Obama To GOP: Stop Holding Middle Class Tax Cuts Hostage

President Obama, hampered by political buffoons in the Democratic Congress, is sticking to his guns:

"I am urging the leaders of the other party to stop holding middle class tax cuts hostage and extend this relief to families immediately."

Obama can not say what we all know -- that a large part of his problem right now is found at Dem headquarters in the Congress. Josh Marshall explains:

There's no 'fall' to take. It's as simple as that. And frankly, there are really no legislative tricks that should be necessary. This is not a matter of the House Democrats need to stick their chin out and worry that the Senate won't back them up.

Who cares? They don't need the Senate to back them up. This isn't a matter of saying legislators need to be brave and suck it up and do the right thing regardless of the consequences. This is something -- just holding the vote -- they should want to do for the most mercenary of reasons -- because it helps them politically and hurts their Republican opponents. The fact that it's good for the economy, good for the people struggling most in the recession, and good for the longterm health of the economy is just gravy on top.

Strictly in political terms, even if nothing else happens, the Democrats (should) want to have that vote in the House. If the Senate acts and it becomes law, great. But still good for the Democrats even if that doesn't happen. That's because -- and it's worrisome that people don't get this -- this isn't like the climate bill. Get real. The climate bill wasn't popular. Should have been popular. Was popular when you explained it to people in polls in highly structured questions. But lots of members of Congress weren't willing to vote for it because they knew they'd pay a price politically. This bill is popular. [. . .]In this case, in political terms, as opposed to policy terms, it's largely irrelevant whether the Senate gets to or passes the bill.

I think this is right, but I also think that is precisely why the Obama Middle Class Tax Cuts would pass, in both the House and the Senate. The politics of this is clear. But the reality is there is no more inept operation in politics than the Democratic Party.

President Obama has to be pulling his hair out knowing the Dems in Congress are the worse political operation in recent memory.

Speaking for me only

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    Pelosi (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by lilburro on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 01:30:15 PM EST
    is usually more aggressive on stuff like this.  Am I missing her pushing for this or is she being unusually silent?

    Pelosi (5.00 / 1) (#36)
    by jbindc on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 02:17:01 PM EST
    Said this:

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday refused to definitively rule out a temporary extension of all the Bush-era tax cuts.

    When asked if there was any chance the tax breaks for the wealthy would be extended, even temporarily, the Speaker didn't give a direct answer.

    "The only thing I can tell you is tax cuts for the middle class will be extended this Congress," Pelosi said at her weekly press conference.

    The Speaker also would not say whether the House would vote before the November elections on an extension of the Bush tax rates that are set to expire at the end of the year.

    *Pelosi lauds vulnerable Perriello's `courage' on climate
    *Dems accuse Boehner of 'whiplash' on taxes
    Asked directly if voters deserve a vote on the issue before they head to the polls, Pelosi replied: "What I believe the American people deserve is a tax cut for the middle class, and without getting into procedure and timing and process, what we're going to do is to say, at the end of the day, the extension of the Obama middle-income tax cuts will take place."

    Echoing President Obama, Pelosi said she was personally opposed to a one- or two-year extension of tax cuts on families earning more than $250,000 per year and individuals making more than $200,000, a plan that more than two dozen members of the House Democratic caucus have advocated. She argued at length for allowing those tax cuts on the top brackets to expire, but could not say whether she had the votes to do so.

    Wonder if that waffle came with butter, (none / 0) (#43)
    by BTAL on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 02:28:07 PM EST
    fruit, syrup and whipped cream.  ;-)

    Kind of weak ... n/t (none / 0) (#57)
    by lilburro on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 02:48:45 PM EST
    One more time (none / 0) (#97)
    by gyrfalcon on Sat Sep 18, 2010 at 12:24:18 AM EST
    She can only promise what she thinks her membership is willing to deliver. Her membership is in a panic because of what they're hearing from their largest campaign contributors.  She's telling y'all that she isn't sure she has the votes.

    Behind the scenes (5.00 / 1) (#56)
    by Demi Moaned on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 02:48:35 PM EST
    I expect she's working this behind the scenes. That's where her real influence is. What else can she do?

    If she's got the votes, she'll probably schedule it. We've already heard that 38 members are rooting for the upper class tax cut. That's almost enough to sink this.


    well (none / 0) (#61)
    by lilburro on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 02:52:23 PM EST
    as explained elsewhere, do the Obama vote first, and force them to vote against a middle class tax cut.

