Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Christmastime Fireside Chant for December 25, 2010 (VIDEO)

Yeah, I missed it. Sue me, I was stuck in...Texas (shudder).

President Obama and the First Lady wish families across the country a “Merry Christmas” and encourage everyone to support the troops and their families this holiday season. Visit to find ideas for what you can do to help our servicemen and women and their families.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

One day, this will be normal. One day there will be a GLBT President, and no one will know the difference.

I was in the air headed to (shudder) Texas for the Christmas Holiday when the first cloture vote was cast, and I had just gotten in a hearty Goode Barbecue Company lunch when I got the word, via the CNN iPad App, that DADT was dead once and for all.  All day, all I managed was a Tweet paraphrasing my standard phrase of joy: "DADT Repealed...and let the church say Amen."

And yes, that is my hand held up in praise of the almighty as I type/say that.

I'm a straight man, so I don't think I'm ever going to fully comprehend the joy (at least, I hope its joy) that our friends in the GLBT Community are feeling today, but I am Black, so I think I have an idea.

In 1948, a Democratic President (Truman) signed an Executive Order desegregating the Military.

(Side note: Unfortunately, it was a complete and utter misreading of this bit of history that gave rise to the bull@#$ notion that President Obama could simply wipe away DADT with the stroke of a pen...isn't that right Jane Hamsher?)

Anyway, what happened after that wasn't just a bunch of black Soldiers fighting and dying alongside whites (it was Korea, after all).  What really happened was African-Americans finally had a feeling of true citizenship, a feeling that finally, finally, there was a place for us in America.  Finally, we counted...or at least we started to in a major way.

I remember typing something along those lines when President Obama was first elected in 2008, the absolute lift and joy I felt as a black man, and the pride as a similar feeling came over me.  It was just as the First Lady (may or may not have) said, for the first time I felt proud to be an American, and I hoped that one day my fellow Latino Americans feel the same way when President Martinez or Solares takes the Oath of Office, or my fellow Asian Americans when President Cho or Leung is sworn in.

Now is the GLBT's moment.  No, this isn't an openly Gay President...but it could be the start to one.

Don't tell me that a Gay man or woman, straight-laced, and suited up, bearing none of the stereotypical bull@#$% characteristics best left to Sitcoms, openly in love with the partner of their choosing, and carrying with them a resume of medals won, and valor attained, can't one day, and one day within my lifetime, stand before the Chief Justice of the United States (who doesn't screw up the ceremony), and become our next President.

The miracle won't be that magic moment happening...

...the miracle, is that magic moment happening, and no one noticing the difference.

I know there is still a long way to go between that day, and today.  But my fellow Americans, you will one day be able to look back on this day, and do something that maybe you haven't been able to do in a while...

You will look back on DADT repeal...and know hope.

Note: Special hat tip to Andrew Sullivan for that last line which is almost his signature nowadays, and to The Only Adult in the Room for hitting that Rachel footage first.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Fireside chat for December 18th, 2010 (VIDEO)

President Obama urges the Senate to heed the calls from Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, every living Republican Secretary of State, our NATO allies, and the leadership of the military: ratify the New START Treaty with Russia.

One more victory before y'all hit the road, right guys?

TOUCHDOWN!! United States of America!!

DADT is dead.  GLBT Community, feel free to spike the ball.

Of course, the rest of the world is wondering what the hell took us so long.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Looks like Jonathan Chait's made his choice!

And apparently, it's Multiple-Choice MittAnd apparently, I was wrong.  It wasn't Working America who came up with the name, it was the late-great Ted Kennedy.  My total bad.

[Jonathan Chait once thought that] Romney was the heir to the tradition of moderate Republicanism that his father, former Michigan Governor George Romney, had once championed. During the 1960s, the elder Romney had fought the good fight against the Republicans' Goldwater wing, urging the party to distance itself from John Birchers and other conservative extremists. The elder Romney never made it as a presidential candidate but maybe the younger Romney would.

Mitt wouldn't be getting my vote, obviously: He was still pretty conservative, particularly on economic issues. But I thought his problem-solving instincts and apparently sincere interest in public service would serve him well and that, when it was all over, he might end up doing good things in office.

But by early 2007, when I began the reporting of my profile, Romney was in full pander mode--saying whatever it took to win over the Republican base, even if that meant campaigning as precisely the sort of conservative ideologue his father had once disdained:

...if any one moment epitomized the new Mitt Romney, it was his speech before the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) in February. There, gathered in one place, were the intellectual and ideological heirs to the conservative movement that first captured control of the Republican Party in the 1960s. But Mitt Romney had not come to carry on his father's fight against the right wing. He had come, instead, to do what every other aspiring Republican presidential nominee was doing: beg for the group's approval. After being introduced by Grover Norquist, the conservative activist perhaps most responsible for the radical makeover of government economic policy in the last decade, Romney began his speech by suggesting it was a "good thing" the crowd would soon hear from Ann Coulter, who was next on the speaking agenda. From there, he fed the crowd red meat--attacking Ted Kennedy, Nancy Pelosi, and the press; promising to fight the liberal social agenda, to close U.S.borders, and to never, ever raise taxes. "This is not the time for us to shrink from conservative principles," Romney thundered. "It is time for us to stand in strength."

Romney's latest panders make me wonder not if those of us who believed in Romney were wrong about him from the beginning. After all, it was Ted Kennedy, back in 1996, who first zeroed in on Romney inconsistencies on abortion with the devastating line: "He's not pro-choice, he's not anti-choice. He's multiple choice."

Of course, most politicians pander. And there are times that I believe, as Frum apparently does, that the real Romney would make a decent public servant. But mostly I'm with Douthat these days: It's become virtually impossible to tell where the fake Romney ends and the real one begins.

ThinkProgress: The only shocking thing about that this guy's shocked!

Apparently, the founder of Muslims for Bush is shocked, SHOCKED I TELL YOU, that there's anti-Muslim Bigotry in the GOP:

Last week, Muhammad Ali Hasan, a lifelong Republican and the founder of Muslims for Bush, announced he was switching parties because he is disgusted with the GOP’s tolerance of bigotry and adoption of thinly-veiled Islamophobia. Hasan and his family have raised money for Republican candidates in their home state of Colorado, helped GOP campaigns, and Hasan has run for public office on the GOP ticket. But after months of watching conservatives fan the flames of intolerance for political gain, Hasan had had enough, and wrote an open letter to the GOP published last Friday in the Huffington Post:

In watching this summer, with the promotion of Arizona’s SB 1070, calls to revoke the 14th Amendment, anger at the overturn of California’s Proposition 8, and lastly, aggressive protest against a mosque in New York City, I came to question how much the GOP values the vision of our American Saints, the Founding Fathers. Quite frankly, we are no longer the party of Constitutionalists.

