Of course, after last night’s passage of the Obama-Republican tax deal, there will be a lot of people who will crow and caw and boast about how awesome it is, and how great the President is for getting it done.
Do not expect to count me among those people.
Let’s take a look at Greg Sargent’s "Morning Plum" today. I generally love Sargent’s writing, but lately I have found myself disagreeing with his takes on things as relates to the President.
Take this bloc for example:
House Dems swallow tax deal, and ladies and gentlemen, we've got ... BIPARTISANSHIP! As expected, the last minute effort by House liberals to change Obama's tax deal failed, and the House ended up passing it anyway, with enough Dems voting for it to put it over the top.
The commentariat's instant takeaway is that Obama, by pulling off his first bipartisan coup, has effectively launched his comeback. You can bet that this adulation will resonate with White House advisers, who are said to be pleasantly surprised by the willingness of Republicans to reach a deal, and it seems likely that this compromise will operate as a kind of blueprint for Obama's strategy for the next two years of divided government.
So Sargent’s take on what "the commentariat" has to say is that Obama’s making of deals with Republicans is awesome, because it’s going to launch some sort of "comeback" for the President. I just don’t understand how anyone can believe that any sort of "comeback" by President Obama is going to involve him making shifty backroom deals with the opposition party. How could it? If someone wants to go on a comeback tour, say a musician for example, would that artist or group decide to go and run a tour that would alienate a bunch of their fans? Would they decide to take a path that would give some fans the best show they could give, but would ignore a whole bunch of others?
No, chances are, a comeback of this nature would be an all-out barnburner which attempts to make everyone as happy and as satisfied as possible.
The deal that was struck and passed in no way does this. If it did, I wouldn’t be writing what I am writing right now, would I? If I were thrilled with it, I’d be penning one of those diaries about how great a deal we got and how the President finally brought the iron fist out of the velvet glove and showed the GOP what for.
But he didn’t do that. Thus, we have been given a deal that does a whole bunch of things that are bad for the economy – long term, if not short term – and, like one real thing that will help a portion of the country on a temporary basis.
The wealthy tax cuts? Called "immoral" and "unconscionable"? Will be extended now because the GOP took hostages. Instead of negotiating with hostages, the President met their ransom demands. What did he get in return? Yes, there is a 13-month extension of unemployment insurance for people who are still eligible for it. That will surely bring some comfort to the citizens who need this assistance. But it should not bring them a lot of comfort, because the extension for one, will run out after a year and a month. Also, what about the 99er’s? You know, the people who have exhausted 99 weeks of benefits and now receive bupkis from the government? There wasn’t a single line of text in this deal that dealt with these people. No help is forthcoming from the government. These citizens have been forgotten, erased from political memory. They are apparently not important to this government, because nearly nobody is fighting for them anymore. That’s disgusting, and pathetic, and business as usual with this government.
Oh yeah, the President also secured a payroll tax reduction, a "holiday" it is being called. Yeah, okay, so maybe I’ll see a couple more bucks in my paycheck when this starts. But the problem with this is that the hit in this tax will adversely affect – wait for it – Social Security. Yes, after the Catfood Commission failed to be able to vote on immolating Social Security, it looks like a time bomb has been strapped to it in the form of this tax. Obama has talked about this helping workers, but when I see a noted union leader go on Countdown and say that "My workers won’t really see anything out of this"...I have to wonder just how useful it actually is going to be. It sounds downright disastrous, yet it’s being used as a talking point to sell the deal? Utter incompetence.
But wait, that was only half of what Sargent said. Look at how he blared, in my opinion, Drudge-style about how we had achieved that creamy Nirvana goodness of "Bipartisanship"?
To be sure, yes, a "majority" of Democrats ended up voting for this deal. But how big a majority? 55.3% for and 44.6% against the deal. 3 Dems did not even bother to vote, making up the last 1%.
Not only did the Democrats not exactly give this a sweeping mandate, but if Sargent or anyone else wishes to crow mightily about how "bipartisan" this bill was, they had better take heed that there was bipartisan opposition to this deal as well. 36 Republicans crossed the aisle to join Democrats in opposing this odious deal. Noted arch-lunatics like Michele Bachmann, Louie Gohmert, Pete Hoekstra, Steve King, and Virginia Foxx joined noted liberals like Alan Grayson, Rush Holt, Anthony Weiner and Raul Grijalva in voting down this turd on a plate.
But of course, in the Village, the only real bipartisanship is the kind in which liberal dems cave to conservative GOP demands. Conservatives joining with liberals against something? That’s just fluff. Nothing to see here, move along.
Sargent’s take that the "way forward" in the upcoming split government will stem from the "willingness of GOP to strike a deal"...is completely disingenuous to what actually happened. Of course Republicans were eager to strike a deal that included the terms they got. 90% of this deal was favorable to the Republicans! You’d be a fool to not take that kind of deal, if offered to you. All the tax breaks, the assault on Social Security, and the ability to refight this fight during a Presidential election year made it a no-brainer for Boehner and Company.
If Obama had gotten it whereby the Republicans passed UI without getting a bunch of tax breaks, if the Republicans had extended only the middle class cuts because Democrats weren’t going to blink and were on the brink of letting all the cuts expire...you could call that a Democratic victory. Progressives, liberals, Blue Dogs, everyone could probably be happy with that. Most anyway.
But for Sargent or anyone else to frame this like it was a great bipartisan victory filled with comity and sanity is either drunk on the Village kool-aid or is a deluded tool, blind to the reality of the situation.
Call this deal whatever you want, but don’t lie about what it is. It is not a grand sweeping gesture of bipartisanship that will usher in a new era of working together.
This was a conservative hit job, and there’s only going to be more forthcoming, unless Democrats find enough steel in their spines to stop supporting this kind of crap.
I wouldn’t hold your breath.