The Hidden Cost of Capitulation

Now that the president has signaled yet another collapse in agreeing to tax cuts for the rich, there is a hidden cost to this capitulation. He is now stuck defending this deal for the rest of his term. I predicted this on the show yesterday and today it's playing out exactly the way I imagined, with the president sending out advisers to talk about what a great idea it is to give tax cuts to the rich.

Once you sign off on a political position, you own it. This could be a corollary to Colin Powell's doctrine on foreign policy. Powell said if you break it, you own it. In this case, if you make it, you own it.

The president claims he will fight hard against these same tax cuts two years from now. It's hard to stop laughing long enough to make a point against that, but I will try. If you are sending out your people to talk up polls about how the right the Republicans were on the tax cuts for the rich now, how are you going to send out the same people to talk about how wrong they were - and how wrong you were - two years from now?

These are the things that make me wonder if President Obama has a firm grasp on basic political fundamentals. Yesterday he said that the political reality is that he just didn't have the votes in the Senate (by far his favorite excuse). He even said "I can't win" in the Senate. That's a damning reversal for a man who ran on "Yes we can."

But more importantly, he doesn't seem to understand Politics 101. You don't just count the votes based on how the other side says they're going to vote. From time to time, you call their bluff. Which means you go to the home states of swing senators like Scott Brown in Massachusetts and Olympia Snowe in Maine and you campaign on this winning issue there until you make them feel the political pain. Then you put them to a decision -- do you want to risk your career voting against me on this issue where I have huge popular support or do you want to vote with me? Then you take the vote and they will bend. If he doesn't understand that, boy did we elect the wrong guy.

Of course, the alternative is that he does understand that but doesn't ever have the stomach for a real fight. Or even worse yet, secretly likes this deal and will always find an excuse to get more tax cuts and sweet deals for the rich and powerful. In which case, boy did we elect the wrong guy.

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The Hidden Cost of Capitulation

Now that the president has signaled yet another collapse in agreeing to tax cuts for the rich, there is a hidden cost to this capitulation. He is now stuck defending this deal for the rest of his term. I predicted this on the show yesterday and today it's playing out exactly the way I imagined, with the president sending out advisers to talk about what a great idea it is to give tax cuts to the rich.

Once you sign off on a political position, you own it. This could be a corollary to Colin Powell's doctrine on foreign policy. Powell said if you break it, you own it. In this case, if you make it, you own it.

The president claims he will fight hard against these same tax cuts two years from now. It's hard to stop laughing long enough to make a point against that, but I will try. If you are sending out your people to talk up polls about how the right the Republicans were on the tax cuts for the rich now, how are you going to send out the same people to talk about how wrong they were - and how wrong you were - two years from now?

These are the things that make me wonder if President Obama has a firm grasp on basic political fundamentals. Yesterday he said that the political reality is that he just didn't have the votes in the Senate (by far his favorite excuse). He even said "I can't win" in the Senate. That's a damning reversal for a man who ran on "Yes we can."

But more importantly, he doesn't seem to understand Politics 101. You don't just count the votes based on how the other side says they're going to vote. From time to time, you call their bluff. Which means you go to the home states of swing senators like Scott Brown in Massachusetts and Olympia Snowe in Maine and you campaign on this winning issue there until you make them feel the political pain. Then you put them to a decision -- do you want to risk your career voting against me on this issue where I have huge popular support or do you want to vote with me? Then you take the vote and they will bend. If he doesn't understand that, boy did we elect the wrong guy.

Of course, the alternative is that he does understand that but doesn't ever have the stomach for a real fight. Or even worse yet, secretly likes this deal and will always find an excuse to get more tax cuts and sweet deals for the rich and powerful. In which case, boy did we elect the wrong guy.

Watch The Young Turks Here

Follow Cenk Uygur on Twitter: www.twitter.com/TheYoungTurks
Become a Fan of The Young Turks on Facebook: www.facebook.com/tytnation

 

 

The Deal

David Waldman with the most succinct summary of making deals with Mitch McConnell:

Piss, meet wind.

"The Deal" is putting all of your eggs in the 2012 basket, hoping you come out on top of the messaging in an election year, against a Republican Party that will still be willing to say anything, embrace any position to win.

From an electoral perspective alone, that's placing a lot of faith in Obama's ability to learn from getting rolled -- again -- by Republicans negotiating in bad faith.  74% of Obama's 2008 donors oppose the deal, and if this focus group is any indicator, independent support or opposition to "The Deal" is all over the place on a "compromise" that hands the Republicans every talking point they need for the next two years and legitimizes about half of their insanity (when did not extending unemployment benefits with unemployment this high become a discussion to have and not just bat-shit crazy?).  Think independents will be any more defined on this one when Republicans bring it up again in 2012?  Think Republicans don't have their next hostage taking opp lined up?

From a policy perspective, "The Deal" on the tax cuts may, in fact, be all that is politically possible as the President told us yesterday, but the idea that Democrats should suck this one up -- again -- in the name of bipartisan compromise and moving things forward on the terms of the GOP is absurd. There's a fair amount of stimulus in "The Deal," maybe more than Democrats could get otherwise.  At best a little more of the deficit spending the economy needs. That's a good thing.  But there's no other option to get all of this without handing away the store?