Honestly, I think Republicans are convinced that a) They're still the Party of Lincoln, and b) It's still 1864.

How should the Senate Vote?

First caught by Andrew Sullivan. If I had a frame, I'd hang it on my wall.

What should be the official Mitt Romney political nickname?

Okay, as he head into the 2012 Presidential Campaign (odds are, starting just after Oregon vs. Auburn), I think its incumbent on the Professional Left (or in my case, the semi-professional Left) to come up with a suitable nickname for Mitt Romney.

As you may be aware, I've taken to calling him RoboMitt. But there have been a lot of really attractive contenders out there.

Jonathan Bernstein refers to him as the Mittbott. Not bad.  Close to mine, but not bad.

Andrew Sullivan uses He Who Makes Plastic Look Real, which is really good, oh-so British...but ultimately takes too long to say.

And Working America came up with Multiple Choice Mitt, which is irresistible.

But in the end, it may not matter, because as Jonathan Chait said (while calling him blocky)

Sadly, I think Romney has virtually no chance to win the nomination. He is trapped in the position of both desperately needing to repudiate his signature achievement and being unable to risk another flip-flop. It's a real loss for American politics, and irony.

Give it some thought, I might go with Working America's creation. But thoughts on this topic are welcome in the coming year(s).

Why has the Media abdicated actual Journalism to the Daily Show? (VIDEO)

Remember when Network TeeVee news used to do this?

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Worst Responders
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire Blog</a>The Daily Show on Facebook

And the roundtable afterwards:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
9/11 First Responders React to the Senate Filibuster
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire Blog</a>The Daily Show on Facebook

I'm not going to bother with the Mike Huckabee portion of the interview, as he seemed more interested in defending (and lying in favor of) Fox News than about the GOP's blocking the bill.

Fort McHenry has gone Mobile...

For the two of you who might care (and I could be overestimating things), Fort McHenry is now available as a Mobile Blog.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Greg Sargent: How the House Dems put themselves in a bind over the Tax Cut Deal

Okay, so it's a little old, but no less interesting:

Here's the situation, in a nutshell. Despite their own dislike of the tax cut compromise, House Dem leaders want it to pass the House. Period, full stop. They want the middle class tax cuts and unemployment benefits to continue, and they don't want to thwart an initiative upon which President Obama has staked so much.

At the same time, Dem leaders need to do something about the anger and near-despair among the House Dem rank and file. The idea has been to change the bill in some way to make it more palatable to Dems and to make them feel they've had a role in the process -- perhaps via an amendment on the hated estate tax provision.

But here's the problem. The tax deal passed the Senate yesterday by a huge number, 83-15. Worse for House Dems, a number of notable liberals voted for it, including Barbara Boxer, Chris Dodd, Sheldon Whitehouse and John Kerry.

The overwhelming support for the tax deal -- even among Senate liberals -- gives House Dem leaders less maneuvering room to make any substantial changes to the bill. They don't want to risk making changes that wouldn't have support if the bill were kicked back to the Senate, because they don't want to risk imperiling the deal.

"It really takes the air out of the sails of House Democrats when there's such a huge vote in the Senate for it," one House aide lamented to me. "It changes the dynamic in an unfortunate way. If you have the Senate saying they're accepting this deal in large margins, you have no partners to improve this."

That's why, as I noted yesterday, House Dems may end up voting on amendments to the bill that are likely to fail. It will enable Dems to register their disapproval of the estate tax provision and other things -- without preventing the bill from passing in the end, as Dem leaders and the White House want. Strong GOP support is expected to help it clear the House.

It's like I said before: Please, Mr. President lead least up until the point you actually get a deal done, so we can turn around and blame you for it.

And nothing says process like wasting a bunch of time on amendments that are going to go exactly nowhere.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Photoshop Rap (VIDEO)

This should tell you what I think about today's news day.

My favorite line in the video "Oooh, an urban!"

Actually, the tips described in the video are 100% valid. But getting a Photoshop Book would probably make things easier for you.

Courtesty @vdaze, the "I'm Grateful" site... (VIDEO)

Just a nice collection of photos and videos containing reasons to be grateful to the President.

Actually, I missed this video:

RoboMitt 2.0 for Prez 2012! (Because the GOP deserves the very worst) The hilarity begins!

Josh Marshall has a fantastic piece up about Mitt's travails and troubles for 2012. Is he suggesting that RoboMitt 2.0 is doomed in 2012?

Yeah.  Actually, I think he does right there at the end.

There are two more big liabilities on his ledger: 1st, he changes his ideology about every cycle and his actual policies predilections seem much more moderate than what flies in today's GOP. In other words, it's hard for him to shake the perception that he's a weather vane who doesn't have any real political principles. 2nd, and more devastating, the terror of 'Obamacare' is based on the legislation Mitt pushed through in Massachusetts. It's his signature piece of legislation. And going into 2012, that's a big, big problem.

To overcome those liabilities, Mitt has to do everything in his power to avoid a scenario in which he's the 'moderate guy' in the 2012 primary season against some other person who ends up as the Tea Party / hard right standard bearer, whether that's Palin or maybe Huckabee or whoever else. And so you have him at every point needing to stake out the most hard right position available -- in this case, proposing that we get rid of our system of unemployment insurance since, in his telling, unemployment insurance promotes laziness.

All that said, while I'd bet against Romney beating President Obama in 2012, he's probably the only one of the current crop who even stands a serious chance.

Weather vane?  What are you talking about, Josh?

By the way, Editor's note. While you were reading those paragraphs, RoboMitt upgraded himself to 2.1 status.

Whoops. Spoke too soon, he's at 2.2 now.

Monday, December 13, 2010

BREAKING: Richard Holbrooke has died.

It's too bad. I was hoping that since he was in critical, but stable condition today, things were looking better.

Thoughts, prayers and love to his family. I am so, so sorry for your loss.

Greg Sargent: Looks like Judge Hudson decided to re-write the Commerce Clause...

Wasn't that nice of him?

Tim Jost, a professor of law at the Washington and Lee University Law School, dismissed this argument, deriding it as a fundamental misreadling of the Constitution and claiming that the judge has "rewritten the Commerce Clause."

