America Held Hostage: Day 687

Who Do You Love?

Hey Mr. President, why the long face? This was the general opinion of pundits after the November elections. They all seemed to say that Obama looks like a defeated man. That he looks dejected. That he had lost hope. I think that was the face of a man confronted with decisions he did not want to make but knew he would have to. Because immediately after the election the Republicans threw down the gauntlet and declared no compromise on any Democratic agenda item. In fact, as the title of this column suggests, they have been actively undermining this Presidency since he was inaugurated in January of 2009.

And make the decision he did. In a Faustian bargain President Obama cut a deal with the Republicans on the soon to expire Bush tax cuts. And then everybody’s head exploded. If you visit any left leaning website comment section on articles about the tax cut deal like firedoglake.com or the Huffington Post, the level of anger and vitriol towards the President is pretty intense. And there are even Republicans who are mad about this.

The comments run the gamut of ‘I wasted my vote’ variety to ‘Shoulda been Hillary’ types. Congressman Anthony Weiner; using the football analogy, shot President Obama a note asking why we always seem to punt on third down indicating that we had at least one more play against the obstructionist Republicans. Critics have been screaming from the rooftops for the President to abandon the search for the bi-partisan unicorn. In a rare instance of my disagreement with his perspective, Keith Olbermann let out a scathing Special Comment on the topic last night.

The President has likened this to the debate over the public option back in the health care reform days. Compromising on that generated a lot of anger even though it netted the most significant health care reform in 100 years. He is defending this tax cut compromise on similar grounds. It is apparent that President Obama has the long game in mind.

The Republicans have used every dirty trick in the book to block any progress. So why is everybody mad at the president? Would Hillary have done anything differently? Could she? Could anyone? History often looks more favourably on what you accomplished, not what you prevented.

Ask yourself this question:

Given the current economic environment, if President Obama had declared that he would not sign off on any bill with extension of the tax cuts for the rich, does anyone really believe the Republicans would have caved? Further, in that scenario, does anyone really believe the Republicans would have cooperated on DADT, START, DREAM, extension of unemployment, or any other item on the agenda? *

President Obama saw a crack in the defense and went for it. As he noted the other day, taking the principled stand would have netted nothing; gridlock. The Republicans have consistently demonstrated that they will do anything to defeat President Obama even if it means making the middle class suffer. Even if it means putting the country in danger; wait, scratch that, the world in danger by blocking the START treaty that has already been agreed to by Russia.

But President Obama presides over all Americans; not just the Democratic Americans and he is forced to make policy decisions that don’t necessarily gain him any political capital but result in something, anything being accomplished, the results of which may not be immediately apparent.

I don’t like this hostage situation any more than anyone else. I didn’t like that the public option was sacrificed either but I was pleased that I might one day be able to get health care.

So to those of you angry with the President’s dancing with Mephistopheles, I implore you to remember why he felt it was a necessary bargain to make. The Republicans are the ones who block everything. It is the Republicans who almost sent the world into financial ruin. It is the Republicans who tell you they are fiscally responsible while skimming from the till. It is the Republicans who make policy demands for corporate and wealthy benefactors and block legislation for regular Americans. It is the Republicans who are willing to gamble your security in order to regain power. That’s where your anger should be directed.

Reign of Fire

And why are you angry with President Obama again? He’s like the one knight we sent to do battle with the dragon who returned to tell us he couldn’t slay the beast but at least it will not destroy the village. I suggest the people’s anger is genuine and warranted yet misdirected. The Republicans are the real enemy. If you really want to stop Republicans from burning down the house, vote them out in 2012.  If you didn’t vote in this past election…well, there be dragons to slay.

* I should note that none of this may come to pass anyway since it has yet to come to a vote in Congress.


About Mr. Universe

Mr. Universe is a musician/songwriter and an ex-patriot of the south. He currently lives and teaches at a University in the Pacific Northwest. He is a long distance hiker who has hiked the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail. He is also an author and woodworker. An outspoken political voice, he takes a decidedly liberal stance in politics.
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81 Responses to America Held Hostage: Day 687

  1. robert verdi says:

    Why didn’t Democrats vote on the tax issue last year?

  2. dcpetterson says:

    It is apparent that President Obama has the long game in mind.

    Quite so. One interesting result I’m seeing is the anger of elected Democrats in Congress. They are threatening to undo the deal, and push for something better.

    Think about that. How often have we said in the last two years that Congressional Democrats need to get a spine? Well, having been slapped around a bit by Obama, maybe they’re finally finding one. They’re going to need it for the next two years, fighting a Republican House and increasingly arrogant Republicans in the Senate. If Obama’s deal-making has shamed Congressional Democrats into standing up to inevitable Republican attempts at overreach, then it was well worth it.

    The result of this is we may not get START confirmed or DADT repealed or the DREAM act. But Republicans are on the wrong side of all these issues. The People want action, and if the Republicans refuse to act, there will be a backlash.

    Yes, Obama is playing the long game.

  3. GROG says:

    Yes, Obama is playing the long game.

    What game was he playing the first two years of his presidency when led his party to the one of the worst mid-term election defeats in history? Because if that was “playing the long game”, he might want to rethink his strategy.

