Aaand Obama just lost 2012 (<—-a bit of hyperbole, perhaps. see updates)

That was too sad to see.

So much promise, killed so quickly.

Let me preface this with this graph, with shows Obama’s “plunging” approval rate over the three months leading up to the election.

That one has been holding pretty steady for a while (despite numerous stories during that time period about it cratering.   It’s about to drop 5-10%.

Here’s why…

President Obama just announced a tentative deal with Republicans on extending the sweeping tax cuts signed by former President George W. Bush nearly a decade ago.

Aaah, yes, those tax cuts.  What did you say about them back in 2008? …..  Hrmmm [googling…googling]…  Damnit Barack.

Well, you make it really hard to call you out for doing exactly what you said you would do…

[9/7/08] WASHINGTON — Democrat Barack Obama says he would delay rescinding President Bush’s tax cuts on wealthy Americans if he becomes the next president and the economy is in a recession, suggesting such an increase would further hurt the economy.

“Even if we’re still in a recession, I’m going to go through with my tax cuts,” Obama said. “That’s my priority.”

What about increasing taxes on the wealthy?

“I think we’ve got to take a look and see where the economy is. I mean, the economy is weak right now,” Obama said on “This Week” on ABC. “The news with Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, I think, along with the unemployment numbers, indicates that we’re fragile.”

Which, of course, brings us to the news of the day…and what will be the final straw for many, many, of your supporters.

[Today] “The differences betwen the parties are real, and they are profound,” Obama said. But he said refusing to compromise would create stalemate, which he called “a chilling prospect for the American people.”

“We have arrived at a framework of a bipartisan agreement. For the next two years, every American family will keep their tax cuts.”

What he didn’t say and what many of his supporters head… “every American family will keep their tax cuts.  For some of you, this will amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars a year you can invest for high returns with low tax rates.  For the vast majority of you, you’ll barely notice as you work two more years to pay down the national debt that these tax cuts will create.”

There’s also a bunch of other tax cuts and unemployment extension going on.   Mostly the pittance that nobody noticed this year, and an extension of unemployment benefits that pretty everyone saw as essential.  That the Democrats couldn’t make it clear who was blocking them and have them pay the political price for it, well, that’s why they lost.

Then we heard the words that will echo forever in Barack’s mind as he wonder’s why all his support left him.

Obama stressed that he didn’t like two elements of the deal — the temporary extension of tax cuts for upper-income Americans, which he said would have cost $700 billion if stretched for the entire next decade, and making the estate tax exemption more generous for the same time period.

In two years, he said, “It will become apparent that we can’t afford these tax cuts any longer.”

Obama said he favored compromise over gridlock because the latter “would have raised taxes by $3,000 for a typical American family.”

Hey, buddy.  We can’t afford these tax cuts now!

You just read your own debt commission’s report didn’t you?   The  debt commission report that said we are going  to have to raise everyone’s retirement age and cut their benefits to pay for these tax cuts?  The ones that says we are just that close to a debt crisis?   Now you’ve just made it worse, and the “former” (compromise) has made it pretty much sure we won’t be able to deal with the debt until, again, the Republicans have the country over a barrel.

I mean, we have a $4,000,000,000,000, 10 year hole noted by the debt commission and we’re looking at extending tax cuts for 10 years at a cost of $4,000,000,000,000….and you go right ahead and do it, condemning us all to the eventual draconian cuts Republicans have been dreaming of for 30 years.

Horse trading spending for tax cuts is what got us into this mess.  Surely you knew that.

Oh well, Obama, if you had realized how big this fight was, you might have had a chance.  Your pragmatism, on display here and on the campaign when you called this scenario, just killed you.  The people who should be applauding this already hate you, they won’t come back, and they won’t applaud.   The ones you just screwed over were that solid 45%, who wanted you to fight for them, not the top 1%.   Now we get to work longer to pay for their tax cuts.  Awesome.  Thanks.

Now we will have the Obama’s Tax Cuts (a.k.a the Huge Giveaway to the Wealthy in a Time of War) and they just cost you 2012.

Too bad, you coulda been a contender (if you ever learned to fight).

UPDATE:  Aaah, here’s the Rub (i.e. that thing Obama didn’t understand).

Recognizing that the agreement could cause problems with some Democrats, who have urged him to stand firm against the Republicans, Obama insisted that it “would be a grave injustice to allow these” tax cuts to expire.

‘We cannot play politics,” Obama said.

I think this is why he’s having such a hard time.  He’s not playing politics, trying to convince himself and us he’s above them.  Everyone else is playing.  Guess what it means when one person is playing and the other isn’t?  The one playing wins.

You just got played, Barack.

UPDATE2:  Here’s why he got played…

“It’s not perfect, but this compromise is an essential step on the road to recovery,” Mr. Obama said. “It will stop middle-class taxes from going up. It will spur our private sector to create millions of new jobs, and add momentum that our economy badly needs.”

The package would cost about $900 billion over the next two years, to be financed entirely by adding to the national debt, at a time when both parties are professing a desire to begin addressing the nation’s long-term fiscal imbalances.

The thing he cites are all good, and they will help.  But it will still cost a lot of political points that Obama doesn’t have right now.  He could have played politics for a few more weeks, if not months, before it really started to do damage to the recovery.   And the new tax cuts could have been retroactive from whenever they finally gave in back to Jan 1 2011 (providing a nice little “whip” effect for the economy).

GENERAL CAVEAT (re: the title of this post):  If this tax cutting/spending ($900B), and the other steps taken so far ($700B), and the Fed “quantitative easing (printing money)” ($600B), and a more stable global economy ($??), and ending Iraq ($200B), all lead to substantial economic gains in the next two years*, Obama would normally be fine with a recovering/recovered economy.  Unfortunately, most of this won’t really get into the economy for a couple more years, so any recovery will most likely continue to be tepid until maybe early-mid 2012.

