Re: Two months extension! That's practically forever!

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Jane Hamsher

Details

Problem is that the rates set in this deal will be considered permanent and untouchable for at least two years, and are nowhere near high enough to make a difference. In the next six months they are engage the deficit, and although Obama says he demands a "balanced" approach, he does not demand 1:1 revenue/spending, and he says he wants new revenues from "tax reform."

Worse than Reagan.

(oh Why not wait for a better bargaining position? Because Obama's uttermost principle is to not raise taxes on the "middle class." Not for one day, if he can help it.)


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 9:27 AM
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It's disappointing, but I guess in retrospect this will seem like just the opening act for the next round of debt ceiling confrontations. Surely they can't just keep kicking the can down the road indefinitely on that one?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 9:53 AM
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Sometimes I think Obama is bad at being president.


Posted by: real ffeJ annaH | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 10:04 AM
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Its cute how Congress also prevented itself from getting a $900 pay raise as part of this. Way to shave almost nothing off the deficit by undermining the idea that workers should get annual raises there, Congress.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 10:17 AM
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I think David Atkins has it about right.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 10:25 AM
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2: I suspect* that Obama's commitment** to not negotiating over the debt ceiling represents what he see as leverage to bring various parties to the table for another round of Grand Bargain negotiations. I say that because he really does seem to want a Grand Bargain, which, along with immigration reform, seems likely to be the only major legislative get that's within reach during his second term.

* With no evidence at all.

** I have no idea if he means it.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 10:28 AM
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It's kind of funny to see what a bunch of deficit hawks we become when O fails to deliver the austerity we suddenly seem to want.

I agree that he could and should have gotten a better deal. I also think it's pretty easy for those of us not on extended unemployment to hand wave away the impact of the "cliff."


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 10:29 AM
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5: that's a really good piece. Thanks for linking to it.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 10:32 AM
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@7

It's less enthusiasm for the consequences of the cliff than frustration at the idea that the republicans can apparently go on taking the government hostage every ~3 months indefinitely.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 10:34 AM
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I'm just catching up on this, reading Suzy Khimm's outline at the Wonkblog.

- Bush-era tax cuts on incomes below $400k are made permanent? Capital gains tax for incomes over $400k also permanent?

What's this permanent shit?

Um, I haven't yet caught up enough to know whether this is all still at the point where the House still has to pass it, so it's not even a done deal yet anyway.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 10:37 AM
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7: You're surprised that a bunch of liberals want military budgets slashed and taxes to go up on the rich?


Posted by: real ffeJ annaH | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 10:38 AM
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7: nobody I know was hand-waving the cliff. The issue was tactics and leverage. Leaving aside the piece, which, again, is really good, that Apo just linked, there's a decent case to be made that Democrats in the Senate could have written legislation extending tax cuts to the so-called middle class along with unemployment benefits and whatever else they wanted in the bill. They almost certainly would have had a filibuster-proof majority. Then they could have sent that legislation over to the House and forced Republicans to vote no on it over and over again. Making the country reckon with how crazy the Republican party has become is probably good politics and might even, in the end, result in better policy.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 10:40 AM
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3. My goodness, you noticed! Obama is neither malicious, corrupt, indolent nor drunk, which already puts him in the top half of American presidents. He is, however, the Peter Principle that walks like a man.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 10:45 AM
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I feel the same way about this story that I feel about Kim Kardashian having Kanye West's baby. It just means more people prattling on about things that I'm sick of.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 10:48 AM
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Kim Kardashian is pregnant!?!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 10:53 AM
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With my two-headed love child.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 10:57 AM
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I should have read the article linked in 5 before posting: it's a good take on the thing.

I don't agree that there would have been a filibuster-proof majority for a deal much better than this, without Boehner having indicated to Senate Reps that he thought he might be able to get it passed. Incumbent Dem senators in Red states up for reelection in 2014 would have been happier to avoid the big tax increase.

The sequester is a dumb way to cut defense. More BRAC would be good, and more cancellation of more unnecessary high tech stuff.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 11:03 AM
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I'm not a big fan of the Grand Bargain -- not a fan at all, really -- but I can see why the President might prefer to be the one who takes SS/Medicare/changes to Obamacare off the table, rather than punt these issues to his successor, whoever it might be. If chained CPI takes SS off the table for a generation, is it worth doing? I say no, but I can see why someone in the big chair might think the answer is yes, and not actually be motivated by evil.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 11:08 AM
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Bob's take in 1 is the most reassuring thing I've read on the whole thing. I like this plan!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 11:12 AM
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I don't understand 18, Charley: so-called entitlement spending cuts haven't been addressed at all in this deal, or been taken off the table for whatever talks take place over the next two months.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 11:22 AM
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Why do the Dem senators in red states care so much about cutting taxes on the few dozen super-rich people in their state, when the Dem senators in blue states are unmoved by the cries of the massed ranks of the financial elite?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 11:27 AM
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the one who takes SS/Medicare/changes to Obamacare off the table

It's not actually possible to be such a person, is it?