Jost, who spoke to reporters on a conference call organized by the pro-health reform Center of American Progress, accused Hudson of an overly narrow reading of the Commerce Clause. He said the judge's reading turned on the idea that the Commerce Clause only focuses on regulating economic activity, when in fact it also empowers Congress to regulate economic decisions that are "not immediately classifable as activity."

The Commerce Clause, Jost said, "really turns on economic decisions." By this Jost means that the Commerce Clause empowers Congress to step in and regulate when Americans fail to participate in economic activity in a way that impacts interstate commerce. In other words, failing to purchase health insurance does not constitute economic activity -- in a sense it's the absence of economic activity -- but Congress can step in anyway.

Jost argued that the Supreme Court has already upheld the right of Congress to regulate such economic decision-making. For instance, Jost noted, in the 1942 case Wickard v Filburn, the Supreme Court ruled that the Commerce Clause gives Congress the authority to prohibit wheat farmers from growing wheat for their own use. This forced them to participate in interstate commerce to get wheat.

The Constitution, by the way, empowers Congress "to regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States."

Jost noted that with Wickard v Filburn, the Supreme Court affirmed Congress' authority, under certain circumstances, to step in and force participation in interstate commerce when individuals declare: "I'm not in the stream of commerce. I'm just out here on my own." This is directly comparable to the debate over the individual mandate, Jost pointed out.

"This decision is very defective," Jost concluded, "and will be reversed by the appellate court or the Supreme Court."

How to separate the Lazy from the non-Lazy among the Media when it comes to the Health Care Reform ruling.

Do they say something like Jonathan Chait or Ezra Klein does?

Second, even given the above, Hudson conceded that striking down the individual mandate would not invalidate the whole Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. If you strike the individual mandate but leave the rest, you have a system that could easily be patched up with a better mechanism to avoid free-riding. The real loser here is the health insurance lobby. Health insurers would have preferred to avoid any health care reform at all. But the health insurance lobby's second-highest priority would be a working system with an individual mandate. A world in which they cannot discriminate against sick people but in which healthy people can avoid buying insurance until they're sick is a nightmare.

The health insurance lobby spent tens of millions of dollars to defeat health care reform. They have a lot of pull among Republicans. A system that gouges the health insurers but keeps in place the subsidies and regulations liberals want is not a status quo I see lasting very long.

Or are they Huffington Post?

Anyone...and I mean anyone who wrote today that the Health Care Reform was ruled unconstitutional either is lazy, stupid or both...and let's just say there are a lot of lazy and/or stupid folks among media of all classes.

Because people who write what Jonathan and Ezra did, took a little time, the decision.

Who needs to get their swagger back again?

Josh today in a somewhat accurate statement:

Even knowing all this and with all the policy particulars having their importance, some things are critical to leadership that are more personal and intangible. Look at President Obama today and the guy just doesn't have his swagger. The confidence is gone. And so is the smile. That's human, I guess. It's been a rough year. And like other presidents you can see the age on this president after only a couple years.

But people want to know they're on board with a political leader who's got a plan, who's got something up his sleeve, who's got some extra angle, some well of charisma or luck to draw on that makes the math in his team's favor more than just 2 + 2 = 4.

Now, as I tried to hint over the weekend, people tend to forget that it took President Clinton the better part of a year to get his head screwed back on right after the 1994 congressional midterms. And even beyond the psychological dynamics it's just hard to look too on top of your game when you've got all these jaunty Republicans milling around.

But it's still important, perhaps the critical factor. No one wants to follow someone who looks like a loser or feels beat. Yes, I know all the different arguments about the tax cut deal and where he's going to pick his fights and where he's not or where he's refused to so far. But the president needs his swagger back. Right now it may be his most critical deficit.

What Josh says is not totally wrong, but I think he's way overstating the impact of one statement to the press. At the same time...The President wasn't the one who went on 60 Minutes, and John Boehner .

If anyone needs to get their swagger back, it's the crying man of Orange.  Or did he ever have it in the first place?

Today's Tweet of the day winner is...

vdaze, from Baltimore, Maryland, responding to a post about the President's announcement of the Tax Cut Deal passing the Senate:

@: THAT ... is a sharp suit/tie combo. // It could be better. PRIMARY CHALLENGE!!!!!

Sorry, vdaze...our prize budget is...well, roughly the same as the budget for Fort McHenry as a whole. But I loved that tweet with all my heart. Still laughing.

Greg Sargent: Senate votes for tax cut deal. What's route through House?

Hopefully, Greg will use tiny words so Alan Grayson can understand:

Here's the challenge for House Dem leaders right now, as I understand it: Come up with a way for Dem members to vent their disapproval of the deal, so they don't feel too stiffarmed and marginalized by the process, without it resulting in changes significant enough to cause Republicans to walk away. The deal is expected to clear the House with a combination of strong GOP support and some backing among moderate Dems. Tweaking the bill in a way that drives away Republicans could imperil its survival.

The result could be a situation in which Dems hold a vote on amendments to the bill that are likely to fail. House Dems are particularly angry about the deal's estate tax provision; Dem leaders could hold a vote amending that provision, allowing Dem members to register disapproval. But the amendment would likely be opposed by almost all Republicans and some moderate Dems. So it would likely lose.

But rank and file Dems would have had a chance to make their voices heard before the final vote passing the deal through the House.

Greg Sargent: Looks like Rank-and-File Dems support the Tax Cut Deal, putting them at odds witht the "Elites" and "Villagers"

In Greg's own words: Dems heart compromise!

A new Washington Post/ABC News poll finds that overall, nearly seven in 10 Americans support the deal. But it's the partisan breakdown of the numbers that's of particular interest.

It finds that among Democrats, a surprising 68 percent support the package. This is true, even though only 38 percent of Dems in the same poll support the provision extending the Bush tax cuts for the rich. The provisions that Obama won -- including the extension of unemployment benefits -- induced another 30 percent of Dems to agree to support the overall deal, despite their opposition to extending the cuts for the wealthy. This suggests they may buy the idea that the compromise Obama won is a good one.

A new Pew poll out today has similar numbers. It finds that 63 percent of Democrats, and 65 percent of self-described liberals, supports the deal.

Whatever the merits of the deal, these numbers do raise doubts about the depth and breadth of the revolt it has sparked among Dems. What's more, recent polls have shown that in general, Dems want Obama to compromise with Republicans in far greater numbers than GOPers want their leaders to do the same with the President. Dems heart compromise!

In case you missed the video of the Metrodome Roof Collapsing... (VIDEO)

It's eerily beautiful...only because no one was hurt when it went down.

