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December 07, 2010

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Thanks for this. I'm also surprised Chait is being so stubborn on this. Presidents have pollsters, and if an issue is truly a "win-win," they know it and they don't need mini-Axelrods to tell them. Also don't forget the role of public misunderstanding of whose taxes are going up, as Steve Kornacki wrote in Salon.

The President explained his decision in today's press conference, "It's tempting not to negotiate with hostage takers unless the hostage gets harmed....In this case, the hostage was the American people."

I had seen the "hostage taker" analogy in the Huffington Post, earlier in the day. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steven-g-brant/in-dealing-with-blackmail_b_792961.html

Actually, I think the President has a point. In a game of "chicken" over the tax cuts, he chose the mature position -- compromising, in order to prevent the entire Bush tax cut from ending. However, comparing Congressional Republicans to kidnappers or terrorists is an unfortunate way to take credit for being mature.

Yeah, Bush got his tax cuts through on reconciliation with 51'ish votes... I can plainly see why Democrats couldn't do anything with 53 votes - ugh. They should have just done it the same way.

David in Cal:
It was/is the truth. The GOP are hostage takers. They wanted the tax cuts for the rich. They don't care about the rest. So, they got what they wanted out of the deal.

All of this will become a moot point when the Green Lantern movie comes out in June.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rs2sZgO3OMk

Why was Obama playing a weaker hand? Webb is a fraud and phony for whining about the poor white male and yet voting for the rich guy. Go figure. Also, Obama(and the DNC) has enabled Ben Nelson's bad behavior behavior, so why should he get in line now? Also, when Mary Landrieu says this deal is a bad deal, doesn't that tell you something?

We're dealing with this in the Lame Duck session ... Joe Manchin hasn't made it to Congress yet.

This was put off because Democrats thought it was not primed for the campaign ... and now they have had a change of heart? Extending unemployment benefits to the full 99 years as originally proposed is not a grand bargain, it's asking Republicans to "give the sleeves from their vest."

Sadly, this tax issue is turning out to be a pretty good "bipartisan" windfall. For every Ben Nelson sitting on the sidelines "looking for a handout," there's a Republican who cares about good governance and does not want to make his or her grand children pay for our folly. You don't need to be a David Axelrod to read the tea leaves, and recognize a good policy when it comes your way.

Because he was replacing Byrd, Joe Manchin has already been sworn in: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/11/15/joe-manchin-chris-coons-sworn-in-senate_n_783920.html

It's complicated. They would have needed to pass a budget with reconciliation instructions -- see http://www.themonkeycage.org/2010/12/w.html

Phil Perspective -- Regarding the President's analogy to hostage-takers, a WSJ blogger points out
The "analogy" is problematic, to say the least. Whereas a hostage-taker is a criminal, Republicans in Congress are acting in a perfectly lawful manner. Further, they gained their power through democracy, not coercion. Hostages do not elect their captors. And having just been elected, in a vote that was a clear (though not irrevocable) rebuff of Obama, at least for the moment they have a stronger claim than he does to be acting on behalf of the American people.
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703493504576007472971372228.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_MIDDLETopOpinion

Keith Olbermann goes the President one better and implicitly compares Republicans in Congress to Nazis:

I don’t want to make any true comparison to the historical event to which it related; the viewer can go ahead and look it up if they wish; I will confess I won’t fight if anybody wants to draw a comparison between what you’ve done with our domestic politics of our day, to what Neville Chamberlain did with the international politics of his.

This reaction and the President's are awfully strong, considering that all the Republicans have done was to leave people's taxes unchanged. Imagine a WW2 movie where the Nazis have just conquered the country of Luvania. The evil Nazi Kommandant, perhaps played by Harry Groener, addresses the conquered citizens:

"We Nazis are in conplete control now. We are going to use our tyrannical power to leave everyone's income tax rate where it is!!!"

The Lulvanians gasp in horror. :)

This is garbage. Bush never had more than 55 Republicans in the Senate, and he passed bills that the majority of the public OPPOSED.

How did he do it? By having the fight in public. Remember "holding our troops for ransom?" Remember "upordownvote?"

Obama has never addressed the public on the tax issue. If he came out publicly and said, "Republicans are holding up your tax cut for the sake of Paris Hilton," he could move public opinion and move votes.

Give an issue like this to the Republicans and you'd watch them make hay out of it. Don't tell me it's impossible for Democrats to do the same.

An alternative view: the "hostage" metaphor could be used in a different manner in which those whose primary goal is to make sure the "rich" pay even more than they do today are holding tax relief to "middle class" taxpayers hostage.

Since the total dollars which extending the Bush Tax Cuts allows those earning less than $250K to keep dwarfs the total dollars that would benefit the "rich", this doesn't seem to be an unreasnable way to view it.

Of course this view doesn't fit the "tax cuts for the rich" meme, so some people could never see it this way.

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