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Obama surrenders on taxes
Dems had the issue won, then faltered
by Ezra Klein


At risk of overgeneralizing, the problem isn't that Dems aren't capable of winning an argument.
It's that they don't think they're capable of winning a protracted political standoff, even on an issue
where the public is on their side, once Republicans start going on the attack. They seem to set their
goal early on at salvaging a compromise, rather than going for the win. As a result, they tend to
telegraph weakness at the outset, sending a clear message that they'll essentially give Republicans
what they want as long as they can figure out a way to call it a compromise.

It's very important to realize how strong of a hand Democrats had -- and to some degree, have -- on the
Bush tax cuts. Right or wrong, the Democrats' original position on this was that the tax cuts for income
under $250,000 should be extended, and the tax cuts for income over $250,000 should expire. The public
agrees: 63 percent of Americans don't want the tax cuts for the rich extended.

Here's where you get angry with me for telling the truth.
Have you ever seen a worse poker player, a worse negotiator IN YOUR LIFE?

The public DOES NOT WANT the super-rich to get their tax cuts,
but Obama can't figure out how to get on the side of the majority.

How can he screw up certain victory?

The GOP understood this just fine:   In September, John Boehner said, "If the only option
I have
is to vote for some of those tax reductions I'll vote for it."

Democrats, it seemed, had won this one. They had the popular position, the president's veto pen and
control of the Congress. But they simply refused to carry the ball over the goal line. Instead, they began
negotiating with themselves, talking about millionaires' brackets and short-term extensions. Republicans
noticed the Democrats' disarray and lost their fatalism: Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said he was ready to instruct
GOP members to vote down legislation Democrats plan to bring to the floor that would extend the expiring
Bush-era tax cuts only for the middle class."

See the difference between us and the GOP?

The GOP has LEADERS who tell their members how to vote.
Obama has established himself as a pushover, so his own team tells him to fuck off.

Now it looks like all the tax cuts will be extended, at least for the moment. But it's a baffling outcome.

No, not if you've watched the Dems surrender the last 100 fights in a row.

The structure of the situation favored -- and continues to favor -- the Democrats.
No tax cuts pass without their support, and Republicans have previously admitted that their position
isn't popular enough to prevail in a standoff. The only thing that's changed is that Republicans have
realized Democrats aren't confident enough to enter a standoff. But it didn't have to be this way

Remember in 1995 when Gingrich threatened to shut down the government?
Clinton said, "Well, do ya feel lucky, punk?"  and dared him to do it.

When he did, Clinton put the blame on the guilty and we won that fight.
If we could get Obama to stop using surrender as a policy tool, we could win again.

But Obama is NOT going to change and I'm willing to bet on that.
He's going to continue to "reach accross the aisle" and "compromise"
which is Obama-speak for "surrender everything, every time."


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