    So, do you seriously believe that (none / 0) (#95)
    by Anne on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 08:43:09 PM EST
    if the bill comes up with only the middle class extension that these Dems are going to vote against it?  Really?

    I know they've not been the most cooperative in terms of going along with a more liberal agenda, but I just don't buy that if the bill was just for the extension of the middle class cuts, that they'd cut their own throats by voting against it just because the rich didn't get theirs.

    Unless these Dems have a death wish.

    There is no way on God's green earth that that would happen - just no way.


    I doubt (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 01:39:13 PM EST
    that Obama is pulling his hair out after he has caved time and again. We shall see if he will stick to his guns on this one which will mean that the Bush Tax Cuts will expire. I'm willing to bet that in the ends he will say that we have to extend them to the millionaires because this was the best he could get. Remember HCR? The blue dogs stood firm and Obama wilted.

    Josh is right though (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Socraticsilence on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 01:44:11 PM EST
    this isn't like Healthcare or Cap and Trade- where the public was only backing Dems if there was a significant and highly detailed explanation- the public is on the Dems side on this intuitively with very simple framing.

    Obama has crusaded on this issue (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 01:44:42 PM EST
    Unlike the others frankly.

    Well (none / 0) (#12)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 01:55:05 PM EST
    the public was behind a public option. The fact that they couldn't make it simple and let the GOP run all over them is what caused support to collapse.

    This is what happened in the past as well (none / 0) (#15)
    by Socraticsilence on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 02:00:02 PM EST
    frankly that what did get passed got passed is still an achievement (political at this point if it stands up- legislative) in 1950 and 1966 the AMA smothered reform, in the 1980s it was the Insurance corps, and in the 1990s the HMOs- Healthcare is quite frankly too complex to be sold well in my opinion (especially when demonizing it is so easy)- If the last of the New Dealers, LBJ, the Clinton and Obama teams couldn't sell it I'm not sure its saleable.

    No (5.00 / 3) (#20)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 02:02:19 PM EST
    what was passed is bad legislation. The structure is set up so poorly that it is ripe for abuse. Do you actually think that the GOP is going to fund Medicaid expansion if they take over the house?

    There is no perfect legislation (none / 0) (#25)
    by Socraticsilence on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 02:06:31 PM EST
    given the odds against passage I think what eventually passed was a good start- remember Social Security as initially implemented was in effect a racist pension fund which only backed the retirement of good white folk.

    No (5.00 / 2) (#28)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 02:08:41 PM EST
    this is NOT a good start. It will have a hard time being expanded and is easily made impotent on any good legislation in the bill.

    I agree with you on the health bill (none / 0) (#33)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 02:12:59 PM EST
    It was not a good start.

    But Obama has been good on this issue.


    Unthinking (none / 0) (#7)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 01:44:12 PM EST
    The problem with emotional analysis, both from Bots and Haters, is that it is irrational.

    Unlike on the public option, where the President was stonily silent, he has spoken often and loudly on this issue.

    But look, you are not interested in a rational discussion about Obama. So ignore the facts.



    Actually (5.00 / 2) (#10)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 01:53:35 PM EST
    I remember him giving many speeches on the public option and you even wrote about it.

    This is not emotional. It is based on his behavior on all previous issues. I have no evidence that he is going to stand strong on this one anymore than he did on any other. You obviously are looking at it at differently. I see no reason to believe that he will behave any different here than any other time but I will be glad to be proved wrong.


    I do think (none / 0) (#13)
    by Socraticsilence on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 01:55:55 PM EST
    he put some on the line (though not everything) to get healthcare reform passed in the end when in looked like it was basically dead in early 2010.

    "At the end" (none / 0) (#19)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 02:02:13 PM EST
    No for the public option, which in fact Obama made sure was dead at the end.

    I remeber NO speeches on the public option (none / 0) (#18)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 02:01:44 PM EST
    Much less writing about it.

    I remember lambasting him for NOT fighting for the public option actually.


    Well (none / 0) (#22)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 02:04:43 PM EST
    IIRC you did that too. It seems that everyday it was different. One day we were going to have a public option and the next day we weren't.

    On Obama? (none / 0) (#31)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 02:12:18 PM EST
    No, I'm pretty sure  I never expected Obama to lead on the public option.

    Well (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 02:15:52 PM EST
    maybe you never believed him but I distinctly remember him talking about a public option in town hall meetings. He talked about it for quite a while IIRC and then later dropped it because of being called a socialist by the right (my personal impression).

