Nothing will ever be accomplished and President Obama gets that.
Last night a family member saw the film Invictus.
There's a similar parallel between what happened in that story at that time in South Africa's history and what is happening to us in this country :
While Mandela attempts to tackle the country's largest problems—crime and unemployment, among many others—he attends a game of the Springboks, the country's rugby union team. Mandela recognizes that the blacks in the stadium cheer against their home squad, as the Springboks (their history, players, and even their colours) represent prejudice and apartheid in their minds, and remarks that he used to do the same thing on Robben Island. Knowing that South Africa is set to host the 1995 Rugby World Cup in one year's time, Mandela convinces a meeting of the newly-black-dominated South African Sports Committee not to change the Springboks' name and colours. He then arranges a meeting with the captain of the Springboks rugby team, François Pienaar (Matt Damon). Though Mandela does not verbalize his true meaning during their meeting, Pienaar understands the message below the surface: if the Springboks can gain the support of non-white South Africans and succeed in the upcoming Rugby World Cup, the country will be unified and inspired to exceed its expectations."
Last night the very liberal Lawrence O'Donnell, who actually has legislative experience, advocated for President Obama's position and understands why he did what he did.
View it here.
Andrew Sullivan of the Daily Dish also sees that Mr. Obama is a strategist and has looked at the long game.
Obama: President; McConnell: Sucker
07 Dec 2010 10:16 pm
"It's been fascinating to watch the left's emotional roller-coaster these past few weeks. It's also been fascinating to watch Obama out-run them, and to observe their responses to the final deal in the last 24 hours. Krugman has gone from "Let's Not Make A Deal" to "better than what I expected." The response from the far-right has also been illuminating. Drudge rushed to declare Obama's payroll tax cut as a Republican idea. Hinderaker below insists "Obama has admitted that the Republicans were right all along." Notice something about all of this? They all now realize that Obama has been a little shrewder than they took him to be.
Substantively, the Dish is in some ways horrified that the result of the last election - which was dominated by the view that deficits need to be controlled and that new stimulus is evil - turned out to be ... a new bipartisan stimulus package financed by borrowing! At the same time, it's clear that this also clears the stage for a two-year fight over long-term fiscal balance, distinct from the short-term need to recover from recession. And that is the best context for serious reform. If we reform the tax code, and cut entitlements and defense, we should do so for structural, long-term reasons, not in response to a particular crisis. That's the chance we now have, if Obama leads the way (as I suspect he will).
And notice that Obama has secured - with Republican backing - a big new stimulus that will almost certainly goose growth and lower unemployment as he moves toward re-election. If growth accelerates, none of the current political jockeying and Halperin-style hyper-ventilation will matter. Obama will benefit - thanks, in part, to Republican dogma. So here's something the liberal base can chew on if they need some grist: how cool is it that Mitch McConnell just made Barack Obama's re-election more likely? Bet you didn't see that one coming, did you?
The mix of policies is also shrewd from a strategic point of view."
Clive Crook of The Atlantic wrote another reasoned analysis:
Obama Did the Right Thing
Dec 7 2010, 11:33 AM ET
"I don't suppose I should be surprised by the operatic dismay of liberal Democrats at the agreement Obama has reached with congressional Republicans. But is it really good politics for the party to keep telling the electorate that raising taxes on the rich is the one thing, in the end, it stands for? That nothing else comes close in the party's list of priorities? Because this is the message that comes across.
Obama was right to strike this agreement. The concession on taxes is minimal, because a much larger tax reform is coming soon, one way or another, and that will be the time to press for an appropriately progressive formula for raising significantly more revenue. Meanwhile extending unemployment benefits and delivering some additional short-term stimulus through the payroll tax cut are matters that really cannot wait.
