Monday, December 6, 2010

Its Really Quite Simple.

Look, we have two separate problems as Democrats trying to run the country. 1) The Tax Cuts and 2) Running the Country. Because the Democrats don't understand the first thing about bargaining and negotiating we are in a massive crunch during this lame duck session. The Republicans have linked the tax cuts for millionaires to the entire Democratic governing agenda and basically said that if, and only if, they get what they want will they (possibly) allow the Democratic majority to get passed cloture and vote on DADT, DREAM, and everything else. The public and the blogs are running around with their hair on fire, to the extent that they even grasp what is happening, screaming that the Republicans either have to be given what they want or that we have to essentially burn the house down to get the legislation we want--that is sacrifice everything for the tax cuts. In fact, those geniuses at the White House are apparently debating just how badly to throw the game by extending the tax cuts to the most politically difficult next stage of the game while continuing to get nothing for it.

But the solution is really quite simple. Utterly simple. The Republican party--specifically the Senate--has demonstrated that they value the tax cuts for millionaires above all other things. In a real negotiation, with non morons on your side, this is an incredibly important piece of information. Reid and Obama should simply schedule the Tax Cut vote *that they want* for the last hours of the last day of the lame duck session. They tell the Republicans that if they refuse to vote for cloture on each and every one of the pending issues: DADT, DREAM, Judges, etc... then the vote on tax cuts simply never happens. The Bush tax cuts go away.

What's the downside of my approach? Nothing. At the moment the President and Reid's method amounts to allowing hostage taking, extortion, and brinksmanship by a number of key players (Brown, Snowe) who have shown themselves over and over again to be acting in bad faith. Under my system there would be no reward for bad faith negotiations just a straightforward quid pro quo: allow the business of government to go forward and the minority gets a shot at getting a vote on something it wants. Refuse to allow the business of government to go forward and the opportunity to keep low taxes on millionaires simply vanishes.

Now (some) Democrats will argue, apparently, that it will be fatal for Obama to allow the "Bush Tax Cuts" for the middle class to expire on his watch. But that assumes, as such arguments always do, that Obama and the Dems continue to lose the war of words that really is politics--that they throw the narrative down the drain. But they don't have to. To put it mildly: its a choice they make. If they put up a "Obama tax cut clock" on the floor of the Senate and have it count down "through the people's business" as the Republicans vote against cloture over and over again--well, the stories write themselves. Even if the tax cuts evaporate at midnight with the lame duck session from a political stand point its no harm/no foul. If middle class tax cuts are so important to the middle class Obama and the House Dems can run on middle class tax cuts for the next two years. Running on a clearly labled Obama/House Dem middle class tax cut is a much better ploy than running on "we kinda saved the Bush tax cuts for some people."

I can't believe the Democrats can't figure this out but I've been a Democratic voter and observer for a really long time. Yes, these people are just that stupid. They continually try to run on a "record of achievement" when all voters hear is "what will you do for me next." They fell right into this trap with HCR when they continually insist that the great legislative achievement of two years ago should determine how voters vote two years from now. As though getting us Social Security and Medicare guaranteed Democratic dominance with the two groups who use them the most. Well, those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Grasp that the voters need to be told over and over again who is doing what to whom. Then go out and do it harder to the other guy.


Cross Posted at No More Mr. Nice Blog.


  1. You said it, but Obama didn't listen.

    I agree with most of your long comment at NMMNB about Obama's failure, except that there are other people I blame more – such as the Republicans. Movement conservatives often get a pass somehow, despite being shameless plutocrats, nihilistic assholes and screwing over their own constituents. The media rarely calls them on anything, and in an odd way liberals sometimes do, too. We should critique how evil is fought, but the bigger problem is people doing evil, destructive things. For instance - should Obama issue an executive order to repeal DADT? Maybe, but it'd be moot if a few Republicans had voted the right way on the most recent vote. Should Obama be a better negotiator? Definitely, but the Dems should have fixed the tax situation sometime in the past two years, and at the very least should have held a vote before the midterm elections. And the Republicans shouldn't be this unabashedly evil. As I wrote over at my place, even Scrooge didn't actively work to close the workhouses.

    Generally, I think ire should be allocated in this order, although there's overlap and plenty of room for shuffling:

    1. Neo-feudal plutocrats in the ruling class
    2. Conservatives in the GOP
    3. Conservatives in the Democratic Party
    4. Our insipid media
    5. The Obama White House
    6. The rest of the congressional Dems
    7. Liberal activists with tunnel vision on a particular issue (but often not others)

  2. Hi Batocchio, I feel like a person who comes down in their PJ's for breakfast and discovers a neighbor sitting at the breakfast table. I'm delighted, but disheveled.

    I agree with you about the apportionment of blame--it does run from the plutocrats with the most power down to the liberal activists with the least power. My complaint with the Democratic party and the White House is that for a wide variety of reasons they won't work in concert to leverage the power they do have over the Republican Party. We just can't afford the disoraganization and unprofessional behavior of the Democrats--if we ever could. I wish the expression "we must hang together or we shall assuredly all hang seperately" would be emblazoned over every Democrats head. We could win all these battles--or could have won them in the last two years, if the Dems had only worked together instead of at cross purposes.

    Of course that is easier said than done. What makes it possible for the Republicans to do so is the fact that the party and its backers have very deep pockets. Any single individual can lose his local race and fall out of congress while being assured that even if his votes cost him his job another job will be offered him. That simply isn't true for the Democrats.


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