This paragraph from Peter Orzag’s first column in the Times struck me as typical of the Obama Administration’s messaging about Congress, for better or worse:
In the face of the dueling deficits, the best approach is a compromise: extend the tax cuts for two years and then end them altogether. Ideally only the middle-class tax cuts would be continued for now. Getting a deal in Congress, though, may require keeping the high-income tax cuts, too. And that would still be worth it.
Most of the public communication from the Obama administration treats the obstructionism and irrationality of Congress like a fixed point that’s hardly worth discussing. And when some highly compromised piece of legislation finally makes it through Congress, there’s little mention of what should have been, just a celebration of the turd that passed.
I understand that this is the attitude that adults should have, and I don’t have a really effective alternative, but sometimes the absurdity of the whole situation just jumps off the page. Extending the high-income tax cuts is stupid, but stupidity is such the norm that it doesn’t merit more than a passing mention, and that mention characterizes something quite stupid as “worth it”.
feefees, pony, splitter, PUMA, unicorn, Speaker Boehner. Best President Ever.
Your broad over-generalization of the legislation that has been passed by this administration a a collection of turds really pisses me off. Wanker. Talk about stupidity.
Gee, what a surprise! A starting position of compromise coming from a former member of the Obama administration
Sometimes you have to compromise, but it’s insane to start off with the compromise before negotiations have begun. Nevertheless, that’s what the Obama administration does time and time again. I’m mystified at what the strategy is (just as I’m mystified at what’s gained by repeatedly having Rahm, Gibbs, or Senior White House Official issue yet another smack to those nasty progressives).
It is especially odd to take Congress as given two months before a congressional election. How about a proposal to extend the tax cuts for the non-rich, end them for the rich and use the money collected from the rich to pay for rebate checks for everyone.
It might be hard to get a take from the rich and spread it out bill through Congress, but trying and failing would help people understand which party to support.
Of course you don’t. No one does. Because this is how our system of government works. It’s hard-wired for compromise. Even a superficial review of how a law is formulated and passed will show that this is a feature, not a bug, of the American political system.
Laws pass, the left whines that they’re watered down, the right whines that they aren’t watered down enough. Lather, rinse, repeat. I’m tired of the wanking.
The stupidity of the process is a given… for those involved in it. They’ve become so inured to doing stupid things it’s amazing they notice it’s still stupid.
That’s why every rep you have, including the President, should get reminders when something is stupid. Or they’ll think we don’t notice either.
Only a complete fucking moron would push this compromise. If you pass a 2 year extension there is a pretty good chance it gets extended for a 10 year term at the end of the 2 years. If you do not it really lowers the likelihood that it gets extended again because 1) there will be 2 years worth of data that the world will not end because the taxes went up and 2) it will be a much more naked move to benefit the rich.
But this is pretty typical of the rank incompetence of the Obama administration.
I guess we now know why Mr. Orzag is no longer a member of the administration.
Another thread of people criticizing Obama and the Administration for what MIGHT happen.
How would you like it if people treated you that way?
Of course! Like Sauron, Obama has sent his dread riders forth into the media to push for the upper-class tax cuts he secretly desires.
Wait, I thought it was Rahm who was driving this compromise position within the administration. Could openleft be wrong?
I’m mystified by this notion progressives have that if you simply ask for more starting out, you’ll get more in the end.
Maybe if you’re negotiating with a character from a TV show or video game, but in the real world, they aren’t that easily tricked, especially when they’ve already staked out how far they’re willing to go. (Protip: political negotiations generally start well in advance of actually sitting down at a bargaining table.)
In addition, you’re dealing with people who are happy to walk away from the table at any time. If you ask too much, they’ll decide you aren’t serious and peace out. They don’t see a downside to doing nothing. If you go a car dealer and offer $1 on a $1000 car, he’s not going to be tricked into offering it to you for $500. He’s going to say “This guy is a cheap shmuck” and move on to another customer. But according to you guys, offering $850 is “precompromising” even though it has a better chance of actually getting you a car for less than sticker price.