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 11:31 AM
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20 -- 18 isn't about this deal, but responds to VW's concerns about what this deal portends.

21 -- I suppose that Dems in Red states care a whole lot about having been responsible for 'the biggest tax increase since [whenever].' This still is, but it's an increase only on genuinely rich people, and they think they can get by with that.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 11:36 AM
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22 -- That's the question whether a 'Grand Bargain' can (a) be made and (b) be widely considered as such.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 11:38 AM
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23.2: This still drives me batty: this biggest tax increase since whenever (horrors!) is on, for all practical purposes, a miniscule percentage of the population. I want to ask whether there's any chance that Dem Senators in red states can actually demagogue the populace on this issue. Rather than cringing in the face of no-raised-taxes-ever, might they not explain themselves to those members of the constituency that did actually elect them? Or are they just whipped dogs.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 11:50 AM
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Well, there's also the tax increase on the lower 80% of the population (payroll tax). But that's the least controversial part of the agreement.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 11:52 AM
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You mean the expiration of the payroll tax holiday?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 11:57 AM
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Interesting take I read somewhere yesterday, maybe even Klein, is that Obama is channeling Lincoln Buchanan, just trying to stall in order to get to a point where ethnic demographics win and Civil War II (60s) III can be prevented.

I look at Republicans and have watched them since the impeachment and I don't think CW III can be prevented. They are guaranteed to take the country with them when they go.

And persuasion or process will work no better than it did in 1860.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 12:00 PM
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I don't think CW III can be prevented

That's a totally different topic, bob! This is the thread for fine parsing.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 12:05 PM
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No, really, Kim and Kanye are having a baby?


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 12:07 PM
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No, really, Kim and Kanye are having a baby?


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 12:07 PM
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It's very important, clearly.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 12:08 PM
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Baby.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 12:10 PM
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That is going to be one glammed up baby.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 12:13 PM
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Kim Kierkegaardashian and Kanye Twitty are having a baby?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 12:14 PM
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I predict we'll have seen a lot of pictures of that baby by the time next year's prediction thread gets posted.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 12:19 PM
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Perhaps that's the baby that Obama will split during the Grand Bargain negotiations.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 12:20 PM
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Whatevs, man. Kim Kardashian is so not a serious person, and I have no idea what Kanye is doing with her (I don't know anything about him, really, but I thought he was a serious person, at least). I actually discussed this with my work partner yesterday -- we have a kind of comedy-of-the-day tradition, to lighten things up -- and looked up the status of Kim's divorce from that guy she married, to great financial benefit, for like 2 months. They're still not divorced, because he says she engaged in fraud in even marrying him.

Ha!


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 12:23 PM
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Finer Parsing

Mark Thoma, includes links to DeLong, Sachs

DeLong:

But by my back-of-the-envelope count, the deal the Obama administration has agreed to still leaves a net fiscal impetus of -1.75% of GDP to hit the U.S. economy in 2013. That is only 40% of the way back from the "austerity bomb" to where we want to be.

And this is before the debt ceiling fight, and with a global central bank ceiling of 2.3% inflation. And all our problems. We desperately need trillions, like ten, in new revenues in order to fund fiscal stimulus, consumer demand, and infrastructure with multipliers.

This "tax increase on the rich" is a sick joke. And the New Keynesians are still as wrong as they were before the housing bubble. They haven't learned a thing.

Michael Hudson

Japan and France are two of my favorite countries for good reasons. Not a non-sequiter if you have been reading.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 12:23 PM
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You mean the expiration of the payroll tax holiday?

It seems to me that in theory the voters would be more upset about that than by insufficient generosity to the benefactors of the Hugh Hefner estate. But the latter tax increase is what politicians are actually afraid of, because that is what will spur the outrage of the people who pay for the ads that will in turn outrage the voters.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 12:26 PM
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Dammit! I meant "beneficiaries" not "benefactors"


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 12:26 PM
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40: I feel I did my part for economic justice as a kid by shoplifting Playboys.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 12:31 PM
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25, 40 -- A lot of people experience increases in the taxes they pay as increases in the taxes they are paying. Why should they care whether the increase in what they have to pay was built in at some earlier point or not? Granted, zillionaires are going to complain about taxes -- just as the NRA complained that Obama wanted to confiscate guns in 2008 when there was no basis at all -- but the question is how well these complaints will resonate with people who vote in 2014. Raising the level at which people have personal experience of a tax increase is probably a net vote gainer for the midterms.

(Are votes lost from failing to raise taxes on people between 250 and 400? Theoretically so, but really, how significant can that constituency be in midterms?)


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 12:41 PM
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(Noting that 2014 involves the Republican gerrymandered House and, in the Senate, 19 of 33 senate races in Red states. And only one R seat is in a Blue state).