    The People want action

    True. But not the kind of action brought by the Democrats the last two years. They want action that will create jobs. They want action that will get spending under control. They want action that will repeal Obamacare. They want action that will reduce the size of government; not grow the size of government.

    Mr. U said:
    If you really want to stop Republicans from burning down the house, vote them out in 2012.

    The people want to stop Democrats from burning down the house and they spoke loud and clear in November.

  4. mclever says:

    @ Robert Verdi

    I’m not a Democratic strategist, but my assumption is that the tax issue was deferred because of the state of the economy. They wanted to wait until it was clear if the economy was stable enough to drop the temporary tax cuts, especially for the wealthy. If the economy was still tanking terribly, then there would be less resistance to extending all of the cuts. If the economy was soaring, then allowing the tax cuts to expire on schedule probably wouldn’t have been met with too much resistance, again, especially on the wealthy. But they found themselves in a squishy middle position where Wall Street’s doing OK, and things are generally looking iffy to improved, except for jobs which are often the last item to recover, so extending the tax cuts is at least arguably a good idea. Again, I’m no strategist, but delaying the decision point until the path is clear is usually wise and sensible, but unfortunately, they’ve reached the deadline where they must act or the cuts will expire automatically (as intended when implemented under GWB).

    Furthermore, trying to pass the tax cut extension for any or all brackets would have been met with just as much (if not more) angst and deliberation if they’d attempted it sooner. “Democrats will destroy our economy by raising taxes. Oh noes!!” “Republicans want to increase the deficit. Oh horror!!” etc. etc. etc. Same stuff, just higher volume.

  5. mclever says:

    I like the way you think, Mr. U. The dragon analogy is inspired. 🙂

  6. Bart DePalma says:

    Mr. U:

    Thanks for the morning belly laugh. It is fun watching the left lose their minds and scream at one another as the good ship Democrat sinks beneath the waves.

    The analogy of the whiner-in-chief as St George is a nice touch.

    :::munching popcorn::::

    BTW, in the real world, the Iranians fear St George so much they are reportedly moving ballistic missiles into Venezuela.

    http://www.hudson-ny.org/1714/iran-missiles-in-venezuela

    Time to grow up and grow a pair Barry.

  7. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    robert verdi says: Why didn’t Democrats vote on the tax issue last year?

    Among other things, Congress is like the rest of us (reasonable since WE vote for them and THEY REFLECT US), procrastinating ALMOST everything til the last minute.

  8. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    I STILL note that Bart, Whiner Extraordinaire De Palmer has spent more time letting us in on his dietary habits than he has criticizing the GOP for making a deal with President Obama that will add almost ONE TRILLION DOLLARS to the national debt over the next two years. And damn few words from his oft mentioned bastion of fiscal concern, the Tea Parties, of their various incarnations.

    It WOULDN’T be because THEIR fine representatives are the one’s involved in the COMPROMISE, would it?

  9. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Oh, and does anyone wish to make a side wager that we’ll anything about the number of pages in the tax cut compromise bill, the fact that few if any of our representatives have actually READ the bill, and how it’s being rushed through Congress?

    By the GOP?

    By the Dems?

  10. Bart DePalma says:

    Max:

    The Dems control Congress, so you will see a secret omnibus bill filled with pork to buy the necessary Dem votes released the night before the vote.

  11. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Bart DePalma says:
    Max:
    The Dems control Congress, so you will see a secret omnibus bill filled with pork to buy the necessary Dem votes released the night before the vote.

    I STILL note that Bart, Whiner Extraordinaire, De Palmer has spent more time letting us in on his dietary habits than he has criticizing the GOP for making a deal with President Obama that will add almost ONE TRILLION DOLLARS to the national debt over the next two years.

  12. shortchain says:

    The whole question of strategy depends on the game being played. If the game is poker, or even chess, where there’s a winner and a loser, then one strategy is appropriate, and certain tactics (bluffing, for example, or, in chess, a ploy such as a pawn sacrifice).

    But what the current situation more closely resembles is the Prisoners’ Dilemma. Two perps are brought in and under interrogation for a crime they committed. If one turns state’s evidence and testifies against the other, he gets off with a light sentence. If both try that, however, they both get hard time. If both cooperate, they both stand a good chance of getting off scot-free.

    The optimal strategy for a player in this game has been known for decades: hang tough in the first round. After that, do whatever the other guy did last time. It’s known mathematically that just trusting the other guy is a losing proposition in this game.

    Yet Obama keeps going around behind his supporters in Congress and out here in the country, to cut deals with Republicans, with Big Pharma (that’s how the public option got taken off the table), and with Wall Street.

    Personally, I think the President is playing chess, the Republicans are playing poker, and meanwhile the American people are stuck in a prisoner’s dilemma without even the option of getting to choose the strategy…

  13. Mr. Universe says:

    The DREAM act passed the house late yesterday.

    The people want to stop Democrats from burning down the house and they spoke loud and clear in November.

    You guys need to get over that narcissistic perspective that people actually voted for you. They voted against the establishment (which happened to be a bunch of blue dog Dems). Your turn is coming in a couple of years and I think you know it deep down. I’m personally going to spend all of my spare time reminding everyone of the damage the Republicans are doing to this country. Consider me your worst Democratic Glenn Beck nightmare.