He did the right thing. But he did it in an unconvincing way. It has been obvious for weeks if not months that this was the kind of deal that would eventually be struck. He could have shaped it more to his liking (and mine) if he had taken the initiative in moving the $250,000 threshold for higher income taxes to $1m early on, and then gone out and sold it. (The party line about "millionaires and billionaires" simply does not square with that $250,000: the policy and the marketing were completely out of sync.) He let the debate drag on too long. He refused to get in front of it. He let the outcome be forced upon him. And in his televised statement--although what he said all made sense, to me at least--his tone was timid and defensive, I thought. He looked weary.
To his credit, he defended his position on principle: "I'm not willing to let working families across this country become collateral damage for political warfare in Washington." Good. He went further than that, in fact, positioning himself between the warring factions, rather than as the head of one of them, saying in effect that he was above all that--a very provoking message to fellow Democrats. That was brave--but is he ready for this fight, and willing to follow through? His tone did not say courage and conviction, but hesitation and retreat. His own party is taking up the theme more enthusiastically than ever: Obama is weak; Obama is a liability. Incredible, when you consider what he got done in his first two years."
The New York Times:
"...the Democrats should vote for this deal, because it is the only one they are going to get. Mr. Obama made that case — strongly — on Tuesday, summoning an eloquence that is often elusive, as it was on Monday when he first announced the deal. Without this bargain, income taxes on the middle class would rise. Unemployment insurance for millions of Americans would expire. And many other important tax breaks for low- and middle-income workers — including a 2 percent payroll tax cut and college tuition credits — would not be possible.
If angry Democrats blow up the deal, they will be left vainly groping for something better in a new Congress where they will have far less influence than they have now. The middle class and the unemployed would be seriously hurt.
The president, and particularly Congressional Democrats, might not be in this bind if they had fought harder against the high-end tax cuts before the midterm elections. But that moment has passed. The real responsibility for what’s wrong with the tax deal lies with Republicans. They coldly insisted on the high-end tax cuts at all costs, no matter the pain they might inflict further down the income ladder or what staggering cost they might impose in years to come.
President Obama was right to use the metaphor of hostage-taking to describe the Republicans’ tactics. Using the parliamentary rules of the Senate, 42 Republican senators threatened to raise middle-class taxes if Democrats let tax cuts expire on the richest 2 percent of Americans. That left the White House and the Democrats little room to maneuver. “I think it’s tempting not to negotiate with hostage-takers, unless the hostage gets harmed,” Mr. Obama said at his news conference on Tuesday. "
New York Times:
For Obama, Tax Deal Is a Back-Door Stimulus Plan
By DAVID LEONHARDT
Published: December 7, 2010
"Congressional Democrats have reacted with a mix of wariness and anger, and some said Mr. Obama should have put up a fight on the high-end tax cuts. Yet once the Democrats bungled this issue — failing to deal with it before the midterm elections — their choices were extremely limited. If they stood firm on the high-end tax cuts and Republicans stood firm as well, all of the Bush tax cuts, not just those on income above $250,000, would have expired Dec. 31. The economy would surely have suffered as a result, and a bad economy is rarely good for the party that holds the White House.
Tellingly, economists and Democratic policy experts were largely pleased with the deal. Forecasting firms on Tuesday upgraded their estimates for growth and job gains over the next two years. Economists at Goldman Sachs, who have been more negative and more accurate than most Wall Street forecasters lately, called the deal “significantly more positive” than they had anticipated.
And left-leaning policy experts said the package did more to create jobs than they had thought possible after the Republicans’ midterm election victories. Robert Greenstein, Lawrence Mishel and John Podesta — who run prominent Washington research groups that range from liberal to staunchly liberal — all offered praise for the package. Of its estimated $900 billion-plus cost over two years, roughly $120 billion covers the high-end tax cuts and the estate tax cut, $450 billion covers Mr. Obama’s wish list and $360 billion covers the tax cut extensions both parties favored.
“People are kind of venting their disappointment and acting as if the administration did a terrible job in the negotiations,” said Mr. Greenstein, who runs the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. “But it didn’t. The mistake the administration made — and it was a serious one — was that it should have dealt with this well before the election.”