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View Diary: Deal-haters, here's what I don't understand (UPDATED x3) (392 comments)

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  •  Great post (40+ / 0-)

    I can see everything you're saying and I find myself agreeing with it.  My concern is not the deal itself.  It's how the White House handled the negotiations.  I am concerned about the new definition of middle class taxpayers, but I understand that $250,000 was a difficult lift for people in Congress including many democrats.  However, I'm concerned about future negotiations.   Personally, I would rather have seen the fiscal cliff happen, which would have taken away the immediate deadline and would have allowed for a stronger path for democrats towards a larger scale deal that covers all the areas---taxes, spending, sequestration, the debt limit--that republicans would exploit.  Obama has a limited time frame to tackle a host of big issues.  The republicans are crazy enough to force this one self-created crisis for many months just for the perceived political gain.  They hate Obama that much.

    •  The problem is the cliff is very real (114+ / 0-)

      If we go over it, even for a short time, it hurts a lot of low income people.  Paychecks get smaller, 2.1 million lose unemployment, milk prices skyrocket, etc.  So I would like to get those issues resolves before it starts to hurt working people.

      The 1:1 path forward for revenue vs. spending cuts for the way forward is reasonable, and more generous to our side than the 1:2.5 plan Obama proposed by the campaign.  Let's win this battle, and keep fighting the war.

      •  The substantial harm and short-term suffering (41+ / 0-)

        people would faced from going the cliff, until we fixed those problems from a powerful negotiating position pales compared to the unimaginable suffering that will be caused by the massively larger cuts that will be required in this deal which make permanent 88% of Bush era tax cut, which will allow government spending at around 18% of GDP under the most optimistic of assumptions.  We currently spend 23%.  

        Without the leverage of the expiration of Bush tax cuts how to you suggest or expect us to influence John Boehner to relent on his promise to extract a dollar of spending cuts, for every dollar extension of the debt ceiling.

        When you see the numbers I expect you will be dumbfounded.  Democrats have just voted to adopt the George Bush vision of government instead of returning to President Clinton's models.

        As presume that in future decades which sufficient human suffering from the loss of the substantial fraction of our social programs we may be able to change public sentiment and perhaps regain control of all three branches of government, but it is likely to be substantially greater grim suffering than going off the cliff

        And suffered by hundreds of millions over decades rather than 2 million for one year.  A bad deal indeed.  

        The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

        by HoundDog on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 03:34:26 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Unless the Republicans continue to do nothing. (10+ / 0-)

          Which could appen from a strategy point of view or as a function of the way their party works now. Every bodies taxes go up. Which hurts middle and low income people so much more. Of course the 2million getting extended UI will continue to suffer as well. Probably even worse since even Krugman agrees going over the cliff will destroy the fragile economic recovery. As will the inevitable downgrade that will come with the debt ceiling debacle. How long before people who now think we can pay for entitlements change their tune because of the economic burdens they face. In the meantime, the rich, who are not risking important money to them, wait. How much suffering do you think our side will take before they cave to public pressure to do something?Sure, the rich want taxes down and entitlements to be cut. But they can wait (starve) us out.  

          I do understand your logic. Except it presumes people like the Kochs are playing a short game and can be effectively squeezed faster than the rest of us.

          "Speak the TRUTH, even if your voice shakes."

          by stellaluna on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 03:56:07 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  On the issue of "permanent" (30+ / 0-)

            tax laws. NOTHING is permanent in tax laws. NOTHING.  There is not a constitution for tax laws, nor a bill of rights.  

            The only "permanent" thing about this tax deal is that it doesn't have a sunset date on it.  Doesn't mean it can't be changed.

            I'm not saying yay or nay to this bill, it's too complex for me to be sure either way, frankly. However, it is NOT a fact that saving the unemployed, veterans, farmers, wind farmers etc, for now, makes decades of suffering in other ways a fete accompli. Simply not true, and the product of a historical lack of perspective.

            "A typical vice of American politics is the avoidance of saying anything real on real issues." Theodore Roosevelt.

            by StellaRay on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 05:57:34 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Hi Stella, is this in response to my comment? (0+ / 0-)

              Because I think we agree.  I also agree that saving those who are most imperiled at the moment doesn't mean we are doomed forever not the change the tax structure. What worries me is that there is a path for the GOP to take that makes the public much more amenable to tax cuts for the wealthy and cuts to entitlements. That is one that destroys every bit of progress we've made toward recovery, that raises taxes on the 98%, that doesn't provide for the unemployed or  the poor. And that could be to simply do nothing. All they lose is tax cuts for the rich (until we are willing to do or believe anything to get progress) and cuts to defense. Which is spending they can vote on at any time.

              I am worried at the cavalier attitude toward the people and economy that are imperiled by "going off the cliff/curb". This deal could have taken them out of the hostage group. Now the President has a lot more riding on a failure to make a deal. I'm not in favor or against either.  I just don't think the answer seems so easy.

              "Speak the TRUTH, even if your voice shakes."

              by stellaluna on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 07:21:14 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  The Deal is bad (0+ / 0-)

                because by making the tax cuts permanent (i.e. non-expiring) on everyone below $450,000, Obama is giving victory to the GOP on their strategy of "starving the beast" by cutting taxes to force reductions in entitlement benefits.  I just posted a diary on this issue here

                The diarist is right that The Deal at $450k is a small compromise from the initial bargaining position of $250k, but the biggest consession Obama was in the hidden terms: whether the tax cuts (on $250k or $450k and below) would be "permanent" or would they expire at some unspecified future date.

                The democrats would be in much better bargaining position if the tax cuts were set to expire at some future date (like 2 years from now).

                Is it crying over spilled milk? Yes, but it's my party and I'll cry if I want to....

                •  Not true. (0+ / 0-)

                  The main point of Obama's "remarks" late on New Year's night was that we aren't finished with raising revenue, that future installments in debt reduction will have to be balanced between revenue increases and spending cuts.

                  This is probably the most feasible strategy to oppose the shock-doctrine tactics of the right. If every dollar cut from spending means someone has to pay an extra dollar of taxes, then the slashing and burning of government will be less draconian than the demands of the bloodthirsty right. And the President will get public support for this strategy -- and possibly even the support of the Beltway, with its love of equivalence (even when it's false).

                  "These are not candidates. These are the empty stand-ins for lobbyists' policies to be legislated later." - Chimpy, 9/24/10

                  by NWTerriD on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 12:34:46 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

            •  It might as well be permanent (3+ / 0-)

              Look at the massive, prolonged fight over a small tax increase to just the "wealthy" (whatever definition you want to use).  That should have been the easiest, lowest-hanging fruit available.  A no-brainer and it even had popular support.  And yet it was almost an impossible task to get done.  Does anyone think that a real increase in taxes to the middle class is going to be able to happen any time in the foreseeable future?

