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December 8, 2010

Why the Left (and Center) Is Pissed

by at 12:34 pm.

A self-identified strong political centrist friend on facebook recently expressed his disgust at Obama’s “compromise” on the tax cut extensions for the rich. I commented that if Obama has lost him, he really has lost the squishy middle. Polls show that the vast majority of Americans didn’t want a tax cut extension for the wealthy. And in the context of all the (somewhat misplaced) concern over deficits, this so-called compromise from Obama is even weirder - after all, neither the tax cuts, nor the unemployment benefit extension that we “got” from Republinans, are “paid for.” Which makes both the Republicans, who “ran” on the deficit, and Obama, with his Catfood (er, “Deficit”) Commission, incredibly hypocritical.

Of course, Obama didn’t lose, and the Republicans didn’t win, on the election being about deficits. It was about an economy that people felt hadn’t gotten enough attention by our leaders of either party. Many stayed home, and the result was that the fired up Republicans took control of the House. But you can’t convince a Republican about that by giving in to him.

But it gets worse. Obama called the Republicans “hostage takers” - and he’s right. They held a gun to Americans suffering with long term unemployment, and to tax cuts for the middle class, and demanded a ransom for the rich, despite the 60%+ of Americans who don’t want that. Obama wants us to believe that this was about preventing harm to the hostages.

He might be right, but only for the short term. What do you get when you negotiate with hostage takers? Emboldened hostage takers. They now know they can threaten harm to get what they want with little or no consequences. And the next threat of harm is right around the corner, and is very, very dire - Chris Bowers at dkos explains:

The problem is, this deal does not free the hostages, and escort them to a safe place. This is because, at a minimum, the deal does not raise the debt ceiling.

According to current projections, Congress will have to vote on raising the debt ceiling in late March, or else the whole country goes into default. At that time, Republicans could–and likely will–take the entire country hostage. After their successful hostage taking on the tax cuts, in exchange for raising the debt ceiling preventing default, they could demand spending cuts that will far exceed any of the stimulus in this deal, or exceed any collateral damage caused by not doing this deal.

Keep in mind that many Republican leaders threatened this very thing already. It’s not a matter of maybe, it’s a matter of when and how much.

This time it won’t be your $400-to-700-on-average tax cut extension on the line, or the $2M long term unemployed, but the “Full Faith and Credit of the United States” held hostage. That threat, if carried out (government shutdown, defaulting on loans, the works) could cause another severe dip back down to recession. So, what safety did we gain for the American public with this deal? After all, we just proved to Republicans that holding the American economy and people hostage gets them pretty much everything they want.

Republicans leaders don’t really believe their own hype that tax cuts for the wealthy (or preventing the lapse of such) really helps job growth. The Congressional Budget Office, and many other prestigious institutions, have said over and over again that this “trickle down” theory doesn’t really work - tax cuts for the rich are not stimulative. It is marginally more stimulative to cut taxes for the middle class and below, as they are out there spending their money on goods and services, and so will spend marginally more if given tax cuts. It is more stimulative still is to ensure that the unemployed are buoyed up by benefits, and the best stimulus is direct government spending. Those facts are not in dispute - unless you’re a Republican leader (or their adherents) trying to sell a despicable tax and spending cut policy that will continue to erode the middle class.

In fact, you can easily make the argument that a double dip recession will only benefit Republicans politically, as people will continue the blame the party that is mostly in power, even if in name only. You might even be able to make the argument that they could be cynically aiming to bring us back to recession in order to peddle their snake oil solutions in 2012, and possibly succeed. Certainly, with Democratic leaders reluctant to use their bully pulpit to fight for what will help the middle class and small businesses, there really isn’t any competing storyline out there to gainsay them.

The fact is, not holding a line now will have consequences going forward. Not just political consequences - those are pretty bad alone. But also policy consequences on the “hostages” that Obama thinks he just saved. Enjoy the compromise you have now, because it’s going to get even worse later.

17 Responses to “Why the Left (and Center) Is Pissed”

  1. Felicia Says:

    I found this overview to be of interest:

    http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2010/dec/07/compromise-moves-obameter/

  2. Lynne Says:

    Getting some stuff (relatively minor compared to what we NEED) from Republicans still does not get us out of the loss of the Full Faith and Credit of the US problem. Bigger gun, more pain, means further to the right compromise.

