It used to be easy to feel bad for conservative politicians, after all, the standard “right” politics of one generation are seldom far enough from the center for the next. Saint Ronnie the Gipper would have been castigated by his own brethren for dozens of policy decisions that now stand in clear violation of the edicts of Grover Norquist and Dick Armey. Senator John McCain broke into a dead lateral sprint over the last three years in a desperate attempt to be more conservative than Senator John McCain. And so it was that I pitied those principled conservatives that fell under the tracks of the 21st Century conservative movement.
But no longer will I pity them. From this moment forward, I will hold my most intense emotions and sympathies for any Democrat deluded and talented enough to win the Presidency. Representing liberals has proven to be the most thankless job in America. Only slightly less degrading than volunteering one’s time as a youth sports coach, Democratic presidents enjoy the spite and venom of their base in full view of the entire world. The Rational Middle was taken aback by this nonsense after the oil spill, and the ridiculous bleating of liberal lambs in the aftermath of the President’s “not sexy enough speech” on the subject. Using the office of the President to push a major corporation into a $20 billion settlement without legal action was, apparently, the cowardly action of a corporate lackey.
I asked then when Mr. Obama was reported to have bought his wand from Mr. Olivander, and have yet to receive an answer. Having promised his record number of supporters in 2008 that he would always seek to work across the aisle, he was faced with a minority party committed to stopping all of his agenda items. The President’s reckless insistence on keeping his promises despite this challenge seems to have enraged his base; but what did they think was going to happen? Over the last 24 hours, I have asked many liberals what they wanted from the President on the tax cuts issue, and all I received was hopped up and breathless ranting about “fights” and “principles”.
“Hillary Clinton wouldn’t have caved like that.” “I am going shopping for a new President!” I apologize for being so aggresive in this post, but really? Hillary Clinton, given the same situation (and any who cling to the notion that Sec. Clinton would not have faced the same level of hate, venom, and contrived garbage as President Obama need a reality check), would have made the same deal. She would have jumped at the chance to protect her most vulnerable constituency in exchange for giving up something with no short term cost at all. Make no mistake about the calculus of Obama’s tax deal with the Republicans; our President was the guy in the plaid suit selling the beat up car to a group of suckers.
The single most effective card in the GOP’s arsenal this year has been unemployment benefits extensions. Democrats have had to give up programatic pieces every time benefits were due to expire. The issue played a role in confirmation hearings, and was pivotal in the run up to financial reform. For the cost of a two year extension on the Bush tax cuts, President Obama stole the conservatives legislative lunch money for 13 months. Additionally, workers will see a 4% reduction in FICA taxes…the biggest Bush cuts were 3%, and the FICA tax is one that every working class American pays (because they all make less than $100,000 per year).
That is right friends; it is more than unemployment benefits that Mr. Obama scored on. He got another large working class tax cut. Cuts to the amount of payroll tax that businesses pay and extensions on various tax credits round out a fairly large round of, wait for it, stimulus. “But he caved on the Bush tax cuts!!!!” So?! We have pointed out many times that the deficit and debt levels are neither historic nor dangerous in the near term. The market still feels safe enough with U.S. government debt to ask a very low interest rate on long term instruments. This deal doesn’t change our reality with regards to Social Security or long term budgetary pressures. President Obama gave the Republicans everything they wanted…which wasn’t much. He got a package that Congressional Democrats haven’t come close to passsing on their own over the last year; a package that offers some measure of hope and security to millions around our nation.
But go ahead…drone on about principle. I am sure the children of the unemployed will feel the stirings of pride through their hunger pains if Bernie Sanders can block this deal. Don’t break your arms patting yourselves on the back for righteous indignation.
The Rational Middle is slightly peeved…