              The only way taxes are going to be able to go up on the middle class is in stealth ways, not the income tax rate.

            •  True to a point (0+ / 0-)

              but now the tax issue is off the table, but the debt ceiling is still unresolved.

              The President should never have agreed to any deal without demanding an exension of the debt ceiling.  An automatic tax increase gave him leverage that he needs badly.

              In the end I think this is a bad deal.

              The bitter truth of deep inequality has been disguised by an era of cheap imported goods and the anyone-can-make-it celebrity myth - Polly Toynbee

              by fladem on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 10:27:57 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Big business won't want a debt ceiling default (5+ / 0-)

                Only idiot tea baggers want that. Corporate America wants the US to be solvent and pay its bills. That hostage taking exercise keeps flopping for the GOP and I think abusing it will be another huge division that will fracture the Republican Party. As of yesterday corporate America knows it must do business with Obama and that their party has become unreliable.

          •  Are you willing to trade your SS for the UE (12+ / 0-)

            because that is the trade we are making and next year when we are here again, we will have nothing to trade.  You need to put things in context and that is the context we are looking at....this is a long term deal, not a short term deal like previous negotiations and it is a long term deal that damages the entire country.

          •  I'm not intending to be cavalier about your check (15+ / 0-)

            PLS, but if I heard you agreed to sell both of your kidneys, or give up the possibility of getting unemployment checks for yourself and hundreds of others to get more for a few months I would be concerned about your logic.

            Do you doubt that we had to cut 3% of GDP out of social spending for decades and for all people will cause substantially greater suffering for hundreds of millions which is just as worthy of compassion as the loss of 30 weeks or so of extension of unemployment might for 2 million.

            But, this alternative doesn't require even require than, as I believe after going off the cliff for even a few days, if Democrats had remained firm we would have received cooperation from sufficient GOP to pass Unemployment compensation, the Doctors fix, and the 250,000 middle tax cuts.  

            I just read a RedState front pager say the same thing.

            But, several trillion of dollars of reduced government spending is going to be a much bigger challenge and cause substantial suffering.

            The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

            by HoundDog on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 05:06:50 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Wow ... one whole RedState frontpager? (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              HoundDog, sydneyluv, Aquarius40

              Why do we have to cut 3% of GDP out? Where is this number coming from? Why can't we remove the SS contribution cap?

              •  "Why can't we remove the SS contribution cap?" (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Panama Pete, caul, Smoh, Aquarius40

                because the votes aren't there, the Republicans still control the House....just maybe...huh?

                "A celibate clergy is an especially good idea, because it tends to suppress any hereditary propensity toward fanaticism." -- Carl Sagan

                by artmartin on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 10:12:30 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  The Social Security Trust Fund is separate from (6+ / 0-)

                the government budge and is solvent through 2034.  But I think removing the SS contribution cap, or raising it by 50% or something is a great idea.  My understanding is that this just a 15% or so increase could extend solvency out to 2070 something.  This isn't the problem.

                Check out the analysis Jeffrey Sachs wrote up a few days ago, which you can find reviewed in my archives from yesterday or maybe the day before.

                His analysis indicates that this level of tax cuts leave us with tax revenue of equal to about about 16% of GDP.  He thinks improved tax revenues from improved economic growth will get it to 18% of GDP, (Gross Domestic Product - an measure of aggregate economic output, which is an easier way to keep track of things than the absolute numbers which are constantly changing.)

                Our current spending is at 23%.  But, winding down the wars in  Afghanistan and Iraq and other cuts already in the pipeline could get us down to 21%.  This gap of 18% 21% is about 3% of GDP.  

                If we had let the entire Bush tax cuts an everyone expire it would have represented 2% of GDP but been unfair to the middle class.  What many progressives, including me, thought "our" plan was was to using this automatic accomplished fact to negotiate more progressive increased tax revenue of an approximately equal amount so we could spare the middle class from going back to the tax rate they paid under Clinton. (Which worked fantastically well.)

                Such things as a cap on tax deductions over $50,000, closing corporate loopholes, eliminating tax incentive for storing profits and income in offshore accounts etc.

                Now, I really have no idea of how we close the gap.

                Oh, we can, and have run government spending higher than revenues by running continuous deficits, and which accumulate into debt.  We currently run a deficit of $1.2 trillion and a debt of over $16 trillion, which as Paul Krugman points out is not as big of a problem now as lack of employement.

                However, the House of Representative has control of the debt ceiling which we have just hit a few days ago meaning we can not borrow any more.  Treasury can juggle the books and shift around payments to buy us 2 more month of wiggle room but we need to negotiate an extension on a yearly basis with John Boehner and the House GOP.  He has said not more unpaid for debt.

                Every dollar of debt extension must be paid for with a dollar reduction of government spending.

                Had we not given away the automatic nature of the Bush  tax cuts we could have offered a year of extension of them, for a year's debt.  Now I have absolutely not clue what our President's plan is.  

                And, now that he has consistently caved in every negotiation, the GOP now expects us to agree to chained  CPI cuts to Social Security, which Obama already offered, and raising the Medicare age to 67, plus additional cuts that add up to $1 trillion.    

                And, they plan on doing this every year until government spending is down to 18% of GDP which means most of our social spending will be gone.  Or as Sach says the "unravelling" of the New Deal and Great Society programs.

                I've been asking for anyone to explain to me what our alternative is but have received no serious explanations.  

                Even the President's most ardent supporters, which usually includes me, are awaiting some plausible story we can tell and start positioning for.

                The best hope now is that Republicans will be so shocked by the magnitude of their victory, they will realize cuts of the magnitude they've have been demanding and now have the power to extract would be so devastating to our economy in terms of recession or even depression, that they back off some.

                But, I'm an older generation of Democrat who does not like depending on the kindness, compassion, and wisdom of right wing Republicans for common sense and mercy.


                The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

                by HoundDog on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 10:16:14 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

          •  I'm sorry, where in this bill did SS get cut? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Aquarius40, Jake Williams
            Are you willing to trade your SS for the UE
            Or are you one of those guys on this site with the power of foresight where you can see the future (and wouldn't you know it, it's always of Obama caving).

            If Obama and the Dems eliminate SS completely, put DADT back into place, name Dick Cheney Secretary of State and start work in a Death Star we can attack them for it when they do it.

            If you're just seeing into the future, please get to work divining next month's powerball numbers so we can use the money to donate to Democratic causes.