Between this and the Dallas Practice Facility collapse (where someone was severely injured), maybe its time to realize these Inflata-roofs or "Steel" structures don't really work in areas with the potential for inclement weather...which would be everywhere.

Also, so the Gophers got a new Stadium...the Twinkies got a new Stadium...and the Vikes get what?  Bupkus?

The Huffington Post just lied to you...

Well, maybe lied is too strong a word...but this keeps happening over and over again with them.


It's not. It's pointed not been ruled unconstitutional. What did Ezra just say???

And the story links to one with radically different headline:

Health Care Reform Provision Is Unconstitutional, Federal Judge Rules

Which is accurate.

Huffington Post is not an ethical organization. They lie just about as much as Fixed News...all in the service of a click.

Ezra Klein: The Virgina Judge's ruling is good news for Health Care Reform?


Hudson's ruling is the third from a district court so far. Previously, Judge Norman Moon found the mandate constitutional, and so too did Judge George Steeh. Both Steeh and Norman were Clinton appointees, which is to say that so far, the rulings are proceeding along predictably partisan lines.

Hudson ruled against the government, but he didn't stop it. He refused the plaintiff's request for an injunction against the legislation's continued implementation. The construction of the bill's infrastructure will continue. And second, he refused to overrule anything but the individual mandate itself.

The real danger to health-care reform is not that the individual mandate will be struck down by the courts. That'd be a problem, but there are a variety of ways to restructure the individual mandate such that it doesn't penalize anyone for deciding not to do something (which is the core of the conservative's legal argument against the provision). Here's one suggestion from Paul Starr, for instance. The danger is that, in striking down the individual mandate, the court would also strike down the rest of the bill. In fact, that's exactly what the plaintiff has asked Hudson to do.

Hudson pointedly refused. "The Court will sever only Section 1501 [the individual mandate] and directly-dependent provisions which make specific reference to 1501." That last clause has made a lot of pro-reform legal analysts very happy.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Fireside chat for December 11th, 2010 (VIDEO)

The President (thanks again to Fireside special guest host, Vice President Biden!) strongly urges both parties in Congress to pass the compromise on tax cuts, unemployment insurance, and job creation. Not doing so would hurt the middle class, those struggling to find work, and the economy itself.

Remember when Krugman said that we tried to fill a $2 trillion dollar hole in our economy with $787 billion worth of Infrastructure projects and tax cuts?

Well, he was right. That wasn't enough. It was just enough to stop the slide. (Remember, no how much Krugman's columns may or may not annoy you, the man is a Nobel Prize winner in Economics. He always gets his Economics numbers right. His political sense leaves much to be desired, but whenever you read his stuff, you have to keep these two ideas in your head. He can be right about numbers, and usually wrong about the Politics.)

And he was certainly wrong about was being able to get more through that Congress. A one $1.2 Trillion dollar Stimulus even though $2 trillion is need? Naaahhh. Big numbers scare those guys.

But if you think about it, maybe Professor Krugman was right. More Stimulus is about to pass the Congress, it just didn't happen at the beginning of the President's term when it should have.

However you feel about the coming Tax Cut Deal, remember its another $700 billion stimulus. Still too much in Tax Cuts for the rich, but a lot in Tax Cuts for everybody else.

So now, after this deal passes...and longtime reader Charmed86 is right (waving hi!), it's gonna pass...we will have filled 1.5 Trillion of the 2 Trillion dollar hole Krugman talked about.

If we got back to 2.2 growth with just the original Stimulus...what will adding this Stimulus do to that number?

The President just bet his Presidency that it will...

I think it will, too. Question is, does it go up enough?

Friday, December 10, 2010

The What We Got / What They Got Chart that's making the rounds (Great Minds Edition)

Steve Benen:

Though it doesn't seem to come up as much as I thought it might, the question of why Republicans would go along with a plan like this is pretty easy to answer: the GOP really does prioritize tax cuts for the wealthy above all. These breaks are so important to them, they'll accept a breakdown that allows that column on the left to be quite a bit higher than the one on the left.

Which follows up something Ezra Klein said before:

4) Republicans really, really, really care about tax cuts for rich people. Many Democrats had been operating under the theory that Republicans would simply obstruct everything Democrats attempted, as that was the best way to make Obama a one-termer. At least when it comes to tax cuts for very wealthy Americans, that's not true. Republicans agreed to far more in unemployment insurance and stimulus proposals than anyone expected, and sources who were involved in the negotiations agree that the mistake Democrats made going in was underestimating how much Republicans wanted the tax cuts for the rich extended.

And to rehash what David Corn said (extended dance mix!):

So at this late stage of the game, in the dwindling moments of the 111th Congress, should Obama have been willing to put those Americans on the line in order to do battle with the nefarious Republicans? Had he done so and won (forcing the GOPers to forgo the the tax bennies for the rich and to accept tax cuts and benefits, including unemployment insurance, for others), he would have saved the nation a lot of money and not established some dangerous precedents (such as the more generous exemptions for the estate tax). He would have served several valuable principles: We don't pay off the rich to help struggling Americans; we don't negotiate with hostage-takers. It would have been glorious. But had he failed, he might not have been able subsequently to work out a deal with the benefits of this one. As the nation has learned, the Republicans cannot be shamed into supporting measures that help besieged Americans -- but they can be bought off.

Erza Klein: Lessons learned from the Tax Cut Deal

Great column by Ezra, and an important read, he's got moreNo. 1 is my favorite.

1) No one really cares about the deficit. No sooner had Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles completed their work on the deficit reduction package than Democrats and Republicans reached a bipartisan accord to add $900 billion to the debt. Republicans wanted their unpaid-for tax cuts for the rich, Democrats wanted their unpaid-for stimulus measures and both sides wanted the unpaid-for tax cuts for income under $250,000. I think it's appropriate to spend while the economy is weak and then repay when it's strong, but then, I didn't just get elected to Congress by promising to rein in spending.

2) Obama is better at the inside game than the outside game. Sarah Palin likes to ask the president "how that hopey-changey stuff" is going. The answer, it seems, is that the changey stuff is going well, but the hopey stuff is proving more troublesome. Obama might have campaigned in 2008 as the inspirational newcomer who had no patience for the broken ways of Washington, but he has governed like a Washington veteran with little patience for inspired outsiders. In health-care reform, in the stimulus, in financial regulation and in the tax-cut deal, Obama has been a tough negotiator able to move his agenda through a gridlocked Congress - but he has not been able to enthuse Democrats or inspire popular support for his initiatives. He has been prickly when questioned about it.