    He talked about it as being a good idea (none / 0) (#69)
    by ruffian on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 03:03:54 PM EST
    but not the only good idea. He never came close to insisting on it. Not only because he didn't want to be called a socialist, but because in reality he is not even close enough to being a socialist to vehemently support a public option.

    Agree with your last sentence, ... (5.00 / 2) (#91)
    by Yman on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 04:51:43 PM EST
    "Any plan I sign must include an insurance exchange -- a one-stop shopping marketplace where you can compare the benefits, costs, and track records of a variety of plans -- including a public option to increase competition and keep insurance companies honest."


    ... but not the first.


    Wow, I stand corrected! (none / 0) (#98)
    by ruffian on Sat Sep 18, 2010 at 06:47:30 AM EST
    Did not remember that.

    Here (5.00 / 2) (#42)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 02:26:31 PM EST
    is what Obama said:

    * In a news conference on June 23, Obama said: "As one of those options, for us to be able to say, 'Here's a public option that's not profit-driven, that can keep down administrative costs, and that provides you good, quality care for a reasonable price, as one of the options for you to choose' -- I think that makes sense."

    He backed the public plan and said so to the press and in speeches from what I'm googling until last fall after Sarah Palin started her death panels talking point. He then started waffling and backing down from it.


    August 2009: Sebelius: (5.00 / 1) (#63)
    by oculus on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 02:52:48 PM EST
    Yes, I definitely remember him (5.00 / 4) (#89)
    by Joan in VA on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 03:43:29 PM EST
    speechifying(more than once) about an option being available in the exchange(s) to keep the monopoly insurers competitive.

    Reading over at FDL, he apparently mocked PO supporters at a DNC function last night, among others on the Left, and laughed. Ha-ha-ha. That is so funny that I forgot to vote.


    Party like it's 2008! (5.00 / 1) (#104)
    by lambert on Sat Sep 18, 2010 at 12:23:06 PM EST
    "Haters" my sweet Aunt Fanny. Lordy, even the "kick the left" clowns in Versailles don't use that framing. What next? False charges of racism?

    Simple really (5.00 / 2) (#49)
    by jb64 on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 02:38:24 PM EST
    The President should just say "I will not sign legislation extending tax cuts for the top 2%"

    See how simple that is?

    This (5.00 / 1) (#64)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 02:53:34 PM EST
    is the best line I have seen.

    Yep - that would cut this debate short (none / 0) (#72)
    by ruffian on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 03:05:44 PM EST
    The only way this can fit into any coherent (none / 0) (#3)
    by steviez314 on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 01:41:45 PM EST
    strategy is that they want to have the middle class tax cut vote right before adjournment, and then have the election be the referendum on the upper bracket cut.

    If they had the first vote too soon, there would be a real clamor to have the second one right away, which I think there would be great pressure to have happen.  I think I'd prefer that vote to not happen before the election.

    I doubt that's what they're thinking, since I doubt they think at all, but that's how I'd try to work the clock.

    Pelosi (none / 0) (#4)
    by Socraticsilence on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 01:42:27 PM EST
    was decent on Healthcare- not great, decent. Frankly, I don't know what we need to do differently-- since LBJ left office Democratic Congressional Leadership has basically undercut every single Democratic President at one time or another.

    Unite (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 01:44:05 PM EST
    the party around issues.

    Good luck with that (none / 0) (#9)
    by Socraticsilence on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 01:49:34 PM EST
    the last two presidents assumed Healthcare would do it- nope; civil rights hasn't done it for a while (witness Dem support on a Woman's right to choose and Gay Rights from 1992 on)- the War in Iraq couldn't even do it- thanks to people like Lieberman, unions don't do it anymore, the environment doesn't work because the rust belt and hydrocarbon extraction states kill their reps for it- let's face it we're a far, far more diverse party than the GOP- where its very, very hard to find someone against tax cuts or pro-choice (outside of the Maine Delegation pro-choice Republicans probably don't exist in the Senate and may not exist in the House).

    I'm open to suggestion- what issue would unite the Deomcratic Party?


    Well (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 02:00:42 PM EST
    for one thing you're throwing issues out there that would never unite the party like the Iraq War. I don't think anyone would think that it would.

    Dems don't support a woman's right to choose any longer. They've apparently given up on that one as far as I can see.