            When we stop putting leaders from the past up on pedestals and ignoring their flaws, we can start seeing our present leaders for what they really are.

            by PhillyJeff on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 08:25:54 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Exactly (30+ / 0-)


          When you see the numbers I expect you will be dumbfounded.  Democrats have just voted to adopt the George Bush vision of government instead of returning to President Clinton's models.
          This deal makes almost all of the Bush tax cuts permanent.  Republicans have been trying to do this for more than a decade.  They want to force cuts to entitlement programs and keep taxes low, too low to sustain society as we know it.  It will force severe austerity policies.  

          The tax increases were very small on the wealthiest few and considering that much of the income for them is via investments, it does not raise much revenue and they are still in pretty good shape with estate and capital gains taxes.

          It's a disastrous deal.  And the worst of it may be yet to come -- it's a set up for it.

          Whatever the precise numbers, the White House unilaterally and permanently gave away more than 2 percent of GDP in net revenues, all in the name of symbolically "taxing the rich" and "protecting the middle class." The pending agreement would raise taxes very slightly on the top 1 percent of households, perhaps by 0.3 percent of GDP, while making permanent well over 2 percent of GDP in Bush tax cuts.
          Second, yesterday's deal if approved by the House will make it impossible to get to 21 percent of GDP under any alternative scenario, and perhaps even to 19 percent. The Republicans will now block any attempt to raise revenues as a share of GDP and the White House will have no leverage. Obama is now a lame duck even before being sworn in for his second term, and he will have brought the Democrats down with him.

          The White House should have put forward its own tax plan with adequate overall revenues. It could have told Congress to adopt the alternative plan or simply accept the expiration of the Bush tax cuts. That was the time for negotiating leverage. Instead, the White House gave up the revenues permanently and without a fight.

          With a revenue baseline of around 18 percent of GDP, there will be years of harsh spending cuts ahead. What will they be? Medicaid? Food Stamps? Roads? Water? Renewable energy? Education? Pre-School? Environment? It will probably be "All of the above."

          Jeffrey Sachs

          "Justice is a commodity"

          by joanneleon on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 04:56:31 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Well, if it's not hurting you (22+ / 0-)

          in the short term, it's easy to stand back and tell someone else that they need to suffer for your bigger long term principles.

          Fortunately, the President has to address everything and everyone's needs and try to do what's in the best interest all around.

          •  Best interest for only this year (7+ / 0-)

            or for several years?

            We all know that a) UI will be threatened in 2014, '15, '16 etc, and we should all know that States are ending it anyway in many cases based on the (thoroughly false) unemployment figures.

            I lost my NYS extended benefits on Dec 9, as the "official" unemployment rate went below the triggering threshold. Paying my rent in February is going to be a close run thing, and only if I get a job.

            Many who have unemployment extensions will never see them. And all who need them will be threatened again and again and again until the Republicans learn that they can't take hostages and do anything but lose.

            The Internet is just the tail of the Corporate Media dog.

            by Jim P on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 06:40:47 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  For me it would be ok (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Bronxist, Anokris, Smoh, NWTerriD

              To think in terms of 5,10, or 20 years down the road.  But there are enough people that won't make it more then a month without those extensions.  So basically if they can't make it past 30 days then seeing things a year later doesn't help them at all.

              If at first you don't succeed, vote Teapublicans out and try again. You have to be persistent if you want anything out of life.

              by Final Frame on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 06:45:56 PM PST

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              •  My sympathies are completely (9+ / 0-)

                with people who will lose benefits. They are me.

                Keeping context in mind, though, there's between 9-12 million people who've already exhausted benefits and not found even short-term work to get them back on the UI merry-go-round. These are just dropped from the Unemployment Rate calculations and into deep poverty and the memory-hole.

                So the meta-issue is the curious lack of discussion about how to get jobs for all these people. (Me too!) Our Political Class doesn't even seriously discuss this, though you'd think people wanting votes would make that an in-your-face priority 24/7 and for the last 4 years.

                The Internet is just the tail of the Corporate Media dog.

                by Jim P on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 06:53:23 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

        •  So if all of this is true then why do Republicans (3+ / 0-)

          suddenly agree to switch positions in a few days or a few weeks.  A commenter below says the actual revenue for this tax on the wealthy is essentially negligible as Their tax savings comes from other parts of the tax code such as a lack of significant transactional tax.  In another comment I see that the country is dependent on the taxes from the middle class and lower in order to support entitlements at a reasonable level and that any tax reduction to everyone will have to include cuts to social programs. So my concern is that while this seems easy on paper...that is, that the GOP will suddenly decide they care what the electorate thinks and will vote for extension of the UI, and the earned income credit, etc.  And then will become reasonable on the debt limit because of taxes for the rich (which we won't agree to) and defense cuts. Actually, as I type I realize I'm not really clear why the Republicans will suddenly start acting significantly different from the last four years. And that is what worries me. That we have given up any kind of actual governing and are now trying to show we can play political brinksmanship better than a party of insane people.

          "Speak the TRUTH, even if your voice shakes."

          by stellaluna on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 05:28:26 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Obama leverage on debt ceiling (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            artmartin, sewaneepat, stellaluna


            Re: your question:

            why do Republicans suddenly agree to switch positions in a few days or a few weeks
            There is a good argument that wealthy individuals and financial institutions will now swing to pressuring Republicans to not seriously threaten the debt ceiling.


            •  Won't they do that anyway then. Even without (0+ / 0-)

              worrying about this other deal?  They were willing to let it happen 18 months ago. And I just don't see the tax rates for the top 2% and military cuts to be enough to change a GOP policy that's been set in stone 4 years. And all of the arguments about how we can just do a separate bill for unemployment or earned income credit apply equally to them. If its so easy to get a separate agreement later why can't they just refuse to deal with us unless we do drastic cutting and then pass their tax cuts and military spending later?

              "Speak the TRUTH, even if your voice shakes."

              by stellaluna on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 07:28:44 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Mental bandwidth of rich is limited (4+ / 0-)

                like that of everybody else,

                so removing their hot-button issue of tax rates, while narrowing the focus to debt ceiling & sequester,

                will enable more of the rich to focus on the fact that they have the most to lose from undermining the credibility of US government T-Bills.

                Of course none of this means that we are in a good place, but it does mean that we may now be in a better place than if we had let the Austerity Bomb (AKA Fiscal Cliff) explode.

                •  I appreciate you responding to me about this. (0+ / 0-)

                  What you say makes sense. Without this deal I think we've left too many hostages out there unprotected (whom this deal did protect). Post cliff, If the rich are patient the suffering caused by higher taxes, failing economy, no UI, etc. will create a demand that would make it easy for our side to capitulate. Hopefully you are correct and their greed will supersede their patience. This is why I am ambivalent about the cliff/curb strong talk of jumping over (or exploding, as you say). The people who will suffer immediately will be quite a burden for our side to carry going into discussions if we don't get this deal.