Beyond vague notions of “SHOW LEADERSHIP” and “TWIST ARMS”, firebaggers haven’t really specified any way to keep Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman from acting like a bag of dicks and get better legislation than what actually passed.
It’s also worth nothing that Obama got 90-95% of what he originally asked for. He didn’t have to deviate from his original offer too much. Considering how narrowly it passed, that indicates it was well-placed.
But we’re living in a Netroots Fantasy Land where President John Edwards just has to yell at Congress in order to pass his bills so I guess anything Obama does is going to pale in comparison to Fantasy President Edwards who’s already convinced Republicans to vote for single payer by virtue of starting out with an bill proposing a fleet of magical medical robots for every home.
Why is it that the Administration’s first response to contact with the enemy is to run away? So he finally starts talking to the base to rile them up. All this while at the same time allowing the minority to have their way? And they expect the base to vote for them?
@Chyron HR: wut
Belafon (formerly anonevent)
Duh! Too early in the morning, but even english has a term for looking back and wondering how the world would have been different if only something had changed.
We have three branches of government, and one branch split in two, forcing each branch to take the other two into account when bills are passed. Of course they don’t end up being exactly what everyone wants.
I had to laugh at lol’s statement above that they (the Republicans) will decide you are “not serious” and walk away. The least serious policy bunch in history deciding the opposition is not serious did, in fact, cause me to lol.
Put out a package that resonates with the hurting middle class. Let the Republicans walk away. They will not agree to anything anyway. Then publicize it to the mountains. Here are midddle class tax cuts that Republicans will not support because it excludes their rich friends who are pulling down million dollar salaries and bonuses at Goldman Sachs. Make sure everyone knows who is responsible, then allow the Bush tax cuts expire. No compromise.
a play in one act.
Obama admin: couldn’t we all just get along?
Republicans: (picking up stick) POW!
O.a.: ouch! we really should try to work together…
R: (taking blackjack from pocket) BAM!
O.a.: yikes! that hurt! it will be much better if you give us some positive input…
R: (metal rod) SMACK!
O.a.: OOOOWWWWWW!!! i think i’m beginning to see your point…
R: (activating (red) lightsaber) SWOOSH!
O.a.: thank you sir may i have another…
more political bloggers need to admit this. maybe that’s how the WH feels sometimes when they propose legislation.
little mention? Do you mean from the administration? ’cause I can find a gagillion articles about how anything he passed coulda should woulda been better.
so I get a hot bowl of rhetoric while legislation that could have helped, even if its not perfect, gets trashed? I might start to think you are just fucking with me to just win an election or score political points.
All the cuts should expire, after some bickering about extending them which the Dems should focus upon as being bad for the deficit and as payouts to the rich. The new cuts, which aren’t extensions, should be the Democratic Party Tax Cuts and should be focused on the non-rich classes. This can happen before November, since the Republicans have shown all signs of playing along aside from voting for tax cuts without inclusion for the rich.
@lol, the administration’s strategy is more like offering $1000 for that $1000 car. And the reason they get 90-95% of what they asked for is that they asked for too little, especially on the stimulus. Hell, if they just asked for whatever the Republicans wanted, they could get 100% of what they asked for (except that the Republicans would ask for still more compromise).
On the stimulus, do you really think Blanche Lincoln and company had some specific number they had calculated out as what their economists thought the economy needed? No, they just wanted to trim some off whatever the number was to burnish their “principled moderate” credentials with the media.
what are you talking about? they haven’t agreed to anything yet.
@Chyron HR: I refused to look at the article just as soon as saw the headline because I knew it would make me cranky, but is there any indication in the article that Orzag is speaking for the administration here? Or is he perhaps just fishing for a think tank gig, where he can pose as the “reasonable” Dem while pushing policies favorable to corporations and the rich and so earn his piece of wingnut welfare?