    This is not how you win votes OR win policy debates and make things better long term for the American people…

  3. Ryan Says:

    Chris Hayes (of the Nation and the MSNBC contrib) had a tweet the other day that is essential to understanding DC.

    “1st rule of Washington politics: No one cares about the deficit. 2nd rule: Those who talk about it the most, care about it the least.”

    http://twitter.com/#!/chrislhayes/status/11903051929493504

  4. Lowell Lurker Says:

    RIP Pat McCarthy … a legend of Lowell Democratic politics!

  5. Shawn Says:

    Very smart those repubs..

    The agreement is to extend the unemployment benefits for 13 months.. not 12.

    If it was for 12, then it would be obvious that everyone expected to just extend them again next year (who’s going to cut benefits during the holidays?).

    But, its obvious everyone has agreed that 3 years is long enough. At the cost of one year, we can maybe get people to start looking for jobs again.

  6. Lynne Says:

    Right, if there are any damned jobs to be had. You can’t squeeze blood from a stone. Or create jobs out of thin air. You need demand for goods and services.

    Not everywhere in the country is as fortunate to be headed by leadership like ours and to have such a relative low unemployment, after all. There are places in the country with 15+% unemployment.

    Those lazy assholes, eh? Just lazing around on the government dime.

  7. The Fraud Squad Says:

    If you haven’t found a job in 2 years, you need to realize the high paying job in your particular field might not exist anymore. I mean, how much longer do you need before you grab that lower paying job for the sake of having some type of legitimate income other than government checks? How much longer are the working people supposed to pick up the tab for the rest of them?

    Good thing the current unemployment system wasn’t in place for the Mill Girls, or they’d still be collecting a paycheck while waiting for the Lowell factory jobs to come back.

    As for being angry at your Prez, perhaps he got the message that other than the People’s Republic of Massachusetts, liberals generally take a beating on election day. Elections are won and lost in the center, not on the extreme wings.

    What are you going to do next Presidential election Lynne? Vote Obama, vote Republican or stay home? If you want a Democratic Prez, we know the answer. If you want a Republican prez, you know the answer. So you’re going to vote. And Obama will move to the center hoping to capture the independent voters who got him elected and then turned on him becausse of his extreme liberal first two years.

    For someone who fancies herself a political activist, you are either naive about how it really works or too dishonest to admit the obvious.

  8. Lynne Says:

    Lovely, another blame-the-unemployed comment. I adore how this meme is spreading. Do you know any unemployed people? I do. They are looking for everything and anything they can get, whatever wages or industry they can find. And that’s in MA. Imagine living where the unemployment is 15-25%???

    We’re in the middle of an unprecedented CRISIS, and you’re comparing that to the 30-year-plus drain of manufacturing jobs back in the day? Are you insane??

    “As for being angry at your Prez, perhaps he got the message that other than the People’s Republic of Massachusetts, liberals generally take a beating on election day.”

    Wrong. The Dems who lost were ALL centrists. The Dems who won were all principled. People follow people of principle, and who fight for them. That’s why Bush won a second term - he appeared more principled, even if the majority of people questioned those principles. The Republican machine managed to paint John Kerry as wishy washy, and it worked - despite the fact that it was based on lies and twisting his actual record. (He obviously didn’t help himself in the end letting them tell the story.)

    What am I going to do next election? That depends. If there’s a good primary challenger, I might have to make a decision, won’t I? If given a choice between a lame ass Dem who really isn’t (going to the right of Clinton is a bridge too far), and a Dem who will have a fucking backbone, hey.

    “If you want a Democratic Prez”

    If I want a Democratic prez, I should actually have one running in order to vote for them, right? You cannot call Obama a great Dem. In fact, the people he has surrounded himself with (Summers, Wall St adherents), and the policies he espouses (including his version of health care reform) are the Republican proposals from a decade ago. What part of this do you not understand??

    Clinton was a triangulater too, except he picked battles to draw a line in the sand, and guess what? He WON, and was popular for it too. If you’re going to be a super uber right-of-center Dem, AT LEAST ACT LIKE ONE.

    “For someone who fancies herself a political activist, you are either naive about how it really works or too dishonest to admit the obvious.”

