“I thought he was a dick yesterday,” Halperin, who also is a senior political analyst for MSNBC, said on Morning Joe, referring to the President’s conduct during his press conference. – Mark Halperin apologizes for Obama gaffe
If a Democratic president does not have as a foundation for his economic platform that taxes and revenue increases in a recession are fundamental to getting out of it, much more so than spending cuts, with Republicans knowing that president is more on their side of the economic scale than the historic underpinnings of his own party, that Democratic president, aka Barack Obama, is done for from the start. Obama telegraphed this long ago.
Ezra Klein wrote yesterday: “Neither side is going to give in the face of purely rhetorical salvos.”
Klein gets it so wrong it’s hard to imagine anyone being this off base on the politics of it. Republicans on spending cuts is not a “purely rhetorical salvo,” but unfortunately, Pres. Obama on taxes and revenue increases is and the Republicans know it.
This is the entire problem, the Republicans have economic game, but Pres. Obama does not, because everyone knows he will give in at the end, because he instructed V.P. Joe Biden to serve up spending cuts as an act of good faith from the start and before getting equal revenue increases in exchange.
What’s been wrong from the start is that Pres. Obama hasn’t made the case for taxes as a good, before offering up cuts so that Democrats are giving more than they’re getting from Republicans as a political baseline. What’s been wrong from the start is that Pres. Obama gave in on economic message a long time ago, starting with a puny stimulus, but also by ceding territory to Republicans on the entire argument on economics.
Greg Sargent wrote to me via Twitter, then in a post: “He was clearly out to pick a major public fight with Republicans over tax cuts for the rich.”
This puts the very best possible spin on Obama’s news conference yesterday. This supposed “major public fight” also comes way too late and is more show boating than anything else. The “major public fight” Sargent talks about also didn’t come on a righteous case for taxes as a public imperative that he backs, as I tweeted back to Sargent yesterday, but as a silly monogram fight over corporate jets, which truly is a pathetic rhetorical salvo, because it doesn’t come close to actually making the economic argument needed from Democrats.
Piggy-backing on Sargent’s “major public fight” case, today on “Morning Joe,” Mark Halperin said that Pres. Obama pleased Rep. Nancy Pelosi, but not John Boehner, when the only deal that can happen will instead please Boehner and not Pelosi. It backs up Sargent, but also illustrates everything that’s wrong with political analysis today, though this is what’s believed.
Again, the problem isn’t pleasing Pelosi over Boehner, it’s that Pres. Obama’s rhetoric on private jets isn’t moored in the righteous policy belief required that would put him equal to Boehner and the Republicans. There’s simply no way for an agnostic Democrat who doesn’t believe in taxes and revenue over spending cuts to win against Republicans who have religion on no tax increases.
Meanwhile, as Dylan Ratigan noted the other day, Rep. Eric Cantor, who walked out of negotiations has not divested in a fund that has been found shorting Treasurys.
According to his latest financial disclosure statement, which covers the year 2010 and has been publicly available since this spring, Cantor still has up to $15,000 in the same fund. Contacted by Salon this week, Cantor’s office gave no indication that the Virginia Republican, who has played a leading role in the debt ceiling negotiations, has divested himself of these holdings since his last filing. Unless an agreement can be reached, the U.S. could begin defaulting on its debt payments on Aug. 2. If that happens and Cantor is still invested in the fund, the value of his holdings would skyrocket.
“If the debt ceiling isn’t raised, investors would start fleeing U.S. Treasuries,” said Matt Koppenheffer, who writes for the investment website the Motley Fool. “Yields would rise, prices would fall, and the Proshares ETF should do very well. It would spike.”
The fund hasn’t significantly spiked yet because many investors believe Congress will eventually raise the debt ceiling. However, since Cantor abruptly called off debt ceiling negotiations last Thursday, the fund is up 3.3 percent. Even if an agreement is ultimately reached before Aug. 2, the fund could continue to benefit between now and then from the uncertainty. (One tactic some speculators are using is to “trade the debt ceiling debate” — that is, to place short-term bets on prices as they fluctuate with the news out of Washington.)
The true problem in this debate is that you can wrap the rich around Republicans all you want, but the Democratic message since Obama’s been in office has been bipartisan deals to big business, big banks, big insurance and big Pharma, as well as tax cuts, with the puny push lately from the White House being the corporate jet card. So, if Republicans give in on jets and oil subsidies that’s it?
Obama’s defensiveness on raising taxes and revenue puts Republicans exactly where they want to be with their base, which is aggressively supporting spending cuts, with the Biden-led gang all in on that part, while reduced to begging for tax increases and revenue. All because Pres. Obama waited 2 and a half years to make the Democratic case, which he made poorly yesterday.
Democratic economic philosophy is not simply about corporate jets and oil subsidies. It’s about the belief that a safety net for the middle class is the foundational tenet of the party, which includes what even Ronald Reagan did when push came to shove and did so unapologetically, even if he didn’t like it, and that was raise taxes 11 times back in the ’80s. As a former F.D.R. Democrat, Reagan had learned from the best.
Taxes and stimulus in a recession are what gets you out of it. Corporate jets and oil subsidies are indeed part of the picture, especially symbolically on priorities. But the driving force must be the belief that taxes and revenue fund government’s purpose, including to aid the poor, the middle class and the overall health of an ailing economy, as well as keep this country strong through infrastructure, moon projects, great energy expeditions, etc., which is the foundation for the American dream.
Even Tea Party queen Michele Bachmann accepts what the federal government offers to her family and her state, because tax revenue is important to small businesses and the health of a functioning state government.
It’s only been in the Obama era that the Democratic Party leader became ashamed of making the case for raising taxes and revenue as a necessary element of funding government, instead of a last ditch case to pick some public fight after Democrats have already handed over spending cuts unequal to what they’ve demanded on revenue.
Pres. Obama has never been interested in making the Democratic economic case, while Republicans won’t stop making theirs. That’s why from the start of this debate there has been a disproportionate amount of spending cuts on the table, compared to tax revenue.