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 12:47 PM
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43: Raising the level at which people have personal experience of a tax increase is probably a net vote gainer for the midterms.

A net vote gainer for whom? I'm having trouble understanding what you're talking about; you might have to explain this in very simple language. Of course people notice a personal increase in taxation, and they don't necessarily know where that's coming from -- most people don't even realize there was a temporary 2-year payroll tax holiday, extension of which was ditched early on in the latest Congressional negotiations.

What does that have to do with the position of Senate Dems from red states regarding the fiscal cliff talks? Extending the payroll tax holiday was never on the table.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 1:04 PM
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Everyone knows precisely where tax increases come from: the government.

A net vote gainer for whom? Candidates. Running for re-election. In hostile territory. Also probably useful for candidates trying to unseat marginal Republican House members.

Parsi, do you have VW on ignore or something? I respond to his contentions and you seem not to get it at all. Senate Democrats from Red states are a really big deal if you're talking about what a filibuster-proof majority can or can't be formed to support.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 1:22 PM
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if you're talking about what a filibuster-proof majority can or can't be formed

Twelve Democrats currently hold Senate seats in states that Mitt Romney won.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 1:33 PM
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I do have the ignore thing going on, but it's a burden. You could quote what you're responding to; that would be helpful.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 1:33 PM
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You could quote what you're responding to; that would be helpful.

How about we just run the thing through Wordle for you?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 1:37 PM
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How could people not know Kim and Kanye are having a baby when this is all over Facebook?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 1:39 PM
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Wait, Charley, you're arguing that Democrats wouldn't have voted for re-instituting lapsed tax cuts? For the middle class? Now I'm confused.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 1:45 PM
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43 A lot of people experience increases in the taxes they pay as increases in the taxes they are paying

There was that poll where at least a third of Americans said that Obama had raised their taxes, back when there was no tax increase at all. I'm not at all sure that most people experience tax increases or decreases in a way that correlates with reality.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 1:46 PM
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Anyway, it looks like there's a real chance that this thing won't get through the House, so we might be able to test these theories -- in the laboratory of American democracy.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 1:47 PM
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53.last: Abbie Normal's laboratory.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 1:49 PM
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I haven't watched Young Frankenstein (antisemite) in a coon's age (racist).


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 1:54 PM
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51 -- I'm guessing they would have voted for a deal, even if it wasn't the best deal you and I can imagine might have been possible. If the House kills the thing, they're off the hook, and are free to pursue a stronger line.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 1:54 PM
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It does actually look as though the House is going to kill it: amend it to include spending cuts and send it back to the Senate where it will die.

And people accuse Obama of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.


Posted by: Jim | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 2:03 PM
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56: if I'm reading you right, that's not what I'm talking about. What I'm asking is, if all of the cuts had fallen to their death over the cliff, you don't think the Democrats could have mustered a filibuster-proof majority to resurrect the ones for the "middle class" (along with an extension for unemployment insurance)? Because again, it seems to me that's the argument: that President Obama gave away the leverage that might have yielded a better deal later in exchange for a sure thing now.

To be totally clear, I made that point in response to your goading comment regarding the president's critics, in which you suggested sarcastically that they had become deficit hawks. I was replying that, no, the critics are neither deficit hawks nor animated by hatred of the president; they're angry that he gave away leverage that might have led to a better deal. But if your point really is that Senate Democrats, once they landed at the bottom of the cliff, couldn't have mustered a filibuster-proof majority to cram the middle-class tax cuts down the throat of House Republicans, I guess that's that.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 2:03 PM
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57: it's unbelievable. I'm starting to wonder if Obama really is playing chess in eleventy billion dimensions.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 2:04 PM
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If Obama wants to go over the cliff, then having the House GOP kill the bill is the best possible outcome. From what I can tell, the media has successfully terrified the fuck out of everyone about the cliff, so people will be unusually aware of the fact that Obama and the Senate put together a bill, and the House killed it.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 2:07 PM
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I don't know what you guys expected -- as I've been saying for ages (and gotten excoriated by VW for), Obama is a cautious center-liberal guy and not any kind of bold progressive leader. This is a lot better than what could have happened. No entitlement cuts (and the debate over them postponed to a more liberal Senate), none of the crap he was willing to agree to in the 2011 negotiations. This takes two Republican threat cards off the table (Clinton-era tax rates for everyone and the UI extension) and gains 90+% of the revenue from revoking the upper-income Bush tax cuts. Granted the Rs were unlikely to use those threats and you could have gotten 100 percent, but Obama is a very risk-averse guy. Granted it still leaves open most of the key questions but kicking the can on those to the next Congress is a win.

Also, the two big giveaways (leaving the 250-450K rate cut in place and ending the SS payroll cut) both have silver linings. The 450K line starts us down the road to something we need, a new top rate that starts higher than 250K, and if there is good messaging the SS payroll tax increase should hopefully make it harder to raid SS in the upcoming budget wars. (It would be very ironic if we made everyone in America pay more to keep SS self-funded and then turned around and raided the trust fund a few months later).

