Who the hell elected Jane Hamsher, Adam Green and Roger Hodge to represent Obama’s liberal base? While it is true that Green and Hamsher in particular lead organizations that helped rally Democrats to put the Senator Obama into the White House, they have yet to use those resources to help President Obama get a single thing done. As a matter of fact, if I didn’t know better I would think Taylor Marsh was in the background giving them direction on how to ensure Obama does not win re-election in 2012. As is evidenced by the clip below, the intention of these folks (Ezra Klein excluded) is to foment their positions as go-to political talking heads, not helping Democrats.
Yesterday’s events surrounding the tax cut extension were a clinic on how NOT to frame a debate. While these and other self proclaimed representatives of the liberal base were falling all over themselves to get in front of a camera and bash the President the Republicans were dutifully taking credit for a victory that they in fact did not win. What is most embarrassing is the sheer childishness of their arguments. At one point in the video below Roger Hodge tried to conflate President Obama with Herbert Hoover with clumsy reference to “Barack-Hoover-Obama” that was laughable.
As Ezra Klein points out this morning in this piece in the Washington Post, what is being framed as a terrible piece of world ending capitulation offered up by the President is in fact a win for the Democrats.
If you look at the numbers alone, the tax cut deal looks to have robbed Republicans blind. The GOP got around $95 billion in tax cuts for wealthy Americans and $30 billion in estate tax cuts. Democrats got $120 billion in payroll-tax cuts, $40 billion in refundable tax credits (Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit and education tax credits), $56 billion in unemployment insurance, and, depending on how you count it, about $180 billion (two-year cost) or $30 billion (10-year cost) in new tax incentives for businesses to invest.
Of course, had these folks bothered to take a deep breath and try to actually understand what was being offered they might have realized that they were being given an opportunity to go on television and point out that this was in fact a win for the Democrats. They might have accepted the reality that their fall back negotiating position, allowing these tax cuts to expire and in turn increasing taxes on EVERYONE including those people who would most feel the pain from it – lower income Americans – was such a losing option that in fact it was no option at all. They would have realized what the President already knew, that this is the best deal he could possibly have worked out.
Instead, they chose to go on the march and bash the President and in turn reveal themselves as amateurs. The reason we are losing this debate over the tax cut extensions is because of these people and their unrealistic expectations. They believe they are holding to a winning principled position but in fact they are simply self flagellating over a fantasy they cooked up that has them somehow making Republicans “feel the pain” of their decisions by first inflicting tax increases on working class Americans who will rise up in anger at the them. The reality is that if these cuts were allowed to expire the responsibility for the resulting tax increases would be places squarely on the Democrats and the President.
I agree with the position that continuing to cut taxes for the richest Americans is irresponsible and there are volumes of evidence to show that these cuts do nothing to stimulate economic growth or to trickle down prosperity. But that does not change the fact that support for allowing these cuts to expire on only the wealthiest Americans would not, in fact did not get out of the House. Waiting for them to expire then hoping a Republican lead House would take up new tax law in January is unrealistic at best and dangerous at worst.