Friday, November 18, 2011

And now a Republican "Ruh-Roh" moment brought to you by the Washington Post and Small Donors...

Watch out now...

Even with low approval ratings and an uncertain path to reelection, President Obama is exceeding expectations in one area: His campaign is doing far better at attracting grass-roots financial support this year than his GOP rivals or his own historic effort in 2008, according to new contribution data.

The sheer scale of small donations, totaling $56 million for Obama and his party, has surprised many Democratic strategists and fundraisers, who feared that a sour economy would make it difficult for Obama to raise money from disenchanted and cash-strapped voters.

President Obama’s reelection campaign and DNC together raised $70 million in the third quarter of 2011. Outside of fundraising, the president is ramping up support for his reelection with his visits and talk about focusing on the economy.

A Washington Post analysis shows that nearly half of his campaign contributions, and a quarter of the money he has raised for the Democratic Party, has come from donors giving less than $200. That’s much higher than it was four years ago, and far beyond what the best-funded Republicans have managed.

Sonofagun...guess that "Satan Sandwich" is gettin' a bit tastier...

From The Hill:

The bipartisan debt-limit deal, famously called a “Satan sandwich” by a prominent Democrat this summer, is looking more heavenly to the left.

Republicans crowed after striking the agreement with President Obama, while congressional Democrats cried foul. Despite the White House’s endorsement of the bill, 95 House Democrats voted against it.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), chairman of the Budget Committee, subsequently said Republicans called Obama’s bluff. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said he got 98 percent of what he wanted in the deal.

Three months later, members of both parties are looking at the deal much differently.

A GOP lawmaker who requested anonymity told The Hill that “it’s the 2 percent that’s killing [Boehner] … I’ve never understood why we thought 12 people could come up with a solution any better than we could.”

With the supercommittee deadlocked, the sequestration cuts of $1.2 trillion are now likely to be triggered. Those reductions would hit national security programs, but not call for structural reforms to Medicare, Medicaid and/or Social Security.

Republicans on the House and Senate Armed Services committees were wary of putting defense cuts in the trigger, but Democrats essentially said the GOP would have to choose between tax increases or cuts to the military. Republicans opted for the latter, despite major concerns expressed by House Armed Service Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.).

Now, in sharp contrast to this summer, Democrats say they are in the driver’s seat. They note that Republicans are already vowing to torpedo the sequestration cuts to the Defense Department, something Democrats say they will not go along with.

Many Democrats would prefer the sequestration cuts over a deal that would make major reforms to entitlement programs.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), who voted against the debt deal on Aug. 1, is openly rooting for the super-panel to fall short.

“I hope that they cannot reach an agreement,” Nadler told Capital New York.

Nadler favors major cuts to the military — which could happen in 2013 if Congress cannot pass a deficit-reduction bill.

Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), who dubbed the debt deal a “Satan sandwich,” has tempered his critique.

He, along with dozens of congressional Democrats and Republicans, has called for the supercommittee to “go big” and find deficit savings in the $3 trillion to $4 trillion range. Part of that savings, Cleaver has made clear, should come from the expiration of the Bush tax rates.

There's more, but you get the idea.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Jonathan Chait explains the SuperCommittee Jujitsu in a way that most of us will enjoy...

My favorite bit is Hensarling's little warning to his colleagues.  I think this is the first time I've heard a Republican publicly acknowledge that they might not win the White House.

By the way, you know Chait's moved to New York Magazine, right?

Recent coverage of the supercommittee budget negotiations has trumpeted the fact that some Republicans have agreed, in theory, to increase tax revenue. But this isn’t any kind of compromise, and Democrats would be crazy to take this so-called “concession,” even if it came attached to no spending cuts at all.

The Republican offer is a response to the fact that Democrats hold all the leverage. At the end of 2012, the Bush tax cuts are scheduled to expire. If that happens, tax rates would return to Clinton-era levels, and revenue would increase by $3.7 trillion over a decade. That would solve the medium-term deficit problem without cutting a single dollar in spending.

Of course, it would also effectively hike taxes on the middle class, which Democrats oppose, or claim to oppose. But if those tax cuts expire in a way that allows Democrats to avoid the blame, they could have a win-win.

It’s the flip side of the situation they faced at the end of 2010, the last time the tax cuts were set to expire. Democrats couldn’t afford to yank the economy off life support before the 2012 elections, and so agreed to extend the cuts in exchange for extending some stimulative measures like payroll tax breaks and unemployment insurance.

Now that the tax cuts have been extended through 2012, the Democrats can afford to hang tough. They can make the election a choice between the Republican vision of keeping Bush-era tax rates on the rich and slashing retirement programs, and the Democratic vision of higher levels of retirement spending financed by higher taxes on the rich. That’s a very favorable contrast for the Democrats. And if the two parties fail to reach an agreement, the tax cuts disappear automatically. The bottom line: The expiration of the tax cuts poses a huge threat to the GOP.

Republicans understand this problem, and their offer before the supercommittee is a tactical effort to reduce the potential risk. The GOP is offering to increase tax revenue slightly above current levels – about $250 billion over a decade – in return for locking in the Bush tax cuts permanently. And they are only offering this in return for Democrats agreeing to cuts in entitlement spending and privatization of Medicare.

I’d be willing to consider a deal that cut entitlements in return for higher revenue. But the GOP deal wouldn’t produce higher revenue — it’s merely a hedge. Jake Sherman and Manu Raju report that Jeb Hensarling, an arch-conservative on the supercommittee, has made exactly this case to his colleagues:

“In a 20-minute presentation Tuesday, Hensarling told his House Republican colleagues that it was in their interest to cut a deal now since Obama could keep the White House, and Republicans should look at the proposal as avoiding a huge rate hike in 2013, when the Bush tax cuts expire. The usually rambunctious House Republican Conference gave Hensarling a standing ovation.”

Republicans are publicly framing this offer as a concession, in return for which they must get tax reform and entitlement cuts. But if Democrats really want to cut a deal, they need to demand higher tax revenue without locking in the Bush tax cuts.

It is certainly true that many House conservatives are freaking out at the supercommittee Republican offer, insisting that the party can never allow taxes to go even one cent higher under any circumstances. But this is merely the expression of the party’s anti-tax fanaticism – they are so dogmatically committed to the anti-tax cause that they won’t even buy what’s essentially an insurance policy to protect against a huge possible tax hike. The split within the GOP is not a split between anti-tax fanatics and deficit hawks. It’s a split between anti-tax fanatics who understand how to protect their interests and anti-tax fanatics who are too uncompromising to do even that.