Democratic Self-Destruction

The rift between President Obama and his once ardent supporters on the far-left widened even more yesterday. The House Democratic Caucus voted to reject Obama’s tax deal with Republicans, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi indicated that she wouldn’t bring the bill to a vote on the House floor unless changes were made. The president and his team continue to try to push House Democrats to pass the measure as is, but the divergent interests of the White House and leftist Democrats in the House appear to be irreconcilable. Obama needs to extend the tax cuts if he’s to have a chance of resurrecting the economy and winning re-election in 2012 — and if extending those cuts for higher-income earners is the price to pay, so be it. Yet, extending the tax cuts for the so-called rich is the last thing that Democrats who represent safe districts dominated by progressives can afford to do. Demonizing the Bush-era tax cuts has been a leading theme of the progressive narrative for the better part of a decade. There is simply no way that voters in leftist havens like San Francisco, Berkeley and Cambridge would ever forgive their congressperson if he or she did a volte-face now.

Still, while the self-interest that motivates House Democrats to draw this line in the sand is understandable, there is still a surreal quality to their defiance. They cannot win. The only real question is how badly will their party lose, and the petulant House members who continue to defy both their president and common sense are surely aware of it. It is akin to a poker player going all-in even though he only holds a pair of fours and has to play with his cards face up. The tax cuts will be extended, either now or when the next Congress is seated in January. If the lame duck House doesn’t pass the bill, the only practical effect will be to stir up further resentment among voters in the center and the Right; anger that could equate to an even worse disaster for Democrats in 2012 than they suffered in 2010.

If the Democrats in the House are successful in killing the bill during this session, the newly elected, Republican-led House will surely bring tax cuts back to the table next year. That bill would undoubtedly contain far fewer of the spending provisions in this bill that some conservatives find so troubling. Such a bill would be crafted to pass the House and the Senate, leaving the president with a decidedly uncomfortable choice. He could sign the bill, which would enflame even more of his leftist base, because it would not only include tax cuts for “the rich,” it would contain less sops to the Left than the original version. Or, he could veto the bill, which would virtually ensure continued economic stagnation, and likely a deepening recession. That’s a decision that Obama desperately wants to avoid, which more than explains his eagerness to get this deal done as quickly as possible.

Right now, the president seems to have enough support among the center and the Right to get the tax bill through both chambers. Yet, the longer the debate drags on, the more that support will erode, because disenchantment among conservative Republicans is growing. The cost of the bill is estimated at $990 billion by the Congressional Budget Office, although the use of the word “cost” is a bit disingenuous. Most of the costs are calculated in terms of lost revenue as applied to current economic conditions. If the bill is successful in generating economic growth, then the “cost” would be substantially mitigated. Yet, if we accept the $990 billion figure, than $343 billion of that (about 35% of the total) is chewed up by provisions that conservatives believe are counter-productive and unnecessary, like extending unemployment benefits and the payroll tax holiday. In contrast, $79 billion (about 8% of the total) of the predicted revenue loss can be attached to extending tax-cuts to those who earn over $250,000 per year.

The longer that conservatives in Congress have to do the math, the more that they are likely to conclude that this isn’t such a good deal after all. They’re giving up an awful lot of spending that they don’t want, in return for a modicum of tax breaks that they believe are important. Why bother? If the Left is determined to kill the deal, why not let them? If Pelosi and her pals can keep the bill from reaching the House floor, it’s all the better. Republicans will be able to pass a bill that’s even more attractive to the private sector and less “stealth-stimulus” than this one. Assuming that the president signs it, the GOP will have an even stronger leg to stand on in 2012 with regard to economic issues. And, if the president doesn’t sign it, the economic disaster that the nation has endured will be even worse, which will in turn further alienate voters from the Democratic Party.

Barack Obama and his advisors are savvy enough to grasp all of these outcomes. That’s why they are pushing so hard for their party to accept the current tax break deal before the Republican support they so desperately need evaporates. This episode represents the classic, Clintonesque test of the Obama presidency. Can the president triangulate and deftly move toward the middle? Will he ultimately be the kind of unrepentant ideologue that leads his party toward disaster, or is he too foolish to understand the difference? The next two weeks will tell, during which, Barack Obama will have to make some very tough, very important, and very presidential decisions to make.

  • http://www.mysapce.com/freddawes1776/ Fred Dawes

    isn't that what the boys said about the Republicans? its not about a party its about You and your Kids your life not about monkeys in power its never been about the rulers but about you and your duty to live inside freedom and duty and justice not about some monkey ass inside government like that ass Obama or Bush or some evil pig Pelosi its all about you doing your duty to your kids and all of us, its about the people!