I'm with James Fallows, channeling John Kerry.  This is the argument Democrats should have and should be making, without apology:

"You care about unemployment? We're committed to extending benefits that can help families stay above water, hold onto their houses if possible, and have at least some spending power as they keep looking for work. You need a tax break in a recession? We agree -- we want to cut taxes for every household in the country. And that's why we're in a fight with the Republican minority that is determined to stop tax relief for you, and deny help to families who've lost jobs, unless we give huge extra tax cuts for the people who've already enjoyed the greatest tax-cut benefits and are least likely to spend that money to keep the economy strong. We're saying: tax cuts for everybody on income up to $250,000 -- and for money above that, to control the deficit, let's go back to the rates of the 1990s, when the economy boomed. They're saying: no tax cuts for anybody, unless there's a special bonus for people at the very top.

We're all for compromise -- but not with bad, destructive, budget-busting ideas. That's why we're drawing the line here."

Draw a line, and stand by it.  Put your name here in support of a few Democrats still willing to fight for a better deal.

UPDATE: The Hill is reporting the Senate is a go on "The Deal" so the real fight will take place in the house.

The Deal

David Waldman with the most succinct summary of making deals with Mitch McConnell:

Piss, meet wind.

"The Deal" is putting all of your eggs in the 2012 basket, hoping you come out on top of the messaging in an election year, against a Republican Party that will still be willing to say anything, embrace any position to win.

From an electoral perspective alone, that's placing a lot of faith in Obama's ability to learn from getting rolled -- again -- by Republicans negotiating in bad faith.  74% of Obama's 2008 donors oppose the deal, and if this focus group is any indicator, independent support or opposition to "The Deal" is all over the place on a "compromise" that hands the Republicans every talking point they need for the next two years and legitimizes about half of their insanity (when did not extending unemployment benefits with unemployment this high become a discussion to have and not just bat-shit crazy?).  Think independents will be any more defined on this one when Republicans bring it up again in 2012?  Think Republicans don't have their next hostage taking opp lined up?

From a policy perspective, "The Deal" on the tax cuts may, in fact, be all that is politically possible as the President told us yesterday, but the idea that Democrats should suck this one up -- again -- in the name of bipartisan compromise and moving things forward on the terms of the GOP is absurd. There's a fair amount of stimulus in "The Deal," maybe more than Democrats could get otherwise.  At best a little more of the deficit spending the economy needs. That's a good thing.  But there's no other option to get all of this without handing away the store?

I'm with James Fallows, channeling John Kerry.  This is the argument Democrats should have and should be making, without apology:

"You care about unemployment? We're committed to extending benefits that can help families stay above water, hold onto their houses if possible, and have at least some spending power as they keep looking for work. You need a tax break in a recession? We agree -- we want to cut taxes for every household in the country. And that's why we're in a fight with the Republican minority that is determined to stop tax relief for you, and deny help to families who've lost jobs, unless we give huge extra tax cuts for the people who've already enjoyed the greatest tax-cut benefits and are least likely to spend that money to keep the economy strong. We're saying: tax cuts for everybody on income up to $250,000 -- and for money above that, to control the deficit, let's go back to the rates of the 1990s, when the economy boomed. They're saying: no tax cuts for anybody, unless there's a special bonus for people at the very top.

We're all for compromise -- but not with bad, destructive, budget-busting ideas. That's why we're drawing the line here."

Draw a line, and stand by it.  Put your name here in support of a few Democrats still willing to fight for a better deal.

UPDATE: The Hill is reporting the Senate is a go on "The Deal" so the real fight will take place in the house.

The Deal

David Waldman with the most succinct summary of making deals with Mitch McConnell:

Piss, meet wind.

"The Deal" is putting all of your eggs in the 2012 basket, hoping you come out on top of the messaging in an election year, against a Republican Party that will still be willing to say anything, embrace any position to win.

From an electoral perspective alone, that's placing a lot of faith in Obama's ability to learn from getting rolled -- again -- by Republicans negotiating in bad faith.  74% of Obama's 2008 donors oppose the deal, and if this focus group is any indicator, independent support or opposition to "The Deal" is all over the place on a "compromise" that hands the Republicans every talking point they need for the next two years and legitimizes about half of their insanity (when did not extending unemployment benefits with unemployment this high become a discussion to have and not just bat-shit crazy?).  Think independents will be any more defined on this one when Republicans bring it up again in 2012?  Think Republicans don't have their next hostage taking opp lined up?

From a policy perspective, "The Deal" on the tax cuts may, in fact, be all that is politically possible as the President told us yesterday, but the idea that Democrats should suck this one up -- again -- in the name of bipartisan compromise and moving things forward on the terms of the GOP is absurd. There's a fair amount of stimulus in "The Deal," maybe more than Democrats could get otherwise.  At best a little more of the deficit spending the economy needs. That's a good thing.  But there's no other option to get all of this without handing away the store?

I'm with James Fallows, channeling John Kerry.  This is the argument Democrats should have and should be making, without apology:

"You care about unemployment? We're committed to extending benefits that can help families stay above water, hold onto their houses if possible, and have at least some spending power as they keep looking for work. You need a tax break in a recession? We agree -- we want to cut taxes for every household in the country. And that's why we're in a fight with the Republican minority that is determined to stop tax relief for you, and deny help to families who've lost jobs, unless we give huge extra tax cuts for the people who've already enjoyed the greatest tax-cut benefits and are least likely to spend that money to keep the economy strong. We're saying: tax cuts for everybody on income up to $250,000 -- and for money above that, to control the deficit, let's go back to the rates of the 1990s, when the economy boomed. They're saying: no tax cuts for anybody, unless there's a special bonus for people at the very top.

We're all for compromise -- but not with bad, destructive, budget-busting ideas. That's why we're drawing the line here."

Draw a line, and stand by it.  Put your name here in support of a few Democrats still willing to fight for a better deal.

UPDATE: The Hill is reporting the Senate is a go on "The Deal" so the real fight will take place in the house.

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