    The thing is that the party has been going about it the wrong way. They need to talk about the issues and convince the public that they are good ideas instead of assuming everybody knows it is a good issue. People laughed at Perot and his charts but there might be something to thinking like that.


    Honestly (none / 0) (#37)
    by Socraticsilence on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 02:17:26 PM EST
    I mean this completely honestly and without cynicism- can you think of a positive issue that would unify the party- something that wouldn't turn off the fiscal con blue dogs, the social libs, the hawks or the doves, the civil libertarians like Feingold, the corporate sellouts like Biden, Nelson and Schumer- I mean would love to have an issue, we're a reasonably smart and well-educated bunch on Talkleft and I really can't think of many issues we'd unite on uniformly and we don't have to worry about re-election (which cuts out the issues like legalization or sentencing equity- well that and the fact people like Feinstein and Lieberman are law and order hawks).

    Well (none / 0) (#51)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 02:39:19 PM EST
    that gets back to convincing the public that our ideas are better than the GOP, implementing good legislation when in office, getting good results and talking about how they are good programs.

    If Obama had put together a better HCR, it might have united the party in the long run. Good policy always works.

    One thing that does not help is calling the GOP the party of ideas. Legitimizing the opposition is one of the worst things you can do towards party unity.

    I'm willing to bet that you could unite the party around fighting radical fundamentalism. That's one strain but there might be others.


    If I remember correctly (5.00 / 1) (#54)
    by Socraticsilence on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 02:44:36 PM EST
    you liked the Clinton Health Care plan in the 90s- why if it was a "better plan" did it not even get through a single house of congress- simple Dems are divided on Healthcare. I mean do you honestly think Single Payer or a Public Option gets through if something this scaled back still only skidded through? Or do you think it would have been better if a more progressive health care bill had been proposed, went down in flames and no bill at all was passed for another decade or so.

    No (5.00 / 1) (#59)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 02:50:58 PM EST
    I said Hillary had a better plan than Obama in the primaries because she learned from her mistakes to make it simple.

    A better bill could have been gotten through by making it simple. When you make things complicated like Obama did on HCR, it makes it harder to pass. A "public option" could have gotten through IMO by just opening up Medicare to everybody. The framework is already there. It could just be another option for people to choose from.


    See I don't think that would have worked (none / 0) (#65)
    by Socraticsilence on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 02:57:40 PM EST
    at least not without some major revisions to our current Healthcare system such as forgiving all medical school debt, and/or requiring acceptance of Medicare patients (in return for severely limiting malpractice suits and judgements in said suits)- as it is there are already an increasing number of physicians and facilities who/which don't accept new medicare patients due to the cost issues- I don't think we could have done it overnight like that. (It works in countries like Germany, Canada and the UK due to a completely different healthcare culture- doctors make less money but are also largely immune from malpractice judgements and medical school debt is on avg. 1/10th of what it is here).  Reforming the American Healthcare System is extraordinarily complicated due to all the interrelated problems.

    Um, do you think (5.00 / 1) (#68)
    by dk on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 03:02:27 PM EST
    any of those doctors you are speaking of take medicaid patients?  That is allegedly the only real progressive part of the health insurance bill, the phantom additional funding of medicaid to cover more people near the poverty line.  Many, many doctors don't.

    In addition (5.00 / 1) (#74)
    by Socraticsilence on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 03:08:41 PM EST
    the funding for community health clinics that Sanders got into the bill in return for his support greatly enhanced access to healthcare by said patients. (Sanders was basically the only Dem who bargained smartly from the left as opposed to trying to kill bill entirely or just caving- he argued for and recieved something to back HCR).  

    not a Dem (none / 0) (#75)
    by Socraticsilence on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 03:09:01 PM EST
    sorry Bernie.

    They honestly don't need to (none / 0) (#71)
    by Socraticsilence on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 03:05:42 PM EST
    the medicaid expansion only covers 30 million or so, Medicare once it proved better for most people than private insurance would have had to cover approx 10 times that amount.

    Huh? (5.00 / 1) (#78)
    by dk on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 03:11:24 PM EST
    So you don't think the medicaid expansion was all that important an element of the bill?  Arguably it was the only good thing about the bill, though if fact it won't actually help most of the people it is intended to help for the reasons that you just stated.