None of this means Bob is wrong, or, more moderately that I don't think there is a lot of room for Obama to be a stronger progressive leader. But if you proceed from the Obama and the Democratic party we know this is not terrible. Even if it galling that everyone on this thread will be getting a less of a rate cut than families in the 250-500K range (the SS payroll tax increase is a far bigger percentage increase on us).


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 2:08 PM
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I mean, I guess Cantor really wants to be Speaker. Now we find out if: A) Boehner really thinks he has a chance to hold onto the position, in which case it's probably over; and B) he's realistic, and knows that he's toast no matter what he does now, and so brings the legislation to the floor for a vote and let Democrats and wavering Republicans pass it. Obviously, I'm rooting for Choice B. Ich bin ein Tea Partiers.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 2:09 PM
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61: not that it matters, PGD, but that's not why I thought you were being an idiot. Lots of people, including me, believe Obama is a centrist.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 2:11 PM
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I think in isolation, the deal is okay, but (assuming it even passes) it ignores the bigger picture. Once the Bush tax cuts are made permanent, the Republicans have all of the leverage in the debt ceiling negotations, and all of the leverage over the sequester.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 2:15 PM
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Young Frankenstein

I am so, so eagerly awaiting the time when Jane is ready to watch and appreciate this.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 2:16 PM
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But if you proceed from the Obama and the Democratic party we know this is not terrible. Even if it galling that everyone on this thread will be getting a less of a rate cut than families in the 250-500K range (the SS payroll tax increase is a far bigger percentage increase on us).

Hey, I would guess at least one of the lawyers or techno-wizards around here might be in the 250-500K range. I've never met such a person myself, but they're out there.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 2:16 PM
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Obama is a cautious center-liberal guy

No kidding.

It's not that, it's the fact that you'd think he might enjoy having and keeping the upper hand more often.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 2:17 PM
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65: I tried watching Blazing Saddles with Jacob about a year or two ago. The language was foul enough that, even for someone like me, it didn't work. I don't remember if Young Frankenstein is similarly profane. I also worry about introducing my kids to every great work of literature via parody.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 2:18 PM
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52: I was going to make that point but looked up first. Not only did Obama not raise taxes in his first term, he *cut* taxes by a lot. A whole lot. Effect on ideological opposition/Kenyan socialist vote: zero. (Although maybe it affected some moderates). An irony of Obama is that he is probably more cautious/moderate because he has internalized that his race/background/name present an existential threat to lots of voters, but his moderate actions get him no credit whatsoever because that threat eliminates out any ability to judge objectively.

Another falsehood that drives me nuts: the way the media lets the Rs get away with this BS about increases in millionaires marginal rates hitting small business hiring. Will no one point out that if you keep the income in your business to hire/expand then it is not personal income and will not be touched by any new rates? If anything you could argue that the higher personal rate increases incentives to reinvest revenue in your business -- although it is a indeterminate since if you plan to pull out profits from the expansion into your personal income than new personal income in excess of 450K will be taxed at a higher rate. But that is a long way from saying we are taxing small business hiring, we are doing nothing of the sort.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 2:19 PM
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64: when did you become such a deficit hawk, Walt? (I'm kidding, Charley.)


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 2:20 PM
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68: YF is totally kid-appropriate. There are a few jokes that'll go over his head, but nothing like Blazing Saddles.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 2:21 PM
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61.2: Also, the two big giveaways (leaving the 250-450K rate cut in place and ending the SS payroll cut) both have silver linings. The 450K line starts us down the road to something we need, a new top rate that starts higher than 250K

PGD, I'm puzzled about this: doesn't the Senate deal (which won't pass the House anyway, and I'm surprised people thought it would) make Bush-era tax cuts below $400k permanent? I mean, permanent means permanent, doesn't it?

So I'm not sure what silver-lined road this starts us down: great, we can muck about with tax rates over $400k in future, but we can't touch anything below that. At best this is just a new top tax bracket that we didn't have before, but we can't touch the rates below that anyway.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 2:21 PM
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Permanent means that they don't automatically change at some date in the future, but they can be changed by Congress at will.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 2:24 PM
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70: Because the natural prey of the deficit hawk is filet mignon, caviar, and champagne. I learned this thanks to a generous grant from the Peter G. Peterson Foundation.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 2:25 PM
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72.1: I mean, permanent means permanent, doesn't it?

Holy shit, pars. It just means there is no built-in expiration.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 2:25 PM
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Can Congress make a law so half-assed that it can't change it?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 2:26 PM
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73, 75: Whew. Thanks.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 2:26 PM
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I don't remember if Young Frankenstein is similarly profane.

Not at all. "He must have an enormous schwanzstucker" is about the height of it, I think.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 2:31 PM
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Stupid Georgia.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 2:32 PM
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True fact: When I type "frau " in the google search box in firefox, the first suggestion is "frau blucher".


