Sunday, December 19, 2010

Is Your Hair On Fire Yet?

Keith Olbermann

Does Tax Law Make You Crazy?
I've lost track of exactly what day it happened.  All the days seem to be running together since Obama 'caved in' to Yertle the Turtle Mitch McConnell.  Although, depending on who you talk to, I might be referring to the day Obama hoodwinked Mitch McConnell into going along with some more government stimulus.  I guess it depends on whose analysis you believe the most.

Now, given my lazy druthers, I might spend every workday evening in front of the TV, watching MSNBC between the hours of 5 and 8 PM.  I have even been known to watch Chris Matthews if I come home early.  Now, I really don't do this every night, it even gets to me after a while, but I do have a lot of respect for the opinions of Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, and Lawrence O'Donnell.

During the fifteen minutes or so that I travel to work in the morning, I listen to Stephanie Miller on Green960, and listen to Randi Rhodes (if I get out early enough) or Karel on the way home.

So, let's go back to the day we found out Obama and McConnell had negotiated a deal to give the Republicans their cherished Bush-era tax cuts for the rich folk for another couple of years, and some ruling class props to rich families to evade more estate taxes, in return for an extension for unemployment benefits, and some investments in small business and green energy.  To be honest, it's not easy for us ordinary folk to figure this stuff out, so we turn to people we trust to help sort things out.  So, let's see, how do my political gurus feel about this?

Keith Olbermann says Obama is 'Goddamned wrong' and betrayed his base.

Rachel Maddow thinks Obama completely sold out, and looks somewhat pitiful in the whole affair.

Lawrence O'Donnell thinks Obama got the best part of the deal.

Randi Rhodes, on the other hand says we should relax.  There's more bucks for stimulus than sops to the rich, so Obama got a better deal.  Stephanie Miller also thinks Obama did the only thing he could, and Karel is 'done with Obama.'

Not a very unified picture, is it?

When the news broke, I was angry too, and emailed Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont, who I had heard was going to filibuster the bill. Bernie spoke for almost 9 hours about the evils of the bill, and I agreed with most of what he said.  But then strange things started to happen on the right wing...

Charles Krauthammer, the right wing nutjob pretender to the William F Buckley throne of self-important pundits, wrote an article about how Obama swindled the Republicans, and the Democrats didn't even know it!  Then Rush Limbaugh, the drug-addled Jabba the leader of the GOP tells us that he hopes Obama's tax deal fails!  Pretty much the same words he uttered two years ago that defined the party of HELL NO YOU CAN'T!  And finally, to put the nail in the coffin, if you think you can read Sarah Palin's tweets it would also seem she's against the deal!

Many of my friends on facebook have passionately posted their disgust for Obama selling out, so it's a real mixed bag of feelings out there.

Politics is a very complex, convoluted form of energy transfer.  I think that it probably was the best deal that could have been made, given these circumstances, and who Obama was dealing with.  The GOP was perfectly willing to let taxes go up for all Americans, and let the unemployed sink deeper into poverty, so there was no incentive on their part to 'play nice.' I think the lure of getting these totally unnecessary, totally hypocritical (from a deficit POV) tax cuts was irresistible to McConnell. In return, Obama saved a lot of Americans (the hostages) a lot of pain, and got more stimulus money too.  This is all about jobs, jobs, jobs.  If we're still at this rate of unemployment in two years, there is little hope for Obama, save the possible candidacy of Palin.

Could this deal have paved the way for the historic repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell we witnessed yesterday?  Hard to prove either way.

So here's the deal: We have 2 years
  • to take back Congress
  • to mount some creditable media pushback to the FauxNews propaganda machine
  • to halt the flood of anonymous political money
  • to get this country's economy back on track
Otherwise, these tax giveaways for the rich will never expire, and you can kiss America, as we think we knew it, goodbye.

Is your hair on fire yet?


Tom Mulhern said...

The key for 2012 is for the Dems to mount a credible story...period. Unlike the Repubs, who can make and hold a solid bloc of senate or congressional voters, the Dems don't know what story to tell, believe, or try to sell, and they don't act as a unified force. Until/unless they do that, it won't matter whether they "take back the house," because for the past two years, they couldn't find their butt with both hands while they had control.

dfung60 said...

Despite the wide splatter of the left pundits on this, it's sad to see that Obama caved on this deal.

Even though this has the effect of trying to keep some momentum in the economy right now, it hurts Obama a LOT in the future.

There were some big errors:

1) Obama should have stood up for retaining the cuts for "the 98%". The Republicans were clear that they were going to block it and this would wreak hell upon everybody. I understand that Obama wanted to prevent this, but at what cost? Obama was the guy who gave tax relief over the past two years and wanted to continue it - the Republicans were the ones that were voting against it as a block... How it it not their fault? How do you blame this on Obama? How can this not be communicated (from the party that voted to continue the breaks for the 98%!)?

Most Republicans don't benefit from the high-end tax cuts any more than the Democrats do. Yes, the Republicans of more modest means may be voting ideology as much or more than hope that they ascend to the top, but had the Republican block in Congress blocked the original Obama tax plan and the taxes of rank and file Republicans went up, were they going to be mad at the guy who wanted to continue their breaks or the guys that they had elected who canned them for the rich? Doesn't make any sense to me.

2) WTF (#$!&) with a 2-year extension of the Bush tax relief! Come on, the dumbest thing I can imagine. This single element created that FUD that get the Dem's clock cleaned in November. Only crazy/stupid people would cling on the birth issue or socialist name calling. But I think the supposed failure of the econonic policy greatly outweighed any supposed outrage about health care (argue with me if you don't agree).

So the outcome of the argument that the Obama tax plan was "right" and people were uninformed has been proven out. Did Obama really think that he wanted a do-over in two years on the same issue? If you have to cut a devil's deal, then don't be so stupid as to burn yourself in 2012 on the same issue - make it one year or make it three years. If these options had been offered, would the Republicans have said "no"?

Dumbest move I've seen from Obama yet, that will have a horrible cost in 2 years, whether he's running again or not.

David Fung

Geoff Gould said...

Tom: I agree of course! I would add this to the bullet points I put in the original post. Democrats are going to need to learn how to govern. They can't just elect the messiah, then go back to sleep, and get all hissy when they don't get a magic pony that farts glitter on command. This is the whole package the left needs to get together. Sniping at each other is not going to make it happen. The last thing we need is another Ralph Nader mucking things up in 2012.

Geoff Gould said...

Dave: I think it's not clear at all that Obama 'caved,' which is the predominant meme that's wending its way around. If you really think nobody tried to get a time of less than 2 years, I don't know what to say. The GOP is sitting in the catbird seat here. I feel like this is the best deal we could have gotten, short of going past Jan 1. And who's to say this isn't part of the reason DADT was finally repealed, and we may yet see the Zadroga bill pass. Politics is a strange process.

Anonymous said...

The impact of this tax cut deal will vastly increase the size of our deficit. The money could have been spent on much better things, and I would rather have had all the tax cuts expire than put us over 700 billion further in debt. The main focus of our government should be creating jobs right now, be we cannot forget about the deficit, which we should work to reduce in responsible ways, starting with not giving the rich this huge tax cut.

Anonymous said...

It's getting worse: in exchange for that goddamned tax cut, we're looking at drastic reductions in LIHEAP, the program that helps keep poor people's heat on in the winter. "Let them heat cake," eh?