The bubble chart you see on the left is a representation of the numbers in the tax deal currently being negotiated in Washington right now. The blue is what the Democrats got, and the lone red one is what the Republicans got. However, that lone red ball is tax cut extensions for the wealthiest 2%, and that is what has people in a tizzy.
Except 'tizzy' doesn't begin to cover it. I'd say it's pretty close to foaming at the mouth. Some of my fellow liberals say that they are leaving Organizing For America; some are predicting that this undoubtedly means that President Obama will not win re-election in 2012; all are saying that he "caved" and he should have shown up ready to kick ass and chew bubblegum (but of course, he'd be all out of bubblegum...anyone get that reference?); there are rumblings about putting someone up against him in the primaries.
May I politely say...everyone take a deep breath and just chill the fuck out, okay?
I don't like the tax cut extensions, either. I think that the wealthiest among us should pay more on a progressive scale, and the best case scenario would have been to have the middle class cuts extended and let the higher end tax cuts expire. Unfortunately, politics got in the way. I'm sure most of you who read this know that the extensions got all tangled up with unemployment benefits extensions, and Obama made the decision to cut a deal to extend all tax cuts in order to extend unemployment benefits in this extremely tough economic atmosphere.
Is it perfect? No. Is it the end of the world, the demise of the Democratic Party, the death knell of the Obama presidency? No, no, and no.
Let's have a reality check. First a little harsh clarity, then a healthy dose of optimism.
Obama cannot legislate. Congress passes the bills, he signs them into law. The Democrats didn't have the votes to pass the best case scenario I mentioned above. Might they have before the election? Yes. Go ahead and blame the Democrats for that one, but don't put it all on Obama's shoulders.
As the Stones said, you can't always get what you want...but if you try sometimes you get what you need. We wanted the tax cuts for the wealthy to expire; those whose unemployment benefits were close to running out got what they needed.
It's Washington, D.C., and deals are brokered all the time. It's politics; that is the nature of the beast. Would I love to see Jimmy Stewart go to Washington and change hearts with his integrity and honesty and steadfastness in the face of fierce opposition? Sure. But that's a movie. This is real life.
As for running a challenger against Obama in the primaries, please, PLEASE stop thinking this is a viable option. It's a rarity that anyone successfully runs against a sitting President in a primary, and it would do nothing but create discord, and would be political suicide for whoever decided to try. Does anyone think the Democratic Party would go against their sitting President? Also, who would you choose that could actually win? Hillary? She could win...but she is part of Obama's Cabinet, and has said repeatedly that she will not run in 2012, and probably not even in 2016. I don't believe for a moment that she would ever run in a primary against Obama. So who else would you pit against whoever the Republican candidate ends up being? Howard Dean? After his "scream" meltdown, do you seriously think that he could get enough Independents to get the win? Dean has also gone on record saying that he is not running and will support Obama in 2012. I have friends who love former Florida Congressman Alan Grayson and Minnesota Senator Al Franken. I love them, too. But again, please think pragmatically here: if you think they could beat someone like Romney, you are simply wrong. It wouldn't happen. Independents would never go for anyone that far to the left.
And here is a real nightmare scenario for you. Say you have someone like Grayson as your nominee...and the Republican nominee is Palin. Do you really want to take the chance that Palin might pull off a win? Someone sent an email to Jack Cafferty on CNN saying that he was a Democrat, and if it were Obama against Palin, he'd vote for Obama. If it were Obama against someone like Romney, he'd stay home. Really? You'd rather give up the Presidency to Mittens than get out and make sure the Republicans don't end up in control of the Presidency, the House, AND the Senate?
Please everyone...just get a grip and calm down. This really is not the end of the world.
In fact (here comes the optimism), some feel that Obama’s tax deal is effectively the extra stimulus that most economists feel was needed (that article is where I got the above chart). It was a back door stimulus, if you will, because if the Democrats had tried to introduce another such plan and called it Stimulus Part Deux, you can bet it would have died a swift death in the House. Some very prominent Democrat mayors support the deal. If you take a look at the whole package, you'll see that there are some very good things in it that will help a lot of people. The focus right now is very much on the "millionaire tax cut," but there is a lot more there. I hope that folks will take a breath and stop going bugshit about this.
I suspect this post won't be very popular with some of my friends and readers. Believe me, I share your anger that the richest 2% are getting a continued tax break. However, the middle class tax cuts and extended unemployment benefits are the real prize here. The former will make people feel better about spending for this Christmas and beyond, and the latter will keep some people in their homes and hanging on until they can hopefully find a job. Stop and think for a moment that perhaps this was a pretty good end run, where we gained more than we conceded. And please stop the breathless hysteria that is going to keep you at home next election day, confined to bed with a bad case of the vapors.
I mentioned on Facebook that this was not a black and white matter, that it in fact has infinite shades of grey. It made me think of the Monkees song (yes, I like the Monkees), and as I read the lyrics, I realized just how appropriate it was (video first, followed by lyrics). At heart, I am an idealist. In practice, I'm a pragmatist and a realist. It's good to have a combination of both.
When the world and I were young, just yesterday
Life was such a simple game a child could play
It was easy then to tell right from wrong
Easy then to tell weak from strong
When a man should stand and fight
Or just go along
But today, there is no day or night