3) And he's not over health-care reform. Among the president's most passionate moments during the post-deal news conference was his long, impromptu scolding of dissatisfied progressives who're making this into "the public option debate all over again." Obama went on to complain that liberals were so focused on the public option that they lost sight of the rest of the health-care bill - which was much larger. And he's right about that. But it's also time for him to get over it.

4) Republicans really, really, really care about tax cuts for rich people. Many Democrats had been operating under the theory that Republicans would simply obstruct everything Democrats attempted, as that was the best way to make Obama a one-termer. At least when it comes to tax cuts for very wealthy Americans, that's not true. Republicans agreed to far more in unemployment insurance and stimulus proposals than anyone expected, and sources who were involved in the negotiations agree that the mistake Democrats made going in was underestimating how much Republicans wanted the tax cuts for the rich extended.

5) It's still Ronald Reagan's world, at least when it comes to taxes. The Sturm und Drang over the tax cuts for the rich obscured the Democrats' massive capitulation on the tax cuts for everyone else. Even the party's liberals had accepted Obama's argument that the tax cuts for income of less than $250,000 - which includes the bulk of the Bush tax cuts - should be permanently extended. Another way of saying that is Democrats had agreed that the Clinton-era tax rates were too high. If you put it to most Democrats that way, they'd protest vigorously. The economy boomed under Clinton, and the Democratic Party is proud of the efforts it made to balance the budget. But Democrats are so terrified of being accused of raising taxes that they've conceded to the Bush tax rates for 98 percent of Americans.

6) We need tax reform, now more than ever. The end result of this deal is going to be an even weirder tax code than we have now - and the one we have now is pretty weird. We're extending old tax cuts and credits and adding new ones. Some of those may be extended further. Businesses won't want to see deductions for investments expire, and workers won't want to see the payroll-tax cut expire, and the super-rich won't want to see the tax exemption for estates up to $5 million expire. There are so many constituencies fighting for so many breaks that the only hope we're going to have when we actually do need to reduce the deficit - which isn't yet, but will be soon - is to start from square one on the tax code.

I have to confess, I'm not really over Health Care Reform either.

Ezra Klein: The Republicans aren't going to enjoy cutting spending as much as they enjoy saying Democrats spend too much

What Harry Reid is saying makes sense to me, but Ezra's got a point when he says that Democrats haven't exactly reacted well when these kinds of hostages are taken:

What's important to understand about the debt-ceiling vote -- where Democrats and Republicans will either strike a deal to increase the Treasury's borrowing cap or the country will collapse into default -- is that it's not like Democrats have simply forgotten about it. It's not that they haven't realized that they could tie it to the tax cuts, which Republicans want and which will add $900 billion to the debt. It's that they simply don't want to. “Let the Republicans have some buy-in on the debt. They’re going to have a majority in the House,” said Harry Reid. “I don’t think it should be when we have a heavily Democratic Senate, heavily Democratic House and a Democratic president.”

The theory goes something like this: Republicans will demand sharp spending cuts in return for lifting the debt ceiling. Let them. "Boehner et al have had the luxury of proposing all sorts of ideas that bear no relation to reality," says Jim Manley, Reid's spokesman. "Next year, they’ll have to lay it all out. No more magic asterisks, no more 'we’ll get back to you.’ "

In this telling, the debt ceiling vote represents a trap for Republicans more than an opportunity for Democrats. If Republicans want to cut spending, now's their chance. But that means passing a package of spending cuts, which they may find less enjoyable than simply saying that Democrats should stop spending so much. And if the American people aren't supportive of the Republicans’ spending cuts, the GOP will be caught defending an unpopular package as part of a political gambit that could lead to the bankruptcy of the United State of America.

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David Corn doesn't like the Tax Cut Deal either...but even he admits Obama had to do it.

First caught (at least by my eyes) by Jonathan Cohn at the New Republic. What are the odds that we don't see David Corn on Keith for a while?

In meeting after meeting, during which the president and his aides discussed his options, Obama repeatedly asked if anyone could guarantee that were he to put up his dukes, go to the mat, and play chicken with the GOPers, mid- and low-income Americans would end up with the breaks and benefits he believed they need. If he went nose-to-nose, mano-a-mano, and the R's didn't blink, they'd be nothing for nobody -- and the Bush tax cuts would end for the middle class, mean that come Jan. 1, hard-working Americans would see a smaller paycheck. To make matters worse, this might have an anti-stimulative effect on the economy.

Then what would happen? He might be able to win the blame-game against the Scrooge-ish Republicans -- which would be a significant victory, especially heading into the next Congress. But there would be no action until next year, and any tax-related bill would have to originate in the Republican-controlled House and pass a Senate with a larger and more tea party-ish GOP caucus. It could take weeks or months to hammer out a package. What were the odds it would contain as much assistance for the non-rich? In the meantime, working-class Americans would be contending with less money. That is, hurting more.

So at this late stage of the game, in the dwindling moments of the 111th Congress, should Obama have been willing to put those Americans on the line in order to do battle with the nefarious Republicans? Had he done so and won (forcing the GOPers to forgo the the tax bennies for the rich and to accept tax cuts and benefits, including unemployment insurance, for others), he would have saved the nation a lot of money and not established some dangerous precedents (such as the more generous exemptions for the estate tax). He would have served several valuable principles: We don't pay off the rich to help struggling Americans; we don't negotiate with hostage-takers. It would have been glorious. But had he failed, he might not have been able subsequently to work out a deal with the benefits of this one. As the nation has learned, the Republicans cannot be shamed into supporting measures that help besieged Americans -- but they can be bought off. ...

It's not hard to see why the guy who had to make this difficult call opted not to go nuclear. Obama was engaged in asymmetrical warfare, He apparently worried about what would happen to the unemployed and put-upon Americans without a deal. The Republicans didn't. This put Obama at a disadvantage. I don't counsel anyone not to criticize the package (and how Obama steered himself and his party into this corner). But I can almost feel his pain.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Steve Benen: "For those inclined to blame President Obama for Senate Republicans defeating repeal today, spare me."


For those inclined to blame President Obama for Senate Republicans defeating repeal today, spare me. The White House clearly pushed for repeal, and did everything possible to use the Pentagon's report last week to apply the necessary pressure to deliver. By most counts, there really are 60 votes to make repeal a reality, and that's the case because President Obama has helped take the lead on the issue. If you're looking to blame someone, I'd start with 40 senators who filibustered today.

Your Senate still sucks...