I negotiate for a living and pre-compromising on everything is a piss poor negotiating technique. The progressives are right on this one. And by the way it would not hurt Obama in the long run if he showed a willingness to blow up a deal if he didn’t get what he wanted.
” the upper-class tax cuts he secretly desires.”
And how is it that you know of Obama’s secret desires?
they may not have had a number, but she and the others may have very well said to themselves ‘a trillion is way too much’. You don’t burnish your “principled moderate” credentials with the media by shelling out 1 Trillion dollars. Nothing moderate about that number.
Someone might call him unreasonable. And that would just be a bridge too far.
@lol: I tend to agree with this point, but in this case, the idea of compromise seems pretty ludicrous. The Democrats have the upper hand in this setting, and have no good reason to capitulate on the tax cuts for the rich.
because he’s a secret republican. or the assumption is that Obama can get whatever he wants and what he gets is what he wants.
@Mudge: I think the plan all along has been to get the Republicans to walk away from the $50 billion infrastructure spending. Really, it’s the only reason I can think of that explains why the Admin would offer up something so small. I think it only makes sense if the strategy is to illustrate that the Republicans are being completely unreasonable.
Or just extended for another 2 years because, “we’re just now getting our feet under us. This is no time to ruin it all by raising taxes!”
IOW, there will never be a good time.
ETA – and I don’t the number in front of me but doesn’t extending the tax cuts in entirety cost a significant amount of revenue?
Uhm, Obama has threatened a veto for the defense bill last year and over education cuts this year. He made another threat over EPA regulations and I’m sure there’s a few more.
You negotiate for a living? then please, how do you negotiate with someone who gets a bigger payoff to NOT work with you?
Well, obviously I held aloft the Palantir of Fyrebagge and scryed the Dark Lord conspiring with with his dread servant, the Balrahm.
(P.S. SARKAZUM IZ HARD)
Mike from Philly
I’m find myself increasingly perplexed at the attitude here. Let’s take as a given that the status quo forces compromise in our government. Republicans are going to obstruct and Democrats are going to wet their pants and give them everything they want anyway.
Why should we be happy about this?
I’m sorry, but the promise and idea of this administration that so many people voted for has failed. Miserably. Repeatedly. Passing “something” for the sake of saying you did “something” isn’t good enough. Especially when you’ve been out of work for 18 months and the value of your home has fallen $100K. Especially when what you’ve passed isn’t going to have any meaningful tangible benefit to anybody anytime soon.
And now we’re talking about slashing social security benefits in a super secret commission? Even the Bush administration wasn’t able to pull that one off.
Participate in your bullying circle jerk unicorn name calling if you like, but this diary nails it. The stupidity and failure of our government is so evident and entrenched that you’re considered an idealistic moron for even bringing it up.
You are totally right. 1000% right. professional negotiator or not – you are 1000% right.
@KCinDC: “Hell, if they just asked for whatever the Republicans wanted, they could get 100% of what they asked for (except that the Republicans would ask for still more compromise).” The two parts of your statement are at odds with one another, and that’s part of the terrain they are having to navigate. Even if the Admin gave the Republicans everything they wanted, the Republicans would still balk. I think this is the point they are driving home with the infrastructure spending, which, as I understand it, more or less follows the outlines of what such liberal groups as the Chamber of Commerce want. Since the Admin knows that compromise is not actually possible, they have to be careful that whatever they propose does not blow up in their own caucus. Now, you may not agree with their strategy or think another strategy would be more effective, but I do think they are following a strategy at this point and we have to wait for it to play out before jumping on it. It would also be nice if we could spend our time banging on Republicans for the next two months rather than each other, but that is probably too much to ask.
I see this will be another argument about something Obama hasn’t done or decided yet.