                  "Speak the TRUTH, even if your voice shakes."

                  by stellaluna on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 07:55:58 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  Exactly. (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  sydneyluv, stellaluna, gramofsam1

                  If Congress does not raise the debt ceiling, the stock market will crash and the wealthy will lose much more than the extra they pay in taxes.

                  And the extra they pay in taxes under this deal is fairly significant. Not only the increase in the marginal rate, but the 5% extra they pay in capital gains and dividend taxes (which amounts to a 33% increase) and the phasing out of personal exemptions and limits on itemized deductions. Add to that the 3.8% tax on investment income from the ACA. That adds a good bit to their taxes. And the increase in the inheritance tax to 40% adds a bit more.

                  You can't scare me, I'm sticking to the Union - Woody Guthrie

                  by sewaneepat on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 03:59:33 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

        •  You ain't (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          nothing but a hound dog. Elvis and me know you are correct 100%. It's sad that people cant see this clearly. Excellent comment.

          "America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between" Oscar Wilde

          by angry hopeful liberal on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 06:26:54 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Capital gains, dividend taxes (0+ / 0-)

          Do they stay at Bush levels, or do they revert to Clinton rates?

          •  As I understand it, they rise for incomes (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            above $250k, not $450k.  Not sure if they match Clinton rates, I think they're somewhere in the middle.  I'm OK with the $250k cut-off as I think, in the last 20 years as pensions have faded away, a lot more people are potentially exposed to this.  Of course, I think we're better off in a pension model, but unfortunately we lost that fight a long time ago.

            "The first drawback of anger is that it destroys your inner peace; the second is that it distorts your view of reality. If you come to understand that anger is really unhelpful, you can begin to distance yourself from anger." - The Dalai Lama

            by auron renouille on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 07:53:49 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Capital gains taxes rise, dividends fall (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Long term capital gains taxes were at 15% - they will go back to 20%, which was the Clinton era level, for higher income taxpayers.

            One of the Bush tax cuts introduced the concept of qualified dividends.  Prior to the Bush tax cuts, dividends were taxed at ordinary income rates.  The Bush tax cuts gave them the long term capital gain rate, so they were taxed at  15% as well.  

            The fiscal cliff deal maintains the concept of qualified dividends and gives them the long term rate, so they are now at 20% as well.  Therefore, it is an increase from the Bush rates, but a decrease from the Clinton rates.

            Also, remember that the Affordable Care Act imposed a 3.8% surtax on net investment income, which includes most long term capital gains and dividends.  As a result, the effective tax rate for most high income individuals on this income will be 23.8%, which is higher than Clinton era rates.

        •  Tell those families losing UI benefits how their (3+ / 0-)

          suffering isn't really important.

          "Sorry guys, it sucks you can't feed your kids but we need to win the Sunday shows!"

          If we get more Dems elected in 2014 we can raise rates again or do all manner of things. We don't need to get EVERYTHING WE WANT immediately.

          That's how the Republicans moved this country so far to the right. They chipped away and chipped away. If we actually try to make some incremental gains instead of attacking our own side for only getting 85% of what we want we might actually get to hold power for more than 2 years.

          When we stop putting leaders from the past up on pedestals and ignoring their flaws, we can start seeing our present leaders for what they really are.

          by PhillyJeff on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 08:23:36 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Ummm....Milk prices? (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Vetwife, artmartin, myboo, caul

        Are they also dealing with the Farm Bill?  Isn't that what the milk problem is about?

        "Ronald Reagan is DEAD! His policies live on but we're doing something about THAT!"

        by leftykook on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 04:08:53 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  When did having nearly $1/2 millon / year income (47+ / 0-)

      ...become MIDDLE FUCKING CLASS???

      For that matter, when did $1/4 million / year income become MIDDLE FUCKING CLASS???

      I am really tired of the faux San Francisco / Manhattan / Boston oh-woe-is-me-my-family-only-makes-six-plus-figures argument.

      My rant has nothing to do with whatever number is eventually settled on for permanently extending MIDDLE FUCKING CLASS tax cuts.  My rant is about what's considered MIDDLE FUCKING CLASS.

      If you're making $1/4 million per year, and you're not getting along quite, quite well, you really need to take a hard look at your life choices and understand the difference between "wants" and "needs".  You are not MIDDLE FUCKING CLASS or even UPPER MIDDLE FUCKING CLASS at this income level, you are upper class.  Period.  End of discussion.

      Sorry, just had to get that off my chest.

      "Mitt who? That's an odd name. Like an oven mitt, you mean? Oh, yeah, I've got one of those. Used it at the Atlas Society BBQ last summer when I was flipping ribs."

      by Richard Cranium on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 04:02:24 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  if $450K is the new "middle class..." (29+ / 0-)

        Shouldn't ALL of that income be subject to FICA?

        Why hasn't there been ANY discussion of raising the FICA cap, now that Obama wants to "tweak" Social Security?

        -8.88, -9.59 In the practice of tolerance, one's enemy is the best teacher. -Tenzin Gyatso, H.H. the Dalai Lama

        by BobSoperJr on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 04:08:26 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  thank you! (6+ / 0-)

        middle class for a family of 4 is certainly less than $100,000 even today:

        These are the numbers we need to start talking about to be serious in the affairs of the nation.

      •  Excellent Point! Isn't it interesting how (7+ / 0-)

        "geographical location" almost never comes into play, regarding government benefits 'for the poor.'

        IOW, it doesn't matter where you live, when determining the monetary amount you qualify for in food stamp program.  

        From what I understand, what you receive depends on 1) your income, and 2) the numbers of dependents you have [and that was restricted as great deal, years ago].

        It is shocking that so-called progressives rarely raise their voices to this nonsense!!!

        “If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

        by musiccitymollie on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 04:19:18 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not so much. Most benefits are set state-by-state. (3+ / 0-)

          Including the degree of poverty one must be in to qualify for them. That's even true for Medicaid benefits, which I think is deplorable. Shows what "states' rights" will get us.
          SSI benefits are the only federal ones that I can think of that are not contingent on one's state of residence.
          I am certain someone will correct me if I am mistaken, and I will watch for that.
          Lest I be misinterpreted, I'd like to make it explicit that I think all so-called poverty programs in the U.S. are far below an adequate level, and that there should be adjustments in multiple arenas to bring everyone up to a reasonable, healthful, sustainable income (which would be at least 200% of the current official poverty level, and probably more).

