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.

Forcing Republicans to Choose

Trumka, Dem leaders in talks on forcing a vote on middle class tax cut extension onlyGreg Sargent:

AFL-CIO chief Richard Trumka told reporters moments ago on a conference call that he's been aggressively lobbying the White House and Dem Congressional leaders to hold such a vote. Liberals are pushing for this course of action -- rather than a fake "compromise" on extending all the Bush tax cuts temporarily -- because it would represent a genuinely confrontational approach, forcing Republicans to choose between supporting Obama's tax cut plan and opposing a tax cut for the middle class.

..."It's absolutely insane that in these tough economic times, some people want to continue the George Bush tax giveaway for millionaires," Trumka continued. "It doesn't create jobs. It's bad policy and it's bad for the economy."

Trumka, in a formulation that just might stick, labeled an extension of the high-end cuts "Tarp Two."

For starters, Merkely is on board, and Schumer has forced Republicans on record that it's all about the breaks for millionaires for them.

This one is so obvious, the argument is writing itself.  If Republicans want TARP Two, let them vote on that after you stake them out on cuts for the middle class.


Play Hardball with the Tax Cuts

Editors of The Nation propose an Agenda for the Lame-Duck Congress. suggesting a little hardball over extension of the Bush Tax Cuts.

Democrats should take the moment to argue for letting the Bush tax cuts expire and using the new revenue to maintain federal, state and local services in tough economic times...If compromise is necessary, the only credible one is giving relief to working families--not billionaires. The American people will get the point if Democrats make it aggressively and without apology.

Unfortunately, aggressive non-apologetic statements from the White House are being drown out by the apologies.  I can understand the strategy behind Obama extending a hand to Republicans, knowing it will be slapped away, leaving Democrats the "Hey, we tried!" theme for future legislative battles and 2012, but how that precludes a tax cut showdown isn't clear.  It's hard to muster a political or policy defense of backing down from this fight in the lame-duck.  Letting the cuts for the wealthy expire is extremely popular, not to mention extremely good policy, and a chance for a little definition of a blurry Democratic Party.

Keeping middle class cuts in place while letting cuts for the rich expire, and "paying it forward" with the savings is an unquestionable win.  Validating Republican talking-points -- Again -- will serve as an endorsement of the Tax Cut = Jobs Mythology and lies about to see an old fashioned big-tent revival in the GOP lead house.

This is a fight that needs to be picked.




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