    And you ignore facts and context and every other thing about politics, so I guess we’re even.

  9. joe from Lowell Says:

    If you haven’t found a job in 2 years, you need to realize the high paying job in your particular field might not exist anymore. I mean, how much longer do you need before you grab that lower paying job for the sake of having some type of legitimate income other than government checks? How much longer are the working people supposed to pick up the tab for the rest of them?

    What are talking about? What “lower paying jobs?” Do you ever read the news?

    Unemployment is almost 10%, and under-employment is around 18%. Oh, and most of the jobs that have been lost have been those “lower paying jobs” you fantasize are going begging right now.

    Where are these “lower paying jobs?” Seen a lot of Help Wanted signs lately?

  10. The Fraud Squad Says:

    So intellectual of you Lynne. Straight out of your all too familiar by now playbook. Someone scores a point and you start dropping the f-bombs. Soon you’ll pull out the “I don’t need this b-s, I’m just a poor soul trying to put out a blog and educate the ignorant masses” statement.

    You can try to spin it any way you want, but centrist Democrats lost because the majority of America does not support the liberal ideas of extreme liberals like you. Liberals win elections in their strongholds, yet when the dust settles the scorecard shows an overwhelming Republican majority because, while not perfect, the GOP at least stands with the majority of Americans in rejecting extreme liberal policies. You had a little grace period due to Bush fatigue from 2006-2010 that disappeared quickly. If you didn’t learn from it, you never will and you’ll continue to have bad election nights.

    As for the unemployed, I know many more than you, I can assure you. There are jobs to be had, but why take a minimum wage job when you can collect so much more than that by staying home and waiting for that hi-tech job to open up again. I’m all in favor of giving them continued benefits as long as they’re out of work, as long as they work somewhere, somehow, even part time so they collect at least something from the private sector and the government only has to make up the difference.

    Then we’d separate the frauds from those truly interested in working.

  11. Mr. Lynne Says:

    Sorry Mr. Fraud:

    The majority of Americans wanted a public option. The majority of Republicans even don’t want to extend tax cuts for the rich. The majority of Americans don’t want cuts to Social Security.

    The GOP has made a science of being on the unpopular side of policy and getting it passed anyway. More here and here.

  12. Lynne Says:

    I love the consera-trolls! They are so fun, but repetitive.

  13. Lynne Says:

    I also love that the same people complaining about government largess are the ones who need it the most.

    That’s called irony, folks.

  14. joe from Lowell Says:

    the scorecard shows an overwhelming Republican majority because, while not perfect, the GOP at least stands with the majority of Americans in rejecting extreme liberal policies.

    Thank you for your wishful thinking.

    In the real world, Democrats continue to dominate Republicans on issues. The Democratic positions continue to outpoll Republican positions by large margins on virtually every issue under the sun. That is not why the Republicans did well last month.

    In the 2010 elections, 30% of people who said that they wanted the government to spend more to get us out of recession voted for the Republicans. Why would those people vote for Republicans? That’s a good question, and there are a lot of good theories out there, but the idea that they were voting for Republicans on policy grounds is clearly not among them.

    But, by all means, national Republicans, if you want to take the achievement of a narrow House majority during the first off-year elections of a new Democratic president’s term, with unemployment near 10%, as proof that your policies have a mandate, by all means, let your freak flags fly. I propose you start off with Social Security privatization and go from there. Because the public loves Republican policies, you betcha.

  15. Fuzzy Math Says:

    In the real world, the only poll that counts is on election night. You saw the results last month. Rationalize them any way you choose. The end result is the same. Another butt-whipping administered to liberals everywhere except in a dwindling number of elite bastions. Has been the case consistently since 1994 and will continue to be the case going forward until the working people of the Democratic Party abondon the liberal elite who’ve ruined it.

  16. Lynne Says:

    Right, because meaning in the reason people voted they way they did (or didn’t vote - many did not show), is too much analysis for you.

    As Joe says, have at it with your policies, you’ll do our work for us. You did under Bush after all.

  17. The Fraud Squad Says:

    How many seats did you lose nationwide last month? About 800, if you include governorships and state houses? And you think MY policies are doing the work for you? LMFAO!!!!

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