The basic deal was that if the Obama White House would give the Republicans their unpaid-for tax cuts, Republicans would give the Obama White House their unpaid-for tax cuts.
To put this in perspective, consider that last week, all Washington could talk about was the potential for a deal on deficit reduction. This week, it actually got a big deficit deal -- but it was a deficit-expansion deal. In the world that politicians claim they live in -- where the deficit is the overriding issue -- the deal couldn't have worked. But we don't live in that world. In this world, tax cuts, not deficits, are the Republicans' central concern, and stimulus, not deficits, obsesses the Democrats.
Which brings us to the liberals. My conversations with various progressives over the past 24 hours have convinced me that the problem is less the specifics of the deal -- though liberals legitimately dislike the tax cuts for the rich, and rightly point out that Obama swore to let them expire -- than the way in which it was reached. Put simply, Obama and the Democrats didn't fight for them. There were no veto threats or serious effort to take the case to the public.
Instead, the White House disappeared into a closed room with the Republicans and cut a deal that they'd made no effort to sell to progressives. When the deal was cut, the president took an oblique shot at their preferences, saying "the American people didn’t send us here to wage symbolic battles or win symbolic victories." And this came a mere week or two after the White House announced a federal pay freeze. The pattern, for progressives, seems clear: The White House uses them during elections, but doesn't listen to, or consult them, while governing. In fact, it insults them, and then tells them to quiet down, they got the best bargain possible, even if it wasn't the one they'd asked for, or been promised.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Ignore, Then Scold: Is This Any Way To Treat Your Base?
Ezra Klein basically has it right on the tax deal, and why the Democrats are so angry: