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Hold Your Nose and Vote ‘Aye’

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Posted on Dec 9, 2010

By Eugene Robinson

Approve the lousy deal.

It pains me to write those words, because the agreement President Barack Obama negotiated with Republicans on tax cuts is really quite awful. I know that some progressives have come to see the package as a cleverly disguised “second stimulus,” but they’re just rationalizing. The fact is that nobody would start from scratch and design an economic boost offering so little bang for so many bucks.

For a two-year cost of nearly $1 trillion, we get a bit more than $300 billion worth of new measures that are truly stimulative: a cut in the payroll tax, a provision allowing businesses to write off capital investment and an extension of unemployment benefits. We’ll spend the rest—I should say borrow the rest, then spend it—to continue existing tax breaks that obviously are not roaring engines of job growth.

The deal invests basically nothing in the nation’s future. We need to be channeling money into education and clean energy, where it can help the United States remain competitive against China and other economic rivals—not into the well-stuffed bank accounts of the rich.

Yet congressional Democrats have no real choice but to hold their noses, approve the thing and live to fight another day. The opportunity to shape a better deal—one without those unnecessary, unfair and supremely galling tax cuts for households making more than $250,000 a year—is long gone.

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As a practical matter, I don’t see how Democrats could possibly think they have leverage to exact concessions before the end of the year. Republicans can simply wait them out, knowing that Democrats will be in a much weaker position when the new Congress convenes in January.

The Democrats do have public opinion on their side—or had it, at least. Polls showing that a substantial majority of Americans opposed extending the Bush tax cuts for the rich were far more meaningful before the deal was announced. Now the calculus has shifted, and not in a good way.

Looking at the agreement, you’d never imagine the federal government was running a deficit. Before the deal was sealed, Democrats argued that it was unconscionable to continue a huge tax break for the rich at a time when the nation is so deeply in debt. Republicans argued that it was irresponsible to keep extending unemployment benefits without paying for them by cutting something else. The solution? Do both. I guess this makes the package unconscionable and irresponsible, but never mind. Oh, and let’s extend the middle-class tax cuts, too.

It’s as if a shiny, expensive, prettily wrapped present has been placed under the Christmas tree. The political question is whether anyone will dare to snatch it away.

Six months ago, Democrats could have refused to compromise—and forced the GOP to play its hand on the “millionaires’ tax cut” before the election. Obama and congressional leaders could have gotten a better deal and maybe—who knows?—even saved a few seats.

But as much as I sympathize with the progressives who are ready to man the barricades, let’s be real. Killing the deal now would mean a middle-class tax increase, no extended unemployment benefits and no payroll tax holiday. Voters would surely feel they had been robbed—and Democrats, perhaps unfairly, would get the blame.

As I said, this is painful. Democrats in Congress are understandably irate at being lectured so sternly by a president for whom ending the tax cuts for the wealthy was so important that it was non-negotiable—until he negotiated it away. 

It’s a sad story, for the country and especially for the Democratic Party. I believe the White House continues to underestimate the anger and disillusionment among the party’s loyal base—and the need for some victories, or at least some heroic battles, to lift the spirits of the faithful. Obama needs to train his newfound passion and outrage on his foes in the GOP, not on the friends and supporters that his press secretary once derisively called the “professional left.”

Pyrrhic victories don’t make anything better, however. And that’s what killing the tax cut deal would clearly be.

Eugene Robinson’s e-mail address is eugenerobinson(at)washpost.com.
   
© 2010, Washington Post Writers Group


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MarthaA's avatar

By MarthaA, December 26, 2010 at 2:22 am Link to this comment

tihsstaezevahc, December 15 at 5:27 am,

Obama had power and the full faith of the majority population and did not have to stick his nose up the Conservative Republican’s butt, and keep giving away the liberal store for conservative crackers; it was his choice to follow instead of lead.  The aristocracies will probably put him back into power in 2012 like they did the best Republican EVER, Bill Clinton, everything else is just show and a perfect way to waste the money, which the 70% liberal Common Population relies on, in the process of destroying all the liberal network and swearing it is all being done in the best interest of the Middle Class, as if the Middle Class is the 70% majority population, which is hog wash.

You may not like Chavez, but he has done well by the majority population.

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By MarthaA, December 26, 2010 at 2:22 am Link to this comment

tihsstaezevahc, December 15 at 5:27 am,

Obama had power and the full faith of the majority population and did not have to stick his nose up the Conservative Republican’s butt, and then keep giving away the liberal store for conservative crackers; the conservatives NEVER give away anything but crackers; it was his choice to follow instead of lead.  The aristocracies will probably put him back into power in 2012 like they did the best Republican EVER, Bill Clinton, everything else is just show and a perfect way to waste the money, which the 70% liberal Common Population relies on, in the process of destroying all the liberal network and swearing it is all being done in the best interest of the Middle Class, as if the Middle Class is the 70% majority population, which is hog wash.

You may not like Chavez, but he has done well by the majority population.

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By tihsstaezevahc, December 15, 2010 at 12:27 am Link to this comment

I saw this great quote on TV the other day and it rang a bell. It was taken from Ghandhi and then reversed.

Obama the candidate:
“First they ignore you,
Then they laugh at you,
Then they fight you,
Then you win.”

Obama the president:
“First you win,
Then they fight you,
Then they laugh at you,
Then they ignore you”.

Is this what is really happening to Obama? If it is it is well earned.

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By JDmysticDJ, December 14, 2010 at 3:20 pm Link to this comment

De Profundis Clamavi  

I am in agreement with your appraisal of the American people. So…? Are you advocating for a massive education program? An education for the American people seems like a good idea to me, but I don’t think such an education is likely any time soon, unless lessons are learned the hard way. The majority of the American people know they don’t like Wall Street, the majority are not happy with their government, and the voting majority expressed a preference for Republicans over Democrats in the mid-terms, A recent CNN poll shows that Obama would lose in 2012 running against several Republicans, including Huckabee.

MarthA

Poll results are always questionable. Polling data shows that the majority of American people would prefer letting the tax cuts expire for earnings over $250,000, while at the same time they are in favor of the bi-partisan tax proposal.

I made the mistake of accepting poll data that I heard on the radio. The most recent polls show that 60% to 69% of the American people favor the bi-partisan agreement, while 66% favor extending unemployment benefits.

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By Inherit The Wind, December 14, 2010 at 2:40 pm Link to this comment

DPC:  Can I have your cheap Chinese iPhone?  I want it to direct me to the nearest fast food joint.

j/k.  I usually dislike your posts but this one was spot on.

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By Salome, December 14, 2010 at 2:39 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Yes, I, too, was willing to let the tax cuts expire, and take the hit, so that the rich would not continue to enjoy obscene benefits.  Until I thought about it, and it came to seem like throwing out the baby with the bathwater. 

Forget about the effect on the un/under-employed, and the middle-class, the overall economy is still too fragile to sustain higher taxes on everyone.  I think that was overriding the factor that Obama considered before making this deal.

Someone else said something like, “Obama is playing chess while progressives are playing checkers”.

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By Salome, December 14, 2010 at 2:26 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The U.S. has reached the “bread (check the size of the butts in front of you when you walk down the street) and circuses (celebrity culture-Real Housewives, etc.)” decline of empire.

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By de profundis clamavi, December 14, 2010 at 1:37 pm Link to this comment

We hear a lot from our politicians and pundits about what the “American People” want.

So far as I can see, the overwhelming majority of the American People want

- cheap manufactured goods from Asian sweat shops

- cheap gasoline they can use to fill up their cheap cars, also manufactured in Asia

- cheap fast food intensively produced using as much pesticides, additives and genetically modified ingredients as possible, produced by agribusiness cartels and served up to them by undocumented immigrants in garishly colored drive-thru corporate franchise outlets

- cheap thrills packaged and delivered to their televisions and computers by mass media

- cheap flags, yellow ribbons and “God Bless America” bumper stickers with which they can display their cheap patriotism to other Americans in the drive-thru lines and the strip mall parking lots

- the illusion of cheap foreign wars and an immense military establishment, maintained by paying for it all through borrowing instead of taxes

- low taxes because they think things like schools, roads, teachers, firemen, policemen, and public transportation ought to cost nothing

- celebrity stars and m/billionaires whose glamorous magical lives they can experience vicariously through incessant media glorification.

So far as I can see, the American People won’t realize that they need (and have to pay for) American industry, public education, infrastructure, retirement security, job security and guaranteed access to healthcare especially in their old age, until they experience the loss of these things as individuals. They are incapable of imagining themselves in the position of persons who are (for the time being) less fortunate than they are.

The American people, as a group, have been dumbed down to the point that they are incapable of making sensible and responsible choices in their own longer-term self interest.

That is why polls show that an overwhelming majority of them think the most important issue at stake last week and this week is the prospect of suffering what would be a pretty insignificant tax increase for the middle class if the Democrats called the Republicans bluff and let all the Bush tax cuts expire.

When in two year’s time, Social Security and Medicare are cut, a majority of the American People will still be unconcerned, because they are incapable of imagining that they will themselves someday get old,  still not having won the lottery or been “discovered” and made into instant celebrities.