Keeping in mind that the stimulus was $800B with a huge chunk of that the ATM fix, say he starts with 1.4 trillion and Blanche gets him down to $950B which does not include the ATM fix because Obama demands if he is giving up so much and putting his presidency on the line for Blanche then what they are willing to give him should be effective spending. Blanche gets her less then Trillion and Obama gets a more effective stimulus bill.
But that is not what he did.
The simple fact is that the Admin and Congress have to do NOTHING to let the tax cuts for the rich expire. It happens automatically. Then they can try and pass shiny new tax cuts for the middle class and let the Republicans oppose them, which might actually be a political winner, and certainly couldn’t be worse than having Democrats borrow a few more trillion to hand it to the 5% of folks who are already doing gangbusters.
The whole idea that they “have to compromise” is baloney. They don’t have to do anything, and they certainly don’t “have to” pass massive tax cuts for the fucking uber wealthy at the same time they cry that the nation is broke. There is no political or logical rationale for it, none.
And Orzag’s article is an ugly and deceitful joke. It just presumes that the Republican position is the only one the Democrats can take. Their opening negotiating position is supposed to be full capitulation. There is no rational argument for giving even more borrowed money to folks who indisputably don’t need it, when there are so many folks in real trouble.
You can not, so you just don’t waste your time. In the case of Obama and the Dem majority that would include putting up things like middle tax cuts so that the Rep vote against them.
But that is not what we are talking about, we were talking about things like the stimulus and health care where he could plausibly get votes for a plan and he went in with pre-compromise plans that weekened his hand.
end them altogether
Um, we already have this. It’s current law.
Aren’t there 40 democrats to filibuster an extension? Can’t Obama veto one?
Like I said Saturday, eventually you have to consider the possibility they are geting the policies they want.
It would at least be fun to propose not just letting the Bush Jr. tax cuts for the rich expire, but raising the taxes on those making more than $10 million an effective 80% marginal tax rate. And eliminating payroll taxes up to $50K and also removing the income cap on paying into Social Security.
We could watch even the Becktards fill up their diapers overnight.
The Republic of Stupidity
While you’re at it… please remind us how not one but two wars were started in S Asia thru this mysterious ‘compromise’ process of which you speak…
As citizens, it really is okay for us to think about stuff and conclude whatever we find convincing about politics and policies, even when this conflicts with what appears to be considered feasible or possible by our actually existing political system, because we’re not all volunteer policy advisers or campaign coordinators for various politicians.
This editorial makes me glad that this idiot isn’t part of the administration any longer. There are things worth taking a stand on, and ending give-aways to the rich is one of them. And, no, it isn’t worth compromising on that: instead campaign on Republicans holding your tax cuts hostage to throwing money at the people who caused the crisis to begin with.
It’s pretty bizarre, albeit typical for online discussions, to blame Obama for something an ex-insider writes.
@jayackroyd: An ex-administration official floats the idea that a compromise which extends all the tax cuts is preferable to letting all the cuts end and people start freaking out that Obama’s really goal is to extend the tax cuts for the wealthy. That’s just great. First, is there any evidence that Orzag is speaking for anyone but himself? I don’t see any such evidence at this point. Second, if one wants the middle class tax cuts to be extended, legislation must be passed. If there are not sufficient votes to pass a middle class extension only, then it appears the choices are extend all or let all end. I don’t know, and I posit that no one on this blog knows, the vote counts that have been done and the discussions that have taken place behind closed doors, but, given the make up of the Senate, it seems to me that the only way to get to 60 on such an issue would be to compromise. The question then becomes whether it is better to let all the cuts expire and allow the Republicans and the media to argue that Obama raised middle-class taxes (fair or not, it is the way it will get played) in the run up to November or to kick the can down the road and extend everything.
ETA: Personally, I am on the end the whole thing side. Let them sunset; then propose Democratic middle class tax cuts and dare the Republicans to oppose them.