    If (none / 0) (#73)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 03:06:08 PM EST
    you had more people buying into Medicare then the reimbursement rates could have been raised. That is the only reason that doctors do not take Medicare patients. And if you believe that, then why do you think Medicaid expansion was a great thing? I mean even less doctors take Medicaid patients. People with private insurance sue doctors too so why should that even be an issue?

    You're not making much sense in what you are saying.


    Its all about the reimbursement rates (none / 0) (#80)
    by Socraticsilence on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 03:14:35 PM EST
    they would have had to have been raised to be similar to private insurance reimbursement rates or otherwise made palatable to Doctors (such as my proposed malpractice reform). The reason I mentioned malpractice is because its one of the major things people don't account for when they talk about the British, German or Canadian systems- simply put Americans wouldn't stand for the restrictions on the right to legal remedy that Britons and Germans take for granted- there's a reason that Malpractice as a cost is so much lower in the UK and Germany and its not because there physicians are exponentially better than ours- its because many of the things people are rightly allowed to sue for here are basically protected in alternative systems (for example in Britain- following NICE's proscribed practices is a nigh invulnerable shield against suits regardless of outcome).  

    But the same argument (none / 0) (#82)
    by dk on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 03:23:41 PM EST
    applies to medicaid increases too...even more so, actually.  So really you think the health insurance bill that passed is a total failure, since the only real way that health care was actually promised in the bill to more people was to certain people living pretty close to the poverty line through medicaid expansion, and you acknowledge that that medicaid expansion, even if there was such an expansion, won't lead to more healthcare because doctors don't take medicaid.

    No it isn't (none / 0) (#83)
    by Socraticsilence on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 03:28:56 PM EST
    the Medicaid expansion only covers 30 million or so, many of which are offset by the Community Health Centers increase- its an exponentially different situation than increasing medicare to cover the whole country.

    But the medicaid expansion (5.00 / 1) (#86)
    by dk on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 03:33:46 PM EST
    is the centerpiece of the bill.  So what do you like about it?  The increased restrictions on women's autonomy?  Or the mandates for everyone else to buy junk insurance?

    No (none / 0) (#88)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 03:36:34 PM EST
    the community health centers are not going to be everywhere.

    I think (none / 0) (#87)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 03:35:40 PM EST
    you could have put that out there and seen if people were willing to accept it. Some people might have been willing to give up the right to sue for lower insurance payments. You could have given people the choice whereas what passed pretty much forces people to overpay for insurance.

    If I remember correctly, (5.00 / 1) (#66)
    by dk on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 02:58:58 PM EST
    there was a New York Times poll in June 2009 to the effect that 60 to 70 percent of Americans favored a government administered health insurance option that would be available to all Americans.  Do you think such a poll resulted existed in 1993?

    Fact is, the Clintons were ahead of their time back then in pushing for healthcare reform.  It wasn't nearly the front-burner issue for many that is is now.  Fact also is that the health insurance bill that just passed is behind the times, both in its economic inefficiency in the face of a situation that is much worse than what was the case in 1993, and its 19th century treatment of women's rights.  

    To a great degree, I think making comparisons to the two situations doesn't end up doing much, but if you're going to do so it helps to be more nuanced.


    In June 2009 it did (none / 0) (#70)
    by Socraticsilence on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 03:04:11 PM EST
    of course those same people also opposed mandates by huge margins, and that support began to crater as variations on HCR were debated. Oh and while the public may not have been at 70% in favor if I remember correctly there was a majority in favor of Clinton's Healthcare Reform bill in the first weeks of its rollout- it was only after opposition organized that such support proved ephemeral.

    So you agree (5.00 / 2) (#76)
    by dk on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 03:09:14 PM EST
    it wasn't the same.  Good.  The point is that the public mood was in favor of reform exactly at the point that Obama made the deal with insurance companies and big pharma to turn the bill into the one that the Republicans were proposing back in the 90s, in other words regressive legislation instead of progressive legislation.

    They were in favor of "reform" (5.00 / 1) (#81)
    by Socraticsilence on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 03:18:34 PM EST
    in a shallow sense- that support had no real depth and was fracturable along multiple lines once actual legislation was proposed- just like in 1993- while the overall numbers may have shifted slightly they weren't massive different.

    As far as making a deal goes- you do realize that the Clinton Health Care plan essentially was based on a deal between the Administration and the 5 largest Health Insurance corps right- that it essentially would have formed a cartel with a guarentee customer base for these 5 and that intial opposition was driven in large part by those providers not included in the agreement?