          Some DKos series & groups worth your while: Black Kos, Native American Netroots, KosAbility, Monday Night Cancer Club. If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

          by peregrine kate on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 04:53:36 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Well, I'll see if I can locate (2+ / 0-)

            the video from C-span's Washington Journal call-in show, with a representative from the federal SNAP program.  The episode was filmed several years ago, and the SNAP representative indicated that the SNAP program was based on federal guidelines, to the best of my recollection.

            Now, the TANF Program (what is the so-called "welfare benefit" of days gone by, IS a "state-based" benefit, so to speak.  [TANF is the "cash assistance program," which is virtually nonexistent in many states, because level of benefits offered is left up to the states, in regard not only to the amount of the benefit, but "who" qualifies, with only very loose federal guidelines.]

            And, regarding SSI, there is a "federal" SSI program, and SOME, BUT FEW STATES offer a "state-funded" SSI benefit.  The state I reside in does not, but a handful of states offer an additional state-funded SSI benefit.

            I don't claim to be expert on any of these programs.

            However, I try to be accurate.  So thanks for raising a question about SNAP.  If I can't find the C-Span video, I'll try to clarify your points using another resource.

            Certainly, if it is a "state-based" benefit, and I misspoke, I stand corrected.  And I will correct my post, to the best of my ability.

            Thanks again.

            “If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

            by musiccitymollie on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 05:53:05 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Looks like you are right re SNAP; (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Phoenix Woman

              here's the federal webpage on eligibility requirements.
              There must be some sort of monitoring relative to the purchasing power of SNAP funds in different states, but in any case I'd be confident in saying that the level of assistance provided is not sufficient no matter how low the cost of living in any given state. (To say nothing of the problems of food deserts, etc., in poverty-stricken areas, urban or rural.)
              So yes, you are quite right in your original comment. I took it to be a more global statement than it was--regarding government benefits for the poor--rather than as being limited to the so-called food stamp program.

              Some DKos series & groups worth your while: Black Kos, Native American Netroots, KosAbility, Monday Night Cancer Club. If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

              by peregrine kate on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 06:13:24 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Thank you for checking this out, peregrine kate. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Phoenix Woman

                I needed to finish up on another thread, before I searched for the video.  

                So far, I haven't located it, but sometimes it takes a while to locate very old videos.  I'll post it in this thread, if I can find it, 'cause it really was fairly informative, especially for a call-in format.  The SNAP program speaker was really articulate and focused.

                Anyway, you are spot on that "but in any case I'd be confident in saying that the level of assistance provided is not sufficient no matter how low the cost of living in any given state."

                “If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

                by musiccitymollie on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 07:26:23 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

      •  ROFL......Loved that one Richard !!! (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        glorificus, Actbriniel

        We the People have to make a difference and the Change.....Just do it ! Be part of helping us build a veteran community online. United Veterans of America

        by Vetwife on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 04:22:28 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Even worse (4+ / 0-)

        That $400k, and even the $250k, refer to AGI. So, the reality is that these folks are making significantly more than that.

        It's ridiculous.

      •  I live in Manhattan and I agree. (4+ / 0-)

        If you cant make it on $250k per year, there's something wrong in your life.

      •  Sounds like a lot, but it's not... (8+ / 0-)

        I'm the first to admit I'm lucky. My husband and I make a good living and we're able to provide for our family, but I resent the notion that our choices are the results of "wants" and not "needs." Let me explain... My husband and I both quit our teaching jobs about 15 years ago to go to graduate school--he became a doctor and I am now a professor. So, yes, we chose to go to graduate school and we took out signficant loans to do so. We are STILL paying for our student loans--should we not have dreamed for graduate degrees--is that a "want," or a "need?" And why does Mitt Romney's version of a "need" become a "want" when it's people like us? Why should a graduate degree be seen as a luxury--everyone should have the choice to get a graduate degree--wouldn't you agree?  So, with over $100,000 left in student loans, our so-called high salaries are not all that. I still teach--which is a nothing salary, even though I have a Ph.D. He gets more, but because he chose to treat getriatrics patients, he gets FAR LESS than you'd think a big-time cardiologist or neurologist would. He's an internist whose ENTIRE patient-load is on Medicare--which already paid less than other insurance companies and he's now going to get a 30% pay cut from those patients. So, a good doctor, great at his job, will probably have to stop treating the elderly because of this Medicare crappy deal. Was he wrong to want to work with these patients? He's the ONLY board-certified geriatrician in the county--a rural county in Kansas. They will have NO ONE if he quits. They'll piece together family practice docs to fill the gap, but he is specially trained to deal with their needs and their families, but we can't afford to take a 30% pay cut and still keep paying our bills.  We also have a daughter who was born missing several permanent teeth--just about all on the top of her mouth, requiring over $50,000 in dental work--implants are a FORTUNE!! We're lucky that we could figure out how to cover these expenses, but we had to take out two loans to do it. We are still paying for that. Are her teeth a "want" or a "need" in your book? We kind of thought the kid would need to eat and chew her food! This same kid is now in college herself, so we're paying for her to attend state school--are we wrong to think of this as a "need?" She's not in private school. We couldn't afford it. So, give me a break! Again, I'm lucky that we could at least scrape up the money to help her and that we can take care of our family, but I'm sick and tired of people thinking that just because we worked our asses off and have a decent living, that we haven't (AND DON'T CONTINUE) to pay our fair share--and P.S. WE'RE WILLING TO PAY MORE!!!! We lived on NOTHING during graduate school--drove raggedy cars and sold our old clothes to make money. We were extremely poor, so I get it. But we are not the Romney's or the truly wealthy. My husband cannot afford to pay the taxes for his medical practice this year! He can barely afford to hire a nurse practitioner to help, and again, his patients will now be paying him 30% less than the lousy Medicare payments they were paying.

        We are just on the other side of $250,000, and again, we are lucky, but that goes fast when you have student loans, a MODEST mortgage (Kansas is relatively cheap), medical expenses, college tuition, etc. You and I on the same side, and we were and are willing to pay more, but don't paint everyone in this tax-bracket with the same, broad brush. Everyone is just trying to make it...

        Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed...

        by langstonhughesfan on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 05:16:52 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  No - you've made choices (5+ / 0-)

          With the exception of your child's medical condition you made conscious choices. And it's not for me to (nor will I) judge those choices.

          Your income is NOT middle class, despite your expenses.

          "Mitt who? That's an odd name. Like an oven mitt, you mean? Oh, yeah, I've got one of those. Used it at the Atlas Society BBQ last summer when I was flipping ribs."

          by Richard Cranium on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 05:56:02 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Your original post was quite judgmental... And I (5+ / 0-)

            don't care what economic class I'm assigned to--the point is that you shouldn't make assumptions about anyone in any class--which you did. I never said I was middle class. I only said I'm trying to provide for my family like everybody else, and that I'm stilling to pay more than I already do. You just want to think that anybody making over $250K is somehow the enemy. We're not.

            Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed...

            by langstonhughesfan on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 06:14:51 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  *still willing (0+ / 0-)

              Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed...

              by langstonhughesfan on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 06:18:38 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Are you sure your AGI is over 250K? (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                itsbenj, Brooke In Seattle

                Even so, let's say your AGI is 260K, you'd only be paying extra tax on 10K worth of income and even at that the increased tax is only a few percentage points.

                It is ridiculous to think that someone with 250K of AGI is not wealthy.

                The agreed upon $400/450K is a joke.

                •  There's wealth, and then there's wealth... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Heart of the Rockies

                  We're lucky. I have said that. And I have said we will pay whatever extra is required--all while seeing a 30% DECREASE in Medicare payments that doctors like my husband will now receive. But it's also ridiculous to think that people in our boat don't carry a lot of debt for any number of reasons that are not at all the result of high-flying and jet-set living. We are on a tight budget because we took out student loans to pursue graduate school. We don't live large by any stretch. We need a new roof as I type this. So, if we have to take the crap--and I mean CRAP--Medicare "doc fix" cut, I sure as hell don't want our taxes to go up too! The image of the rich doctor is a FANTASY! And it's pisses me off that fixing Medicare means reducing payments to doctors like my husband whose only patients are on Medicare. He may have to quit serving them and get a job working for The Man to pay off our student loans. Right now, he's a sole practitioner with a lot of taxes to pay. He doesn't make enough to get the Romney-style breaks, believe me!

                  Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed...

                  by langstonhughesfan on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 10:47:37 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  That Medicare decrease to your husband's (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    sydneyluv, Brooke In Seattle

                    payment you keep mentioning IS NOT HAPPENING!

                    We also got the Medicare doc fix patched, so reimbursements don't get cut by 27%,
                    I would expect someone in the field to be much well better informed than you sound, seriously.  It's right up there linked on this diary.

                    Plus, you're arguing that $250,000 + in rural Kansas isn't much? Are you for real?
                    San Fran and NYC have some credibility on discussing how far $250,000 can go because of incredibly high rents, but Kansas?
                    RURAL Kansas?  Give me a break!

                    "...I just want you to know there are BILLIONS of us rooting for you..." Sir Paul McCartney

                    by eden4barack08 on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 04:03:01 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Yes, I am happy to be mistaken about the medicare (0+ / 0-)

                      doc fix, thank you for pointing it out, but this is an ongoing threat. But you are indeed correct that it's not happening and I was wrong to use it this time around in my argument--and more due diligence was required on my part. But to be more specific, my husband's practice treats patients in rural Kansas, but we live just outside of Kansas City--not in a rural community at all. I also said that our mortgage was reasonable, but we have other expenses (debt) because of graduate school and medical costs. I also pointed out numerous times that we are lucky and that we are willing to pay more. I'm not quite sure what else you expect? Give ME a break!!!

                      Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed...

                      by langstonhughesfan on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 11:13:38 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

            •  langstonhughesfan, I hear you on the student loan (3+ / 0-)

              issue.  I had $100k to pay off at the end of residency training and the big consolidated loan took 10 years and cost $1600 per month.  I referred to it as my 2nd house payment--it was about the same amount.  

              Unfortunately, the talk of tax rates on earned income misses many factors that go towards whether a person or family unit is wealthy or not, like existing assets or indebtedness.  A trust fund baby who has use of a family beach home and jet but works part-time making $25k per year and only has to worry about purchasing their own food is not "wealthy" when only considering yearly earned income.

              •  The shadow of college loans (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                I have a graduate school room mate who took out huge loans to go through medical school.  She is still repaying them, and her oldest 2 children are now in college themselves.  She also sees hospital administrators and insurance executives making a lot more than she does, with a fraction of the training and responsibility.

          •  Blame game (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            If we start basing our discussion on life choices, we might be able to make a case that everyone near the poverty line is there because of bad life choices.  Even if that's true, I don't think any of us want to go there.

            I agree with langstonhughesfan's summation.

            don't paint everyone in this tax-bracket with the same, broad brush.
            Just as we shouldn't paint everyone in much lower tax brackets with the same broad brush, as the Republicans are wont to do (bad choices, lazy, etc.).
        •  You can definitely afford more (3+ / 0-)

          paragraphs. Hard to read without the paragraph breaks.

          The Fierce Urgency of Later

          by Faroutman on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 06:19:44 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  What about the daughters born to people (0+ / 0-)

          on the other side of 250K?

          I am glad you could afford to give your daughter the best. I am glad you worked hard for your dreams. But you still get painted with the same brush, because you are still the same color. You think you deserve your daughter's health because of the choices you made, instead of thinking you deserve your daughter's health because you're human beings. And as long as you think that, you're the same color as them: green.

        •  Doesn't the "deal" include... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sewaneepat, langstonhughesfan

          ...a Medicare doc fix?

      •  When income inequity became such a huge problem (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sydneyluv, Heart of the Rockies

        in this country that the purchasing power of 1/4 million per year income dropped.

        Note, this is not an argument for saying that tax rates at this level should not go up. I believe they can can and should. But it is arguing that the class terms should have some sort of meaning outside of raw percentages because those percentages will never change. There will always be an upper 10%, an upper 25%, and upper 1%, a lower 10% etc. It is very important to look at the gaps between and how they change over time because that is where the income inequity, IMHO, becomes very visible.

        So I think the top 5% to top 2% range (or top 10%, whatever) and really even the bottom of the 1% range are upper middle class. They're comfortable, but the upper middle class should be comfortable. The middle class should be comfortable. In a healthy country, the entire range of the middle class should reasonably be able to own a home, support children, not worry about how to afford sending kids to a college of their choice, not worry about a short-term medical issue, afford vacations. People should not be worrying about paying off student debt through their 50s, being bankrupted by an accident or medical issue, how to afford childcare, etc.

        To me, to be meaningful upper class, an income needs to be able to provide more than a comfortable living. It needs to provide a degree of excess. And I think it's important that we are all aware of how very few people in this country currently even make a comfortable living all so that the slim percentage of people making excess continue to make buy-political-offices degree of excess.

        Again, that's not to say that anyone should be crying for or worry about those in the comfortable range or that tax rates shouldn't be raised on them. It's just to say let's not lose sight of how bad income inequity is and that pretty much anyone who has a non-executive level job is on the butt end of that stick.

      •  I live in the SF Bay area and I agree... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        phoebesdatter, Brooke In Seattle

        ...with you.