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 2:34 PM
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71: thanks!


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 2:35 PM
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I kind of want to watch YF right now, just for Marty Feldman.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 2:37 PM
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80: After looking at the first few completions, I can only conclude that "Frau" is not actually German word, but a made-up word used in the US that's supposed to be vaguely German sounding. My personal favorite: Frau Totenkinder. Subtle.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 2:49 PM
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83 is me.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 2:51 PM
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John Quiggin likes the deal (via wonkblog). That sounds overly optimistic to me, but I'm certainly happy to hear optimism from somewhere.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 2:53 PM
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It does actually look as though the House is going to kill it: amend it to include spending cuts and send it back to the Senate where it will die.

Oh, good. Looks like the cavalcade of stupidity will continue.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 2:58 PM
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The most frustrating thing about this whole mess is that it's an entirely manufactured crisis aimed at solving a fake problem. Meanwhile we do in fact have lots of real problems, and working on solving those would be a much better use of everyone's time.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 2:59 PM
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The latest round is also an object lesson in what happens when you have an administration filled with former senators. It's probably a good thing that senators don't get elected president very often.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 3:01 PM
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The most frustrating thing about this whole mess is that it's an entirely manufactured crisis aimed at solving a fake problem. Meanwhile we do in fact have lots of real problems, and working on solving those would be a much better use of everyone's time.

IIRC, that was the main argument of Why Americans Hate Politics (1991), so that isn't a new feeling. It does feel particularly acute at this moment, however.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 3:04 PM
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The latest round is also an object lesson in what happens when you have an administration filled with former senators.

Can you enlarge on this, please.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 3:05 PM
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85: I can't tell what he's saying there, but if I'm reading him right, and he posted that some time late last night or early today, he's looking awfully prescient at the moment.

88: I hadn't thought about this in these terms. That's a really interesting point.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 3:07 PM
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Obviously, I'm rooting for Choice B.

I'm slow: why is Choice B obviously better? I would have thought having the House Republicans publicly reject the compromise might be politically the best possible outcome.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 3:19 PM
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No, you're not slow. I meant Choice A. And based on your comment in the other thread, I now know what you think of my intelligence.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 3:22 PM
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You know, I almost didn't post 92 because I was thinking that immediately after leaving that comment in the other thread it would come across that way. But I said "if I'm thinking X, I say Y," and the converse isn't true.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 3:25 PM
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94: it's okay. I share your sense that I'm a bit dim.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 3:36 PM
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90, 91: One continuing pattern of the Obama administration has been the way he keeps dealing with major issues by entering into protracted, detailed negotiations with congressional leaders. This is actually pretty weird for a president to do; more commonly the president will present a proposal, or at least outline what he wants, and leave any actual negotiating to his party's leaders in Congress. That way the administration can both focus on other priorities and avoid much of the blame if negotiations fail. I think Obama's approach, which has not been particularly successful, stems from his background as a senator. In the Senate (and to a lesser extent in the House) negotiations and dealmaking are the main way to get stuff done, and it looks like Obama got used to thinking of problems that way so that he now sees relations between Congress and the White House as an extension of that approach. Most presidents have historically come from executive backgrounds and are more accustomed to an arm's-length and potentially oppositional relationship with legislatures. Neither of these is necessarily "right" or "wrong" since the way these relationships work is largely a matter of social convention, but a more distant relationship is more in keeping with the spirit of the checks and balances in the American system. (Not that that system has been working all that great itself lately.)

In this latest round I think we saw an even greater emphasis on this approach from Obama once focus turned to the Senate, as indicated by the key role of Biden (also a former senator) in the negotiations. That is, it's not just Obama personally behind this approach to policymaking; he's also filled up many high-level positions in his administration (VP, many cabinet secretaries, etc.) with fellow former senators who probably come with the same set of assumptions about the role of negotiation in policy that he has. There's probably sort of an echo-chamber effect in internal White House strategizing that leads to this approach being used every time.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 4:00 PM
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96: I knew exactly what you meant. I may be dim, but not as dim as neb.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 4:03 PM
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97: Glad to hear I'm not the only one who's noticed this.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 4:04 PM
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61:Obama is a cautious center-liberal guy

but Obama is a very risk-averse guy.

But if you proceed from the Obama and the Democratic party we know

Lots of people, including me, believe Obama is a centrist.

You know, the line in the movie:"But they keep moving the damn line!" is not supposed to be all that funny.

Humphrey, LBJ and even McGovern were "center-liberals" Fuck, Jacob Javits and John Lindsay were "centrists."

You know what is left liberal? Somebody who could look at FDR's Second Bill of Rights and start thinking about what a Constitutional Right to have a house and a Constitutional Right to have a job would look like in implementation. This might put Fed Governors in jeopardy of jail time for raising rates? And FDR wasn't Left.