    @mclever

    (bows) ’tis a pleasure, M’lady

  14. Mr. Universe says:

    @shortchain

    I was going to go with the Prisoner’s Dilemma but it didn’t seem quite as relevant as the Catch-22

  15. shortchain says:

    Mr. U,

    Some people may enjoy poker, and some get off on chess, but the deeper game we play on this planet is always a form of the Prisoner’s Dilemma — unless, of course, we are sociopaths who get our enjoyment from watching the tribulations of others. Then we can simply keep pointing out how everybody else is losing, blithely uncaring that it will take down our own fortunes as well.

  16. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Mr U, I think you may be “more” correct than is shortchain.

    shortchain, you use the iterated version of Prisoner’s Dilemma and thus the optimal strategy you mention as the solution.

    The classic PD is a non-zero-sum game and is NOT iterated, ie: one time only. There the optimal solution is for both prisoners to cooperate with the police.

    While one CAN look at the goings on in DC as a sequence of related events, I do not believe that is the proper approach as any given legislation has it’s own proponents and opponents that any other piece of legislation may find a completely different set. I believe each proposed bill should be looked at as mutually exclusive. A different set of prisoners, so to speak. The iterated version tends to become more of a zero-sum game over time as one prisoner has the ability to punish the other as a result of that one’s decision in the previous round. While this DOES happen in DC, the frequency is MUCH less than is thought. Just look at the strange bed fellows even in the recent past: Kennedy-a host of conservatives, McCain-Feingold, Lugar-Obama, etc.

    The American people are best served by their elected representatives in a non-zero-sum approach. Partisan politics is served by a zero-sum approach.

  17. mostlyilurk says:

    Well-said (actually, written), Mr. Universe 🙂

  18. shortchain says:

    Max,

    In a non-partisan environment, sure, the game isn’t zero-sum. And please, do understand, I was speaking figuratively.

    But in the present political environment the game is pretty close to zero-sum, at least the way it’s being handicapped in the press, and by the pundits.

    I don’t think it’s sensible to pretend that each congressional battle is independent, as you say. Especially when the strategy of the Republicans has obviously spanned multiple debates and several years, and appears to go on for another two years. To treat each iteration as a separate game in that case is to ignore available information — and that will inevitably result in a sub-optimal strategy.

  19. Monotreme says:

    Actually, in a complicated society such as Congress, some variant of a “tit-for-tat” strategy is optimal. As Shortchain says, it’s an iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma.

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/prisoner-dilemma/

    I know this angle from studying the evolution of animal behavior.

    I assume President Obama is playing “generous tit-for-tat” (defined in the link above) but in my opinion, he’s far too effing generous.

  20. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Monotreme and shortchain,

    I direct y’all to my last paragraph. The question arises: do we want partisan politics(zero-sum), or what is best for the American people(non-zero-sum)?

    Not saying the current climate is not what you each depict. I AM saying that, as members of the public, WE should not reinforce such behavior.

  21. Bart DePalma says:

    Folks,

    If raising taxes was supported by the voters, Obama would have no problem peeling of a couple GOP senators.

    The fact is that raising taxes is not popular among voters and Dems are peeling off to support the GOP.

  22. Monotreme says:

    @Max:

    Prisoners’ Dilemma, the Tit-for-Tat modification of it, and the Generous Tit-for-Tat modification of the Tit-for-Tat strategy are all non-zero-sum games. That’s what we want.

  23. shortchain says:

    Max,

    You may speak of what the American people want, or the way it should be all you like, and you’ll enjoy my hearty approval, because I completely agree.

    I was speaking not of what should be, but what is.

  24. filistro says:

    I think the (obvious) problem is that the “bases” on both sides enter negotiations with a zero-sum strategy. Which makes me wonder what exactly they don’t understand about “negotiations”… (and if they’ve ever been married.)

    The purpose of a “negotiation” is to reach a “compromise,” which by definition is not zero-sum. It’s give a bit, take a bit, agree grudgingly on the rest. Politicians used to approach legislative negotiations as if they were operating within a working marriage. Now it’s more like a bitter divorce proceeding where she’d rather burn down the bloody house and kill the damn dog than see that bastard get any part of either.

    Giving up something to get something is NOT defeat. It is COMPROMISE… which should be the GOAL OF NEGOTIATION. Our problem is we’ve reached the state where each side loathes the other side so passionately that nobody wants to see the other side get anything. They’d rather have scorched earth and suffering all round that have any compromise happen.

    God help us… and God help the president, who can’t indulge himself in the visceral pleasure of retributive hatred, and must instead function as the only grownup in this room full of nasty quarreling children.

  25. Just Sayin' says:

    To quote one of my favorite philosophers, “no matter how good, how just or how rightous, sometimes the dragon still wins”

  26. shortchain says:

    Bart,

    Your willingness to ignore polling that you don’t like is phenomenal, you know that?

    What I find so hilarious about you is illustrated perfectly here. Before the election, you were touting polls that said this or that action by Congress was unpopular, and threatening electoral disaster (which, BTW, did not occur to the extent you threatened) upon those who “thwart the will of the people”. Now, after the election, it’s perfectly fine to “thwart the will of the people” — as clearly expressed in multiple polls which indicate that allowing the tax break for the highest bracket to expire is very popular — because the politicians “won’t be punished”.

