Left fails to grasp Obama victory

December 10, 2010


— Barack Obama won the great tax-cut showdown of 2010 — and House Democrats don’t have a clue that he did. In the deal struck this week, the president negotiated the biggest stimulus in American history, larger than his $814 billion 2009 stimulus package. It will pump a trillion borrowed Chinese dollars into the U.S. economy over the next two years — which just happen to be the two years of the run-up to the next presidential election. This is a defeat?

If Obama had asked for a second stimulus directly, he would have been laughed out of town. Stimulus I was so reviled that the Democrats banished the word from their lexicon throughout the 2010 campaign. And yet, despite a very weak post-election hand, Obama got the Republicans to offer to increase spending and cut taxes by $990 billion over two years — $630 billion of it above and beyond extension of the Bush tax cuts.

No mean achievement. After all, these are the same Republicans who spent 2010 running on limited government and reducing debt. And this budget busting occurs less than a week after the president’s deficit commission had supposedly signaled a new national consensus of austerity and frugality.

Some Republicans are crowing that Stimulus II is the Republican way — mostly tax cuts — rather than the Democrats’ spending orgy of Stimulus I. That’s consolation? This just means that Republicans are two years too late. Stimulus II will still blow another near-$1 trillion hole in the budget.

At great cost that will have to be paid after this newest free lunch, the package will add as much as 1 percent to GDP and lower the unemployment rate by about 1.5 percentage points. That could easily be the difference between victory and defeat in 2012.

Obama is no fool. While getting Republicans to boost his own re-election chances, he gets them to make a mockery of their newfound, second-chance, post-Bush, tea-party, this-time-we’re-serious persona of debt-averse fiscal responsibility.

And he gets all this in return for what? For a mere two-year postponement of a mere 4.6-point increase in marginal tax rates for upper incomes. And an estate tax rate of 35 percent — it jumps insanely from zero to 55 percent on Jan. 1 — that is somewhat lower than what the Democrats wanted.

No, cries the left: Obama violated a sacred principle. A 39.6 percent tax rate versus 35 percent is a principle? “This is the public option debate all over again,” said Obama at his Tuesday news conference. He is right. 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. The left is similarly clueless on the tax cut deal: In exchange for temporarily forgoing a small rise in upper-income rates, Obama pulled out of a hat a massive new stimulus — what the left has been begging for since the failure of Stimulus I, but was heretofore politically unattainable.

Obama’s public exasperation with this infantile leftism is both perfectly understandable and politically adept. It is his way back to at least the appearance of centrist moderation. The only way he will get a second look from the independents who elected him in 2008 — and abandoned the Democrats in 2010 — is by changing the prevailing (and correct) perception that he is a man of the left.

Hence that news-conference attack on what the administration calls the “professional left” for its combination of sanctimony and myopia. It was Obama’s Sister Souljah moment. It had a prickly, irritated sincerity — their ideological stupidity and inability to see the “long game” really do get under Obama’s skin — but a decidedly calculated quality, too. Where, after all, does the left go? Stay home on Election Day 2012? Vote Republican?

No, says the current buzz, the left will instead challenge Obama for the Democratic nomination. Really now? For decades, African-Americans have been this party’s most loyal constituency. They vote 9-1 Democratic through hell and high water, through impeachment and recession, through everything. After four centuries of enduring much, African-Americans finally see one of their own achieve the presidency. And their own party is going to deny him a shot at his own re-election?

Not even Democrats are that stupid. The remaining question is whether they are just stupid enough to not understand — and therefore vote down — the swindle of the year just pulled off by their own president.

— Charles Krauthammer is a columnist for Washington Post Writers Group. letters@charleskrauthammer.com


TopJayhawk 7 years, 6 months ago

They're all thieves. Get rid of all of 'em.

jafs 7 years, 6 months ago

Get a bucket.