  • ObamaYoMoma

    Any Republicans that cave in and vote for this monstrosity of an Obama compromise when the Republicans hold all the cards should be tarred and feathered. It’s all or nothing, tax cuts for all, including the upper income job creators and engine of our economy, no harmful estate taxes, and if unemployment benefits are to be extended, then the budget must also be cut somewhere else to fund it. We can no longer afford to willy-nilly add to the national debt. If the Dhimmicrats can’t compromise on unemployment benefits by cutting the budget elsewhere to fund it, then let them take the blame for not extending the unemployment benefits. We cannot afford to keep exploding the national debt.

    This is the Republican Party’s final chance to prove that they have learned their lesson. It’s sink or swim time on this one and no more chances! The Republicans blew it big time under GWB when they morphed into the second coming of the Dhimmicrat Party, if they muff it up again, there will be hell to pay. No more chances! No more business as usual!

    Now throw that reality into your calculus Richard, and then rewrite your article.

  • Bill Doubleday

    Proves only that their are a lot of articulate jerks and intellectual morons.

  • davarino

    This is telling, in that it kind of gives us an indication that Obama understands that letting the tax cuts expire would hurt the economy and therefore be his demise. If this were not the case then he could go ahead and be tough like his monkeys in congress and let the new congress continue the tax cuts, veto it, and watch the economy take off and thrive like all the stupid progressives believe it will. But some how I dont believe he is that stupid. Ya he would lose the unemployment extension, but he could blame that on the evil repubs. Hey, people have to go back to work some time. My God, how long can you keep the gravey train going? So people start working at a wage they dont like but that gets business rolling again and then there are higher paying jobs and those people can move into the jobs and the whole things takes off. The whole thing doesnt take off by a bunch of people sitting around doing nothing. Contrary to what the great economist nancy palosi says, unemployment money does not create jobs.

  • Roland

    If this deal gets killed in the lame duck session, and then the new Congress gives Obama a bill without the UI extension or the payroll tax holiday, Obama will veto it and demand the R's give back the parts taken out, and maybe more.

    Obama will have the high ground on the politics. With this deal he has already staked out the middle ground on this issue in the eyes of the voting public. Both the UI extension and the payroll tax holiday are popular.

    If the R's won't cave, and the economy tanks, Obama will have a free pass. In the eyes of the public the bad economy will have been the fault of "extremists" in both parties in Congress. Obama will be the "reasonable moderate" thwarted by crazies.

    Obama will be able to run as a moderate in 2012, calling for the defeat of "extremists" (Tea Party) running for Congress. He will be reelected, and Obamacare will become permanently irreversible.

    • coyote3

      Hardly, the extension of the unemployment benefits, and the benefits in the first place are illegal. We will begin looking at all federal laws for constitutional basis, and if not found, a bill will be sent to the president to repeal them. If he vetoes the bills to repeal, then he will be branded as supporting criminal activity.

  • tanstaafl

    What did Pete Townsend say in "Won't Get Fooled Again" – "Say hello to the new boss, same as the old boss!"?

  • USMCSniper

    Liberals cannot and refuse to understand why America does not want to become a socialist Communist Nation, they refuse to understand why we do not want Socialist Elite Intellectuals who have never held a real job or done anything in their life but go to school telling us what to do and how to spend our money, They are not smart, they are just indoctrinates of hard core Marxists with a control freak syndrome.

  • Ekofo

    This is a party that adore the most vicious persons in america history.. Bill Clinton and Obama… For instance Bill, did transfer most top technologies to the Chinese and has served as cover up of the war in Rwanda and Congo… He manufactured Mr Kagame the most criminal serving president(The latter has on his hand the blood of 6 millions of massacred congoleses and rwandese people).. They initiated the Genocide in Rwanda by provocating the killing of two serving president and preventing International troups to stop the killing, trowing out all the Killing on the Hutus and turning blind on Kagame crimes in Congo for richess gain(1990-2010). In contrast, Mr Obama is turning blind to islam faschist threat on USA, stupidly weakening the American sole true ally in the Middle east ,displaying weakeness and dismantling American foundation principles and working hard to advance the new world order.. Only blind and silly people will vote again for Him.. I love America but I Cry for her Crimes… Word from a Congolese.

    • jen

      Just wanted to say….you're the kind of immigrant our country needs (not the ones we're getting.)