From the Citizen Cohn blog, a piece by Bradford Plumer:

What was particularly appalling about this vote was that the bill failed because of petty procedural objections on the part of individual senators—and not for any substantive reasons.

First, there was the tug-of-war between Majority Leader Harry Reid and Maine Republican Susan Collins. By all accounts, Collins was sincere about wanting to scrap the policy. She just wanted four days of debate on the defense spending bill (which included DADT appeal). According to Greg Sargent, after hours of haggling, Reid concluded that this was unworkable—four days of debate would be acceptable if that was all, but Republicans like Jim DeMint and Tom Coburn would've been able to drag things out for far longer with constant cloture votes and other procedural gimmicks. And there's just not a whole lot of time left in the Senate's lame-duck session. So Reid pushed for a vote this afternoon. And while Collins ended up voting for repeal anyway, the whole fracas over floor time gave other wavering Republicans an excuse to vote no.

Two Republicans in particular, Scott Brown of Massachusetts and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, had earlier said they were committed to DADT repeal. But both ended up voting against it, claiming they wanted to see the tax-cut bill resolved first and more time to debate. Principled! Meanwhile, West Virginia's newest Democrat, Joe Manchin, also voted no, but here's what his aide told Huffington Post's Sam Stein: "I would say that if he was somehow the 60th vote, I do not think he would have voted the way he did." In other words, there actually were 60 senators who wanted to end discrimination against gays in the military, it just didn't work out that way.

Jonathan Bernstein's three sentences that I suggest everyone (who's mad about the Tax Cut Deal) read:

Read and try to understand.

And thus, I give you Jonathan Bernstein:

The problem is that Obama either had to abandon the core commitment to end the Bush-era tax cuts for the rich, or the core commitment to continue Bush-era tax rates for everyone else. He didn't have the votes to keep both core commitments. End of story.

Jeff Parker: "Do As I Say, Not As I Do..."

Thanks Cagle Cartoons!

The look on the Donkey's face in the third panel slays me.

Let there be a deal, even though it sucketh! So sayeth the Goolsebee!! (VIDEO)

The Goolsebee has spoken...

The one thing I'll say is, that the block of what even he calls "Obama Tax Cuts", specifically the middle class tax cuts will be on the long-term debt only because there ain't no way in hell, Obama is going to turn that spigot of money off while he's President.

And you will note that Goolsebee said the President's against the Tax Cuts for the high income earners...but he didn't say he'd veto them.

Lawrence O'Donnell might need a toothpick after tearing into Former Rep. Alan Grayson like he did (VIDEO)


All three Tax Policy experts politely (or not so politely) let it be known that Alan Grayson had no idea what he was talking about.

He was a waste of Congress' time.  I won't miss him.

For the record again, Arianna Huffington in her one shot a running for Political Office (California Governor), she got .55% of the vote. Who is she to be giving political advice to anyone???

And now Part 2:

And a little James Clyburn, who did not get his ass kicked by Lawrence:

Tom Toles reveals your secret Liberal Fantasy (GRAPHIC)

Deep down, this is what you really want, right?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Plum Line: Does this count as Triangulation??

Greg Sargent's answer

Whatever you think of Obama's broadside yesterday, it seems clear that it has nothing to do with "triangulation," at least as it was practiced by Bill Clinton. Obama's dispute with the left isn't an effort to position himself ideologically as a centrist. It's part of a broader effort to present himself as Washington's lone resident adult in a room full of bickering children on both sides -- the last line of defense for the American people against Washington business-as-usual.

The problem here is that people tend to view Obama's stated aspiration to always seek common ground between warring parties through the prism of ideology. But that aspiration has always been more about temperament and process than about occupying the ideological "center." During the 2008 campaign and since then, he has insisted he would unite opponents by finding points of agreement between them and working outward from there. This isn't really about ideological "centrism" in any meaningful sense. It's a case about process. It might better be described as "Beer Summit-ism."

The reason Obama's attacks on the left smack of triangulation is that he persists on painting the left and the right with the same brush: He presents himself as the last reasonable man trapped between two sides blinded to reason by ideology. Hence his insistence yesterday that he won't be held to any unreasonable "ideal." But as irksom as this is, it isn't really the same as positioning oneself ideologically by arguing that the left is wrong on policy substance, as Bill Clinton did.

The man behaves as he says he will behave...yet there is shock.

And what do the Polls say about the Tax Cut Deal?

This from Greg Sargent:
Does the public support Obama's tax cut deal? White House officials have been predicting that the public would support the deal once they realized what Obama is getting in return for temporarily extending the high end cuts, and the new Gallup Poll suggests they might have a point.

It finds broad public support for two major elements of the compromise, with 66 percent favoring both the temporary extensions of the tax cuts and unemployment benefits. One other key point: This compromise was reportedly all about winning back independents, and they strongly support both provisions.

Bloomberg says otherwise.

I might be switching from "Countdown" to "The Last Word" after last night (VIDEO)

I didn't bother watching Keith Olbermann last night. Why??  I don't do "You're Not Doing It Right" Television.  Keith will have his Domestic experts on and then not listen to them.

Lawrence O'Donnell had four Progressives on, and with the exception of Erza Klein, metaphorically speaking, beat the holy snot out of them.

Granted, these are the weak-sisters of a Professional Left, but they still can't answer the central question: if not this deal, then what?

You gotta love a ideological cockroach like Roger Hodge saying that he appreciates Lawrence's expertise in this matter (he was Chief of Staff to the Senate Finance Committee), and then saying he doesn't know what he's talking about.  And calling the President Barack Hoover Obama?  Really?  Gutless punk.

I do believe Lawrence actually called actual bull@#$% on Roger Hodge and Jane Hamsher:

Second segment:

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

President Obama addresses supporters directly on the issue of the Tax Cuts deal (VIDEO)

Via the


I like this. I think he needs to do more of this (along with more White House White Boards):

President Obama's complete Press Conference (VIDEO)

Andrew Sullivan: Illinois state senator, Ricky Hendon kicks the crap out of professional politicians.

Wow. Absolute, fantastic, must-see catch from Andrew Sullivan.

Illinois state senator, Ricky Hendon kicks the crap out of professional politicians. He's really talking about Civil Unions in the clip (he's, like me, a charter member of the "I don't care" Democratic in I don't care if Adam and Steve get married)...

...but...(hee-hee) it applys to so many other things, especially today.

Loved it.