And, I'm concerned for your health - you are often about to be sick or throw up - maybe you should see a doctor about that.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 6 months ago

Krauthammer's assessment also fails to grasp that Republicans have a 30-year record (which defies another part of the Reagan myth) that shows that they really couldn't care less about deficits.

Despite a boost from the mostly faux-populist teabagger movement, the Republican Party still has only one goal-- to wage class war in favor of the wealthiest of the wealthy. The only thing they wanted was to maintain tax cuts for the wealthy in order to maintain a trend over the last 30 years that has seen a 4-fold increase of wealth for the wealthiest 1% of Americans, at the expense of those in the lower 90%.

They got their tax cuts, and all it cost them was an economic stimulus that in the end, will benefit only the wealthy.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 6 months ago

There's nothing arbitrary involved at all.

The reason for a (truly) progressive income tax, and an inheritance tax, is because capitalism is inherently unfair in the way it distributes income. By design.

We aren't going to do away with capitalism. So progressive taxation necessarily is necessary in order to run a society and an economy that takes into account the needs of everyone, not just the top 1-10%

But I don't expect someone with an ideologically addled brain, such as yourself, to be able to understand that.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 6 months ago

Take it on the chin? They might have to buy a smaller yacht, or have slightly fewer vacation homes, but their chins should be just fine.

But it's really touching how much concern you have for the welfare of billionaires.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 6 months ago

It's not just "my business." It's everybody's business. When a very small percentage of the population hoards too much capital, at the expense of everyone else, then it becomes everyone else's business.

monkeyhawk 7 years, 6 months ago

Now "earn" means "hoards".

boozo, it is not your money and it does not belong to the government or any of the other deadbeat mooches out there who think it does. It becomes clearer every day why you are so miserable - life has dealt you an unfair hand. Maybe if you got out of the basement and actually did something productive besides expounding your fascist views on this worthless forum (and others, I'm sure) day in and day out, you might know the feeling of success. Then again, I guess we need people like you to balance out the achievers.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 6 months ago

Sorry, but once income level reaches absurd levels, the notion that it is "earned" is equally absurd.

But rather than make a blanket rule that such absurd salaries and incomes are forbidden because they completely distort the economy and contribute to a dysfunctional society, a progressive tax rate is a more subtle approach that mitigates the damage caused by the many anomalies of capitalism.

monkeyhawk 7 years, 6 months ago

I think what really turns boozo on is her use of the word "teabagger".

funkdog1 7 years, 6 months ago

My spouse and I belong in the "acheiver" category. We're not rich, but we're both educated with good jobs and above average income. We donate to charity when we can. When I see how hard so many Americans work for sh*tty wages and no (or crappy) insurance I wonder how the rich and ultra-rich can in this country can stand themselves. If they're not going to pay the taxes through their corporations, and they're not going to pay decent wages or provide decent health insurance to the people who are making them rich, then you're damn right we should take away their personal tax breaks.

Company loyalty? Thing of the past. Pensions? Gone. Yet the rich contiue to gain more of the wealth in this country while the lower classes have to fight and scrap for every last dime and the middle class is the one who has to pick up the cost of welfare and the nation's retirement bill via Social Security and Medicare. It's a moral outrage.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 6 months ago

A local USA economy = economic growth and new wealth for the USA! Bring it back today1

Food for thought: The war is killing the economy not medicare, Social Security, public education or food stamps!!! In 2008 it has been determined the cost of war is at $3 trillion. What the media and politicians are not revealing is the estimated 35,000 disabled troops and their families that we taxpayers must support and rightfully so. The cost could well be $5 trillion in 2011.

  1. The U.S. health care system is typically characterized as a largely private-sector system, so it may come as a surprise that more than 60% of the $2 trillion annual U.S. health care bill is paid through taxes, according to a 2002 analysis published in Health Affairs by Harvard Medical School associate professors Steffie Woolhandler and David Himmelstein.