        The meme that's been flying around the media the last few days about $250K being "not that much" in CA and NY is total BS.

        I'm in the East Bay, not SF proper but, I'm a (single) technical professional with 20+ years in my industry, own a home (with mortgage), and my AGI is roughly half the $200K figure that is being bandied about.  I'd be swimming in cash like Scrooge McDuck if my AGI was actually in the $200K range.

        This seemed like a deliberate effort in the media to conflate income with wealth and also to confuse gross earnings with AGI or below-the-line earnings.

        Anyone who makes $250,000 to $450,000 in net income next year, after deductions (individual/family) or after expenses (business) will be doing really, really well -- even here.  That's not "middle class" let alone "working class".  Let's call it "executive class" or "ownership class".  Yes, housing is the highest expense here, but there is a wide distribution of options, even within SF (the city) proper, so I don't have much sympathy for the top 2%, of which I am nearer to being a member than the vast majority of workers in the Bay Area.  I am blessed and have no problem paying for the infrastructure and expenses that are part of living in a civil society.

        By not capturing a more progressive tax on those who are, let's call them comfortably wealthy vs. uber-wealthy, we simply set ourselves up for more revenue shortfall and more demand on the working class to "give back a little more" on "entitlements".  We need a broad distribution of taxation, progressive across mid- to upper- incomes as the math otherwise doesn't work.  

        (If you taxed the ultra-uber-incomes at 100% there wouldn't be enough of them to bring in the revenue needed, but they certainly should be generously taxed.)

        It's the band of incomes between the middle and the "uber-" where a modest progressive rate will do the most good in recovering the revenues foregone in the past decade and I'm sorry but I can't define $400K net per year as "middle".

        Bringing the actual corporate tax revenue inline with supposed rates (close the loopholes) and bringing military spending down to earth would certainly help too.

    •  I don't see how 400k becomes a "new definition (8+ / 0-)

      of middle class." This is a patch, not a comprehensive tax reform package. They just created two tiers of rich where there was only one before.

      Enough? No, but it's not etched in stone. It just gets us to the next trench.

      "Every now & then your brain gifts you with the thought, 'oh, that's right, I don't actually give a **** about this.' Treasure it" -- jbou

      by kenlac on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 04:02:57 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sorry. Maybe I missed something. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dclawyer06, sxp151

        But didn't they make these tax cuts permanent? If it passes the House, doesn't that constitute more than a patch? I'm not being facetious.....if I'm wrong, I'll breathe a sigh of relief.

        •  Well, I could be wrong too (0+ / 0-)

          but I was under the impression this had a yet another "kick the can" component and we get to do it all again in another couple of months.

          "Every now & then your brain gifts you with the thought, 'oh, that's right, I don't actually give a **** about this.' Treasure it" -- jbou

          by kenlac on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 04:31:03 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Sequestration cuts (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            are pushed off for 60 days. The debt ceiling negotiations hit around the same time. We've already hit it on 12/31 but Geithner said he can fiddle with things to buy another two months.  

            The rest of the deal makes almost all of the Bush tax cuts permanent.

            "Justice is a commodity"

            by joanneleon on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 05:01:02 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  It depends on the provision (0+ / 0-)

            Some of the tax provisions in HR 8 are "permanent" in that they do not automatically sunset the way the Bush tax cuts did.  They will continue indefinately until affirmatively amended by Congress.  These are primarily the rate changes.

            Some of the tax provisions do have sunsets, however - there are a number of extenders in there that will go away, mostly by 2014.  These include some short term stimulus provisions that came in in 2010, including bonus depreciation and 179 expensing (I can explain those if anyone cares)

            There is a third set, primarily the EITC Credit and some other credits, that have a 5 year extension.

      •  And nothing is "permanent" about this (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        artmartin, Aquarius40, S F Hippie

        A lot of people are using that word as short-hand for "doesn't expire". But no tax rate is permanent ever. They can always be changed in the future.

        Yes, it is hard to get anyone to vote for a tax hike, but it can be done and has been done in the past. But it takes a comprehensive effort to educate people as to the necessity of such a hike. Once you get the people behind it, the legislators will fall in line.

        The idea that this deal, or any deal, is the deal is one of the biggest lies of this whole process.

    •  Many people do not understand low income credits (22+ / 0-)

      and how important they are.  These are the Earned Income Tax Credit and the child tax credit, plus one for college.  These are very important to  low income working people.  They require passage by Congress.  This plus unemployment benefits are largely what raising the 33% bracket was traded for.  Those are also the people who will be hit if the SS wage cap goes up.  I agree the dividend rate should have been raised more, but at least dividends and cap gains rates went up 5%.  And the Farm Bill extension and clean energy tax credits are important.  There are things to like and things to dislike.  Perhaps we will see what the alternative is if the House crazies kill the bill.

      The scientific uncertainty doesn't mean that climate change isn't actually happening.

      by Mimikatz on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 04:24:31 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Many people here don't truly understand low income (14+ / 0-)

        and what it's really like to live on these credits and benefits. Hyperventilating about 'checkers v. chess' means nothing to those of us who are focusing on food, shelter and warmth.

        Thanks for getting it, Mimikatz.

        Ho'oponopono. To make things right; restore harmony; heal.

        by earicicle on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 04:34:46 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Maybe not... (3+ / 1-)
          Recommended by:
          milkbone, According to Fish, venger
          Hidden by:

          But we do understand that a less progressive income tax structure in general benefits the wealthy and hurts the poor.  In the short term some people may suffer if some of these programs expire, but in the long term the middle class and the poor are going to suffer far more because of the broader impacts of this deal.  

          And what's really sad is that Obama ran twice on allowing tax cuts over $250K to expire and he didn't accomplish it once.  Obama is a fucking chump.  

          •  I do not like you being disrespectful to the (6+ / 0-)

            president. Run for office yourself if you are so smart.

            I don't mind he extended unemployment payments twice.

            Regarding "the long term", if the "middle class and the poor" get their act together and elect better people as legislators they may save themselves.

            **Your beliefs don't make you a better person, your behavior does** h/t Clytemnestra/Victoria Jackson

            by glorificus on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 06:03:48 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  The changes make the Code (0+ / 0-)

            more progressive vis the Bush era rates, although not via Clinton era rates.  I know that many think that the Clinton era rates were the ones that we should be measuring against, but so long as we have a Republican House and no filibuster reform in the Senate, the GOP was going to find a way to peel those back, probably as part of the debt ceiling negotiations.

            I think that the Pres is now in a weaker position as a negotiating matter having separated the debt ceiling and tax reform, but I don't think that we would have gotten out of the entire fiscal mess with the Clinton era rates, whether now or in 2 or 3 months.