TPM: Obama Dresses Down 'Sanctimonious' And 'Purist' Progressives (VIDEO)

Transcript (first posted at TPM), and analysis (also at TPM):

With respect to the bottom line, in terms of what my core principles are, yeah look, I've got a bunch of lines in the sand. Not making tax cuts for the wealthy permanent, that was a line in the sand. Making sure that the things that most impact middle-class families and low income families, that those were preserved, that is a line in the sand. I would not have agreed to a deal, which, by the way some in Congress were talking about, of just a two-year extension on the Bush tax cuts and one year of unemployment insurance, but meanwhile all the other provisions of earned income tax credit or other important breaks for middle class families, like the college tax credit, that those had gone away, just because they had Obama's name attached to them instead of Bush's name attached to them.

So this notion that somehow we are willing to compromise too much reminds me of the debate that we had during health care. This is the public option debate all over again. So I pass a signature piece of legislation where we finally get health care for all Americans, something that Democrats had been fighting for, for a hundred years - but because there was a provision in there that they didn't get, that would have affected maybe a couple million people, even though we got health insurance for 30 million people, and the potential for lower premiums for a hundred million people, that somehow that was a sign of weakness and compromise.

Now, if that's the standard by which we are measuring success or core principles, then let's face it, we will never get anything done. People will have the satisfaction of having a purist position, and no victories for the American people. And we will be able to feel good about ourselves, and sanctimonious about how pure our intentions are and how tough we are. And in the meantime the American people are still seeing themselves not able to get health insurance because of a pre-existing condition, or not being able to pay their bills because their unemployment insurance ran out. That can't be the measure of how we think about our public service. That can't be the measure of what it means to be a Democrat.

This is a big, diverse country. Not everybody agrees with us. I know that shocks people. You know, the New York Times editorial page does not permeate across all of America - neither does the Wall Street Journal editorial page. Most Americans, they're just trying to figure out how to go about their lives, and how can we make sure that our elected officials are looking out for us? And that means because it's a big, diverse country, and people have a lot of complicated positions, it means that in order to get stuff done we're gonna compromise.

This is why FDR, when he started Social Security, it only affected widows and orphans. You did not qualify. And yet now it is something that really helps a lot of people. When Medicare started it was a small program, it grew. Under the criteria that you just set out, each of those were betrayals of some abstract ideal.

This country was founded on compromise. I couldn't go through the front door of this country's founding. And you know if we were really thinking about ideal positions, we wouldn't have a Union.

And so, my job is to make sure that we have a North Star out there - what is helping the American people live out of their lives? You know what is giving them more opportunity, what is growing the economy, what is making us more competitive. And at any given juncture there're gonna be times where my preferred option, what I'm absolutely positive is right, I can't get done. And so then my question is, does it make sense for me to tack a little bit this way, or tack a little bit that way, because I'm keeping my eye on the long term, and the long fight, not my day to day news cycle, but where am I going over the long term?

And I don't think there's a single Democrat out there, who if they looked at where we started when I came into office and look at where we are now, would say that somehow we have not moved in the direction that I promised. Take a tally, look at what I promised during the campaign. There's not a single thing that I said that I would do that I have not either done or tried to do. And if I have not gotten it done yet, I'm still trying to do it.

And so, to my Democratic friends, what I'd suggest is, let's make sure that we understand this is a long game, this is not a short game.

And to my Republican friends, I would suggest, I think this is a good agreement, because I know they're swallowing some things that they don't like as well, and I'm looking forward to seeing them on the field of competition over the next two years.

UPDATE 2:05pm Pacific:

Added commentary from Jonathan Bernstein:

The truth is that there are a lot of people who just don't accept that the President of the United States can want something, fight for it, fight effectively and correctly, and still not get it. If it doesn't happen, it must have been—in Obama's words—a "betrayal." Those people are wrong.

He added some more negative points. Those are here as well.

Greg Sargent:

Obama was as visibly frustrated and angry as he's perhaps ever been in public, and some folks are pointing out on Twitter that he seems more angry with the left than he is with Republicans. In fairness to Obama, though, he directed harsher rhetoric at Republicans, implicitly comparing them to hostage takers at one point, and his basic message was that he needs fellow Dems to understand the nature of the opposition and allow him the space to act accordingly.

That was by far Obama's sternest publicly rebuke yet of his liberal critics, and his frustration with them -- which seems to have built up over the past two years -- was palpable. If Obama is going to play the role of adult-in-chief going forward, his tormentors on the left clearly will not be spared the rod.

Ezra Klein (explaining my Father's position):

My conversations with various progressives over the past 24 hours have convinced me that the problem is less the specifics of the deal -- though liberals legitimately dislike the tax cuts for the rich, and rightly point out that Obama swore to let them expire -- than the way in which it was reached. Put simply, Obama and the Democrats didn't fight for them. There were no veto threats or serious effort to take the case to the public.

Instead, the White House disappeared into a closed room with the Republicans and cut a deal that they'd made no effort to sell to progressives. When the deal was cut, the president took an oblique shot at their preferences, saying "the American people didn’t send us here to wage symbolic battles or win symbolic victories." And this came a mere week or two after the White House announced a federal pay freeze. The pattern, for progressives, seems clear: The White House uses them during elections, but doesn't listen to, or consult them, while governing. In fact, it insults them, and then tells them to quiet down, they got the best bargain possible, even if it wasn't the one they'd asked for, or been promised.

If you're worried about stimulus, joblessness and the working poor, this is probably a better deal than you thought you were going to get. "It’s a bigger deal than anyone expected," says Bob Greenstein, president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. "Both sides gave more expected and both sides got more than expected." The White House walked out of the negotiations with more stimulus than anyone had seen coming. But they did it in a way that made their staunchest allies feel left behind, and in many cases, utterly betrayed.

That the Obama administration has turned out to be fairly good at the inside Washington game of negotiations and legislative compromise and quite bad at communicating to the public and keeping their base excited is not what most would have predicted during the 2008 campaign. But it's true.

Chris Cillizza:

Obama, to be fair, didn't only single out Democrats for criticism. He compared negotiating with Republicans to negotiating with hostage takers and said he only did so because of the danger that the hostage -- aka the American public -- would be harmed.

Taken broadly, this press conference was a true rarity for Obama: the president as populist -- and an angry one at that.

The president repeatedly sought to frame the compromise on tax cuts as a choice between playing politics and looking out for the American people. "My number one priority is to do what's right for the American people," Obama said at the start of the press conference.

The image of a visibly irritated -- if not outright angry -- Obama was a stunning contrast to cool, calm and collected persona that he has long cultivated.

Allies of the president insisted his tone was justified and winning -- that he was channeling the frustration of the American people with a government unable to solve big problems.