The bi-partisan majority in the Senate, by approving Obama’s destructive deal with the Republicans, is just giving the American People what they want, and telling them they can have it all, and at a cheap price.

They are lying to the American People, and they are wrong to do so, but the American People do not want to hear the message coming from the few voices of reason like Bernie Sanders.

The American People have already been intellectually reduced to a level of stupidity unparalleled in developed countries. When 90% of the American People have been reduced to a the same standard of living as 90% of the people of countries like Brazil or India, it will be no more nor less than the fruits of their own choices, and they will justly deserve their poverty and powerlessness.

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By MarthaA, December 14, 2010 at 11:32 am Link to this comment

JDmysticDJ, December 14 at 3:15 pm,

That is a questionable percentage.

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By JDmysticDJ, December 14, 2010 at 10:15 am Link to this comment

The rationale is interesting here.

We’d be better off with Palin. Obama has gotten away with more than George W. did. Obama is a con-man and a servant of the plutocracy, simplistic analogies, and manipulation of relationships … refuting these over emotional rationales, and simplistic analogies, and pointing out the negative consequences of these rationales would not require much effort, but I fear we’re beyond being rational here.

I would be the very first, I mean the first, the top dog, el numero uno, in pointing out that current political realities suck, but they are what they are. 70% of the American people support the current tax legislation. Identifying the demographics of this 70% is beyond the scope, but the support is not partisan it’s bi-partisan, and yet, some want to dump the “responsibility” for tax policy on Republicans. Does anyone think that the tax legislation coming from the Republican controlled House of Representatives after Jan. 5th will be preferable to the present legislation? What about the two million unemployed who will be without an income at the conclusion of the holidays?  What will happen when the Republican legislation comes up for a vote? Where will the “responsibility” lie then? I suppose it’s possible that a protracted fight over tax policy could change public perceptions, but how, and in what way, would perceptions change?

Chaos causing hysteria will not lead to a positive outcome, only to chaos, and a power shift to the Right.

While we’re in the mood for insulting metaphor; “Of Mice and Men, [and rats]” There’s an old saying about rats deserting a sinking ship, it’s used as metaphor to describe those who desert in a time of crisis.

Crisis (definition): “A crucial stage at which future events are determined.”

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By glider, December 14, 2010 at 6:02 am Link to this comment

I think Eugene has unwittingly stumbled upon the essence of Obama.  Mr. Hope and Change, and Yes We Can, is actually Mr. Please Hold Your Nose and Vote Aye.  That pretty much defines the situation.  Progressives define that as a “sellout” or the trademark of a “con man”, and the little mice declare poor POTUS will wake up anytime or is doing the best he can when he passes rather than vetos Repuglican legislation.

Baloney, he is a Con Man!  Someone who had the potential to be a truly great president has squandered it to the point of being a historical low as an American POTUS.

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By Inherit The Wind, December 13, 2010 at 11:33 pm Link to this comment

I have been highly critical of the left, the far left.
But I’m forced to re-evaluate in light of the damage done to this country and to the center-left coalition by the so-called “center”.

Fools like Nelson and Baucus ruined the health care bill. Now we’ve seen all but 15 senators vote for this suicidally deadly bill for the left.  Even Al Franken, who spoke so eloquently against it, voted “Yea”.

The Tea party, as much as I hate what they stand for have successfully taken over their party, and capitalized on the GOP’s ability to maintain party discipline.

If they are to be defeated, and I believe most Americans don’t believe in the Tea Party, then the Left needs to stop giving in to the Right, and start forcing them to make REAL compromises or paralyze the government as they have so often threatened to do.

The one who controls the relationship is the one who has the least to lose—or convince the other he/she has the least to lose. 

It’s time to lance the boil of the evil the right is bringing down on us, and if it hurts for a while, well it hurts so good.

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By bg2, December 13, 2010 at 10:44 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Obama did NOT have to compromise at all. And on top of this, why did he accept a cut in the Social Security payroll tax, which, let’s be honest, is a foot in the door to destroy Social Security.  He didn’t have to do any of this.  He could of just done nothing, let the Bush tax cut expire and put the onus on the GOP to renew tax cuts for the middle class and extend unemployment insurance.

Why are you, Eugene Robinson, covering for him?

Obama betrayed the people who voted for him; he’s screwed the country in the service of the billionaires and big corporations.  He will never get my vote.  We must replace him in 2012. And I’m no Naderite - I’ve never voted 3rd party because I thought it was a wasted vote. But now I see there’s nothing to lose.  If were going to have a president cuts Social Security (because that’s what he really did) and gives the plutocracy whatever it wants, and then spits on me, well, then screw it, I’d rather have Sarah Palin. At least with Palin people will be onto her game, instead of thinking they’re getting “socialism”.  In fact, I’m willing to bet Palin couldn’t get away with half of what Barry has.  Even G.W.Bush said that the other day - that he couldn’t have gotten away with Obama has pulled.

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By glider, December 13, 2010 at 7:31 pm Link to this comment

JDmysticDJ,

That was a good read but I do not understand the necessity to blame the left.  The right certainly did not respond to their 2008 loss by moving to the center.  So their is no equality there.  The basic problem boils down to the inherently rightwing corporate structure being the funder of a fake “Democracy”.  Such that when the electorate demands changes that are counter to these funders, those in power beholding to them, must betray the public.  In doing so they can only use all the forces at their disposal (media, and political speeches) to assuage the electorates outrage.  They can not move policy to the left.  So what I am describing is a “rigged game”, and there is no other real solution than getting corporations out of the business of running our government.  So as a member of the left you are basically damned if you do and damned if you don’t.  There is no solution within the current system.  Hence you naturally and appropriately have frustration and discord amongst the left.

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By JDmysticDJ, December 13, 2010 at 7:08 pm Link to this comment

Inherit The Wind

My head hurts. Even the most superficial of macro economic analysis is confused by complexities and seeming contradictions.

I’m all for putting money in the hands of consumers in order to alleviate financial difficulties, even if it is only a short term solution, so we agree on that aspect. We also agree on the need for infrastructure spending and building an industrial manufacturing base. You made the case well, using example. I only glossed over the issue in my previous lengthy post, stating that we need to build infrastructure and industry, “Backed up by legislation.” The legislation I had in mind would protect U.S. industry and manufacturing.

I’m still concerned that the ultimate recipient of debt financed stimulus would be financial institutions, and multi-national corporations. Legislation protecting U.S. industry and manufacturing, I believe, would be of the utmost importance, and would reduce the incentive of multi-nationals to out-source jobs, and further reduce the availability of even low paying jobs. To me policies protecting U.S. industry and manufacturing would make perfect sense, just like Universal Health Care makes perfect sense, or the “Public option,” would have made better sense than the Health Care Reform passed into law. I also believe that a sizable raise in the cap on social security contributions makes perfect sense, and that a healthy estate tax makes perfect sense, but the likelihood of any of the previous becoming law under current political realities is not promising.

Under the present economic realities, investment by financial institutions in U.S. manufacturing would be considered low yield and risky, in comparison to other investments.

The crux of my argument here has been that the Left of our political spectrum is more likely to advance progressive legislation, and that factionalism in the Left threatens to destroy any hope of future progressive legislation. The proverbial “Circular Firing Squad” may be valuable in promoting policy under times of sizable majority, but, I believe, this characteristic of the Left is dangerously counter productive when faced with a sizable and unified Right opposition.

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By Inherit The Wind, December 13, 2010 at 5:06 pm Link to this comment

JD:

You miss the key point: What do Americans buy?  True, most of the stuff now comes from abroad, from the Swingline stapler to the fancy VOIP phone on my desk.  But not putting money in the hands of consumers is going to make their life worse.

On one thing I think we agree: The Government should take the money it gets from NOT extending the tax cuts and invest in infrastructure, and, to make sure it stimulates industry here, demand that all the steel, the concrete, the trucks, the asphalt, etc, etc etc, be of US manufacture.

For example: Building rail lines. It is SHAMEFUL that the USA has insufficient rolling stock to carry freight (shades of “Atlas Shrugged”) and yet has NOT revitalized the railroad car industry.  When any US city builds a subway these days, the cars come from Europe or Japan!

US steel, going into US machines, to build our roads, bridges, tunnels, rails, canals, etc, employing Americans.  That’s how we got out of the Great Depression—we built infrastructure.  If you are going to mortgage the future, that’s worth doing it for, not so that Goldman bankers can golden parachute with 40, 50, 60 million bucks.

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By JDmysticDJ, December 13, 2010 at 4:38 pm Link to this comment

Inherit The Wind

Do you not agree that creating demand, by stimulus, will to a great extent create demand for foreign manufactured goods, and create low paying jobs in foreign countries rather than good paying jobs in the U.S.? Also, one must consider what part of stimulus dollars will be spent to alleviate consumer debt, transferring those government tax payer dollars to creditors, not creating demand. If debt was local, and not nationally centralized, payment to local creditors could theoretically increase employment, providing there would be demand in the market, but if potential consumers are transferring their government tax payer stimulus dollars to financial institutions, there will be little or no demand created.

If the above scenario is valid, the ultimate beneficiaries of federal debt financed stimulus dollars will be the financial institutions, and multi-national corporations. Restating, I’ll suggest that financial institutions will not be inclined to invest in markets where demand is weak and profits are minimal, and that multi-national corporations will continue to create low paying jobs in foreign countries, in order to meet global demand.

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By Inherit The Wind, December 13, 2010 at 12:46 pm Link to this comment

JD:

It’s not that the Keynesian model is wrong: It is that it is mis-interpreted.  Keynes ALWAYS presumed that tax cuts meant increased spending by individuals, not increased investing and certainly not increased saving.  If you cut taxes for the bottom 95% of wage earners I guarantee you the kick to the economy will far outweigh a cut to the top 5% because most of it is going to be spent right away.

This was always was government fiscal policy meant to Keynes and there’s lots of models for it.  But in every model savings and investment are a small component and consumption is the major one.

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By JDmysticDJ, December 13, 2010 at 12:42 pm Link to this comment

#1

Unlike some, I can recognize the futility of fighting a losing battle, but I don’t believe that losing one battle is reason for effectively surrendering to total defeat. Forgive me for being obscure; this reference is only for example. Mao’s Chinese Route Army under the leadership of Zhu De harassed the Japanese invaders in Northern China, while Generalissimo Chiang Kai -Shek’s Nationalist army did little against the occupying Japanese while focusing on eliminating Mao’s communists. Zhu De could have united his forces for a courageous frontal attack on the Japanese, but the result would have been total annihilation of the poorly supplied, but courageous and determined Chinese Route army. The success of this strategy, for good or for worse, is recorded by history. There are other similar examples from history, but this one example should be sufficient to illustrate a point. Sometimes small effective actions provide the only hope of future victory, where a frontal attack would result in annihilation.

Prognosticating and theorizing may be useful in terms of arguing for a proposed strategy, but only outcomes can actually measure the success or failure of a strategy. No strategy guarantees a positive outcome, only the likelihood of a strategy being successful and having a positive outcome is available when formulating a strategy.

To the issue at hand; nearly everyone here, actually everyone, including me, recognizes that this compromise is a defeat of progressive agendas and ideals. A brief analytical overview reveals that continuing the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans will have a negative impact on the deficit, and will serve only the interests of the wealthiest Americans; the unjust income and wealth disparities will continue under this compromise, when what’s needed is a rollback and not a continuation. The payroll deductions resulting from this compromise may provide a short term stimulus to the economy, but reducing the funding for so called entitlement programs, creates a frightening scenario regarding the continued economic viability of these programs, and in the long run may serve the right-wing anti-entitlement agenda. Continuing the capital gains tax rates at their current levels, will result in low tax rates for the wealthiest Americans on the income from investments that don’t improve the economy but do increase the net worth of the wealthiest Americans, continuing, or expanding, the imbalance in wealth distribution. Finally, in my opinion, the inheritance tax provisions of this compromise further accelerate the wealth disparities, and will serve to further establish an “Old money,” elite class reality. On the plus side,  some of the most vulnerable victims of right-wing economic policies will be allowed a continuance of a meager and inadequate income, but this inadequate and meager income is far preferable to no income at all, both in terms of the personal welfare of the vulnerable, and in respect to the welfare of our economy.

Unless our society is willing to let the most vulnerable lose their shelter, suffer from hunger, lose the ability to provide even the most meager existence for their families, and suffer from untreated illness, other funds will have to be made available. The currently bankrupt States will be responsible, or not responsible, for providing the necessary funds. In Arizona, the ill, needing transplants are dying because of, Incomprehensible right-wing spending priorities, an ideological rejection of rational tax policies, and because of an equally incomprehensible lack of compassion.

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By JDmysticDJ, December 13, 2010 at 9:44 am Link to this comment

#2

Economic issues are replete with complexities and contradictions. In Europe where tax rates are high when compared to the totality of tax policies in the U.S., the social safety net, and general welfare, is superior in terms of actual results, but the right-wing of the U.S. political spectrum is adamantly and ideologically opposed to adopting European social policy which would allow for similar advancements in the general welfare.

Clearly, jobs are needed in our economy, but not just any jobs, we need jobs to build our infrastructure, and industrial jobs backed up by legislation that will make our industries competitive with foreign imported goods. The argument that stimulating the economy via tax cuts will increase demand, and thus jobs in this country, is logical according to the Keynesian economic model, but I’ll argue that the new global economic reality, has made the Keynesian economic model invalid, and that stimulating our economy will, to a large extent, primarily create demand for foreign made goods, create low paying jobs in foreign countries, and that the stimulus money will find its way into the coffers of landlords, creditors, and multi-national corporations, further centralizing the wealth and power, increasing rather than diminishing the inequities of income distribution, and that this new global economic model will not provide an adequate supply of even the most menial of jobs, here or abroad. Currently the financial institutions and multi-nationals are reporting record breaking profits, while our economy is stagnant at best,  the suffering of some continues unabated, and the prospect of an increase in the suffering appears to be a definite possibility, if not an inevitability.

If my dreary analysis is at all correct, we the people of the U.S., and the people of the world, are confronted by a monolithic leviathan, or to be more colorful, a great beast that threatens to devour us all (Or at the least, eat our lunch.)

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By JDmysticDJ, December 13, 2010 at 8:33 am Link to this comment

#3

So, is the war over, are - we the people - the vanquished. Should we hand over our lunch money to the bullies without protest or a fight? The smirking bullies standing before us with their hands out are unrelenting and seemingly indomitable, they gather together in celebration at their exclusive enclaves, and amuse each other with congratulatory witticisms, which exalt themselves, while subtly demeaning the riff raff, and the “Little people.” They define themselves as “The Masters of the Universe,” tongues only slightly imbedded in their cheeks. They, the exploiters, rationalize their exploitation by anointing themselves as being the noble providers. The sycophants bow and scrape, while considering themselves blessed by the merest of recognitions, and condescension. One might define these sycophants as bootlickers, but I digress, I’m lost in an intoxicating but fruitless anger at these sycophants, after all, these sycophants are unknowing victims in their own right, I believe their willingness to be subservient results from: Lethargic stupidity, an admiring covetousness, aspirations of ego exaltation, and an overriding need to mask their acquired, not innate, inferiority, while their masters revel in sociopathy, confusing it with superiority.


Mild chaos can be amusing to the casual observer, but chaos can also be a monster. I’ll call this monster “Chaosis, Destroyer of Nations,” Chaos sometimes leads to panic or frenzy, and I believe chaos is never the result of ordered thought by an individual, or by groups of people. This contemplation of ordered thought by groups and individuals can arouse suspicion and conjure up visions of suppression of free thought, but thinking orderly, and ordered thought on the part of groups in order to create unity, is not dangerous unless specific thoughts are enforced,  ill considered, a result of mass hysteria, or as an errant group mentality run awry.

Actions that bring a uniform negative consequence can in no way be considered positive actions. I’ll take the liberty of cautioning people about the danger of not rationally evaluating the consequences of actions. It would be presumptuous of me to tell people what to think, but asking people to think about the consequences of their actions is only advice, to be adopted, or ignored.

Lately our politics have been dominated by issues that many see as being of the utmost importance, and emotional responses to perceived negative political outcomes have been obvious. I believe that the recent responses to negative political outcomes have resulted in a near frenzy, and that former allies now perceive themselves to be enemies. Regarding the Left [i.e. Center/Left coalition,] there is no cohesion, only chaos. The Right [i.e. Center/Right coalition] is not cohesive on virtually every detail of every issue, but the Right is absolutely cohesive on one issue; that issue is defeat of the Left. The Right is led and directed by a far-right, goose stepping in lock step.  There is a constant barrage of criticism, subtle and overt, coming from the Right, directed at the Left, while the Left/Center is torn by factionalism; which can only serve the interests of the Right. It should be noted that the Center/Right is dominated by its Right faction, while the domination of the Left is less clearly defined. The Center is in the positions of power, but many on the Left have totally abandoned the Center of the Left/Center coalition; this abandonment is not at all a new phenomenon, but it has now accelerated to a chaotic level. The outcome of this abandonment should be obvious to all.

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By JDmysticDJ, December 13, 2010 at 8:28 am Link to this comment

#4

It should also be obvious to all that criticism, lack of unity, and abandonment, resulted in mid-term election results that will further diminish the power of the Left beginning Jan. 5th, 2011; mutually agreed upon goals from within the Left/Center coalition will not be achievable as of Jan. 5th, 2011, and this lame duck period that has evolved since the mid-term elections has led to a highly disputed compromise. I heard that 29 million 2008 Democratic supporters chose not to support the Democrats in the mid-term elections. I’ll suggest that this reality has created the current political climate and a willingness to compromise in order to achieve partial goals has been the result. Responsibility for the lack of cohesion on the part of the Left/Center is debatable, and will be hotly debated. I’ll suggest that the realities that come into being on Jan. 5th, 2011 will be fraught with accusations of blame within the Left/Center coalition, but that the realities themselves will be the result of right - wing policies, along with the Left’s failure to unite in opposition to the Right. It may come to pass that the animosities within the Left/Center coalition will be so severe, that the Center faction of the Left/Center coalition will be more inclined to collude with the Right, than to cooperate with its left - wing. Not a positive outcome for the left - wing, or for the left - wing’s agendas.

When the newly created Center Right coalition scoffs at the left - wing because of its impotence, the left - wing will have no one to blame, but itself. A more harsh realization may be that the guilt for the most harmful policies perpetrated by the Right, in the final analysis, will be shared by the left – wing of the Left because of the left – wing’s counter productive intransigence. Any future catastrophic cataclysm may in actuality be, in large part, the result of the left – wing’s intransigence, and it may well be that the “…Our worst traitor” classification, will include the left – wing of the Left, because of its unrealistic demands, and intransigence.

The following may seem blatantly contradictory, but I’ll make a distinction between establishment politics, and grass roots popular political action. A coalition of leading intellectuals and activists is now publically calling for national protest in support of a smaller political protest scheduled for Dec. 16, and to create a national movement for future protest. Here’s more advice to be adopted, or ignored; I’ll advise that people participate in this budding national protest movement, wherever, and however possible.

In conclusion I’ll state that a Left/Center coalition, in a position of political power, would be more likely to advance left – wing agendas, and more likely to be influenced by national protest than a Center/Right coalition in a position of political power; not a revelation I’m sure, but something angry leftists should consider before broad siding the Democrats with destructive criticism, and advocating abandonment.

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By RayLan, December 13, 2010 at 5:51 am Link to this comment

@ChaviztaKing
Americans have been brain-washed by their corporate masters to believe that socialism is some kind of totalitarian dictatorship. There are a number of examples of socialist democracies in Europe and to a lesser extent, Canada. In fact, without socialism, democracy is not possible, since unfettered capitalism creates inequity and poverty.

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By ChaviztaKing, December 13, 2010 at 4:06 am Link to this comment

HELLO MY FRIENDS: Watch this video by Mike Martinez leader of the Workers World Party talking about the capitalist hell of poverty and misery in USA

http://workers.blip.tv/file/4469040/

,

DOWN WITH THE CAPITALIST SYSTEM, LET’S FIGHT FOR A WORLD SOCIALIST SYSTEM
By Monica Moorehead

http://www.workers.org/2010/us/wwp_conference_1125/

New York
Published Nov 17, 2010 5:19 PM

Some 300 Party members, friends and allies representing many important struggles at home and abroad attended the annual Workers World Party national conference Nov. 13-14. They came from cities where Party branches are located and other parts of the country. Some revolutionaries traveled to the conference from as far away as Canada and India. The very multinational crowd included many young people.

 
The conference boldly called to the broader movement with the theme of “Abolish Capitalism, Fight for a Socialist Future.” Conference plenary sessions, breakout groups and open mike sessions focused on the growing epidemic of unemployment, cutbacks, war and racism in the current phase of this unprecedented global capitalist economic crisis, which is approaching its third year.

Many of the talks exposed that this current crisis has proven that capitalism, an economic system based on making profits, is incapable of meeting the needs of the people and that socialism is the only solution to meeting human needs and saving the planet.

Participants joined three workshops: student and youth organizing; community and labor outreach; and Workers World newspaper.

The opening plenary session examined the recent bourgeois midterm elections, the capitalist crisis, a defense of Marxism and a call for socialist unity among the left. The panel included three members of the WWP secretariat: Teresa Gutierrez, Larry Holmes and Fred Goldstein. Gutierrez is a co-coordinator of the May 1 Coalition for Worker and Immigrant Rights. Holmes is a leader of the Bail Out the People Movement. Goldstein is the author of the book, “Low Wage Capitalism.”

Excerpts from the first plenary session talks appear in this, the Nov. 25 issue of Workers World; other contributions will appear in future issues of WW.

Also speaking in this panel were two leaders of Fight Imperialism, Stand Together (FIST): Larry Hales and Elena Everett. Hales is a leading member of WWP and a contributing editor of WW newspaper. Everett is a founding member of the newest branch of WWP in Durham, N.C.

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By eir, December 13, 2010 at 1:16 am Link to this comment

It appears that Wall Street’s agent, Obama’s mission was to destroy the Democratic Party.  He has done a great job!  A+!  Five Stars!  Two thumbs up!

He has performed a veritable miracle in two short years in transforming the electorate from one nauseated and vomiting on Republican rule, to dazed and confused and feeling hope-less.

This man should be despised for the tool he is.

We, however, must not let him break our spirit.  We must fight. 

First?!  Get this God damned traitor OUT!

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By MarthaA, December 13, 2010 at 12:41 am Link to this comment

I have stood up for Obama, but Obama is not standing for me.  I am of the opinion that Obama should not even be nominated for a 2nd term.

When legislation stinks so badly that you have to hold your nose, you sure do not want to vote for it.

Vote “Nay” only.

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By Inherit The Wind, December 12, 2010 at 11:28 pm Link to this comment

Obama is already weakened. He weakened himself.  Now only he can strengthen himself by refusing to compromise on GOP shit.  Sometimes you just gotta lance the boil.

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By monkey boy, December 12, 2010 at 4:49 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Robinson’s logic here is smothered by Democratic head-in-sand syndrome.

This fight has NOTHING to do with policies, issues or taxes. It has only to do with one thing. Setting precedent for the next 2-4 years in the Senate.

Author Eugene claims, ‘’..I don’t see how Democrats could possibly think they have leverage to exact concessions..’’  NO, Eugene.  If Democrats, on que, cower once again to the irresistible force of Republican old farts, they might as well go home and not come back.

Set an example, Gene. Have a little backbone.

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By LJL, December 12, 2010 at 4:32 pm Link to this comment

Robinson is right.  Realistically speaking no one but the GOP is going to benefit from weakening Obama.  Only those who think they remember the presidencies of Norman Thomas and Henry Wallace will believe that a Progressive challenge to Obama will result in a GOP defeat in the 2012 elections.

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By RayLan, December 12, 2010 at 1:14 pm Link to this comment

Compromise is an ethically neutral word. The most despicable acts have been rationalized as compromises. Like killing innocent citizens as a necessary compromise of war -
decent compromise is about practice not principle - one should never compromise on principle.

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By thebeerdoctor, December 12, 2010 at 11:59 am Link to this comment

Please excuse the typo, Talking instead of tralking.

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By thebeerdoctor, December 12, 2010 at 11:56 am Link to this comment

There is really no need to get too angry at Mr. Robinson’s idiotic comments. The “this is good as it gets” mindset is now the official talking point for President Obama’s apologists, Like all professional pundits. Eugene has a vested interest in staying inside the access loop. In other words, he might be prompted to say: “Hey you are tralking about my job mister!”

Thou with trembling fear,
Or like a fawning parasite, obeyest
MILTON

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By Inherit The Wind, December 12, 2010 at 9:46 am Link to this comment

I think Rich and Krugman, as well as Dionne, have turned on the President for caving yet again, though Robinson has deeply disappointed me.

It actually will be better if NO deal goes through, the tax cuts expire, and Obama has the stones to extend unemployment benefits by executive order during the recess.

It won’t be great, but it will be better than THIS piece of crap.

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By Michael H, December 12, 2010 at 7:47 am Link to this comment

Really? So we should hold our noses and continue to support Obama no matter what? This is truly pathetic.

Here’s where that has gotten us so far: 1. concerning the financial crisis, give the banks all they want, let them keep their bonuses and prosecute no banksters for their crimes, call them “savvy businessmen” instead. 2. On health care: give the insurance companies all they want and eliminate the single payer option. 3. On the war, keep the Bush war going in Iraq, and go even beyond this, by expanding the war in Afghanistan.

And now, according to you, we should hold our noses yet again and support an extension of the Bush tax cuts?

In “What lies behind the liberals’ lamentations over Obama”, Barry Grey writes:

“President Barack Obama’s groveling before the Republicans and his lurch to the right, highlighted by his deal to extend tax cuts for the rich, have evoked a new outpouring of hand-wringing commentary by his supporters on the liberal left.

Reading the various articles, one does not know which is more repugnant, their stupidity or their cynicism.” And he cites the pathetic excuses for Obama coming from Frank Rich, Paul Krugman, Michael Lerner, Eleanor Clift, etc

Add Eugene Robinson to the list…..

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By SteveL, December 12, 2010 at 12:49 am Link to this comment

The whole budget mess might just be taken out of the politicians’ control.  The U.S. has been able to sell 10 year treasuries at next to nothing interest rates.  This has rapidly changed this week.  Bond buyers are not going for low interest when the U.S. shows no desire to control its deficit.

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By Inherit The Wind, December 12, 2010 at 12:46 am Link to this comment

The DSCC just hit me up for money for their next Senatorial campaign.  I told them that as long as these chicken-shit senators continue to roll over and piss themselves every time the Republicans say “BOO!” and then LIE to us, their base, they’ll not see one nickel again out of me.  Period.

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By Colombe Loef, December 11, 2010 at 11:08 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Bernie Sanders for 2012!

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By roberto, December 11, 2010 at 9:46 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Gene, you are hearing loud and clear from the reality based community here. I suppose you think we are not informed, are naive or are just sanctimonious purists.

Have you considered that maybe you are in a Washington Villagers bubble?

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By WorkingClassDemocrat, December 11, 2010 at 9:17 pm Link to this comment

Hold your nose and vote AYE????

Really, Mr. Robinson???

I have a better idea!  How about

KI$$ MY A$$ AND DIE!

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By Dieter Heymann, December 11, 2010 at 7:26 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Anyone who is upset or amazed by the writing of Eugene Robinson has obviously never read anything of him before.

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By JCCIII, December 11, 2010 at 5:41 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Eugene Robinson is a sellout or an ignorant man.  I admired this guys honesty.  Now, I can’t believe his integrity is intact.

Joseph C. Carbone III

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By Thomas Dooley, December 11, 2010 at 4:35 pm Link to this comment

Bill Clinton is Still Alive? I thought he died. I guess not because here he is still around after all these years telling us how great the future is going to be. All we need to do is accept his deals and all of us will see a bright future. Again?

Now wait a minute! Isn’t this, 2010? Isn’t this the future he talked about back then? I don’t remember him telling us about how we would be out of work and having our homes foreclosed on if only we agreed to the deals he was selling then. Now he has risen from the grave to sell us new deals that are good for us. You know, for the future.

By the way, what part of this new deal does Eugene Robinson get? What’s his cut? Does he get to be a “Mr. Important Pundit?” I guess that will also put some cash in his pocket, won’t it? That way everyone is happy. Well, everyone who matters.

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By de profundis clamavi, December 11, 2010 at 4:08 pm Link to this comment

Yeah, yeah, hold your nose, vote for the lousy deal, mutter some platitudes about how there are things in it you don’t like, but that’s what compromise is about . . . and then wait 13 months and see what the Republicans are going to demand for another extension of unemployment insurance. Wait two years and watch the Republicans demand and succeed in getting weaklings like Obama and Eugene Robinson to make the Bush tax cuts permanent. Wait two years and watch the cave-inner-in-chief cut a deal with the Republicans to reduce the deficit by turning Social Security and Medicare into needs-tested welfare programs so only the poor qualify, thus preparing for their complete elimination in the next round of triangulation. This bargain with the devil sets the middle class up for death by a thousand cuts. This is a Trojan Horse.

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By ocjim, December 11, 2010 at 1:57 pm Link to this comment

We’ve been holding our noses and democracy is suffocating.

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By FiftyGigs, December 11, 2010 at 12:29 pm Link to this comment

Reading these comments is like watching a cartoon. People are so sure there’s a dastardly wabbit awound, they’re going to find him whether he’s there or not.

In today’s episode, little Mitch McConnell wakes up, scratches his behind, and looks around the room. He decides to deliberately dump hot saunce into the stew Obama is cooking for the poor, making it inedible. At which point, the comical lapdog—it goes by the cute name “progressive”—wakes up, and bites Obama.

Laughter ensues. Mitch laughs loudest. The lapdog lays back down, content that it prevented Obama from even thinking about ruining another meal.

Progressives are the stooges of Republicans.

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By Triguna, December 11, 2010 at 12:18 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I have noticed that you have become an apologist for Obama. You are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

You believe that this compromise is acceptable, given that continuation of the unemployment checks for 13 months. Do you not know that the Republicans would have caved on this issue in January? Would there have been debate? Yes. But the Republicans would have had to defend the withholding of unemployment. They would lose that debate.
But Obama gave up, arrogantly did an end run around duly elected Democratic members of Congress by not even consulting with them (!), and set us all up for many substantial policy losses in the next year.

I have read your posts for some time. Consistently, although you evaluate both sides, you inevitably take Obama’s cave-in’s as necessary.

Obama has now blurred the distinction between Democrats and Republicans to the extent that the public will eventually prefer putting a real Republican in the Presidency rather than a DINO. We have to stop thinking that Obama will do anything for the African Americans that elected him. What has he actually done so far that would not have been done under Bush? Think about it! And stop being an apologist.

You validate appeasement and that is hardly a position worth defending. If you watched Bernie Sanders’s 8.5 hour speech against this grotesque tax plan, you would have also spoken truth to power. Instead, you are defending somebody who is hurting minorities and putting back the black cause for generations to come.

Stop being the enabler of this Appeasser!

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By LostHills, December 11, 2010 at 11:48 am Link to this comment

Just say HELLNO!

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By Leefeller, December 11, 2010 at 10:48 am Link to this comment

Agendas of talking heads and this author seem apparent. I also see a key ring full of keys to selected doors. Rubbing elbows does suggest a good old boy mentality. But isn’t that human nature, go with the flow?

Yes the Democrats when they had power did sit on their hands but I suspect the Democrats are nothing but Republicans lite anyway. What the hell is this blue dog excuse crap?  Being bought and sold seems more like it, just follow the money. Far as I know, lobbyists still run the halls of Congress like cockroaches in a Tijuana whore house.

A solid third party or fourth party some time ago may have helped, if anything to keep the illusion of a two party system in line, so the train is running away. But of course that is the plan!

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By madisolation, December 11, 2010 at 9:04 am Link to this comment

Here’s an excerpt from one of Eugene’s previous columns:
“The richest Americans need to pay higher taxes—not because they’re bad people who deserve to be punished but because they earn a much bigger share of the nation’s income, and hold a bigger share of its overall wealth. If they don’t pay more, there won’t be enough revenue…”
Now he says Congress should approve tax cuts for the rich.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the quintessential stenographer/reporter: Eugene Robinson! Watch as writes down White House talking points, makes a White House-friendly column out of them, is again granted “access” to the White House and more talking points, so he can write yet another column! Nice work if you can get it, huh? See him fetch the President a drink at a Village party. Good ol’ Eugene.

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By cosmos, December 11, 2010 at 9:02 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The WH is pitching their “widening-the-gap” tax bill as “strengthening the recovery.”

Fortunately, most of “the small people”  know there hasn’t been a recovery. 

The government has alread forked out $7 trillion (1 trillion = 1000 billion!!!) in stimulus and prop-ups.  BY FAR most of it has gone to the b*anksters,  including Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac - see http://www.nomiprins.com/reports/ for the latest numbers. 

This isn’t improving the economy!!  It is just blowing into a ballon that has a hole in it.  If it was improving the economy, they could stop the blowing. 

The government’s efforts are a losing proposition:  More transfers of wealth to the rich and uber-rich: a weakening dollar;  spending now that will need to be paid back down the road for generations.

The governement should stop the prop-up game and get down to real business:  safety nets, policies to stop companies sending jobs overseas, a focus on developing small/medium size businesses that produce innovative and quality goods and services,  a campaign to “buy American,” letting the TBTFs fail and restructuring them,  reinstating Glass-Steagall….etc. 

Instead, we’ve got the cartoon version of government.  Lucky us.  And lucky we have people such as Eugene Robinson to tow Obamination’s line.

....................

“Yet from 1980 to 2005, more than 80 percent of total increase in Americans’  income went to the top 1 percent. ”

http://www.slate.com/id/2266025/entry/2266026

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By cosmos, December 11, 2010 at 9:00 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“The real problem is that the $900 billion tab for this deal gives Republicans a bigger rationale for cutting domestic discretionary (non-defense) even more, and for gutting Social Security. They’ll be giving vast rewards to their wealthy constituents through the tax cuts for the rich, which they have every intention of continuing beyond 2012, while being able to satisfy the Tea Baggers and deficit hawks who demand cuts in spending. It’s a double-win for Republicans and a strategic trap for Democrats - as well as for the American middle and working class.”

~ Robert Reich, Secretary of Labor under Clinton

http://www.politico.com/arena/

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By Adams, December 11, 2010 at 7:36 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Approve of the Bush/Cheney economic failed policies?  Oh please, grow a pair and try to actually stand on some principals.  Trickle down Raygunomics is a 50 year epic failure that has gutted America and created a wasteland of ruined communities, lives and families.  50% of American will experience poverty, joblessness, and an inability to afford needed medical care. 

Clinton playing to the center destroyed the Democratic party.  They were sent to the basement in 2000 and Howard Dean had to rebuild the party.

Now would be a really good time to stop listening to the inside the Beltway bubble elite, who are all bought off buy lawless corporations.  Especially now that Bush and Obama fed that beast trillions of dollars of our money and money borrowed from China, that our children will need to pay back.

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By Writestuff51, December 11, 2010 at 6:51 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

bhob (and Krauthammer and Robinson) make a good point about Obama losing the battle to win the war. Setting up a fight over extending taxes for the rich in 2012 could make a potent issue for the Dems, but only if they handle it a lot better than this time around.

As frustrated liberal/progressives, the tax bill really is a nose holding moment, as was the healthcare reform bill. But as much as I bridle at No Drama Obama’s seeming lack of backbone, even though I’m not black, I’m also keeping the faith that the President has his eye on the long game, to use Krauthammer’s term.