    Again, the mood in this (5.00 / 1) (#85)
    by dk on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 03:31:54 PM EST
    country about healthcare reform in 2009 was much, much different than in 1993.   Seventeen more years of healthcare costs spiraling out of control have much more people discussing healthcare costs as an issue than was the case back then.  Are you really denying this?  And I notice you say the 70% public support for government administered healthcare form "was fracturable."  Nice use of the passive voice.  Helps you to avoid saying that Obama himself helped to fracture it when he made the deal to big insurance and big pharma to give them the profits at the expense of actual healthcare reform and failed to explain why government involvement in healthcare administration is the only method of bringing about positive reform.



    I guess (none / 0) (#38)
    by Socraticsilence on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 02:20:05 PM EST
    I mean historically the party did infight pretty hard over Vietnam, but I kind of hoped since we didn't actually author a good portion of Iraq we could have united over the invasion in 2003- I mean even the Hawks like Lieberman could have presumably backed the- "Afghanistan needs to be won" angle right?

    Okay (5.00 / 1) (#53)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 02:41:39 PM EST
    I see your point there. There was unity w/r/t Afghanistan but not Iraq but had Bush waited a few years and not used 9/11 hysteria to get us into Iraq, there might have been unity over Iraq. The party has suffered a horrible foreign policy identity for years imo.

    I think a lot of people were (none / 0) (#58)
    by Socraticsilence on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 02:49:32 PM EST
    affected by Gulf War I- there you had some of the young post-Vietnam Senators like Al Gore come out against the War and they were basically excoriated after the fact when it proved to be a cakewalk-- no one who was on the fence (not morally opposed, or highly suspicious) was going to vote against the War authorization especially after 9-11 and with Afghanistan looking like another easy low casualties sweet visuals war ala GWI or Kosovo- if we'd been bogged down in Kabul or Khandahar like we'd been in Rwanda- I think the vote may have gone the other way- but at the time it looked like a low-cost way to appear pro-troop and patriotic while opposing it looked like a noble and possibly correct stance that would be disasterous to higher ambitions when the war was over in 3 months.

    I agree (none / 0) (#62)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 02:52:46 PM EST
    with you on that.

    To be fully honest (none / 0) (#67)
    by Socraticsilence on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 03:00:50 PM EST
    I only opposed the war because I believed Bush and the Clinton admin on Saddam having some leftover stashes of WMDs- of course in believing that I also basically undermined Bush's case for war- you don't invade and attempt to overthrow someone you think has WMDs- unless you know for a fact that he/she is insane- otherwise your basically either necessitating the use of said WMDs or easing their distribution to non-state actors in the chaos of a collapsed state.

    I think part of it is (none / 0) (#11)
    by Socraticsilence on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 01:54:17 PM EST
    on top of having a diverse issue set Democrats represent a far more geographically diverse stretch of the country than the GOP- thus its hard to find an issue that doesn't split off some segment of the party wherein legitimate constituent service requires they oppose the party line.

    The most united I can remember Democrats being in the last 15 years or so was in opposing the privatization of Social Security (where Bush could only find one rep in the entire congress) and in opposing impeachment (seriously screw Lieberman- I get Hillary and Obama campaigning for him in 2006- okay you back your fellow Senator in a primary, but Bill doing the same was just odd)- but both of those are reactionary positions I can't think of a creative issue- something where Dems could unite and pass stuff- that would have the same resonance.


    Maybe the House Dem. leadership (none / 0) (#14)
    by oculus on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 01:59:25 PM EST
    doesn't want to show up the 31 Dems. who favor extending all the Bush tax cuts.

    No maybe about it (none / 0) (#17)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 02:00:57 PM EST
    Apparently they would rather show up the President AND lose the Congress rather than offend Steny's Blue Dogs, have of whom are dead already.

    Making them REALLY idiotic.


    Would a GOP president remain (none / 0) (#23)
    by oculus on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 02:05:07 PM EST
    silent whilst 31 members of his party in the House sabotages him?

    Never would happen (none / 0) (#26)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 02:07:06 PM EST
    so a moot point.

    Literally the only time (none / 0) (#32)
    by Socraticsilence on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 02:12:35 PM EST
    a significant portion of the GOP broke with Bush was over Social Security Privitization and over immigration- the former occured because quite frankly Bush and/or Rove was insane (seriously the equivalent would be Obama introducing a 75% defense cut- just unimaginably stupid politically) the latter because the Talk Radio structure of the right was against it (there really isn't a Dem equivalent to this)- other than that they went with everything- even something like Medicare part D which would in the eyes of virtually any objective observer seem to be something that the budget hawks would have split on was pretty much a straight party-line vote.