    That level of hypocrisy is so crass, so utterly blissfully un-self-aware, one can only :::chuckle::: at it.

  27. filistro says:

    @Bart… The fact is that raising taxes is not popular among voters and Dems are peeling off to support the GOP.

    After careful thought I’ve made a decision about you, Bart. I’m going to ignore you from now on. (Just letting you know so my silence doesn’t appear overtly rude.)

    We evolved as a group of people interested in political polling. When you persist in blandly ignoring ALL REPUTABLE POLLS… as you do in the statement I quoted above… and persist in making statements of opinion as if they are fact when they are in fact completely refuted by the polls… then there is simply no point in debating you.

    I’ll wait for an honest conservative who can discuss issues as they are… not as he/she wishes them to be.

  28. filistro says:

    shortchain… I see we’re thinking along the same lines… and simultaneously, too 🙂

  29. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Sorry, Monotreme, your examples are NOT non-zero sum as is classical PD.

    In a tit-for-tat situation, how does one get the ultimate advantage? By getting all the power. The zero-sum game says that the only way YOU get power is to take it away from the other guy. Sounds like partisan politics to me. That sets up win-lose scenarios. Thus no win-win is possible because of the compromise strategy that fili mentions just above.

    I went through the practical application of this in construction management a couple decades ago in the “conflicts” between the owner and the general contractor. Moving beyond the tit-for-tat stage provides for more and better win-wins to the ultimate betterment of costs and timeliness of projects.

    Look up Corps of Engineers Partnering beginning in the late ’80’s.

    Again, the hard-right and the hard-left, WANT a zero-sum game played because for them EVERYTHING is about “principle”. That is NOT the way to effective governing.

  30. shiloh says:

    Bartles daily inanity:

    Thanks for the morning belly laugh.

    whiner-in-chief

    :::munching popcorn::::

    Time to grow up and grow a pair Barry.
    ~~~~~

    1st Fili’s armchair, keen grasp of the obvious psychoanalysis:

    Bartles (((disingenuous sarcasm))) becomes more prevalent as the Reps own ship is sinkin’ ie after Obama won the election, putting Bart in the fetal position for quite some time his 538 disingenuous sarcasm was non-stop, eh.

    Again, the (5) stages of grief:

    Denial ~ Obama is still president

    Anger ~ teabaggers losing the Reps many 2010 elections ie buck, angle, o’donnell etc.

    Bargaining ~ Bart still posting useless polls to make his incoherent arguments

    Depression ~ Realizing the 2010 mid-terms was not a pro winger referendum

    Acceptance ~ ok, Bartles will never accept anything less than total teabagger conquer and rule of America! His ideological problem in a nutshell as he can never achieve his (((unrealistic political nirvana!)))

    Bart we sympathize w/all of your inadequacies as progressives are indeed empathetic !

    >

    Tweety mentioned yesterday Obama till has 49% job approval w/almost 10% unemployment as Americans still realize the bad economy is mostly the Reps fault. If the unemployment figure goes down to say 8% by 2012 Obama is home free looking at his pathetic/discombobulated opposition ie right track/wrong track!

    Again, it’s very hard to beat an incumbent president and almost impossible to defeat a wartime incumbent as it has never happened ~ cheney/bush 2004.

    Yes, the power of incumbency! as boehner/cantor/joe wilson/bachmann/blackburn/demint/paul/mcconnell/palin/mittens/gingrich/limbaugh etc. provide hmm, continual (((belly laughs))) the next (2) years …

    and Obama acts like an adult!

    take care Bartles and try really, really hard to work on #5 😀

  31. Mr. Universe says:

    Can somebody tell me why Barry is a perjorative term for the President?

  32. Just Sayin' says:

    Barry is casual, it does not imply respect.

  33. Bart DePalma says:

    Folks:

    Which part of voters do you not comprehend?

    The GOP expressly ran on no tax incrwses. Indeed, maintaining the Bush tax rates was a top campaign talking point along with obamacare and the economy.

    The voters rewarded the GOP with it’s largest majority since 1946.

    THAT is the only reputable poll.

    THAT is why Dems joined the GOP to vote against the Obama tax increase bill in both chambers of Congress.

    THAT is why Obama caved.

  34. fopplssiegeparty says:

    @Mr. U: The only thing I can come up with is that “Barry” sounds anglo. What better way to smear a “muslim” than that?

    It appears that DC’s assertion that the POTUS is trying to wake up the congressional democrats has some credence. They have refused to bring it to a vote this morning.

    Interesting to say the least.

  35. filistro says:

    @Mr U… Can somebody tell me why Barry is a perjorative term for the President?

    It’s a birther thing. When he was a child living in Indonesia, Obama was registered in kindergarten as “Barry Soetero” (his then-stepfather’s surname.)

    This somehow “proves” his stepfather adopted him and this made him an Indonesian citizen, thus negating his American citizenship (even though parents cannot legally revoke their child’s citizenship status; that must be done by the child himself after reaching the age of majority.)

    So calling him “Barry” just reinforces the fact that he is foreign, “other”, un-American, of murky background, “not one of us” and of course, unqualified to be president.

