Does Nov. 6 feel like a lifetime ago to you? Or is it just me? You remember Nov. 6. That was the day that President Obama won 332 electoral votes, besting Mitt Romney in every swing state except North Carolina on a message of raising taxes on people making more than $250,000 per year and protecting Social Security and Medicare from the Republican ax. It wasn’t a particularly grand agenda but there was something satisfying about how imminently achievable and measurable it was and lord was it better than what the other people were offering.
So help me out here folks. How did we get from there to staring down a terrible deal on the fiscal freakout? A deal proffered by the president that caves on taxes AND cuts Social Security benefits AND eliminates payroll tax relief AND locks in highly favorable capital gains rates for Mitt Romney and his buddies. A deal that once again involves selling out the poor, the elderly, and the middle class so that the rich in this country can be spared sharing even a tiny slice of the pain.
Let me walk you through the steps here. Maybe I missed something. OK so the president has sky high approval ratings. Meanwhile congressional Republicans are still hanging out at about 11%. Alright, the American people back Democratic priorities regarding taxes and entitlements by overwhelming margins. And are set to blame Republicans for the fiscal fiasco going south. Whatever happened to, Democrats are holding all the cards in this negotiation and Republicans from Ann Coulter to Rush Limbaugh to Tom Cole admitting defeat and wanting just to move on? For that matter, whatever happened to jobs and the plight of the middle class as the top issues to focus on!
All I can figure is that all of this surveying of the playing field forgot one thing. This president has always wanted to be a post-partisan, bipartisan figure. He has tried at every turn to work with Republicans even adopting a top Republican's health care plan as his own! But he is living in a time where bipartisan is simply impossible. See exhibit A from yesterday and B from summer 2011: In both exhibits, John Boehner blew up negotiations in which Republicans were getting a plum deal because nothing could ever be pure enough and far enough for them. You can't negotiate in good faith with people who do not, and never will, return the favor.
Much has been made of the need for a "balanced deal" and usually that refers to the balance of cuts to revenue. Here's the balance I want to see: for once the rich being asked to sacrifice as much as the poor and the middle class. Truly more should be asked since they have benefited from loopholes and largest or so long but I won't be greedy here. I would settle for a balance. Democrats should not accept this deal or any that does not meet this test of balance. I'd rather hold hands and jump off the cliff. I am not that worried because my guru Steve Kornacki says it’s really only a gradual slope anyways.