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Thursday, September 23, 2010

If you look at National polls that pit a generic Republican against a generic Democrat you'll actually find them neck and neck. The reason analysts expect Republicans to win big this November is the enthusiasm gap. There's a difference between answering a phone call and taking time out of your day to make it to a polling station. The questioner above embodies the dispirited-ness on our side. I recommend reading Digby for more on this.

Jon Stewart called her Obama's Kryptonite:

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I totally sympathize with her. That said, it can't be stressed enough that if Republicans take over either or both houses of Congress things are only going to get much worse. They're already making promises to shut down the government, and to begin Whitewater style "investigations" into the President. They won't be able to repeal Health Care or Wall Street reform, but they will de-fund their implementation to make them ineffective. The current gridlock will seem pleasant by comparison.

The current legislative session doesn't have long to go and Democrats need to be doing everything in their power to close the enthusiasm gap. Unfortunately, they don't seem to be doing much of anything.

I agree with others who are arguing the best thing Democrats can do now to draw a favorable contrast would be to make Bush's tax cuts on income under $250,000 permanent. As this TPM report explains, there are three basic courses of action regarding the Bush cuts, which are set to expire at the end of the year:

1) Do nothing. (possibly revisiting the issue during the lame duck session after the election, or after the new Congress is seated, or not at all.)

2.) Vote on extending the cuts only for income under $250,000. (possibly revisiting rates on higher income after the election, or not)

3.) Vote on extending all tax cuts. They key question here is, will there be one vote for all the tax cuts, as Republicans are demanding, or will there be two votes, one each for income under/over 250K.

#2 is the ideal choice. Then we can have an election on whether or not to increase our deficit in order to pad the bank accounts of the wealthy. But #3 would be fine as well, so long as there are two separate votes. I doubt cuts for the wealthy would pass anyway, but if they did Obama could still veto them. The worst option of all would be to vote on the tax cuts as a whole without distinguishing between the wealthy and the "bottom 98%," which is what Republicans want to do. They want to disguise their efforts on behalf of the rich as being in service of average Americans, just as they did 10 years ago when they passed the cuts in the first place.

While there a few Democrats who want to help them in their efforts (the usual suspects: Lieberman, Nelson, etc), I think its safe to say neither Reid nor Pelosi would be so dumb to go that route. The problem is that they're getting pressure from "moderate" Democrats (emphasis on the quotes) to go with option #1. As Josh Marshall explains, the rationale is that to extend tax cuts on 98% but let them expire on the richest 2% would still allow Republicans to paint them as tax hikers. Instead they would rather do nothing and hope Republicans leave them alone. But if anything this leaves them open to the charge of allowing tax hikes on everyone. You really have to question the intelligence of some of these people, and I'm not just trying to be insulting. Seriously. We're clearly dealing with some dim bulbs here.

Dems need get on the ball and Hold The Damn Votes. My hope is its not too late to get some mojo back and prevent the worst from happening.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Summers Out: Good Riddance

Let me go on the record that the news that Larry Summers is leaving the Administration is of the 'good' variety. Very good. One truism that has emerged from my readings about the people in the White House is that Summers is just an unbelievable asshole. And I say that not just because I disagree with his tendency to coddle big business and Wall Street. Others, like Geithner and Orzag, have a similar mindset (which, I should add, comes from a genuine conviction that this is in the best interest of the country as a whole, Summers included). But those other guys aren't raging dicks who try to keep dissenting views from even reaching the President's ear. Ironically, Summers job description was to lay out the range of views on the economy for the President. (He was originally to have Geithner's job, but they decided to give him this role instead as a way of avoiding a confirmation fight) He used this position marginalize people who he disagreed with, notably Christina Romer and Austan Goolsbee. Apparently it's almost universally accepted that Summers is one of the most brilliant economists around today, which is why Obama wanted him close, but he really couldn't have been more poorly suited to his role. Good riddance!

P.S. On the other hand, I actually find rumors that another famed asshole, Rahm Emmanuel, will soon be leaving to run for Mayor of Chicago to be disconcerting. I think his take-no-prisoners approach actually is well suited for his position. Again, ideologically his instincts always seem to be to strike a deal with the opposition whenever possible to "get points on the board," rather than "go big." He repeatedly tried to convince Obama health care reform wasn't worth attempting... but when Obama made it clear that he was going for it and needed everyone on board Rahm put his objections aside and sweat and bled to make it happen. Many on the left blame him for all the disappointments of the last couple years, because he undercuts all Obama's promises of transformational change. But that's because he's been around and has come to believe that trying for everything leaves you with nothing, and that's it's better to push forward a few yards at a time and just keep moving. He has no patience for dreamers or even idealists. Amid today's partisan trench warfare, I think he may be just the guy for his job. He'd be hard to replace.

Monday, September 13, 2010

44 years of INSANITY

Ruth Marcus sez:

I'm all for a more progressive tax code. But consider: The Tax Policy Center examined what it would take to avoid raising taxes on families earning less than $250,000 a year while reducing the deficit to 3 percent of the economy by decade's end. The top two rates would have to rise to 72.4 and 76.8 percent, more than double the current level. You don't have to be anti-tax zealot Grover Norquist to think this would be insane.

To which I respond:

Just sayin'...

On a related note, I hope the Dems get off their asses and pass those tax cuts for the 97% of us that make less that $250K a year, and then we can have an election on whether to increase the deficit to pad the wealthy's savings accounts. The conventional wisdom (expressed here) that holding tax cuts for the great majority hostage in order to secure them for the rich is the "moderate" course baffles me.