many stupid people made Obama in the first place.


    His track record for bully pulpiting is worse (none / 0) (#23)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Sep 13, 2010 at 07:26:25 AM EST
    And here he has gotten on the bully pulpit.

    I think applauding that is allowed without the catcalls.

    IF he considers caving, we blast him. But no indication of that YET.


    I don't (none / 0) (#5)
    by JamesTX on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 09:53:55 PM EST
    want to believe what I wrote, BTD, but things haven't been going very well for progressives for a few years. We'll see.

    It is not a question of belief (none / 0) (#8)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 10:09:31 PM EST
    It's a question of what has happened.

    It amazes me that you think badly of what has happened on this issue so far.

    That's not constructive. It's dumb.


    Not badly ... (none / 0) (#24)
    by JamesTX on Mon Sep 13, 2010 at 07:27:01 AM EST
    just skeptical, as any cognizant progressive would be. To launch into unconditional praise and rock-concert style applause is not so bright, as it will result in complacency and give the spineless Dems a sense they have again satisfied the people they depended on for election but have long since tossed under the bus. To the extent we settle for such theatrics, we invite more of the same treatment. That is not to say this turn of events is not refreshing. It is.

    I realize I have probably given those around here the idea I am all hat and no cattle with regard to the distinction between belief and evidence. Rest assured that is not true. It is simply a courtesy, as some (definitely not all) would not want to get into an evidence based argument with me. Of course, you are not in that "some"! Nor are the judges and prosecutors I have conversed with!

    Evidence aside, BTD, of all people, for you to call critics stupid and dumb is reminiscent of the bully tactics used in the blogosphere (I haven't heard that word in a while) to elect Obama to begin with. Not constructive? You mean I'm not falling in line with the Obama concert tour groupie-roadie-worship brigade after being given my one chance? Am I not going to get a back stage pass? The problem is, when the concert is over, we go back to business as usual and the rock star goes home with the bucks and votes Republican and whines about undisciplined groupies who can't pay for the roads which lead to the concert hall, much less the concert hall itself.

    You can be assured of two things. I will continue to vote for Obama, as I am not stupid. In fact, I'll vote straight D as usual. And second, this will be my last post on TalkLeft, as I am not dumb, nor tone deaf. I may have a disability sometimes referred to with such terms, but I am struggling currently with life circumstances that would have long ago overcome most stupid and dumb people. I have always had great respect for you. I was around Daily KOS from the beginning. You are correct about bully pulpits. I defer. I wish you the best and I wish victory for Democrats. You go. It is better that the stupid and dumb just lurk. And vote.

    As long as I'm being stupid and dumb, I should mention there's an old saying in Tennessee...well, I know it's in Texas...but probably Tennessee...


    Look (none / 0) (#26)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Sep 13, 2010 at 08:10:47 AM EST
    This is not an activist site, and whether you vote or not is an decision for an adult.

    I won't try and convince you. I never have done so.

    It's your vote. You do with it what you will.

    What I do do here is try and think and engage people in the thinking process.

    I thought your first comment was not thoughtful. you are welcome to say the same thing about my thoughts and comment and posts.

    We're not made of glass here.


    Well, good timing anyway,... (none / 0) (#4)
    by NealB on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 09:26:14 PM EST
    ...so far.

    Obama's first shot across Repulibans' bow has the desired effect. Boehner folds.

    Proves the "professional left" have been right all along. Gibbs proven to be a mole.

    I feel a little more enthusiastic.

    Read on huffingtungpost.com that Geithner's on board.

    Democrats are going to put up a fight in public?

    It's subtle, but subtle is probably all we Democrats have got now.

    Feingold's current video advertisement shows him sitting alone at a table where all-white, all-late-middle-aged, all-male-dressed-in-suits sit at full tables around him. Crazy Democratic Wisconsin Senator hyping his separation from folks you don't know and don't want to know and otherwise despise? Maybe not so subtle.

    No one said it was going to be difficult for Democrats to claim the moral high ground. A lot of what Democrats do is two-dimensional and three-dimensional chess; they'd be bored otherwise.

    Ron Wyden's TV ad is very (none / 0) (#6)
    by caseyOR on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 09:55:12 PM EST
    similar. Shows Ron, dressed casually, sitting on a park bench with a bunch of old white guys in suits. Then Ron gets up and walks away from the old white guys, exhibiting his independence from the lobbyists and power-brokers.

    The voice-over tells us that there is at least one senator in D.C. who does not run with the crowd. Guess who? It's Ron Wyden.


    I dont know (none / 0) (#9)
    by Left of the Left on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 11:04:44 PM EST
    Just how effective his bully pulpit on this was with his refusal to even issue a veto threat. Republicans still get tax cuts to vote for and everyone gets a ride on the unity pony. They arent voting against tax hikes, they're voting for tax cuts. Hard to hang them on that rope.

    You tell me, if in the end they arent fighting now because they think they'll have the numbers to get them later (since the economy will still be struggling) was this really a defeat or did they simply take a dive knowing they'd get a bigger pay day in the rematch?