The only way to blow this one is to capitulate to fear or some sort of twisted Stockholm Syndrome. Sure “they” will say you’re raising taxes, but you’re not – you’re allowing a temporary tax cut to expire as written into the law. They will say it’s your fault because you didn’t bend over backwards but why give them their way?
plus they have to see that this is the big one. this is “starve the beast” territory. do the Obamaites think they’ll be able to pursue any progressive policies at all over the next 2-6 years if we’re saddled with a crippling tax regime?
@El Cid: What a fun party that would be. We could invite Robert Reich, who might have something to say about Orszag’s stupidity. Isn’t Orszag a Rubin clone?
@Larry Signor: cleed is Robert Reich?
By the way, someone else more awake is more than welcome to suggesting any other unlikely, over the top, yet scary fun policy suggestions to make Republicans think soshullism has completely triumphed.
During the stimulus talks I thought it would be fun for Obama to come out and propose a $10 or $20 trillion stimulus just to see the fainting sessions of our political and pundit class, not to mention the Falangists on FOXNOOZ.
@El Cid: I don’t believe very many people here understand the difference.
I must have missed the orientation class, “How to negotiate with people who want to see you fail”, as this “adult” attitude seems more like how children think then an adult capable of critical thought and multi-level strategic thinking.
Phoenician in a time of Romans
In the face of the dueling deficits, the best approach is a compromise: extend the tax cuts for two years and then end them altogether.
Riiiiight – because if you let your abusive partner slap you around for only a couple of years, you can totally get them to agree to treat you nice after that. Idiots.
I love the smell of premature capitulation in the morning!
I believe that was mistermix’s ode to pre-capitulation as a tactic. To deflect all the gnashing of teeth brought forth if he had not pre-justified the gambit as legit and righteous.
smells like victory (for the GOP) !
Which brings to mind Sharron Angle…
then you can’t govern, because governing requires negotiating, no only Republicans, but with members of your own party who are better off not negotiating with you.
@The Republic of Stupidity:
they had overwhelmingly popular and bipartisan support, but wars aren’t a policy. The “compromise” in this situation was we don’t get to bomb Iran or North Korea.
@The Republic of Stupidity:
they had overwhelmingly popular and bipartisan support, but wars aren’t a policy. The “compromise” in this situation was we don’t get to bomb Iran or North Korea.
And, of course, it will be done with the unspoken assumption that whatever people fear most is already done or has already been decided.
I especially love the people who keep repeating the “Obama is going to kill Social Security!” scaremongering despite yesterday’s speech. Did they not hear it, or are they just pretending it never happened?
Excuse me? What are they? Social justice?
And how did other presidents pass a health care plan?
Mike from Philly
“I especially love the people who keep repeating the “Obama is going to kill Social Security!” scaremongering despite yesterday’s speech. Did they not hear it, or are they just pretending it never happened? ”
Did he fire Alan Simpson off his super secret debt reduction commission and I missed it? Oh – he gave a speech. Yeah Obama will do that…..
@Mike from Philly:
Sorry, why is Obama supposed to fire the guy who’s making the commission look terrible in public? Are you saying that you want the commission and its conclusions to be taken seriously so therefore they should get rid of the clown who’s running around lashing out at people and complaining about all of those lazy wounded veterans?
Obama indicating that he is going to veto any SS cut is actual news, and anyone who can’t give him credit for that isn’t reachable.
Also, too, it’s not grand 11-D chess to put the cranks on a commission where they’re not allowed to speak in public until the final report is issued. It’s more like Running an HOA 101, where you tell the guy who’s constantly complaining that homeowners’ garbage cans don’t match that he should go research that and get back to you with a report and recommendations.
Mike from Philly
Ah so he put Alan Simpson on HIS administration’s commission so that he would run his mouth and immediately discredit the commission’s findings because Obama has no intention of cutting social security. And we know this because while this commission’s dealings have been completely kept out of the public eye, Obama gave a campaign speech. Yes, the same Obama who put Alan Simpson on the commission in the first place. HIS commission.