  36. Bart DePalma says:

    Barry is what Obama was called until adulthood. I used his childhood name deliberately in a criticism of his unpresidential whiny childishness.

  37. shiloh says:

    Bartles ~ Folks THAT/THAT/THAT

    Indeed, Bart becomes all folksie 😉 and starts to shout! when he gets backed into a teabagger corner, as per usual.

    Can you hear me now! yes Bart, everyone at 538 can hear you lol no need to shout, eh.

  38. Bart DePalma says:

    Rasmussen just polled the deal among likely voters, who support it by a 3:2 margin.

    They prerelease the poll to members today. It will probably go public in the next day or so.

  39. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Bart is so funny in his denial and fallacious analysis of the recent election.

    He totally ignores the effect of the bad economy where voters simply vote AGAINST the party in power.

    He totally ignores the off-year election effect where the voters simply vote AGAINST the party in power.

    He describes EVERY ONE of the GOP gains ONLY in terms of agreeing with HIS ideology.

    Proof of the fallacy?

    If his assertions were true it would NOT have been the blue dogs since they most align with conservative ideology, but the left-leaning Democrats that lost. Most of the blue dogs lost, most of of the left Dems won.

    The GOP would have won back NY-23rd. They didn’t

    Miller, Buck, O’Donnell and Emmer, among others, would have won. They didn’t.

    Bart use of post hoc argument provides proof that it just doesn’t always work.

  40. shiloh says:

    Bartles, (folks) probably support the deal because they realize it’s the best agreement Obama could do w/his “just say no” opposition.

    As both Obama and the newly elected winger congress are gonna have to work together the next (2) years and the past (2) years of minority conservative whining in congress won’t cut it anymore.

    Ain’t governing a bitch!

    take care

  41. Monotreme says:

    Max, I’m sorry, I like you and generally agree with you, but tit-for-tat as an evolutionary strategy is most decidedly not zero-sum.

    If it were, in one round of the “game” the individual (and eventually, the species) would be wiped out. Game Over.

    This is a common misconception of evolutionary theory, that there is only one chance to reproduce and that’s it. On the contrary, evolutionary theory is about reproductive fitness, a concept that is fluid and changeable. Rarely, if ever, does an individual’s reproductive fitness equal zero or one.

    Let’s look at this another way. If it truly were a zero-sum game, then there would be no iteration, because iteration assumes that both partners survive to the next “round” of the game.

    “If we assume that each player cares only about minimizing his or her own time in jail, then the prisoner’s dilemma forms a non-zero-sum game in which two players may each either cooperate with or defect from (betray) the other player.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prisoner%27s_dilemma

  42. @GROG,

    They want action that will create jobs. They want action that will get spending under control. They want action that will repeal Obamacare. They want action that will reduce the size of government; not grow the size of government.

    Reading the polls, what I see is the following:
    They want action that will create jobs. As I showed in two different analyses, income tax cuts are hardly the best way to achieve that, and in fact often prove to make the job situation worse.

    They don’t really care about spending per se. They care about spending on the other guy, and they care about their own taxes.

    They only care about repealing the “mandate” part of the PPACA, and aren’t really interested to learn more.

    They want action that will reduce the amount of taxes they pay, but not reduce the benefits they receive.

  43. filistro says:

    I was busy with my career and not paying much attention to politics during the Clinton years… but I don’t recall that there was this same level of fury against Clinton from the far left when he “triangulated” and co-opted Republican issues. Is there more anger with Obama because they somehow had more of a concept that he was “one of them” and now they feel betrayed… or am I just forgetting how much abuse Clinton took?

  44. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Monotreme,

    No problem. “Like” and “disagree” are not mutually exclusive.

    Here we must agree to disagree. Iteration is not a requisite for either zero-sum or non-zero-sum.

    Note the article you cite differentiates between classical and iterated versions of PD. It describes the classical version as “non-zero-sum”. It further describes the goal as one where the players seek the “optimal” outcome, not the “best” outcome.

    The article goes on to say the iterated version is played much differently. Players can try to “punish” the other player. Classic zero-sum.

    Anyway, I’ll go back and reread some old texts and see if I can find an error in my accounting.

  45. shiloh says:

    Again fili level of fury is relative as during Clinton’s years the 24/7 ad nauseam cable/internet media was just beginning. There is more opportunity nowadays for fools like Bartles 😉 to shout above the crowd.

    Everyone today can have their (15) minutes and then some just by posting an inane YouTube video or some such nonsense ie the balloon boy was breaking news …

    News network chiefs have to fill up their 24/7 news slots w/something lol and many MSNBC documentaries are quite enjoyable …

  46. Mr. Universe says:

    This just in: House Dems reject tax cut deal.

  47. dcpetterson says:

    This just in: House Dems reject tax cut deal.

    There are Democrats who have spines! Who knew?

    Now the test is, can Congressional Democrats force a better deal than Obama got?

    Clearly, they’re listening to their VOTERS who don’t want the elite richest 2% to hold America hostage. America is not about kowtowing to wealthy overlords, not matter how much FOX and their Teapers tell us to do it.

    The People have noticed that tax cuts for the rich do not improve the economy and do not create jobs. And their elected Representative are saying NO! to this welfare for the wealthy. It’s time for the class warfare and the redistribution of wealth upwards to stop.