2.Social Security adds to the deficit Reality: It's not just wrong—it's impossible! By law, Social Security's funds are separate from the budget, and it must pay its own way. That means that Social Security can't add one penny to the deficit.

3.Benefit cuts are the only way to fix Social Security. Reality: Social Security doesn't need to be fixed. Baby boomers were being planned for decades ago.

But if we want to strengthen it, here's a better way: Make the rich pay their fair share. If the very rich paid taxes on all of their income, Social Security would be sustainable for decades to come. Right now, high earners only pay Social Security taxes on the first $106,000 of their income. But conservatives insist benefit cuts are the only way because they want to protect the super-rich from paying their fair share.

  1. Politicians forget to tell the news media privatizing Social Security will add $700 billion to the deficit annually for the next 20 years.

  2. Letting tax cuts for the top 2 percent—which were never meant to be permanent—expire as scheduled would pay down the federal debt by $700 billion over the next ten years.

  3. Medicare is NOT free. Millions of people using medicare insurance STILL pay into medicare insurance every month.

  4. The military industrial complex requires 60% of every tax dollar.... way tooo much money. REDUCE THIS BY 50%!

8.Social Security is Free? Since when. People have been paying for this little nest egg for about 80 years.

Food for thought: The war is killing the economy not medicare, Social Security, public education or food stamps!!!

Richard Heckler 7 years, 6 months ago

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts is the father of Reaganomics and the former head of policy at the Department of Treasury.

“What can be done?”

Here is what can be done. The wars, which benefit no one but the military-security complex and Israel’s territorial expansion, can be immediately ended. This would reduce the US budget deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars per year. More hundreds of billions of dollars could be saved by cutting the rest of the military budget which, in its present size, exceeds the budgets of all the serious military powers on earth combined.

US military spending reflects the unaffordable and unattainable crazed neoconservative goal of US Empire and world hegemony. What fool in Washington thinks that China is going to finance US hegemony over China?

The only way that the US will again have an economy is by bringing back the offshored jobs. The loss of these jobs impoverished Americans while producing oversized gains for Wall Street, shareholders, and corporate executives. These jobs can be brought home where they belong by taxing corporations according to where value is added to their product. If value is added to their goods and services in China, corporations would have a high tax rate. If value is added to their goods and services in the US, corporations would have a low tax rate.

This change in corporate taxation would offset the cheap foreign labor that has sucked jobs out of America, and it would rebuild the ladders of upward mobility that made America an opportunity society.

If the wars are not immediately stopped and the jobs brought back to America, the US is relegated to the trash bin of history.

Obviously, the corporations and Wall Street would use their financial power and campaign contributions to block any legislation that would reduce short-term earnings and bonuses by bringing jobs back to America. Americans have no greater enemies than Wall Street and the corporations and their prostitutes in Congress and the White House.

The neocons allied with Israel, who control both parties and much of the media, are strung out on the ecstasy of Empire.

The United States and the welfare of its 300 million people cannot be restored unless the neocons, Wall Street, the corporations, and their servile slaves in Congress and the White House can be defeated.

Without a revolution, Americans are history.


Flap Doodle 7 years, 6 months ago

In other news: "President Obama defended his bipartisan tax deal this week by claiming that Republicans were political "hostage takers" who wouldn't budge, but it looks like he fingered the wrong suspects. The real kidnappers are Speaker Nancy Pelosi's House Democrats, and the main hostage they are taking is none other than Mr. Obama. Republicans should not pay the ransom. House Democrats signaled their opposition to the Obama-GOP deal yesterday, leaking word of a near-unanimous voice vote of disapproval from a closed-door caucus meeting. The Speaker then insisted on "discussions" in the days ahead "to improve the proposal before it comes to the House floor for a vote." Because she controls a House majority for a (blessedly) few more weeks, Mrs. Pelosi has the power to deny a floor vote and hand the American economy a giant tax increase on January 1. What a crew. Democrats on Capitol Hill have had two years to avoid this day of tax reckoning, yet they kicked the tough vote into a lame duck session. They proceeded to lose a modern record of 63 House seats. Then when a Democratic President seeks to spare the country a huge tax increase by cutting a deal with the soon-to-be-majority Republicans, the losers try to bust up the economy and the Obama Presidency on their way out of town. At one level, this is a fight for power over the next two years. Re-elected by her colleagues after their epic defeat, Mrs. Pelosi is trying to show Mr. Obama who wears the pantsuit in the party. She thinks the law professor President lacks her streets-of-Baltimore grit. She's sending him a message not to count on her support if he tries to do a Bill Clinton and cut deals with Republicans to win re-election..." http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703766704576009684148164872.html?mod=rss_opinion_main