    I am still worried about (none / 0) (#10)
    by oculus on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 11:13:58 PM EST
    Christine Romer's opining may have to let the rich keep on w/lower tax rate due to high unemployment etc.

    I do (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by lentinel on Mon Sep 13, 2010 at 01:51:45 AM EST
    believe that the trickle-down theory still thrives in the hearts and minds and wallets of the congress and the lobbyists that love them.

    David Cay Johnston, Paul Krugman and (none / 0) (#11)
    by hairspray on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 11:35:23 PM EST
    Robert Reich have all been writing copiously about the non relationship of tax breaks for business and wealthy investors and employment numbers.  Why do they keep spinning nonsense that letting the rich keep their money is good for job creation?  Dumb!  Reich's recent column in the SF Chronicle complete with pie charts refutes that argument not only for this downturn but others in the past as well.  We need for the media to keep repeating the fact that businesses (including banks) are sitting on trillions and using their profits to acquire smaller firms (driving up unemployment) and pay big bucks to the throat cutting CEO's.

    Agree. But why did Romer say what she (none / 0) (#12)
    by oculus on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 11:43:53 PM EST
    sd.? Foreshadowing?  Or is she entirely off the reservation?

    I can't find any place where she said that (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Sep 13, 2010 at 12:15:19 AM EST
    Do you have a link?  There is one thing I like about Goolsbee, Larry Summers hates him and hates his influence on Obama.  Goolsbee may not be my dream in too many ways I don't really want to dwell on and count tonight, but anyone that Larry Summers hates and longs to be shed of can't be ALL bad :)

    The enemy of my enemy... (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by shoephone on Mon Sep 13, 2010 at 12:28:54 AM EST
    Here: (none / 0) (#16)
    by oculus on Mon Sep 13, 2010 at 12:44:02 AM EST
    Wow...thank you oculus (none / 0) (#28)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Sep 13, 2010 at 09:29:25 AM EST
    I wonder who is paying the Romers lately though?  She may want to call allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire exogenous, but could she be more disingenuous?  The legislation was passed due to economic conditions and now it isn't being extended DUE TO ECONOMIC CONDITIONS.  There is nothing exogneous about allowing the tax cuts to expires.  The change IS explained by the model.

    We'll see... (none / 0) (#18)
    by lentinel on Mon Sep 13, 2010 at 01:48:59 AM EST
    Boehner said he would vote for the package sans the tax cut for the very rich if that was all that was offered to him.

    The question now is whether that will in fact be all that is offered.
    I nave little confidence in the Dems - from top to bottom - that they will in fact allow those tax cuts to expire.

    As usual, I will add that I hope I'm wrong...

    yeah, I remain unconvinced (none / 0) (#27)
    by ruffian on Mon Sep 13, 2010 at 08:36:52 AM EST
    Pretty big qualifier in there. and I believe the back-pedaling will start today.

    That does not mean I don't believe in the power of the bully pulpit. I'd like to see it used more often on any number of issues. They need to stop listening to George Will's 'he's overexposed' whine, which he trotted out again last week.


    No doubt obamadmin (none / 0) (#21)
    by pluege2 on Mon Sep 13, 2010 at 04:55:57 AM EST
    was counting on boehner to put up a better fight than that so they could be the ones to cave. They will surely receive some stern looks at the club next week.  

    The Bully Pulpit (none / 0) (#22)
    by Thnkaboutit on Mon Sep 13, 2010 at 05:04:22 AM EST
    I sit exactly on the border of being called a rich fat cat by the president. Funny when he speaks. I feel he is saying "well these people are really not one of us, not an American really"

    Funny I served enlisted during the war in the 70's did my time. I worked and worked my way up threw the hard times of the 70's and 80's.

    At last after years of making ends meet, using credit card advances to pay employees and bills. I broke threw and now I sit on the edge of that 3 percent he always "hammers" for not doing their duty. I don't ave degree not even a High School diploma.

    I really don't mind giving a little more, but guess what? The 3 percent of us can carry the whole load.

    So how about those guys making 120,000 a year and up? $10,000 a month is a really good  job, or even a 100,000 a year?

    Here is an idea, how about we all pitch in just a little more in taxes, and spend a little less?

    Great prescription (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by gyrfalcon on Mon Sep 13, 2010 at 08:07:15 AM EST
    for a floundering economy!!

    "how about we all pitch in just a little more in taxes, and spend a little less?"

    I'm trying to convince myself that your comment was snark, but I can't do it.


    I have the utmost respect for those who (5.00 / 3) (#31)
    by Anne on Mon Sep 13, 2010 at 09:41:39 AM EST
    manage, through hard work and sacrifice, to build a business and do it successfully; that is no small feat and is to be applauded.

    It would seem to me, though, that having struggled your way to where you are now, you understand quite well the much greater burden higher taxes place on those who are already truly just scraping by.

    And, if you've been reading these comment threads and perhaps other discussions about extending the tax rates for the middle class, you should understand that even those at the highest income levels do get the benefit of those lower rates.

    I can't speak for anyone else, but I would consider myself quite fortunate to be in that top 2% of income earners, because when all was said and done, I would still have a ton more left over after paying my taxes than someone at much lower levels.