I suppose one could argue that he wouldn’t have to veto any legislation that included social security cuts had he not put this guy on the commission that was going to recommend them to Congress, but hey why quibble when you can cheerlead instead. Using logic and hoping for good government that accomplishes something besides funneling jobs overseas and money to Wall Street assholes is wishing for ponies or unicorns or some other corny metaphor.
I must have misread his speech. I the paraphrase I remember is “I will veto any move to privatize social security” not that he wont reduce benefits to “save” it.
@Mike from Philly:
“Better to have him inside the tent pissing out than outside the tent pissing in.”
Lyndon Johnson said that 40 years ago, so it’s not like it’s some brand-new political concept, at least not to people who’ve actually bothered to follow politics for more than 6 months.
@Mnemosyne: So your claim is that Alan Simpson and J. Edgar Hoover are the same person?
I’d say J. Edgar was a little worse, actually, since I doubt Alan is keeping secret wiretaps on everyone in the government.
Or is your claim that the only person in the entire history of the country who was worth keeping on a close rein was J. Edgar Hoover so therefore Alan Simpson should be cut loose to appear on every Sunday talk show and Fox News program to complain about how Obama is going to ruin the country if he doesn’t listen to the brilliance of Alan Simpson?
@Mnemosyne: Mike from Philly was discussing Alan Simpson and you said, I quote:
So clearly that means that you are saying they are the same person. There can be no other reading. I quoted you and everything!
If only I had actually specified J. Edgar in my original post and then refused to answer any follow-up questions you had, you might have had me, but instead you asked questions that I — gasp! — actually answered for you instead saying, “NO, YOU’RE LYING ABOUT WHAT I SAID!! WHY DO YOU LIE!?” as soon as you asked what I meant.
So close, though. So close.
@Mnemosyne: And again, in comment #73 you quote LBJ talking about Alan Simpson. If you have a different explanation for it I’d love to hear it. But obviously you are claiming J. Edgar Hoover transmogrified himself into Alan Simpson and LBJ saw it all coming.
All I did was quote exactly what you said on this thread.
Chad N Freude
@Corner Stone: @Mnemosyne: It’s very comforting to know that there are some things in the Universe that can be relied on never to change.
At the risk of antagonizing Corner Stone, which I seem to be able to do just by living, Dude, I think you’re misunderstanding Mnemosyne’s post. If someone quotes an aphorism that originally was about person A to talk about person B, that doesn’t mean the the quoter is saying A and B are one and the same person. It’s an APHORISM, a METAPHOR, and it can be applied to any random person without implying that that random person is the same as another person for whom the aphorism was invoked.
To try and keep the critique fair and balanced, Mnemosyne, I don’t think J Edgar was actually reined in by Johnson. I believe that LBJ said that when he decided that the political obstacles to to dislodging Hoover could not be overcome.
There’s a word for somebody who condescends to others based on their own fact free speculation.
No, that’s not it. A gullible asshole? Closer, but no. Ah I have it.
I listened to all this 11 dimension chess bullshit last summer as we were giving away the store and pissing our pants at angry old ladies with mis-spelled signs with HCR. If Obama put this loudmouthed asshole on his debt reduction commission in order to placate the loudmouthed assholes of the world (aka Republicans) then where is the liberal equivalent? You know, somebody to placate the people who elected him so that we’re not “pissing inside the tent”? Erskine Bowles the former Morgan Stanley stooge?
Wake the fuck up.
This administration has nothing but contempt for the people who elected them. I’m through gleaning the tea leaves for a scrap of respect. So great – we’re not going to privatize social security per Obama’s little Labor Day rally. We’ll let this debt commmission reduce the benefits to almost nothing and call it a day. Then we can talk about how unrealistic our expectations were that we could lower the debt without gutting social security and bully anybody on the left who complains about “unicorns”.
Wash. Rinse. Repeat. Never forget the alternative is far far worse!