  • BS77

    Taxes? How about income tax, state income tax, sales tax, excise tax, property tax, fuel and energy taxes, enhanced fees for permits, car rentals, hotel stays and other hidden bites on your money. AMericans have so many over lapping taxes and fees they could be the most taxed people on earth….or close to it. What ever happened to the flat tax?
    Time to reduce taxes and SPENDING.

  • JayDick

    The Republicans don't have much to lose by walking away and starting over in January. The Democrats seem to have a lot to lose if that happens. I say let them self-destruct.

  • tommyboy52

    Charles Krauthammer certainly doesn't like this proposed tax agreement. He thinks Obama has pulled a stealth fast one on the Republicans. I think so too. Let them vote it down, that will work for the Republicans in January.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/arti

    I mentioned the proposed tax cuts to a liberal friend of mine the other day and he went ballistic. No way should the rich get off the hook. He didn't understand how the deficit would be paid without raising taxes on the rich. I simply replied that we would have to cut spending. He stood there slack-jawed….

  • Roland

    If the Democrats can kill it without help from some Republicans, that may be okay, but if the failure could be laid at the door of conservative Republicans, the failure will be a win for Obama.

    If the economy/market tanks after the deal gets voted down, Obama will be vindicated. He'll come back in January with a stronger negotiating position, in terms of public opinion, and he'll still have the Democrat Senate. Conservatives like DeMint will get a black eye. It will suddenly be easier to make the "extremist" label stick to the Tea Party.

    If the economy/market doesn't tank, then he can walk away from the table. He will have gotten the largest tax increase in history with no political risk.

    • coyote3

      Afraid not, the failure to have the tax cuts extended for upper income brackets will be the "cause" of the economy tanking. Indeed, the extension of unemployment benefits is already extremely unpopular.

      • ObamaYoMoma

        Afraid not, the failure to have the tax cuts extended for upper income brackets will be the "cause" of the economy tanking

        So let’s see if I got this straight, you are saying that failing to raise taxes on the job creators and engine of economic growth in this country will somehow tank the economy? Can you really be that mentally incompetent?

        Dude, if you raise taxes on cigarette producers, which will inevitably be forced to pass those additional cost of doing business onto consumers of cigarettes, the net result will be less cigarettes are sold, and if you raise taxes on liquor producers, which will inevitably be forced to pass those additional cost of doing business onto the consumers of liquor, the net result will be less liquor sold. Likewise, if you raise taxes on the job creators and engine of economic growth in this country, the net result will be fewer jobs created and less economic growth, and you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure that out. All it takes is a little common sense. Hence, what you are demonstrating to me is that leftwing indoctrination kills all common sense, and turns Leftists into walking and talking mindless zombies.

        Anyway, just for the fun of it, I’d like to see you explain how raising taxes on the job creators and engine of economic growth in this country will be the "cause" of the economy tanking, I would enjoy the laugh!

        By the way, have you ever been employed by a poor person?

        • Roland

          OYM, you misread Coyote's post, and he misread mine.

      • Roland

        Of course the economy will probably tank if the tax cuts aren't extended and we have the biggest tax hike in history. Obama would like to get that tax hike, but he recognizes that it will tank the economy, and he doesn't want to be blamed for the collapse, since that would mean his near certain defeat in 2012 and the probability Obamacare will get repealed.

        So he is staking out what is now perceived by the voting public as the "middle" on the issue at the same time he is carving out more goodies.

        That is the politics of it.

        If the Democrats try to lard it up in the Senate, conservatives should reject it on that basis. Something like: "We'll do the deal we agreed to with Obama, but not a new, pork laden bill from Democrat Senators who have learned nothing from this last election."

        Btw, where do you get the idea the 13 month extension of the 99 wk benefit is unpopular??

        • coyote3

          I don't know, but almost everyone I speak with is opposed to it, if it is unpaid for, and when you ask them where congress gets the authority to do something like this, they can't provide any authority. Then you ask them, if they support illegal government action, and they invariably say no.

  • USMCSniper

    The Noble Peace Prize winner from China or his repesentative did not appear personally to accept the award. Liu's absence was symbolized by an empty chair on stage. So on this notable occasion, the White House released a statement from President Obama on the awarding of the prize to Liu in absentia. And this is how Obama's statement began:

    "One year ago, I was humbled to receive the Nobel Peace Prize — an award that speaks to our highest aspirations, and that has been claimed by giants of history and courageous advocates who have sacrificed for freedom and justice."

    Critics have often said of Obama that "it's all about him," that he has a tendency to reference himself no matter what subject he is discussing. Proof he is a self indulgent narcissist.

  • Boogies Daddy

    Obama doesn't want the economy to tank?

    • Roland

      Not if he's going to get blamed for it.

  • wrjonas

    HUH??? The Democrats are about to throw themselves off the cliff and Republicans are going to rescue them? Where does any conservative profit in this bargain ?

  • USMCSniper

    Old skullhumper Clinton has to get his rocea beak in the limelight and endorses Obama's deal with the GOP to extend Bush-era tax cuts after the two meet and hold a press conference. You ain't the f*&king President anymore dickhead. Find yourself some hps to get head from.

  • http://apollospaeks.townhall.com ApolloSpeaks

    PRESIDENT CLINTON: MENTOR IN CHIEF

    As of yesterday William Jefferson Clinton started a new chapter in his politically active post-presidency as Mentor-in-Chief to the blundering, desperate, unfit to command, rudderless amateur in the White House.

    The question now is: Can Obama become the new Bubba? He tried to be the new Abe Lincoln and failed. The new JFK and failed. The new FDR and failed with a new New Deal for America that failed. But can Bubba rescue Obama's failing presidency-save it from complete Carterization……

    Click my name to continue reading this widely posted blog.

    • Cuinn

      LOL! That's a whole lotta fail right there.

  • BS77

    Seeing Bill Clinton "taking over" the podium created much laughter and derisive remarks as it aired on the news. Seeing the President duck out to attend some kind of a party, leaving Mr. Clinton at the microphone struck us as very peculiar, almost surrealistic…..perhaps even unprecedented. I cannot remember ever seeing an ex President come to Washington to defend or explain the Administration's decisions and policies. This display does not make people feel secure!!! this is in a time of extreme anxiety over taxes, employment, shrinking revenue, huge foreign trade debts and the astronomical deficits, unrestrained spending etc. etc. I am sure many Democrats were appalled to see this event on TV.

    • Boogies Daddy

      It could have been worse…… He could have called in Carter!

      When B.O. had to leave I kind of expected Clinton to ask: "Oh, are you still here?"

  • 57states

    Half a loaf is better than none; can’t the incoming congress revise the bill to strip all that pork? Isn’t it a roll of the dice to ASSUME that 0 wouldn’t veto it?

    Just enough time may pass in the interim for 0′s liberal funding base to hold a financial Jihad sword over him – including his 3 biggest donor/supporters, Goldman Sachs, BP and Soros – in which case he will bow to his true masters once again.

  • jgreene

    Nancy and her leftist pals in the Socialist-Democrat Congress are between a rock and a hard place – deservedly so. It doesn't really matter what they do, they are going to lose.

    Lose BIG or just LOSE 8.5 on a scale of 10. They are corrupt, incompetent socialists and deserve what has happened to them. Bye bye, dumbocrats!

  • flowerknife_us

    The far left want to ruin the Country so take no advise from them. The rest of the left just wants to harm the Country.

    Social Justice=Poverty for all- well, almost all.

    It's all a set up with an expiration date. The Left is getting everything it has ever dreamed of. The election really means nothing. The left has never really believed in equality or the "rich" and their "Millions" could never be an issue.

    Everything this Administration has accomplished has limited supply and increased costs of all aspects of American life. You must be a complete fool to think they are going to exempt a tax INCREASE. They already spent the money-and then some.

    The collective is far more greedy than the rest of us can afford.

    When 3 years of unemployment is good for the economy- you know- you just know.

    • Roland

      The UI extension is not an extension to three years. It is an extension of the 99 wk benefit period, keeping the longest you can collect at 99 wks instead of letting it fall back to what it was before it was raised to 99 wks.

      It would be political suicide to extend the tax cuts without extending the 99 wk UI benefit period. The unemployment rate and the employment situation in general continues to stink. If the Republicans refused to compromise on that issue, insisting on keeping the tax on people making over 1 million a year at the old rate while refusing to keep the UI benefit at the old rate, they would be annihilated at the polls.

      C'mon, people. Use some common sense. If you want to argue the 2% payroll tax holiday is too much, or you want to argue against the lard Harry Reid and the Democrat Senators want to tack on to the deal should be rejected, then you have an argument that might make some political sense, but the argument calling for killing the 99 wk benefit while pushing for extension of the tax cuts for people making a million bucks a year is just plain nuts right now, politically.