Thursday, December 9, 2010

Ready, Fire, Aim

I’m not going to say “I told you so” — because I didn’t — but it was pretty easy to predict that once the details of the tax compromise came out, this would happen:

Democrats were still angry Wednesday about what they viewed as President Obama’s capitulation to GOP demands to preserve tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, particularly a deal to exempt estates worth as much as $10 million from a revived inheritance tax. But lawmakers said the magnitude of the concessions Obama won came into sharper focus Wednesday as the White House highlighted independent forecasts predicting that the package could create as many as 2.2 million jobs next year.

It doesn’t seem to matter whether it’s people on the left or the right; there are those who are instantly triggered to go into full rant mode as soon as they hear the words “compromise” and “deal.” They immediately assume the worst and then go to the mattresses to wage a pitched, if not fulminating, war without looking at the details.

Hey, it’s not like they haven’t been burned before, so I understand why that’s the default setting, but it might have saved Keith Olbermann — who can get really tiresome when he’s turned up to Full Dudgeon — a few points on the blood pressure if he’d actually waited to see what’s in the bill before doing his Special Comment the other night.

While Vice President Biden and House Democrats met into the evening, White House budget director Jacob Lew and senior Treasury adviser Gene Sperling held an afternoon session to field questions from Senate Democrats, who were more accepting of the package than they were a day earlier in a meeting with Biden, participants said.

There are people who reserved their judgment until they read all the details and still don’t like it. Good for them. But as Steve Benen asks, what is Plan B? What if this deal falls through? How would the Democrats come back and deal with the real issues such as jobless benefits and the tax cuts for the middle class only? Not only that, if the deal is scuttled, how does that bode for the rest of the items on the agenda such as DADT, the DREAM Act, and whatever else is coming down in the next Congress? Remember, the GOP takes over on January 3, 2011, and so far the only priority they have stated is making sure that President Obama is a failure. So in that perspective, getting them this far on such things as extending jobless benefits for thirteen months and going along with some of the other concessions is a huge deal.

For all the political posturing and circular firing squads, we can’t lose sight of the fact that there are real people whose lives and well-being depend on what happens in the next two weeks, and they’re not the ones who are running for re-election in 2012; they just want to make it to next month.