By that point both parties will run on having “saved” the economy and Obama won’t be able to run against “the Obama Tax Cuts”, will have lost a number of supporters to legitimate “compromises” (and the nuts to a bunch of other crap, that kenyanmuslimsocilist) , hence he loses.

If the economy tanks, and/or the world decides we actually aren’t serious about paying our debts (i.e. when the burden of our interest goes critical and nobody thinks we’ll be able to pay it all back) then he loses again, and we’re all really screwed as the tax cuts, passed temporarily with a tie-breaking vote by Dick “Deficits Don’t Matter” Cheney, become permanent.

 

*most economic theory would generally agree that deficit public spending during a time of slow private growth/spending is a good idea.  However, in order for this to work you have to, at some point, get that revenue back.  Is kicking the can down the road two more years enough/too far?

I know of one sure way to find out (refresh this post in two years).

Wall Street Journal Obscures Republican Middle-Class Tax Votes

I had wondered why so many people vote with Republicans when it is directly against their interests.   The only rational conclusion is that many are unaware on what kind of policies it is they are supporting in doing so.  Normally it would be the job of the press to explain what is happening, who is doing what, and why.

This is where the system breaks down in 21st Century America.  

Last week the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that would have kept the Bush Tax Cuts in place for the first $250,000 earned by each and every American citizen.   Money earned above this amount would then be taxed at the pre-Bush levels (up by 3 to 3.9% on income over $250K).    This was already passed in the House and then went to the Senate for a vote.

This is how the WSJ characterized it.

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Senate on Saturday defeated two attempts by Democrats to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for the middle class permanently.

O.k.  That’s technically accurate.   What were the votes?

In rare weekend votes that likely had little effect on wider negotiations to reach a compromise about extending the tax cuts, the Senate voted 53-36 to reject an attempt to initiate debate in the chamber on a measure that would have extended lower tax rates for individuals who earn less than $200,000 and couples earning less than $250,000.

Note that vote and result.   53-36.  That seems like a huge majority, right?   Well, it was the 53 that lost to the 36.   The measure failed.  With 53 votes, a clear majority.    Note also the part I italicized.  This is the WSJ adding their spin (“Haha Democrats, it didn’t work.”)

You know how many votes the Bush Tax Cuts got when they originally passed?   50.   (BTW, and just to be clear, that was for the 2003 cuts, the ones done after we were already at war.  They are the ones that cut the capital-gains tax to a level where billionaires pay a lower rate than their secretaries).

So that was one vote.  How about the other?

Senate lawmakers then defeated a separate attempt by a vote of 53-37 to raise the threshold for middle-class tax cuts to $1 million and then extend that tax level permanently.

Republicans unanimously opposed both votes, and some Democratic lawmakers joined with them by voting against the majority.

So we had another vote fail, by a majority of 53 for and 37 against.    Both bills got more support than the original tax cut law.

And here we have the WSJ placing blame on the full Senate when it’s very clear, after you get waaaaay down into the article, who is BLOCKING TAX CUTS FOR 98% of the country.

Republicans unanimously opposed both votes, and some Democratic lawmakers joined with them by voting against the majority.

One would think, what with all the talk from Republicans about how they love the cut taxes, being fiscally responsible, and want to end the “uncertainty” in the market’, they would have just voted to get 98% of what they want.  But, no, instead they filibuster and hold out for that extra $700,000,000,000 giveaway to their donors, the wealthiest of Americans. 

BTW, this “uncertainty” talking point is the most empty piece of crap I’ve ever heard, and I keep hearing it.  It goes like this…

 His counterpart, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said that he didn’t think American people wanted to head into 2011 with continuing uncertainty about what their tax rates would be, implying that a deal would be reached by the end of the year.

Really?!  So you filibuster a vote on making tax cuts permanent becasue you want to end the “uncertainty” about tax rates?  You could have ended the uncertainty, didn’t, hell, you didn’t even allow a vote on ending the “uncertainty”, and now are claiming we need to end the “uncertainty”.   You are a lying, duplicitious douchebag, Mr. McConnell.   There’s no other way to call it.

The only reason they can continue to get away with what really is just naked political payback to campaign contributors is that one of their biggest campaign contributors (in kind and $) happens to own a TV network and a major national newspaper that run political cover for them.  The WSJ then makes it “clear” that when it is Republicans dragging their feet, voting against tax cuts, and extending the “uncertianty” of the market, it’s really the whole Senate’s fault (if not the fault of of the 3 or 4 Democrats that cross over the aisle).

It is absolutely essential for the Republicans to have a media arm like this.  When your two main talking points so obviously contradict each other…

Republicans argue tax cuts must be made permanent for everyone to avoid sapping spending while the economy is still weak. They also say Congress should have a plan to pay for the estimated $65 billion cost of extending jobless aid, in order to avoid adding to the country’s high and rising debts.

…you really do need someone acting as a message-man, making sure the base doesn’t realize the dupe.

UPDATE:  Here’s a more “fair and balanced” take on the events of last week.  Note how straightforward and simple it is to explain when you aren’t trying to obfuscate what happened.

Last week, the House of Representatives approved Obama’s proposal to extend the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts only for people earning up to $200,000 a year as individuals or $250,000 a year for families, with income above those levels increasing to levels from the 1990s.

In the Senate, Republicans on Saturday successfully blocked debate on the proposal, as well as a similar one that set the income threshold for higher tax rates at anything over $1 million.