Buried at the bottom of Krauthammer’s article, BTW, was the first explanation I’d seen that made me feel less bitter about losing the public option: “The left never understood that to nationalize health care there is no need for a public option because Obamacare turns the private insurers into public utilities.”

If Obamacare really could make health insurance affordable by regulating rates and enlarging the pool, then maybe it just might work.

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By truedigger3, December 11, 2010 at 4:24 am Link to this comment

A typical defense of the crap that Team Obama is dishing on us on the ground that this the best we can get and it is the lesser of two evils.
This is the usual betrayal from Team Obama!
It is a continuation of the transfer of the wealth of the nation to hands of super rich elite
and impoverishing everybody else.
This simply is more money for the rich elite who den’t need it and less money for the poor and middle class who need each penny of it.
The economy needs the opposite of that, it needs money in the hands of the people who need it and will spend it helping the economy to start moving again.
The rich elite will save their wind fall or use it in financial speculations or investing in building more US plants in China, Vietnam, India…etc etc and little jobs will be created here in the US.
If Obama succeeds in passing that shit, then diffintley he is planning to be one term president, because people will either sit home or vote ,even, for Sarah Palin aginst him.

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By Attlee, December 11, 2010 at 3:21 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

NO! Do not vote for this lousy deal! Oppose this lousy deal! Oppose this calculated rape of democracy!
Oppose this measure which is calculated to enrich the rich and destroy social services!
Oppose Eugene Robinson! Let him confine himself
to posting to FOX.
No to the tax cuts for the wealthy!
Got it, Eugene?
NO! to tax cuts for the wealthy!

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By CaBeachBum, December 11, 2010 at 1:58 am Link to this comment

“Pyrrhic victories don’t make anything better, however. And that’s what killing the tax cut deal would clearly be.”

Pyrrhic victory Gene? Hardly! Killing this abomination is what this weak-kneed president and his administration deserves. This would be the people’s victory and Obama’s last gasp. It would also be a stern message to the Republicans that the people are mad as hell with their BS; especially the faux deficit propaganda.

As a Pulitizer Prize winning journalist Gene - where the hell did this tripe come from?

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By John P., December 11, 2010 at 12:08 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

VOTING at this point for any future is truly silly.

Has everyone’s IQ dropped?

If the leaks are true? And I believe they are then, some actions - unauthorized
by the American citizen, but paid for, by the American citizen have been taking
place for years.

For years. And that, is a huge swindle to swallow. In fact - won’t be swallowed.
It will be denied by those who fail to read the writing on the wall. Those who
would rather let the corporate media interpret what really happened for them. 

But here’s the catch -

WE NOW HAVE THE WIKILEAK DOCUMENTATION TO PROVE THE GOVERNMENT’S
ACTIONS.

Right?

So - they locked up Assange. And charged him, and will sentence him no
doubt.

But - the government transcripts are out of the bag for all of us to see and use.

We have been lied to, this is a fact, the government transcripts prove it as fact.

And what we have seen, is not what we have voted for.

It does not matter what they do at this point, if they see we don’t care about the
truth with the Wikileaks documentation - then why tell the public any truths at
all?

What happens now?

What will we do now that we have the PROOF, the proof that we have waited
years to have.

I beg of you Truthdig readers, don’t let this charge fade and be forgotten. 

A critical examination through the years, of all Wikileak documentation is
required.

Let’s take a close look at WHAT they have been doing without approval from us,
the tax payers.

Keep these lies in their face. The time for change is now.

The catalyst for change are the lies they have been telling us.

STAY ON TRACK -

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By glider, December 10, 2010 at 11:11 pm Link to this comment

Typical meaningless Democrat tripe.  Grandstand to make political points with the electorate.  Then enact Republican legislation.  More faux “they forced us to do it” and “best we could do” so called leadership.  Like Obama says its the Public Option all over again.  How he is putting a positive spin on this symbol of his betrayal I am at a loss to explain.

I getting off this ship of fools.  Last election I largely voted Green.  If they pass this travesty, I will de-register as a Democrat.

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By tihsstaezevahc, December 10, 2010 at 10:27 pm Link to this comment

“Hold Your Nose and Vote ‘Aye’??????????????”

No f*cken way!!

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By roberto, December 10, 2010 at 10:19 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Gene,

Does it not give you pause that if it will be much worse to nix this deal and push the issue into the next congress, as you argue, then why the Republicans are so delighted with the deal? Don’t you doubt a little that they are just pleased, at long last, to finally arrive at a bi-partisan compromise? They planned this trap 10 years ago. They are many things, but when it comes to hardball political tactics, they are not stupid.

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By curmudgeon99, December 10, 2010 at 9:50 pm Link to this comment

Eugene, Eugene…..

You don’t make sense….

Th Payroll tax cut reduces SocSec contributions - that is definitely a no-no.

Your twisted me-too Obama lapdog logic reminds me of your unqualified support of the new scanners and pat downs of such potebtial terrorists the Indian ambassador and the Dalai Lama. Oh that’s right - you want racial profiling.

Go hold your nose while you take that proverbial flying leap.

The only ones whose taxes won’t be going up under the deal are the rich folks

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By JEP, December 10, 2010 at 8:37 pm Link to this comment

Since it appears the rich will get their blood money
at any cost, maybe there is a way to force them to
put it into creating jobs like they claim it will.

Could the Dems make the inevitable extension of high
income tax cuts temporary, and write the legislation
to make continued cuts contingent on lowering
unemployment rates?

Much like Social Security inflation increases are
pegged to a given economic indicator.

Don’t they claim they will make jobs appear if they
get their tax cut extension?  The Dems should write
the bill with that actually as a condition of keeping
those cuts.

If Obama and the Dems actually give the trickle-
downers their “precious” (think gollum) tax cut
extension for 2 years, can they also make it so that
if the wealthy fail to trickle it down, the tax break
goes away? 

Could the extension be written so that if the
unemployment rate doesn’t drop below a given figure
withn a year, (6% seems proper) then their tax cuts
would be rescinded.

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By Olaf, December 10, 2010 at 7:17 pm Link to this comment

Robinson, I’m afraid you’re letting race solidarity get in the way of your political good sense. It is time for you to STOP making excuses for every sell-out deal this President makes. The only thing left for this President to do is officially change his political affiliation to Republican. I, and perhaps a majority of the people who actually got him elected, are going to do everything in our power to deny him the Democratic nomination in 2012. He lied to us and sold us out on every issue of importance. It is the liberals who are going to make him a one term president.

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By Conden, December 10, 2010 at 7:01 pm Link to this comment

Yeah, the tax cuts for the super-rich could have been repealed at the beginning of Obama’s presidency.  Instead, those people, the rich right wing scumbags in power, decided to let them ‘naturally expire’ and now we are supposed to sympathize with these losers that, because they reneged on campaign promises and sold out the country to the wall street ceos, war profiteers, and oil companies, they lost power.  I don’t think so.

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By ghostcommander, December 10, 2010 at 6:57 pm Link to this comment

Where the Hades are the great mathematicians? Where are those Americans who see the Big Picture?

President Obama and the blue dog Democrats put the Democratic party in this position, not the Democratic party as a whole.

Kill this bill! Think of the Future! Do the Long term math, not just one year. If this bill goes through President Obama will be a one term president, and many Democrats will lose their seats because the Democratic base will not vote for them out of disgust.

So, on January 20, 2013—The Fascists will control the Executive, the Legislative, and the Judicial branch of the government.

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By glider, December 10, 2010 at 6:46 pm Link to this comment

Eugene’s pandering to the elite lead me to re-read Amy Goodman’s classic “Access of Evil”.  It is worth an ocassional revisit.

http://www.thenation.com/article/access-evil

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By glider, December 10, 2010 at 6:13 pm Link to this comment

As most are pointing out Republican Strategy 101 is to cut taxes and then argue for cutting programs which are “bankrupt” because of insufficient funds.  Obama is on the same page and is gaming us.

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By bonito, December 10, 2010 at 6:05 pm Link to this comment

“No one through out History ever lost a dime under-
estimating the intelligence of The American Voter”

If that was true many years ago when H L Mencken
first said these words, then they are certainly
gospel today.

Anyone who has ever been around large Stockyards
knows what a Judas Goat is.  Well folks Obama is the
Working mans Judas Goat. He lead us down a GOP ramp
to the slaughter house knowing full well that he will
be spared to again lead others down the same ramp
another day. 

The tax breaks for the rich are going to be extended
for two years, just long enough for the Rich man’s
party to take over the government and make them
permanent.  By then 98% of the people will be in the
same small boat caught in the wake of the GOP luxury
Liner, without a life saver, and with little else to
do but stick their head between their legs and kiss
their ass goodbye.

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By ptoadstool, December 10, 2010 at 5:53 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I like Eugene Robinson and enjoy his commentaries and columns. That said, sometimes one just has to take a stand and really fight for what you want - and what you promised. When Obama capitulated to the Republicans on the upper bracket tax cuts, it was really too much for me. Nothing about this compromise does anything but kick the can down the road in the name of a wimpy short-term gain in economic stimulation. Even worse, it comes at a time when the tea party has gained some traction over the issue of deficit spending. My wife and I were already pretty much disgusted with the lack of leadership from the White House, and this giveaway pretty much seals the deal.