  48. mostlyilurk says:

    Bart,
    Let me see if I’m understanding this – the 2010 midterm election is, according to you, “the only reputable poll” but the 2008 presidential election wasn’t. Can you explain why that’s not inconsistent – because it sure sounds to me like you’re claiming that election results matter only when Republicans win – which would, of course, be ridiculous. Can you help me out here?

  49. dcpetterson says:

    Let me see if I’m understanding this – the 2010 midterm election is, according to you, “the only reputable poll” but the 2008 presidential election wasn’t.

    … and the latest Rasmussen poll is also.

    Bart is going to claim (he’s done this before) that Obama ran on a centrist platform, and then tacked far to the left after he was elected. Therefore, the 2008 election was had under false pretenses.

    It’s total BS of course, because even Bart was claiming Obama to be a “socialist” throughout the 2008 campaign. So Bart’s just making crap up and rewriting history. He does that. Reality means nothing to him.

  50. fopplssiegeparty says:

    @fili 9:41 – I can only tell you my experience during the Clinton admin. I gave him a pass on his corporatist behavior mostly due to lingering shock from the Reagan years. Uncle Ronny dismantled more democratic programs faster than I had ever seen in my lifetime.

    To wit: My wife’s father was a metallurgist working on nuclear waste disposal at Argonne National Labs. One day, he shows up for work and the whole program has been scrapped. It took a lot to upset him, but this really did the trick. He shook his head in disbelief until the day he died.

    Fucking republicans!

  51. Number Seven says:

    @ DC 10:11

    I want to thumbs up that more then once.

    Two things about this ‘deal’ really urk me. The first one is our president is going back on an explicit campaign promise. The second is ‘The Boner’ is on record from a couple months back saying if givin only the chance to vote on only letting the lower income tax rate continue, he would have ‘no choice’ but to vote for that.

    So what we have here is a president who has lied (sorry, there is no nice way to put this) and failed to negotiate from an obvious position of strength. The Boner told Obama how he could get this tax issue out of the way months ago and yet our President found a way to cave into the demands of Terrorists once again.

    I’m sorry folks, I know many of you will find this hard to swallow, but, imho, these two reasons are why so many on the left are angry about this ‘deal’.

  52. Mr. Universe says:

    So we’ve been dancing around the question: What should the President have done?

  53. Bart DePalma says:

    mostlyilurk says: “Let me see if I’m understanding this – the 2010 midterm election is, according to you, “the only reputable poll” but the 2008 presidential election wasn’t.”

    I never said that. By all means, let us enforce the promises Obama and the Blue Dogs made in 2008.

    1) Net spending cut using the 2008 baseline.

    2) Repeal Obamacare because it does not allow you to keep your own policy and does not decrease your premiums.

    3) Permanently reduce tax rates for everyone below 250,000 a year. Cancel the welfare payments to those who do not pay taxes.

    Folks, a substantial portion of the 2010 backlash was caused because 2008 Obama and Blue Dog voters realized that these Dems lied to them.

  54. GROG says:

    @Michael Weiss,

    I appreciate the analysis you did and enjoyed the articles but with all due respect, there is not a single economic theory that supports the idea that raising taxes creates jobs. History does not even support the idea that raising taxes increases revenues.

    Raising taxes on high earners is a direct tax on small business. It becomes an increased cost of doing business which will have zero economic benefit.

    MW said:
    Reading the polls, what I see is the following:
    They want action that will reduce the amount of taxes they pay, but not reduce the benefits they receive.

    It’s the tremendous amount of wastefulness in the Federal Government that people reject. I’m not sure which poll you’re referring to on this, but people would gladly give up many government services in exchange for lower taxes.

  55. mostlyilurk says:

    Bart,

    Obama promised to repeal “Obamacare” in 2008 – wowsers!

    And, didn’t the Republicans who ran in 2010 promise to reduce the deficit?

  56. dcpetterson says:

    @GROG

    Raising taxes on high earners is a direct tax on small business. It becomes an increased cost of doing business which will have zero economic benefit.

    uhm…. no. Sorry, just wrong. About 2% of small businesses owners make over $250,000 / year. This is not a tax on “small businesses”. We’re talking about the tax rates of a tiny sliver of immensely wealthy people.

    And the taxes being discussed are on people not small businesses — that is, it’s personal income tax, which is on personal income, which is the money you remove from the business. This is personal profit after all business expenses have already been paid. It has nothing whatever to do with the business itself.

    It’s like, if you’re employed by McDonald’s, and we raise your personal income tax, does that hurt McDonald’s? No, it doesn’t, because McDonald’s doesn’t pay the tax. You do. Same thing here. The “small business” doesn’t pay the tax. And, in fact, 98% of small business owners don’t either, because they make less than $250,000.

    So it’s time for this false right wing talking point to die. It’s nothing more than typical empty Republican scare tactics. If you really believe what you wrote, GROG, they’ve hoodwinked you.

  57. dcpetterson says:

    @mostlyilurk

    And, didn’t the Republicans who ran in 2010 promise to reduce the deficit?

    And where are the damn jobs? It’s been over a month since the election. Damn it, they promised us jobs!

  58. Bart DePalma says:

    A majority of the house Dems but a minority of the House wants to keep the Obama deal from coming to the floor. Perfect.