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 6 months ago

So you hate the working class enough to make generalized derogatory statements about them. (and generally false.) That explains a lot.

anonmouse 7 years, 6 months ago

True, your claim "working class people get most of the benefits while doing the least work" is, on its face, valueless.

On the other hand, it's profoundly stupid.

funkdog1 7 years, 6 months ago

But they can't take those risks all by themselves. They can't possibly do all of the physical and mental labor involved. Nobody builds a successful company by his or her self! Of course the risk-taker should get the biggest reward, but COME ON. The CEO of GM make $16 million the year the company almost went belly up! You know how much I woulda charged to run GM into the ground? $50k.

emceelean 7 years, 6 months ago

In regard to Carnegie, what's brilliant about vertical integration and collusion? It's seems like a no-brainer.

The most brilliant thing he ever did was retire and become the greatest philanthropist the world has ever seen.

jafs 7 years, 6 months ago

"Working class people get most of the benefits while doing the least work".

monkeyhawk 7 years, 6 months ago

For the record - I hope the deal fails. The Republicans sold out on the unfunded continuation of unemployment. (But that on-line gambling bill that Reid packed on sure looks like a winner ;).

This is not what the people who elected them wanted. It is more of the same. I do believe another good old fashioned a$$ whipping in order for 2012.

james bush 7 years, 6 months ago

No matter which side prevails in the taxing deals, I can't help but think that there are some unintended consequences that only George Soros knows how to use for his own wealth-controling purposes.

Flap Doodle 7 years, 6 months ago

In other news: "We have not in our lifetimes seen a president in this position. He spent his first year losing the center, which elected him, and his second losing his base, which is supposed to provide his troops. There isn't much left to lose! Which may explain Tuesday's press conference. President Obama was supposed to be announcing an important compromise, as he put it, on tax policy. Normally a president, having agreed with the opposition on something big, would go through certain expected motions. He would laud the specific virtues of the plan, show graciousness toward the negotiators on the other side—graciousness implies that you won—and refer respectfully to potential critics as people who'll surely come around once they are fully exposed to the deep merits of the plan. Instead Mr. Obama said, essentially, that he hates the deal he just agreed to, hates the people he made the deal with, and hates even more the people who'll criticize it. His statement was startling in the breadth of its animosity. Republicans are "hostage takers" who worship a "holy grail" of "tax cuts for the wealthy." "That seems to be their central economic doctrine." As for the left, they ignore his accomplishments and are always looking for "weakness and compromise." They are "sanctimonious," "purist," and just want to "feel good about" themselves. In a difficult world, they cling to their "ideal positions" and constant charges of "betrayals."..." http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703766704576009943102291486.html?mod=rss_opinion_main

Orwell 7 years, 6 months ago

Yes, Dr. Krauthamer – while it's a short-term victory for you and your greedhead cronies, who gain the benefit of the "compromise," you and they and the rest of us poor schlubs eventually get to pay the trillions in no-benefit added interest. Or maybe you and the other millionaires figure you'll be dead by then, so suck it.

This just assures that more of that added cost will be shifted from the mega-rich beneficiaries to the less-well-off. Anything, of course, other than making the Kochs of the world pay for the cost of what they enjoy.

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