    •  Obama is jamming (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      am4, sxp151

      the Democrats on this bill and will jam them on the next one.

      That one will include the chained CPI and Medicare & SS age increases. I have listened to over this past week from Ed Rendell, Joe Sestak and others how the Democrats will need to share in the pain. They both have talked up the chained CPI and raising the age requirement for Social Security and Medicare. And they are the just tip of the iceberg.

    •  How should the WH have handled (21+ / 0-)

      the negotiations instead?  I happen to think that the WH knows what and who they are dealing with.  They know up front what they are willing to put on the table, which are the things that some of the Progressives are going ape shyt over.  I think they weigh the choices and have decided that they had to go with protecting those people in our country who are the most vulnerable and that's the very poor.

      The very fact that we have to continually have these terrorist negotiations is because the Obama White House is dealing with people who just don't negotiate period.

      I do understand the frustration that many progressives here have with the White House, but I don't know why anyone here would presume that these folk deal in good faith or that they would even want to.  They lied, cheat, re-draw Congressional districts and even try to stop people from voting.

      Our problem is not with Obama.  Our problem is within Congress and what has happened at the state level.

      That is what needs to be fixed.

      •  You know (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Final Frame

        I'm beginning to think that everyone thinks these negotiations are just another episode of Pawn Stars. Obama should be Rick but progressives think he's Chumley. (psst I happen to know a guy.....)

        "The scientific nature of the ordinary man is to go on out and do the best you can." John Prine

        by high uintas on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 06:13:55 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  guaranteeing the very poor a long career (4+ / 0-)

        as hostages.

        Basically, progressives think Republicans are bluffing.  

        Republicans don't want Bush's tax cuts to go away.  They don't want military funding to get cut.  And they absolutely don't want to be the ones responsible for cutting SS, Medicare, & Medicaid.  They know, that even in their heavily gerrymandered districts, that would be political suicide.

        The very fact that we have to continually have these terrorist negotiations is because the Obama White House is dealing with people who just don't negotiate period.
        Then there shouldn't have been a negotiation!  Sometimes, when you're backed against the wall, you have to deal.  But, as I explained above, this was not one of those times.
      •  The focus of the rage needs to be re-directed (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        artmartin, sewaneepat, Aquarius40

        The more energy spent railing against Obama and the Dems the less energy their is to defeat the real enemies in the process.

        At least, that is true unless you believe that Obama and the Dems secretly want to do everything the Republicans want to do but aren't because, ... , well I can't figure that one out.

    •  Great post (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blugrlnrdst, sewaneepat

      I totally agree!!

    •  A lot of poeple are saying this but I don't really (5+ / 0-)

      get it.  They're saying they aren't so unhappy with the results they just don't like how we got there.  What?

      What matters is the results.  Style points don't matter.

    •  There have to be some adults in the room (4+ / 0-)

      Obama and the Democrats (and Republicans in Senate) have been the adults in the room.

      How all of us would have loved to go over the cliff! How sweet! Such schadenfreude in the face of GOP misery that all tax rates returned to Clinton-era levels! I know. The bright flame attracted me too.

      But the downsides were huge. A disgusted public. Spooked markets. International concern that this country can't govern itself. And Republicans even more dangerous because they hadn't even a fig-leaf to pretend the White House had given something up.

      The last time the House and Senate voted to raise the top tax rate to 39.6% was in 1993 under Clinton. It passed by one vote in the House and Al Gore had to provide the clinching vote in the Senate. Yesterday's Senate vote got almost 90 Senators on board; when the House vote is held, I'd guess a significant portion of the House GOP will be on board. It's a huge victory.

      We were never going to get everything we wanted. Obama started from position that I want rates above $250,000 to go up and I just won an election. House GOP started from position that national debt reduction had to come entirely from cutbacks (preferably domestic) and we just won an election too. They didn't meet in the middle. The White House got most of what it wanted.

      My reading of this deal is that people who earn  $40 to $45,000 or less annually should be thrilled (tax cuts maintained; Earned Income Tax Credits; child care credits; unemployment insurance coverage) and those earning  $400,000 to $450,000 or more are entitled to be pissed off. And no offsets from Social Insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid. What did we lose? Tax rates on inherited estates is the only thing I can see. What's not to like about that picture?

      The debt ceiling as another hostage-taking opportunity down the line? Perhaps. But Obama's said he won't negotiate over that. So, let's cross that bridge when we come to it -- and we'll be coming to it with a slightly more Democratic House.

    •  The White House has not lost its leverage (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      vernonbc, sewaneepat

      because the current sequestration plan targets Defense budget as much as other federal agency expenditures. I agree with most of this diary...

      The defense cuts in the sequestration is very much leverage.  I would venture to say that Republicans care almost as much about those as they do the tax rates for the rich.
      In fact, the White House and the Democrats essentially got the bulk of what they wanted in this first round: (a) income tax increases on the affluent, (b) middle-income tax cut without a sunset clause, (c) unemployment benefits extended for another year, (d) retained the earned income credit for low-income taxpayers, (e) kept milk prices from rising, (f) made no concessions on entitlements... and other minor items, like Medicare payments, etc.

      Yes, they kicked the can on the sequestration question for another two months or so... then the GOP's debt ceiling leverage may come into play, becoming a potential toxic financial mix...

      But so what?

      In my opinion, it is a much exaggerated "crisis", especially made by those who wish to find major fault with the current WH-brokered compromise. With Defense budget slated for big cuts, let's see if the Republicans will have much stomach to play further brinkmanship games again.

      My guess is that they will crumble and fold...


      "The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds. It was a small part of the pantomime." Wallace Stevens

      by mobiusein on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 07:08:53 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  You have no clue (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sewaneepat, FloraLine

      how the White House handled the negotiations.  You have the PUBLIC version of how he handled the negotiations.  Obviously, FROM THE RESULTS, he handled them (in private talks and probably screaming sessions) pretty damned good.  

      The fiscal cliff would have hurt, maybe killed, lots of Americans.  If you weren't one of those targeted by that hurt then your personal preference to see it happen needs to be taken with a grain of salt.  I'm sure that was the President's take.

      "A celibate clergy is an especially good idea, because it tends to suppress any hereditary propensity toward fanaticism." -- Carl Sagan

      by artmartin on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 10:09:44 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  sometimes, if you want to win, you have to make (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mwm341, sewaneepat, Aquarius40, merrywidow

      the other side THINK you are losing - or, are a poor "negotiator"

      it worked!  our side squealing loudly made it appear that the dem position was even weaker.  in the meantime, as smash points out - 85% of what the dems wanted!  not bad, imho, not bad at all

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