    I am sure the new GOP House can come up with a better deal in January.

    Meanwhile, the Senate is reportedly dropping the Dream Act amnesty bill.

    Better and better.

  59. Bart DePalma says:

    mostlyilurk says: “Obama promised to repeal “Obamacare” in 2008 – wowsers!”

    Obama promised that we could keep our insurance, that our premiums would go down and, I almost forgot, that the legislation would not include Hillary Clinton’s individual mandate. Obama lied so often it is hard to keep track.

    And, didn’t the Republicans who ran in 2010 promise to reduce the deficit?

    You bet. The GOP is on probation. If they do not take an ax to deficit spending in 2011, there are going to be millions of very pissed of Tea Party and other conservative voters followed by primary challenges.

  60. mostlyilurk says:

    DC,

    You’re right – I forgot about the jobs, where in the heck are they. And, let’s not even get into the promised repeal of the healthcare bill….

    Bart,

    When you refer to the “better” bill that will be produced in January, you mean one that won’t add to the deficit, right?

  61. GROG says:

    @DC,
    You are absolutely wrong. You’ve been fooled by Dagblog, Huffington Post, Jon Stewart, Oberman, young real politiks and whoever else is listed on this homepage as “places we visit”.

    The thing you forgot to mention is that those 2.5% of business owners will report $400 billion, or almost 44 percent of all the business income included in individual returns.

    Your talking point about 2% of small businesses, which has been picked up by numerous pundits, is one of the more misleading statements in the long history of economic propaganda.

    And your McDonalds analogy is absurd. A cook at McDonalds has no ownership stake in McDonalds. You obviously have no experience running a business, DC.

  62. GROG says:

    I almost missed this doozy by DC.

    It (taxes) has nothing whatever to do with the business itself.

    So taxes paid by a business owner has nothing whatever to do with the business itself? Are you really believing this stuff?

  63. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    GROG said: “ It’s the tremendous amount of wastefulness in the Federal Government that people reject. I’m not sure which poll you’re referring to on this, but people would gladly give up many government services in exchange for lower taxes.

    No they won’t, GROG. They KEEP returning politicians to Washington that give them what they want: MORE from the government than they are willing to pay for. Reagan did it, Bush did it, Clinton did it, Bush II did it, Obama’s doing it, Tip O’Neill did it, Gingrich did it, Hastert did it, Pelosi did it, Boehner is doing it, McConnell is doing it. The one consistent fact of American politics.

    The representatives of the people are doing “the will of the People”. No one, not the People and certainly not the pols are willing to make the hard choices when it comes to the budget and National Debt.

    Nor are YOU, Senor GROG!

    I issued a challenge a week ago, gave the 2010 budget by Department and asked of anyone to redo the budget, including the impact on service cuts, unemployment and the impact on state budgets as a result of those recommendations.

    YOU DID NOT MAKE AN EFFORT.

    Bart did his usual tap dance of diversion and other assorted bullshit.

    So STFU with THIS line of bullshit you offered in that comment until YOU AT LEAST show you are willing to deal with the REAL WORLD!

  64. Number Seven says:

    “Obama promised that we could keep our insurance, that our premiums would go down and, I almost forgot, that the legislation would not include Hillary Clinton’s individual mandate. Obama lied so often it is hard to keep track.”

    This is the result of a previous ‘compromise’ with the Public Cons, folks. A compromise intended to get Public Con votes. Votes that totaled zero. And look what happens when you compromise with bullies. They will turn around and use that very thing you compromised on as ammo to use against you.

    But wait, there’s more…

    “You bet. The GOP is on probation. If they do not take an ax to deficit spending in 2011, there are going to be millions of very pissed of Tea Party and other conservative voters followed by primary challenges.”

    After the Summer of Hate, the Tea Baggers let it be known that when they get into power, deficit spending will be dealt with hensforth. But first, you get one mulligan. Deficit spending only matters when there is a Demowont in the WH.

    I hope Obama has one nice Veto pen, he is going to need it.

  65. shiloh says:

    Bartles ~ a better deal in January.

    Not only can’t the party of no override an Obama veto, the Reps don’t even control the senate! lol

    So what is this better deal of which 538’s #1 teabagger troll speaks …

    take care, blessings

  66. mclever says:

    GROG –

    You’re misrepresenting what DC said. He said that PERSONAL INCOME taxes have nothing whatever to do with the business itself. Arguable, perhaps, but not in the way you suggest.

    Obviously CORPORATE taxes will impact the business, but none of the tax deals currently under discussion have any bearing on corporate tax policy in our country. We are talking exclusively about personal income taxes.

    With income taxes, there is some fuzziness with those business owners who file their business income on their personal income tax form, but that is accounted separately if you itemize properly. Furthermore, it’s complicated because there is no legal definition of “small business” and no checkbox to mark on your tax forms. Instead, the numbers both sides are using are extrapolated based on those who do file their taxes this way plus incorporated small-cap businesses. To be clear about the terms we’re using, approximately 2% of the “business as personal income” filers are above the $250K threshold. According to what I’ve read, most of those are private attorneys and LLC partnerships who earn lots of money but do not employ significant numbers compared to other businesses with similar earnings levels. You cite 44% of the “small business” income being in that 2%. I’ve seen a similar number, but with a corresponding analysis that showed 70-80% of that was the LLC type that I just mentioned. Changing the tax rates on those folks by ~2% won’t adversely affect large numbers of small-business employees, if that’s really what we’re so concerned about, because they simply don’t employ very many people! They’re not going to fire themselves just because their tax rate on their income over $250K reverted to the level it was a handful of years ago.