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COinMS's avatar

By COinMS, December 10, 2010 at 4:05 pm Link to this comment

>>Obama needs to train his newfound passion and outrage on his foes in the GOP, not on the friends and supporters that his press secretary once derisively called the “professional left.”<<

But the GOP is not his foe. He longs to be liked by them;  by the country club republicans. He wants to be in that world. He only used his base to get in power; now his true colors come out; he wanted power to get into the good old boys club… but they won’t accept him, so he rolls over even more, begging for their love and acceptance. They don’t love you and they will never accept you, don’t you get it?

I don’t know why Eugene Robinson is still on Truthdig but nothing he says surprises me. Maybe Truthdig is not quite as ‘Lefty’ as I thought.

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By bhob, December 10, 2010 at 3:34 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

President Obama’s tax compromise may well set the foundation for his re-election in 2012. It provides extented unemployment insurance for millions that is sorely needed.

Corporations, private companies and industry it has been reported are sitting on capital reserves and not expanding and not hiring because of uncertainly. They are uncertain that they will be as profitable as in the recent past because they haven’t known how much they will be paying in taxes.  Heaven forbide these bastions of commercial patriotism should ever forego certain profits for less than certain bottom lines or (yikes!) less profit. Unemployment stands nationwide at 9. something and lots of people that supported Obama during the election are questioning their vote.

This compromise takes away the uncertainty. So now the onus of economic recovery shifts from the federal government (those dastardly socialists!) to the private enterprise sector and we can get back to the wonders of supply side economics, trickle (tinkle is more like it) down economy and just chill while unemployment drops like a lead ballon.  Only what if it doesn’t?  Oh, and the current tax deal lasts two years and becomes an issue (perhaps the issue) of policial debate in 2012.  Hmmm…so unemployment drops to 8.0 percent a meager improvement and the really disadvantaged, the dis enfranchised don’t see squat in their local condition…what is the GOP going to say? What’s the mood of the people going to be like in two years? If the democratic party can counter the lies of the Repulican wackos and talk radio smack, Obama should have little problem ending the tax breaks for the rich when the next extension debate begins and also get reelected. The GOP won this battle.  What is the saying about losing battles to win wars?  That’s how I see this. Smart, tactical long term view politics; the kind that keeps the oligarchs in check and government for the people empowered.  Look past next week, stretch the view and what is being proposed is not all that bad. The comments posted reflect a self centered, selfish, poor me victimized mental state that is exactly what the GOP and the wealthy right elites want.  You are being suckered into opposing the best Pres the people have had in a long time and who should be supported.  Don’t be suckers! !

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By omygodnotagain, December 10, 2010 at 2:56 pm Link to this comment

Eugene
Are you being paid by the White House to write this dross. Because any fairminded person sees this for what it is, a spineless weak President scared to stick by his word, listening to losers like Larry Summers.  Obama is a man without principles dazzled by wealth and easily rolled by Republicans, guess we should have figured that he’s a Chicago pol

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By Gmonst, December 10, 2010 at 2:26 pm Link to this comment

Eugene Robinson, if I could see you face to face I would flip you the bird.  I am sick of hearing what we can’t do, how we have to compromise, how we just have to let this or that battle go, to fight another day.  Well this is the day, its either fight now or the war is lost.

I just wrote my congressional representative and told him in no uncertain terms to do everything he could to fight this deal. I pleaded to not vote for anything that includes extending the tax cut for the rich, even if it means my taxes are raised. 

This isn’t just about political points or who can win the next election cycle.  Extending the tax-cuts for the wealthiest will be really damaging to this country, perhaps irrevocably so. 

My only hope is this giant mess might see the rise of third party candidates in 2012.  I will vote for whatever progressive presidential candidate I can, and it sure as hell won’t be Obama.  He deserves no more apologies or excuses.

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By dr wu, December 10, 2010 at 2:23 pm Link to this comment

Wall street tool Obama is a loser—follow him at your own peril

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By rend, December 10, 2010 at 1:58 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This article does not deserve to be on this site.

If i wan to see gymnastic I will watch You tube clips.

Fact is there is nothing in this bill that is of any real value to us besides the
unemployment extension.

Let the fucking greed heads in the upper and middle class sweat the tax rate
“restoration.”
 
We dont need more debt of this type.

If you are going to help the poor and unemployed then , help them, dont tie it so all this
other crap.

A republican congress and an obama white house both dont want to see a 10% figure for
unemployment. This is why I think we wouldnt get the extension as these people would
stop being counted. and fall into that 17 to 25 % value, the sector of the economy that is
really unemployed.

anyway,, drifting.

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Eric L. Prentis's avatar

By Eric L. Prentis, December 10, 2010 at 1:35 pm Link to this comment

Eugene Robinson writes an apologia for his guy, Obama, but, it is a pile of crap.

Let the Bush tax cuts die. Introduce a new tax cut plan, focusing on the middle class. The Republicans will not vote against cutting taxes, if they do, they lose the next elections. Keep raising the tax cut issue, eventually the Republicans will have to vote yes. Obama’s current plan gives the Republicans a free pass, is fiscally irresponsible and will eventually gut social security. Obama’s perfidy is shocking.

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By lasmog, December 10, 2010 at 1:30 pm Link to this comment

Constant capitulation is not a political strategy.  To be a viable political party you have to actually stand for something.  I hope Democrats with a spine and a conscience begin to desert Obama in droves and lay the groundwork for a liberal challenger to Obama in 2012.

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mitchum22's avatar

By mitchum22, December 10, 2010 at 1:13 pm Link to this comment

The embodiment of a Pulitzer Prize winner: Eugene Fetchit.

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By ElkoJohn, December 10, 2010 at 1:11 pm Link to this comment

Eugene, you hold your nose.
Me, I’m voting for Howard Dean or Alan Grayson or Dennis Kucinich
or Russ Feingold or any Democrat who primaries Obama in 2012.
And then, I will vote for Ralph Nader or Cynthia McKinney
or any 3rd Party candidate, if Obama wins the Democratic nomination.
Obama is incompetent, disloyal, and dishonest—he’s gotta go.

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By purplewolf, December 10, 2010 at 12:52 pm Link to this comment

this was not a compromise. it was a roll over.

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By ray, December 10, 2010 at 12:43 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

For those of you that still believe the jobs are coming back from years of outsourcing & continue today ‘unabated’ get with it- they are not coming back & their are no ‘miracles’ in the future picture.

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By felicity, December 10, 2010 at 12:42 pm Link to this comment

It’s a guarantee that come January Republicans will
again take up their rant on the unsustainable size of
the deficit/debt - on which they’ve been strangely
silent these past few weeks?

Democrats will be forced to knuckle-under, bite the
bullet, cave to the Republican onslaught against any
and every federal program the funding for which
cannot be maintained given the sudden increase of the
deficit/debt by $1 trillion.  Will Democrats
filibuster against the projected defunding?  Of
course not.  They may rent their garments, tear at
their hair, gnash their teeth - but do nothing to
actually stop what will amount to yet continued
screwing of 98% of Americans.  Why not?  Because
they’re members of the ultra-wealthy 2%.  Nobody with
half a brain would intentionally shit in his own
nest.

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morongobill's avatar

By morongobill, December 10, 2010 at 12:32 pm Link to this comment

What we need is a runaway congress, one that finds its’gonads, sorry, and takes over from this weak man we call the president.

Let the congress set the agenda for the rest of this lame duck session, and then do exactly as the republicans did, be the party of no and the party of the filibuster.

Show the rich, that they are not completely bought and paid for. Or better yet, spend their blood money, and then vote against them.

Boy that would get them screaming like cats getting their tails mashed!

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By 1 term 4 Obama then fascism, December 10, 2010 at 12:07 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

With Democrats like Obama who needs Republicans?

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By Louis Proyect, December 10, 2010 at 11:28 am Link to this comment

On the real significance of the tax sell-out:

http://louisproyect.wordpress.com/2010/12/09/starving-the-beast/

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adc14's avatar

By adc14, December 10, 2010 at 11:20 am Link to this comment

This deal is not only lousy, it defies logic. Seems we are forgetting why there was a sunset clause placed on these tax cuts in the first place. They were bad economics 10 years ago and they’re bad economics now. They haven’t stimulated a damn thing. This bill also signifies the beginning of the end for Social Security with the payroll tax holiday.  And if anyone really believes in 2 years they will go away, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you. Let them expire and put the onus on the Republicans to try and get tax breaks for the crooks during a Depression. Obama, get your ass out and lead by showing how the Republicans are ruining Christmas for millions by denying unemployment benefits. If this deal passes, Obama can kiss his re-election goodbye and the rest of the Dems, too. Obama keeps saying he’ll fix it later. Yeah, right where have I heard that before.

