And now that Vice President Biden, negotiating on behalf of President Barack Obama, after the talks seemed to falter between Senate Majority Leader Reid and McConnell, are giving away the farm to the Republicans on the tax rates for the wealthy by agreeing to raise the tax level to $500,000.
"You get nothing," the president said. "I get that for free."
To the GOP’s delight, that no longer seems to be the case. In the Obama-Boehner negotiations, the White House offered to raise the threshold from $250,000 to $400,000. McConnell, in his negotiations with Harry Reid and now Joe Biden, has been trying to raise that to $500,000. It’s clear to the Republicans that they will get past the fiscal cliff with a smaller tax increase than they thought. Perhaps much smaller. Huzzah!Greg Sargent points out that there is still time for the President and the White House to prevent further concessions to the Republicans, but that the President's fervent desire for a deal, a bipartisan deal, will not serve him or the Democratic Party well in the short-term and the long-term.
That will set up a fight over the debt ceiling. The Republicans plan to say that now that they broke their pledge and voted for a tax increase, they’ll insist on a dollar of spending cuts for every dollar of debt-ceiling increase — the so-called “Boehner rule”. The White House plans to insist that it won’t negotiate over the debt ceiling at all.
Republicans I’ve spoken to laugh at this bluster. Obama is already negotiating over the debt ceiling, they point out. He began the fiscal cliff negotiations by saying he wanted a permanent solution to the debt ceiling. Then it was a two-year increase in the debt limit. Now he’s going to sign off on a mini-deal that doesn’t increase the debt ceiling at all. Does that really sound like someone who’s going to hold firm when faced with global economic chaos? The White House always talks tough at the beginning of negotiations and then always folds at the end. Republicans are confident that the debt ceiling will be no different.
So now, we will face further hostage-taking by the Republicans when it comes to the debt ceiling raise, and the continuing budget resolution later this year if this deal goes through. Why should the Republicans expect the President to act differently in those upcoming battles? After all, he's given up so much in concessions to the Republicans, and has moved consistently to the right in giving the Republicans what they want, instead of the Republicans moving further to the center.
The President is a horrible negotiator, which makes sense since he sees himself as post-partisan, and not representing the values of the Democratic Party, or in negotiating from a progressive position. Coming into this battle, the Democrats had all the leverage, and now they are losing it because any deal is better to President Obama than a deal that actually acknowledges what the American people voted for. An actual tax increase on the wealthy above $250,000, and not this paltry tax increase on incomes above $500,000.
We progressives have often been accused of not being able to compromise, but in all actuality, we do acknowledge that there has to be compromise. However, the way the White House is going about it is NOT compromise. It is pure and utter needless capitulation over a manufactured crisis. None of this needed to happen, but it did because the White House let this happen back then.