Sunday, July 31, 2011

Looking for the "long game" (updated x 2)

I think its a good time to remind ourselves what Michelle Obama said about her husband and our President.

Here's the thing about my husband: even in the toughest moments, when it seems like all is lost, Barack Obama never loses sight of the end goal. He never lets himself get distracted by the chatter and the noise, even if it comes from some of his best supporters. He just keeps moving forward.

And in those moments when we're all sweating it, when we're worried that the bill won't pass or the negotiation will fall through, Barack always reminds me that we're playing a long game here. He reminds me that change is slow — it doesn't happen overnight.

If we keep showing up, if we keep fighting the good fight and doing what we know is right, then eventually we will get there.

We always have.
(emphasis mine)

As we hear rumors about what might be in the debt ceiling bill, I begin to wonder about that long game.

I've had one guess in the back of my mind for a couple of days. Its not like I have the greatest track record in these predictions. But its still interesting to throw this kind of thing out there. And then this morning I saw something that made it seem even more likely.

What I saw was an short note in Politico titled WH fine with no new revenue until 2013. It refers to something Gene Sperling, Director of the National Economic Council, said.

A bleary-eyed Sperling, who has been at the center of talks between the White House and congressional Republicans, said that Obama wouldn't seek new revenues over the next 18 months anyway and will still push for a payroll tax cut.

You have to ask the question about why President Obama would take new revenues off the table as part of this deal when that has been the bottom line of his whole appeal about a "balanced approach."

The key to answering that question is the timing referred to in both the Politico headline (2013) and Sperling's reference to 18 months. That's when the Bush tax cuts expire. And if the President is willing to let them ALL expire, the Republicans won't have any hostages to take to prevent that because all that needs to happen is for Congress to do nothing to extend them. And whala...we get our balanced approach that deals with the biggest contributor to our current deficit.

I might very well be wrong about this one. But I suspect its what's going on - or something like that. Who are you going to believe on this one? The poutragers who are convinced the President is caving? Or Michelle and what we've seen happen over and over again?

UPDATE: Ezra Klein sees the same possibility.

It’s difficult to see how it could have ended otherwise. Virtually no Democrats are willing to go past Aug. 2 without raising the debt ceiling. Plenty of Republicans are prepared to blow through the deadline. That’s not a dynamic that lends itself to a deal. That’s a dynamic that lends itself to a ransom.

But Democrats will have their turn. On Dec. 31, 2012, three weeks before the end of President Barack Obama’s current term in office, the Bush tax cuts expire. Income tax rates will return to their Clinton-era levels. That amounts to a $3.6 trillion tax increase over 10 years, three or four times the $800 billion to $1.2 trillion in revenue increases that Obama and Speaker John Boehner were kicking around. And all Democrats need to do to secure that deal is...nothing.

UPDATE 2: Joy Reid twitters:

Harry Reid doesn't have to negotiate with Mitch McConnell to get revenues. He doesn't have to worry about Boehner's impotence in the House.

Harry Reid can simple refuse to bring the tax cuts up for a vote before they expire next December 31st, and POTUS can threaten to veto them.

Even if Dems were to be wiped out next Nov, or Obama lost, the lame duck Congress would be in place til January 2013.

And I have good sourcing that Obama and Reid will hold the line, win or lose. So don't sweat this bill. Its long term "cuts", short term win


  1. Hello Smartypants!

    ...I'm going with Michelle. She knows him better than anyone. I'll take her word any day, any time! The President has proven time & again he plays the long game. I'm going to trust him and that's that!

  2. SouthernGirl2

    Yesterday all I could think of was that if I was in the President's shoes - I'm afraid I'd be telling these lunatics to "stuff it" - only probably with more colorful language. LOL

    But Michelle reminds us why we voted for this man. His patience and steadfastness is nothing short of remarkable!

  3. I think one of Obama' prime strengths is that he truly would be satisfied with knowing he did the best he possibly could for this country, even if it means one term instead of two.

    This manufactured "crises" has clearly spotlighted the Republicans true motives for all to see, and he has stayed clear enough to let them do just that. He's also got the wisdom and courage to not be baited into any actions he does not wish to take, even if it means he risks the good will of his base.

    No one knows how to react to a President that actually operates from strong principle and integrity,rather than self interest or control fantasies.

    I stand with this President because he has yet to give me one single reason not to.

  4. No one knows how to react to a President that actually operates from strong principle and integrity,rather than self interest or control fantasies.


  5. HELLO Smartypants. ***BIG HUG*** :>)

    Just love your analysis. :>)
    Sooo --I've put BIG quotation marks around it annd --SHARED. :>)

    I try 2 check her every day. I luv your --"BRAIN." :>)

    THANK U 4 your hard work. :>) I have LEARNED MUCH. :>)

    P.S. This is gon B posted as ANONYMOUS 'cause I'ON'T know enough 2 choose the correct ID. LOL.

    Sooo this is ---GreenLadyHere --anonymously. LOL.

    Again, THANK U. :>)

  6. PBO warned voters to not give the keys back, but folks fell for the GOP trickery about the boogie man in the WH & took their eyes off the wolves on the outside.

  7. GreenLadyHere - Thanks SO much!

    And please post here anytime under any name (or no name).

    I have a hunch we'll all know its you :>)

  8. I've been watching with awe and wonder as the entire narrative in this country has shifted over the last few weeks to people being willing to pay more taxes...generate revenue for the Government. I've been thinking for some time now that this whole thing is about getting the public primed to accept the expiration of the Bush tax cuts across the board. This would make me very happy indeed.