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who'syourdebs's avatar

By who'syourdebs, December 10, 2010 at 10:55 am Link to this comment

Eugene, I like you, but you’re dreaming, the eternal apologist for Obama. The Republican plan to make government small enough “to drown it in the bathtub” is going wonderfully according to plan. Reagan is applauding from the grave. You can be sure in a month or two, they’ll start ranting about “Obama’s deficit” and calling for the cutting of Social Security and Medicare. Why should the voters go Democratic when the party goes along with everything in the Republican agenda? Inheritance tax breaks thrown in for good measure? Better to vote for real Republicans than their reflection. This is the death knell of the Democratic Party, as 2012 should prove. I would gladly pay that extra $800 in taxes if I knew the fat cats would have to pay up, too. More than gladly. During the Eisenhower years the super-rich paid over 90% in income taxes—now they gripe over a change from 35 to 38%. Give me a break. The US economy starts to downslide every time the rich get greedier than usual and try to starve the working class—look at history. And this is called a Christian nation? Obama’s different, you say? Health care costs continue to skyrocket with nothing to hold them down; when insurance consumers are forced into lousy overpriced policies, the chickens will really come home to roost. War continues in Afghanistan unabated, the Administration decides to stop asking Israel to halt new settlements—there’s no end to it. I’ve cut Obama enough slack. Oh, hell, with all our industry overseas and global warming, it’s probably already too late anyway. Have a properous New Year, Eugene, as I’m sure you will. Why worry, huh?

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By the worm, December 10, 2010 at 10:44 am Link to this comment

Would you want someone to ‘negotiate’ for you or to conceive a new ‘tax
structure’, if they:

Gave $10 in tax breaks to billionaires for everyone $1 they’d give to the
unemployed?
Or
Supported a 15% tax on Billionaires while keeping middle class taxes in the 20-
30% range?
Or
Accelerated America’s greatest transfer of wealth from the public coffers to the
private for-profit financial industry to their debts?
Or
Who presides over the manipulation of our financial system, so banks can
borrow money from the government at less than 1% to buy bonds from the
paying over 3.5%, to make 2.5% by just shuffling paper OR lend the 1% money
to you and me at 5%, 12% or 18% and make 4%, 11% or 17% (charging us money
on the money they borrowed from us).

Is this is the fellow you’d like to have ‘negotiating’ for you or who you’d like to
have developing a new ‘tax structure’ with the Republicans?

No, me either. That’s why the Democrats can either stop Obama or lose the few
of us who still (perhaps, foolishly) believe there is a Democratic Party.

Eugene, backing ‘the compromise’ just sets us up for being wrung out by
Obama and the Republicans in the next two years.

It is clear from Obama’s track record who he stands with, and it is not - I repeat
not - with the middle class. If you believe otherwise, it is truly a believe - like a
fantasy - because it has no factual basis whatsoever.

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By Crabby, December 10, 2010 at 10:24 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Why is there no discussion of the 2-point SS payroll tax holiday? It seems a good
thing, at least for the short term, but what will happen when it comes time to
reinstate the full level of taxation? I suspect the Dems will get blasted for socking
it to the middle class, while the GOP will sit back and enjoy the spectacle of the
demise of the New Deal flagship as it struggles to pay for itself.

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By DemocratsBetrayUsAgain, December 10, 2010 at 10:10 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thanks for carrying water for the fascists destroying this country.

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By jrundin, December 10, 2010 at 10:02 am Link to this comment

The ultimate goal of this deal from the Republican perspective is to kill Social Security.

The cut on the payroll tax has two nasty features. One is that it will help make Social Security’s stability questionable so that those who have always wanted to end Social Security will have better arguments. The other is that once this cut gets in place, it will be politically impossible to end it. No one will be willing to suggest what will be called a hike in tax rates on working people. So this agreement is the beginning of the end for Social Security.

The Republicans want to run up the deficit needlessly because that also undermines people’s faith in Social Security.

My heart aches for those on unemployment, but the Democrats have got to quit rolling over for the Republicans.

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Mike789's avatar

By Mike789, December 10, 2010 at 9:49 am Link to this comment

Every poster here seems to be reading from the same piece of sheet music. Too bad the Dems could not see fit to do so when they had the football.

We all concur that to borrow money from China and perhap covertly from Iran in order to fund Gucci fashion trends, third summer homes financed with ARMS that went bad, gated communities world-wide and the Gulf Stream Lear jets to get the 2 percenters there when the shit of social unrest hits the fan is a ludicrous continuation of the “continuing ineptitude” of our elected officials (both aisles) to demonstrate management skills and their keen aptitude for painting the economy into a corner.

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RayLan's avatar

By RayLan, December 10, 2010 at 9:45 am Link to this comment

The cost of extending unemployment one year doesn’t come close to what the tax cuts for the top 2 percent will do to the deficit. It is only a good thing from the Republican pov who care nothing about the unemployed. But this is a matter of principle over practice - unemployment insurance must be extended regardless of how it’s paid for. That’s the acceptable economic strategy in a recession. The fact that one of the most important planks in Obama’s platform was removing tax cuts for the rich is an insurmountable obstacle to his credibility.

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By Hank from Nebraska, December 10, 2010 at 9:16 am Link to this comment

Eugene, your response to Obama’s blatant pandering to his financial backers is nothing other than a shameful surrender to the forces that are driving us into third world status.  If this is not the place to make a last stand, what is?

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By FiftyGigs, December 10, 2010 at 9:10 am Link to this comment

“The Democrats do have public opinion on their side.”

And so they got creamed in the mid-term elections. Shows you the value of “public opinion”.

If there’s a media-created “crisis” in the Obama administration, then the real crisis is among the progressive movement. Ask progressives about the unemployed, and you’ll hear pretty poetry mixed with a few Christmas jingles. Gotta help them. For God’s sake, help the unemployed.

In this comment, it’s help the schools. For God’s sake, think of the children!

At all cost!

Well, maybe not.

Two transportation bills? Wow, two percent on the estate tax, huh? Writing off capital expenses? On second thought, let ‘em starve!

The sad bottom-line is that the progressive movement is weak and getting weaker. The final nail is being hammered at the White House, where, it’s reported, the Obama progressives are giving way to the Clinton pro-business veterans.

Despite having sponsored more progressive achievements in the last two years than have occurred in the past fifty years, the progressive movement has only succeeded in trashing their own President so badly—at Mitch McConnell’s whim—that they’ve taken themselves out of the game.

It is now Beltway wisdom, echoed by the liberal media, that progressives are weak. So weak they can’t even stop a weak President. (They say he’s weak, you know *wink*)

Mission Accomplished.

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By Lincoln, December 10, 2010 at 9:04 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

On the other hand, we can simply let the amoral Bush tax cuts expire so that they go back to the rates under Clinton, when corporations didn’t have person-hood.

Sometimes there has to be a little pain for gain.  Sometimes Americans have to be motivated to stop acting like zombies staring at dancing with the stars.

Lastly, I am truly tired of Obama, various politicians, and talking heads, saying what is or isn’t in their opinion possible, without even fighting.  We all know these sage like statements is an attempt to appease the unrest in the masses, so they don’t take to the streets as they are in Europe.

Of course the politicians want Americans cowering in their homes clinging to their little gun and Bible while they raid pensions ans social security.

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By Rosemary Molloy, December 10, 2010 at 8:53 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It isn’t often we see a concensus among Truthdig readers, but here it is.  Guess we all agree that Mr. Robinson is just a shill for O. and the democrats, a belief warranted, it seems to me, in every word he writes now.  Too bad, Eugene, I used to admire you.

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By madisolation, December 10, 2010 at 8:46 am Link to this comment

“Killing the deal now would mean a middle-class tax increase, no extended unemployment benefits and no payroll tax holiday.”
Oh, give me a break. The middle class would only get a few bucks in their pockets at the cost of devastating cuts to the states and counties and more and more cuts. Even Charles Grassley said they would have passed the unemployment extensions without the deal, and the payroll tax holiday is a back door trick to deplete Social Security. Eugene is concern trolling for the administration, so they’ll invite him to the WH holiday parties.
Tell those who are supposed to be representing you to vote no on the Bush Tax Cut Entrenchment and Social Security Depletion Act. Tell them loudly and forcefully. Point out the consequences if they vote yes.

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By ardee, December 10, 2010 at 8:41 am Link to this comment

Most points very well covered in the responses to Robinson’s ridiculous call for loyalty above common sense. Stay with the sinking ship Eugene, we will be better for your absence.

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By glider, December 10, 2010 at 6:38 am Link to this comment

Eugene and Obama’s funny math.  What the public is being asked to believe is that they will get more money in their pocket’s by trading this tax cut for borrowing more money (i.e. increasing the deficit).  Anyone who believes that can enrich themselves right now by going out and running up the balance on their own credit card.

Another detail on how this works and why Republicans favor cutting taxes over reducing the deficit.  Deficit spending is actually a delayed tax that extracts its payments in the form of increased inflation (or reduced deflation).  However, it does so unequally, since inflation does not occur immediately.  The first individuals to get the deficit spending cash therefore benefit the most as their dollars are not yet inflated.  Later, as the money trickles down, it becomes worth less and less.

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