Just cause they keep moving the line does not mean I have to move with it because I believe the rhetoric and discourse is important. What do I think of "liberals " who have moved along with the line...way to the right? Well, what did you think of William Hurt in Broadcast News? Nice guy, though.

Obama is on the right.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 4:07 PM
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No, I hadn't put it together in quite that way until you mentioned it, but once you mentioned it, I understood what you meant. Again, I'm dim, but not that dim.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 4:07 PM
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96, 97: it is true that my ignorance extends to many fields.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 4:09 PM
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96: I am as dim as neb, so thanks for explaining.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 4:11 PM
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Obama is not on "my" right. Obama is on the objective right of center.

We are screwed if this is not a consensus.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 4:18 PM
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That's a really smart observation, Teo. (Probably too smart for the likes of Walt and neb.)


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 4:32 PM
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Watch out, teo! He's buttering you up in preparation for offering a place as a grad student!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 4:40 PM
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I wonder what we'd get with a former Representative as President.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 4:43 PM
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96 is interesting and I'm glad to see the long version even though I had partially guessed what you had in mind.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 4:45 PM
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I agree with 96 as a description, unsure about some of the value judgements. Has Obama been worse on domestic issues than Clinton? Clinton facing a Republican Congress? He did get hcr through, which Clinton failed at.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 4:53 PM
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I agree with 96 as a description, unsure about some of the value judgements. Has Obama been worse on domestic issues than Clinton? Clinton facing a Republican Congress? He did get hcr through, which Clinton failed at.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 4:53 PM
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Didn't mean to goad you or anyone else with that line, VW, in which I include myself.

I think the ghost of Hillarycare prevents Dem presidents from just presenting Congress with what they want wrt domestic issues. Not saying they're right to be afraid of it. It was certainly maddening watching Sen Baucus carry the ball on health care this time around. I guess when the President wants the same thing as the corporate funding community -- like the 2001 tax cuts -- it's easy enough for a President to get something passed.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 5:00 PM
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Watch out, teo! He's buttering you up in preparation for offering a place as a grad student!

It won't work, though; I'm on to his game.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 5:00 PM
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I agree with 96 as a description, unsure about some of the value judgements. Has Obama been worse on domestic issues than Clinton? Clinton facing a Republican Congress? He did get hcr through, which Clinton failed at.

That's a fair point, and I wouldn't necessarily claim that Obama has been universally worse at accomplishing things than previous presidents. Other factors matter a lot, especially the composition of Congress.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 5:01 PM
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LBJ was a former senator and seems to have had great success with this sort of approach. So it's not clear to me that its such a bad way to do things.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 5:02 PM
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113 is also a fair point.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 5:05 PM
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I wonder what we'd get with a former Representative as President.

"In four short years he met his every gooooooal..."


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 5:09 PM
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113: LBJ didn't use that approach at all. He invited people into the bathroom and showed them his cock Johnson as a way of intimidating them. It's very hard to imagine Obama doing such a thing.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 5:43 PM
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66

Hey, I would guess at least one of the lawyers or techno-wizards around here might be in the 250-500K range. I've never met such a person myself, but they're out there

Obama was calling for raising rates at the 200k level for singles.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 5:55 PM
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It's very hard to imagine Obama doing such a thing.

For a certain kind of Republican, it's seemingly impossible not to imagine it.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 6:07 PM
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I'm watching the House debate on the Rules vote. No opponents of the Deal are speaking.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 7:05 PM
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Dreier is the only Rep speaking, and giving as good a speech for the thing as can be given from his side. He's not going to be in the House in 2 days. Jesus, what cowards.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 7:18 PM
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I think there will be a vote between 11 and midnight tonight. True masochists can watch the debate here . I think it will pass.

Re Obama as Senator...apparently he himself couldn't stand the place and started to make plans to run for President about two years into his term. I don't know how much of a senatorial type that makes him. But he certainly connected enough to draft all kinds of Senators and ex-Senators into his administration.

Obama is not on "my" right. Obama is on the objective right of center.

sure, fine, you can stipulate that the degraded and awful state of American politics means that an American centrist neoliberal is an objective rightist.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 7:20 PM
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Re Obama as Senator...apparently he himself couldn't stand the place and started to make plans to run for President about two years into his term. I don't know how much of a senatorial type that makes him. But he certainly connected enough to draft all kinds of Senators and ex-Senators into his administration.

Keep in mind that his previous political experience was as a state senator. However he felt about being in the US Senate (and your account sounds plausible from what I know), the legislative side of government is what he knows and where all his experience was before assuming the presidency.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 7:23 PM
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So did the House GOP really cave on the deal? That seems... uncharacteristic.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 7:25 PM
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Obama was calling for raising rates at the 200k level for singles.

Personally, I'd be happy to raise rates all the way down to the 100k level. That is, in fact, a lot of money.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 7:47 PM
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What Di said, and I say this as someone who is brushing $250k household income in good years. It's pretty clear that if my taxes don't go up, something is wrong.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 7:50 PM
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Obama was calling for raising rates at the 200k level for singles.