    Do you use more services than someone making a quarter of what you do?  Probably not, but you benefit from those services in ways you probably have not considered.  But I don't know - maybe you'd rather drive on unpaved and unmaintained roads, let people who can't afford private education to go without, forget about police and fire departments, trash collection, bus and light rail, snow removal, mail delivery and so on.  I'm sure you could manage to run your business with uneducated employees, right?  Or start a transportation service to get them to and from work, pay people to plow the snow so your business can open, hire armed guards for security and install a water tank to fight any fires that might break out.  Don't know what you'll do about making sure contractors working on your office are doing so up to code, though - that could be tough.  

    Wonder who you'll blame when all your hard-earned money is going for private services...


    Fire, Police, Water, Roads, etc. (none / 0) (#33)
    by BTAL on Mon Sep 13, 2010 at 10:11:13 AM EST
    are not funded from Federal income taxes.  There may be/is some Federal "trickle down" but those are all primarily funded from state and local taxation.

    Are you kidding me? (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by Anne on Mon Sep 13, 2010 at 10:33:36 AM EST
    Are you actually going to make the argument that no federal money finds its way to state coffers for these things?  Oh, wait - you would call it pork, I guess - these special grants or funding for programs, federal highway money, infrastructure grants, etc.  Money that allows the states to apportion more of its own tax dollars to other needs?

    Give me a break...the same people who crab about federal taxes crab about state taxes, too, and anyone who thinks drops in Federal revenue will not see increases on the state side - or a drastic reduction in services if state taxes are not raised - is dreaming.

    My point was that people benefit from the taxes they pay in ways they probably don't realize and don't consider when they start whining about having to shoulder too much of the burden.  Am I happy about how every tax dollar is spent?  Of course not.  But I'm still paying a greater percentage of my income in taxes than someone making more than $250,000 - the amount may be less, but the percentage is greater, and therefore the sacrifice and the pain are greater for me than for the top 2%.


    I did not say "no federal money" did I. (none / 0) (#36)
    by BTAL on Mon Sep 13, 2010 at 10:46:39 AM EST
    That is the core of the problem, there is too much local money sucked into the massive "we know better" federal government apparatus, which then takes its middle man cut, before flowing money back to locally centric services.  

    The problem is further exacerbated by the "we know better" federal experts with unfunded mandates placed on state and localities - again under the all powerful "we know better" mantra.


    these days (none / 0) (#34)
    by CST on Mon Sep 13, 2010 at 10:22:10 AM EST
    there's a lot more federal trickle down than usual.

    Somebody tell my state... (none / 0) (#37)
    by kdog on Mon Sep 13, 2010 at 11:19:08 AM EST
    their raising taxes and fees like nobody's business.

    Can the people tell the state the same line we're told when we complain about being broke?  "Trickle down, be patient....you'll get your slice eventually."  Imagine? lol

    The fog of what is the state's responsibility and what is the fed's...funded mandates and unfunded mandates...shipping money to DC for processing and shipment back less fees...it's a giant clusterf*ck, and possibly by design, to better skim the people's money.


    Excuse me (none / 0) (#38)
    by DFLer on Mon Sep 13, 2010 at 11:56:33 AM EST
    The interstate highway system is most definitely funded by the Feds.

    Primarily 70% via federal and state (none / 0) (#39)
    by BTAL on Mon Sep 13, 2010 at 12:15:58 PM EST
    gas and use taxes, not income taxes.

    thanks (none / 0) (#41)
    by DFLer on Wed Sep 15, 2010 at 05:00:04 PM EST
    for the clarification

    He doesn't always hammer any 3 percent (none / 0) (#29)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Sep 13, 2010 at 09:34:47 AM EST
    and if you make over $250,000 you aren't sleeping in a shelter and you have healthcare and you are well fed.  You make your money on the back of this society, so do I.  These tax cuts were inacted after 9/11 to stimulate the economy and that benefit is over and now if we continue to extend them it makes the deficit much worse.  If you have consistently voted Republican you put your own self into this position too along with the rest of us.

    Sorry.....enacted (none / 0) (#30)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Sep 13, 2010 at 09:39:19 AM EST
    The tax cuts were enacted to stimulate a faltering economy, but they were never meant to be permanent.  Prior to the economic difficulties that brought the tax cuts into being, everyone was paying what they will pay again.  The only "tax cut" I'm getting is an improved marriage deduction that counts me as a real person too :)  If you want it back...........have the damn thing, this country is in trouble and it is in trouble because of the rich class and the greed of that class and how well the rich have gamed the system now.

    I saw this (none / 0) (#32)
    by lilburro on Mon Sep 13, 2010 at 09:53:44 AM EST
    on morning TV yesterday and found it notable as well.  If we do happen to lose the House working the bully pulpit like this is obviously going to be essential.

    I do not trust (none / 0) (#40)
    by weltec2 on Tue Sep 14, 2010 at 03:51:18 AM EST
    anything Boehner says. He wants that gavel, and he'll say and do anything to get it at this point.