But, anger is a dangerous emotion in politics.

Used tactically, it can help convey a sense of shared concern/upset with the American people. Used less skillfully, it can make a politician look small and petty.

The best -- and the worst -- of the anger equation can be found in former president Bill Clinton.

At his best, Clinton used his anger to channel the best of the best southern populist politicians -- turning an issue into an "us versus them" argument that he almost always won.

At his worst, Clinton would turn his fire onto the process itself -- the media, the rules of Congress etc. -- which almost invariably ensured political defeat either of the temporary or permanent variety.

UPDATE: 3:16pm Pacific: I put up the MSNBC Video of the brushback, since it has a little more meat on its bones.

Also, given the fact that the President ended the presser with this statement I think pretty much proves it was planned from the beginning.

UPDATE: 4:31pm Pacific. Okay, I botched that. Turns out the clip was the complete Press Conference. It deserves its own Post, so I gave it one. Now, this OFA bit has more meat on it than the TPM video, but I don't think its the complete answer. Still looking for that.

Think Progress: How many people will benefit under Obama's parts of the Tax Plan versus the GOP? (GRAPHIC)

From Think Progress:

The Center for American Progress says the Tax Cut Deal could create 2.2 Million Jobs??

Saw this on Erza first, the Center for American Progress has given the President (and wayward Liberals) some cover, but the actual report is interesting:

Our analysis of the framework tax agreement that President Barack Obama announced yesterday, including additional tax cuts and an extension of unemployment insurance, finds that 2.2 million jobs will be the end result. In this time of economic distress, millions of new jobs are, of course, very welcome. It is, however, unfortunate that these jobs have to come from an agreement that is a balance between large, unneeded, bonus tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans and the needed continuation of unemployment benefits, middle-class tax relief, and additional help for the economy for the rest of us.

While the terms of the deal are understandable given the effective veto power of conservatives, it is unfortunate that policies aimed at the vast majority of Americans and at boosting the economy were held hostage to wasteful tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent. But the Obama administration clearly had its eye on job creation in its willingness to accept $133 billion in misallocated bonus tax breaks for the rich in exchange for policies to sustain the economic recovery and help the middle class.

We estimate that the deal as described would save or create 2.2 million jobs, excluding jobs associated with the extension of the broader-based portions of the Bush tax cuts on which all parties were agreed. To give an example of how the $133 billion used for the bonus tax cuts, including estate tax cuts, could have been better used: If it had been instead put to additional payroll tax cuts, 2.7 million jobs would be saved or created. Or alternatively, of course, the deficit could have been $133 billion less.

@chucktodd: Nancy doesn't have the votes for the Tax Cut Deal.

This is also good, in my opinion. Chuck just tweeted this:

Decipher Pelosi statement on WH-tax deal //not an endorsement; not a rejection; Translation:she doesn't have the votes

(MJ's note: The above link isn't highlighted, because it doesn't work).

Still, this is what Nancy was made Minority Leader to do, hold the caucus together, and get us a better deal. If we can wring something else out of those bloodsuckers, I'm all for it.

One of the things that I do like about this deal, is its existence. What happened yesterday is what Barack Obama saw for his Administration early on. The problem was he ran into blockheaded GOP opposition that found itself rewarded for its blockheaded opposition with power.

Only thing is now the blockheaded GOP, since they're in power, have to deliver, and the only way to deliver is to get stuff passed, and the only way to do that is to deal with Barack Obama.

So expect more of these kinds of odious compromises. Getting core some Liberal priorities done in exchange for the GOP advancing some of its agenda.

And to my fellow Liberals, I have to ask: What's more important, getting what we want done? Or denying the GOP what they want? I have the ugly sick feeling, that if those were the only two choices...

Erza Klein on the reality of Governing. You play the hand you're dealt.

If there's one area about Countdown with Keith Olbermann that even I, the affirmed Liberal, can't stand is his propensity for "You're Not Doing It Right" Television.  It's always easier yelling from the cheap seats than actually having to, you the Team.  Likewise, governing is always easy in theory.  When you get down to the brass tacks of it, when it's your ass on the line (and in the President's case, a lot more than that) it gets a lot harder.

Erza Klein opened a piece today with all the various scenarios that coulda/woulda/shoulda happened over the Tax Cut Deal.  It's hard to imagine the President not getting a similar menu of options. Which would you have chosen? I know I was probably with Krugman more than anything, but I'm at least willing to admit that there were possibly heavy costs to that chosen path. Wonder if he'd be willing to acknowledge them?  I wonder if Keith will have even one guest on that will challenge his already held belief that this was a bad deal (like say...Erza?)

No deal: Paul Krugman made the case for this yesterday. In a "no deal" scenario, Republican demands to extend the tax cuts for high-income earners are met with simple refusals from the Democrats. The two sides can't agree, and the tax cuts expire. This sparks a bitter showdown, with the Republicans blaming Democrats, and vice-versa. It also hurts the economy, as markets both adjust to the idea that taxes might increase and that the two political parties prefer outcomes that neither side likes -- and that the public opposes -- to compromise.

Partial deal: Two months ago, President Obama could've simply issued a veto threat against extending the tax cuts for income over $250,000. Multiple high-profile Republicans had admitted that there was little they could do in that scenario. The tax cuts for the rich would have expired. The rest of the tax cuts would have been extended permanently -- at a much higher total cost to the deficit. But an angry Republican Party wouldn't have cooperated on unemployment benefits, the tax extenders or the payroll tax cut.

Bad deal: Democrats simply get rolled in the negotiations. There's a two- or three-year extension of all the tax cuts, and a short extension of unemployment benefits. That's about it.

Better deal: Democrats get more out of the negotiations. There's a two-year payroll tax cut, and a vote to lift the debt ceiling (which will have to happen in February, anyway). There's also a direct spending component of some kind, probably on infrastructure.

I find ranking these quite difficult. The Partial Deal was the White House's preference, but I think extending the bulk of the tax cuts in perpetuity is bad policy. On the other hand, it's likely to happen anyway. No Deal might take care of that problem, but it's potentially damaging to an economy that remains weak and a market that remains skittish. Better Deal looks good in some ways, but all this money will eventually have to be paid back, so the more you spend, the more deficit reduction you'll have to do later -- and there's no guarantee that the mix of policies we use for deficit reduction will be good.

The reality is that it's hard to judge this deal without knowing the deals that will come after it...

I think we wound up a hair's breadth short of Better Deal. (I don't recall Infrastructure spending being part of this deal, so...)