  67. GROG says:

    mclever,

    A large portion of the job creating businesses in this country are organized under the U.S. tax code as S Corporations or other “pass-through” entities such as partnerships, and they pay federal business taxes at individual tax rates.

    The profits/losses of the business are instead “passed-through” the business and reported on the owners’ personal tax returns. Any tax due is paid at the individual level by the owners. This seems to escape DC.

  68. Bart DePalma says:

    mostlyilurk says: “When you refer to the “better” bill that will be produced in January, you mean one that won’t add to the deficit, right?

    My idea of a better bill in January will not add a penny to spending. That means a shorter extension of unemployment payments completely offset by cuts in spending and a termination of Obama’s welfare payments posing as tax cuts or a replacement with permanent tax rate reductions.

    This is pure speculation since the Dems will fall in line behind the President’s deal like good communist, er… Democrat Party members.

  69. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Bart’s last comment is so poorly thought out as to deserve no rebuttal.

  70. fopplssiegeparty says:

    “This is pure speculation since the Dems will fall in line behind the President’s deal like good communist, er… Democrat Party members.”

    Sorry Bart, Democrats are not the party whose members “fall in line.”

  71. Bart DePalma says:

    fopplssiegeparty says: Sorry Bart, Democrats are not the party whose members “fall in line.”

    Unless the RINOs are practicing “big government conservatism,” the GOP is generally united. United parties do not have to fall into line after their leadership cuts a secret deal. You know where they stand beforehand.

  72. shiloh says:

    Bartles ~ This is pure speculation since the Dems will fall in line behind the President

    Actually Bart has lurched onto the truth by default as the current compromise deal is not a great deal, but it’s the best all concerned can currently compromise, so it will be passed.

    Politics er political expediency in action by both Dems and Reps …

  73. shortchain says:

    And we do know where the GOP stands for the next term. They’ve kicked the teapers to the curb, placing not a single one of them into positions of leadership. All the committees will be led by the same kind of Republicans that gave us the Bush years. And, as Monotreme linked above, they are going to find a way to bring back earmarks — except they won’t call them “earmarks”.

    So much for “small government conservatism”. I wonder if Bart’s fellow teapers are as thrilled at the prospect as he is?

  74. Mr. Universe says:

    It’s like a Monty Python skit:

    Republicans: We’re against earmarks in order to cut spending

    Democrats: …ohhkay. We’ll go along with that. No more infrastructure projects

    Republicans: No, no, no. Those aren’t earmarks. We need those funds.

    Democrats: …ohhhkay. No more…

    Republicans: No, no, no. We need those, too.

    Democrats: We didn’t say anything.

    Republicans: Yes, well, NO MORE EARMARKS! you tax and spenders.

  75. Bart DePalma says:

    shortchain says: And we do know where the GOP stands for the next term. They’ve kicked the teapers to the curb, placing not a single one of them into positions of leadership.

    Leadership positions generally go by seniority. Once again, the GOP is on probation. We can fire GOP leaders at the ballot box in 2012 the same way we did Dem leaders across the country in 2010. The GOP would do well to remember that there were more self identified Tea Party supporters than either self identified Dems or Republicans among 2010 voters. Do what the voters elected you to do or face the consequences.

  76. GROG,
    mclever’s right, the S Corps and LLCs tend to be the small partnerships, where it makes more sense for the income to be immediately distributed among the partners. That’s why they go the S Corp or LLC route (though there are other reasons why legal firms go LLC). They also have a very small amount of the business’s income go back into the business because there isn’t growth opportunity short of hiring a bunch of specialists (like lawyers)…and that model doesn’t scale well, making it marginally profitable to go that route anyway.

    For that reason, the change in personal income taxes doesn’t change the outcome of hiring at an S Corp or LLC. This seems to escape you.

  77. shortchain says:

    Weasel words, Bart. Committee chairmanships have been elective positions since 1975.

    While seniority obviously counts for something, it is remarkable that not a single teaper or even teaper favorite has been elected chair of a committee in the upcoming Congress.

    You seem to be displaying denial. Are you really going to primary Mitch McConnell or John Boehner from the right? Where will you find such a creature?

  78. mostlyilurk says:

    Bart,

    I didn’t ask whether your “better” bill would “add a penny to spending.” I asked whether it would increase the deficit.

  79. shortchain says:

    In more news illustrating how the teapers have been rolled, incoming GOP congressmen, even teaper favorites, are hiring lobbyists, just like they did in the Bush era. Oooh, that’s going to produce a change from the old days, all right. K Street is going to be back in charge.

  80. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Here ya go Bart! The first evidence is in on how the GOP is going to deal with the “earmarks issue:

    ‘Prince of Pork’ to Approps chair As Hal Rogers of Kentucky get the Appropriations Chair.

    And the backtracking has begun in earnest as this article says.

    HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA! Bart suckered again!

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