Actually he was calling for keeping the rates the same for those folks and lowering it for people who made less.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 7:50 PM
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So, stupid question perhaps. But can someone explain who Grover Norquist is that his stupid tax pledge would have any leverage and people seem sincerely worried about his approval?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 8:01 PM
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Pelosi right now. I'd vote with her.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 8:02 PM
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Camp says revenues are settled, Levin says 'fuck you, we're going to ask for more, count on it.' Rangel now better than usual.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 8:06 PM
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Personally, I'd be happy to raise rates all the way down to the 100k level.

Yes.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 8:08 PM
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128: Pelosi is fantastic and maybe the best around.

129: this is the key and an area where I really fault Obama -- he has not been pushing for significant revenues beyond the 'restore Clinton era tax rates for $250K+', and a few other minor things. It will take a long time to build consensus for that and the groundwork has not been getting laid.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 8:11 PM
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122: good points.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 8:11 PM
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127: Someone with enough connections to plausibly threaten to fund a primary challenge to someone who steps out of line. The impressive thing isn't that Norquist exists, it's that there aren't more like him, I think. Or maybe most of them stay out of the public eye better.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 8:12 PM
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Thanks.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 8:14 PM
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Once again, nearly all the speakers are Democrats.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 8:17 PM
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He has been an instrumental part of Republican "discipline" for 20 years or so. Hosted (and might still do) a weekly meeting in Washington of top conservatives (elected officials and others) where they pretty literally defined the party line. But his influence has waned somewhat since the 2006 elections (I think starting about then). Finding out how important he still is today is half the fun for Republican Senators and Congressctitters.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 8:21 PM
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Steny Hoyer just claimed that tonight is not that night for making our political points. Ha! In the middle of a congressional floor debate, no less!


Posted by: Otto Von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 8:27 PM
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Well, he does severely regret that it's not a grand bargain.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 8:30 PM
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Norquist-himself is not as important as Norquist-the-idea-of-scary-activists-who-will-primary-you.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 8:32 PM
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Otto!


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 8:38 PM
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No one go look, but it is fun to see Drudge melt down. (YesNo one go look, but it is fun to see Drudge melt down. (Yes, I know that means absolutely nothing.)

PLAYED: $1 IN CUTS FOR EVERY $41 IN TAXES...
Deal Means Higher Tax on 77% of Households...
CBO: ADDS $3.9 TRILLION MORE TO DEFICIT...
HOLLYWOOD GETS BREAK...
...AFTER RECORD BOXOFFICE YEAR
NASCAR PARTY FAVORS BURIED IN BILL...
MILLIONS FOR RUM PRODUCERS...
$59 million for algae growers...
BOEHNER TO VOTE 'YES'...


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 8:40 PM
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$59 million for algae growers...

Had I known, my support would have been unwavering.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 8:43 PM
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Also, you look at Drudge? No wonder you're so upset about the state of the political discourse.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 8:44 PM
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Millions for rum producers! Woohoo!


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 8:46 PM
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Laverbread will be cheaper than real bread!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 8:46 PM
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143: I do it so others can be free. (Actually, someone I follow pointed it out on Twitter.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 8:51 PM
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Rs tried for a voice vote?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 8:52 PM
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I thought they always did a voice vote before someone is allowed to ask for a roll call vote?


Posted by: Otto Von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 8:53 PM
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The Times reports that the deal has passed the House.


Posted by: Kreskin | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 9:00 PM
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Nancy Pelosi, shadow speaker. Cantor voted no.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 9:05 PM
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Stupid House.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 9:17 PM
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Republicans vote 85-151; Democrats 172-16.


Posted by: Kreskin | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 9:19 PM
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152:Fucking goddamnit.

Fuck fuck fuck Obama and Pelosi.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 9:55 PM
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I told y'all months ago that it was gonna be Democrats who passed the the shit sandwiches.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 9:58 PM
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Kevin Drum

guess I'd score it a short-term win for Obama. He had to give up a few things he wanted, notably the $250,000 income cutoff that he campaigned on, but he did wring a tax increase out of congressional Republicans.

Uhh no Obama did not. House Democrats voted for a tax increase of their donor class, and now get to look forward to a replay of 2010 in 2014.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 10:04 PM
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From FDL comments:

Estate taxes cut from 55% to 40%. Was 35% under Bush tax cuts

Dividend taxes cut from 39.6% to 20%. Was 15% under Bush tax cuts.

You're missing the whole point.

This was sold to the people as "raising taxes on the rich".

It doesn't.

And there will be no going after the "big boys".

But there will be going after SS and Medicare now that "the rich are paying their fair share". Or as O would say, "the rich will pay a little bit more because they can afford it and we all need to sacrifice".

See how this game of lies and deception and sell out work?