    Miers. (none / 0) (#39)
    by me only on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 02:20:36 PM EST
    Good point (none / 0) (#41)
    by Socraticsilence on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 02:23:01 PM EST
    though I would argue that was also led by the Radio Whackjobs-- its kind of unique too- I mean can anyone remember another time where the president's own party submarined a Supreme Court Justice nominee?

    Another (none / 0) (#55)
    by me only on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 02:46:38 PM EST
    Took months to pass, eventually did.

    also over cutting agriculture subsidies n/t (none / 0) (#92)
    by cawaltz on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 05:09:12 PM EST
    There (none / 0) (#34)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 02:13:22 PM EST
    is such a thing as twisting arms behind the scenes but I have no idea if Obama is doing that.

    post 1968- though it might be different in 2011-2012 with the new "filibusters are normal and not an extraordinary tool" rules.

    Bill Clinton managed (none / 0) (#46)
    by dk on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 02:34:57 PM EST
    to twist enough arms in 1993 to pass the most progressive legislation since LBJ's time under a Democratic president (i.e. the tax increase for the rich we're talking about here...plus all sorts of other tax goodies for others).  

    The question is whether Obama has the ability and the desire to do the same.  The last two years has given us some evidence of the former (though sadly, since it was for the health insurance bill, not used for good).  As for the latter, he's been sounding good for a few weeks, but based on the pro-corporate spin in most of his policy agenda so far it's hard to know he's suddenly decided to make the rich pay a little.


    Delusion (none / 0) (#94)
    by Rojas on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 07:45:54 PM EST
    ain't just a river in Egypt...
    You'd think we just stop with this raising taxes to build prison nation is progressive nonsense?
    And replacing the safety net with with the EIC was smart politics, the latest poverty numbers give a pretty good indication of how that system holds up under stress.

    So long as you can get them to vote (none / 0) (#30)
    by andgarden on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 02:11:17 PM EST
    for the rule allowing a debate on Obama's proposal, you should be good.

    If the Republicans want to offer a motion to recommit offering tax cuts for the wealthy, let them. If we don't have the votes in the House to keep that out of the bill, then shame on House Democrats.


    Is this personal for these (none / 0) (#21)
    by me only on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 02:03:52 PM EST
    members of Congress?

    Something like 75% of Americans would like to cut Congress' pay.  You think they are going to vote on that bill?

    He should issue a veto threat (none / 0) (#24)
    by andgarden on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 02:06:24 PM EST
    for, say, McConnell's bill.

    McConnell's Bill (none / 0) (#27)
    by Socraticsilence on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 02:08:25 PM EST
    should never reach the floor- or at least not reach the floor prior to a Middle Class Tax bill- if it does the blame entirely lies with an incompetent House Leadership.

    Of course, (none / 0) (#29)
    by andgarden on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 02:09:25 PM EST
    but that's not the point.

    This, DREAM act and DADT phase out..... (none / 0) (#44)
    by magster on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 02:29:29 PM EST
    and Elizabeth Warren shows that maybe the enthusiasm gap issue has someone's attention.  

    unfortunately (none / 0) (#47)
    by Socraticsilence on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 02:36:15 PM EST
    they all also underline that our party is basically a massive collection of generally shared ideals but individual objections.

    It's not really a middle class tax cut. (none / 0) (#45)
    by Romberry on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 02:34:41 PM EST
    It just isn't. When people/families with incomes ranging from half a million dollars to a million dollars plus receive more than six dollars in benefits for every dollar that the median family with 50 thousand dollars of income receives, that's a lot of things but progressive isn't one of them.

    The Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center looked at this and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities used the Brookings analysis to see who gets what. This blog post at Open Salon has the charts and a link to the original.

    That's how a marginal rate system (none / 0) (#48)
    by Socraticsilence on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 02:37:10 PM EST
    works- its not something new its basically the way its been since the income tax was created.

    Otherwise (none / 0) (#50)
    by Socraticsilence on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 02:38:36 PM EST
    the whole 90% tax rates on individuals in the top bracket thing that existed in the 50s would have been what the GOP says it was- a disincentive to the top bracket- I mean if they'd actually make more net by holding their income down that's stupid.