  9. you are so right southerngir2. I want to know just how many of these Progressives Liberals stayed home and did not vote in 2010. Just think if everyone had gone to vote in 2010, we would have still had a Nancy Pelosi.The President would not have to be dealing with those radical T-Republicans terrorists. But alot of these same Progressive Liberals stayed home in 2010.

  10. @ Anon 10:18

    Believe it or not, I swear some progressives were smirking & gloating after the 2010 elections about voters staying home. Like staying home was a good thing? I told the person, do you know your interest just got washed away? As if it didn't affect them? It's mindblowing!

  11. I disagree with the entire premise that "change" or "progress," however defined, is some sort of slow march toward some golden mean. With incrementally more focused laws or regulation passed and added upon.

    Sure, public attitudes may change slowly on many issues, and especially by the generations, until it builds to a substantial majority of the population, but there has to be someone willing to draw a line, take the risk, and actually bring everyone else along.

    Segregation wasn't ended by a slow march to enlightenment, or even Brown, it was the National Guard. Slavery wasn't ended by vigorous debate, it was Union guns.

    So if the entire administration keeps up the hippie punching and kills enthusiasm in search of some nebulous shifting "centrist" or "independent" voter, that I believe data has actually shown normally vote R or D and don't bounce back and forth, but simply don't show up when dissatisfied and for whatever reason don't register a party ID, and Democrats lose, what is to stop the incoming Congress and President from making those cuts either permanent, or instituting some crazed flat tax scheme?

    Also, Republicans cans still absolutely take a hostage, it is the 30 second commercial saying
    Democrats are going to increase "job killing" taxes in a recession. Since Democrats only want the tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 to expire for the high earner bracket, there is the hostage right there, because that will take the passage of some sort of bill to either extend or create anew the tax breaks for the lower brackets and AMT relief, Republicans will simply say they will not extend them or let them pass unless the high bracket is included.

    Do you really believe a low info voter will know the difference? Or that the Republicans cannot spin it to suit their needs, especially since the job recession looks to still be in full swing by then, with no action by Obama on the issue? Obama doesn't seem, IMO, to be great at using the pulpit, or to call out madness.

    Pundits I read have said Obama has effectively taken the "Bush" tax cuts away as a hostage. Can someone please explain how this is so? Because when they just up and expire, Obama will be breaking a big campaign promise not to raise taxes on anyone/joint filers making under 250k.

  12. 1. The "long game." This is the "game" where Reagan deregulated, slashed taxes, and increased the deficit, while the infrastructure crumbled and our health care costs skyrocketed. Then Clinton had two years to pass a progressive agenda, and didn't, and instead slowly caved in to more conservative concessions. Then we had the escalation of the deficit, two wars, and a depression brought on by the worst administration in history. Again, Obama had two years to enact a progressive agenda, and to rescue the country. The long game is that progressives lose, no matter who is President, and the Democratic party sells out a little more every day.

    2. If you believe that Obama will play the expiration of the tax cuts aggressively, you have been asleep. First, he won't support the expiration, but will ask for a "balanced" approach. Second, the Democrats will not stand firm and unified in allowing the expiration. I fully expect them to be in place as we enter a Romney or Bachmann presidency and Obama is consider a bad joke, like Carter was. Yes, Carter, who was too conservative for his party at the time, who is now understood as a far-leftist. After the failure of the Obama Presidency, the conventional wisdom will be he was too liberal, and the party will retreat further into conservatism.

    Denial is powerful. Fact is, our country is lost. Not all Obama's fault, certainly, but please don't prop him up as some sort of wise man or victim.

  13. I agree with Kanzeon. This fantasy of Obama aggressively leading unified Democrats to let the Bush tax cuts expire is the stuff of denial and pipe dreams.

  14. On the end of the tax cuts - those of you that have kept your distance and done nothing but criticize him have gotten lost in your denial of who he is. Some of us have been paying closer attention for a long time and I suggest you'll be surprised on this one. But then, I've thought that before when he's won things that no one expected him to and the denial continues.

    So this is all up to our own individual interpretations.

    But beyond that, I'd suggest a few of you should read this:

    Yes, there are still sparks of wisdom at the great orange satan. LOL

  15. From the Kos diary:
    "Long ago, it seems, we lost the passion to confront these people head-on, decided it would be best simply to play a defensive game among our own, a defensive game protecting the advances of the New Deal and the Great Society. But it means we can be held hostage, as the Republicans chip away at that edifice. We're always backing away on things like this, because we never let the momentume build on our side to rock them back on their heels."

    I'm puzzled. Pres. Obama has done exactly what he's describing. Why should we be rallying behind him when his behavior is part of the problem?

  16. Obama has an extreme reluctance to name the enemy. Lately, he's taken to blaming "Washington" for the debt debacle.

    He's not going to be running against "Washington" in 2012. (In fact, HE'LL be more identified with DC than the probable GOP candidate.) The power of Reagan and FDR emanated from their consistent narratives that they promoted effectively. American voters will support a leader with whom they disagree IF they understand where he's coming from AND if the leader fights energetically for his vision. Obama has failed to communicate his vision and failed to fight energetically. If you expect the American electorate to pay close attention to Obama's every legislative "accomplishment" then you're living a fantasy. The public perception is shaped by battles like the debt limit-- where he was rolled like a hapless drunk in an alley. Witness his glum press conference and the victory laps of McDonnell and Boehner.

  17. American voters are decides which one is the best. These are all nothing and rudeness.


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