    That's wrongheaded (none / 0) (#52)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 02:39:22 PM EST
    It would be the most progressive initiative in 17 years.

    Why? Because people making 250 or more would pay an additional 700 billion in taxes over 10 years.


    Its also illogical (none / 0) (#60)
    by Socraticsilence on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 02:51:24 PM EST
    I mean fixing his objection would basically necessitate junking the entire marginal tax rate system.

    No it wouldn't. (none / 0) (#77)
    by Romberry on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 03:11:18 PM EST
    There are ways to cut taxes without doing anything to the rates. You can raise the level for the EITC. You can enact a refundable tax credit that applies to only the first 75-150k of income. There are numerous ways other than junking the marginal rate tax system. You are thinking too narrowly.

    No, it's not. (none / 0) (#79)
    by Romberry on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 03:13:55 PM EST
    You made an assertion and no more than an assertion. As I pointed out below, there are numerous ways in which a tax cut could be effectively given to the middle class without seeing families with million dollar plus incomes getting six dollars in benefits for every dollar that flows to the median household.

    Try thinking outside the box. The Bush tax cuts are expiring. There is no reason what so ever that the Bush tax cuts need be a model for a middle class tax cut. Zero.


    I stated a fact (none / 0) (#84)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 03:30:35 PM EST
    not an unsupported assertion.

    Where's the support? (none / 0) (#93)
    by Romberry on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 05:17:13 PM EST
    You stated something you assert to be a fact, but that doesn't make it so.

    Directly from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities analysis:

    The middle-class tax-cut package the Joint Tax Committee analyzed does not extend the reduction in the tax rate on dividends for couples with incomes over $250,000 (and singles over $200,000). President Obama has proposed, however, that the dividend top rate for high-income people be permanently set at 20 percent, rather than being allowed to return to its pre-2001 level of 39.6 percent. If Congress follows that approach and incorporates this proposal into a middle-class tax-cut package, the average tax cut that high-income households will receive from enactment of such a package will be considerably larger than the figures just cited, and the dollar amount by which the average tax cut going to high-income households exceeds the average tax cut for middle-income households will be significantly larger, as well.

    Like I said...not a middle class tax cut. More like bait and switch. The devil is in the details. It always is.


    What if... (none / 0) (#90)
    by Pianobuff on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 04:36:40 PM EST
    Obama passes middle-class-only tax cuts and the economy doesn't improve within 6 months?  

    Then the middle class will be extra (none / 0) (#99)
    by ruffian on Sat Sep 18, 2010 at 06:50:12 AM EST
    happy about their tax cuts. I don't expect it to help the economy much - at best it will prevent it from getting worse.

    What iff (none / 0) (#100)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Sep 18, 2010 at 09:10:01 AM EST
    the economy improves?

    I think it will be deemed a (5.00 / 2) (#101)
    by Anne on Sat Sep 18, 2010 at 09:56:48 AM EST
    victory as long as the economy doesn't get any worse, but I also think that victory would be small, and probably short-lived.

    I still believe the only way to increase demand and really stimulate this economy is for the government to spend on programs that will put people back to work doing things that really need to get done all over this country - to, in essence, fund an employment program.

    It worries me that these stop-gap measures - popular as they may be - are still the equivalent of slapping more band-aids on something that needs major medical intervention.

    Sometimes it seems this administration is determined, on issue after issue, to avoid taking the best approach to solving them, just to appease the forces of opposition; I don't know if it's cowardice or hubris, but it's not working.


    It will be "deemed" a victory... (none / 0) (#103)
    by lambert on Sat Sep 18, 2010 at 11:15:53 AM EST
    ... no matter what, since it reinforces an R frame.

    I think you ask an ontological question here (none / 0) (#96)
    by robotalk on Fri Sep 17, 2010 at 09:11:34 PM EST
    who is a democrat?

    Why do we let some people call themselves democrats?

    How do they get into positions of power, representing themselves as democrats?

    Is there anyway a democratic party can make democrats conform to a democratic platform?

    Obama = Fenty (none / 0) (#102)
    by lambert on Sat Sep 18, 2010 at 11:02:31 AM EST
    Here and here. Adopting the R "tax cut" frame won't help him, especially since nobody who depends on a paycheck will notice any different when they go to the bank (or quasi-banking facility) and cash it. Yeah, I know people people are stupid to think that way, and focus on the damn bottom line of takehome pay, and that I'm stupid too, so nobody needs to explain that all over again, mkay? Carry on!