Well, it's over now, and for the most part Obama made permanent Bush's tax cuts.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 1-13 10:17 PM
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Japan to Nationalize 1 trillion yen worth of factories

Shinzo Abe is old Japan, but it worked once. Twice. Along with Hollande in France, and of course mainland China, there are some people with a clue.

Fiscal Crisis of 1932

But Hoover, who was running for re-election, would not go along with a national sales tax. He asked Congress instead to raise the nation's top income tax rate from 25 percent to 40 percent.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 6:59 AM
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157.last: Nice out-of-context quote, you intellectually dishonest hack.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 7:14 AM
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People can follow the link and decide for themselves.

But objectively, Obama is to the right of Herbert Hoover.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 7:28 AM
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If only Hoover moved to the right, he might have had a second term.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 7:30 AM
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158: I don't think it's intellectually dishonest, unless you think that the economic framework in 1929-32 and the framework today (activist monetary policy and automatic stabilizers today, none then) are so different that all comparison is misleading. Hoover raised tax rates on the wealthy and corporations really sharply (even though it was billed as temporary) and he increased infrastructure spending (e.g. the Hoover dam). He didn't increase spending nearly enough of course but total federal spending went up even as the economy slid, which was not necessarily conventional wisdom at the time. (And in a situation of deflation it is a bigger real increase). He pushed the conventional economic wisdom of the time as far as it would go but that was not sufficient to the crisis.

With that said, I do think that the situations are not analogous because the tools of economic stabilization are so much more advanced. The GDP drop from 1929-32 is more than an order of a magnitude worse than what we've seen now, and we are looking at 8 percent top-line unemployment vs. 25 percent. So there is more excuse for Obama's moderation than for Hoover.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 8:15 AM
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I'm a lot less sanguine about this tax deal today than last night. The surrender on the estate tax is really bad. And I've had more time to think about how this changes the negotiating position going forward...if Obama was willing to give even marginal ground (giving up 10-20 percent of possible revenues) in such a strong position, where does this leave us in the debt ceiling/sequester negotiation? He's talking a good game on needing new revenues to balance any spending cuts, but this deal is big enough that it effectively took significant new revenue sources off the table -- capital gains, estate tax, etc.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 8:20 AM
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161: Did you read the article at the link, and the specific context of the 40% tax hike proposal in what it covers?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 8:27 AM
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163: no, I had just known that there were significant income tax increases and government spending increases under the later Hoover administration -- which there were. Looking at the article now, it adds more political context, but it still appears that Hoover supported those policies and took some risks to do so.

The political context is clearly different then in that then no one across the ideological spectrum was comfortable with significant deficit spending. Now there is effective bipartisan consensus that deficit spending is a pretty good way to fund government (even if no one will say this in public).


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 8:35 AM
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164: now you're trying to rehabilitate Hoover's reputation? Again, it's not your comments about Obama's centrism that I find so annoying.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 9:49 AM
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I have a six-hour conference call beginning at the top of the hour. If anyone wants to hold my hand during this ordeal, I'll be right here.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 10:44 AM
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The fact that everyone characterizes this as $600 billion in tax increases makes me want to rip my nose off. The legislation that passed contained only tax cuts. Large tax cuts. In exchange for some middle-class tax cuts and an extension of UI, Obama gave some tax cuts for the relatively wealthy and some tax cuts for the very wealthy. That's the whole deal. Plus the milk subsidy thing and other little stuff.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 10:46 AM
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Is it the sort of conference call where you'll have to talk a lot, or the sort where you can mostly have your phone on mute while you throw pencils at the ceiling? Because the latter aren't so bad.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 10:47 AM
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168: it's the kind where if I'm talking, things aren't going well. I plan to be bored and silent.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 10:48 AM
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If you cut taxes temporarily then consider, several years later whether to make the cuts permanent or not, is it an increase or a decrease when you choose to make some of them permanent to end some of them? And does the distinction actually make a difference, or is this an entirely semantic and stupid way of looking at the issue?


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 10:48 AM
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Because the latter aren't so bad if you charge by the hour.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 10:53 AM
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Well, yes.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 10:53 AM
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167 -- That battle was lost long ago. Lawyering political stuff only works on the already convinced.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 10:54 AM
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162: And I've had more time to think about how this changes the negotiating position going forward

Yeah, this is what I find most depressing, and why I was going on upthread about the tax cuts being "permanent". It's well-known that once a precedent is established, it's almost impossibly difficult to walk it back to previous norms. It was difficult enough to walk back the 10-year Bush tax cuts just on the over-$400k set; I imagine that the levels now set for the under-$400k set will be the law of the land for the foreseeable future, even though the rationale for extending them was just that now is not the time, during a recession, to return to prior rates. I'm not thrilled about the capital gains/dividends 'compromise' either. This is going to do nothing, nada, zip, for income inequality.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 10:54 AM
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173: I'm not trying to lawyer it--that was quite literally the bargain that was made. Tax rates were automatically going up on the middle class; Obama wanted to cut them back down. UI was expiring; Obama wanted to extend it. In exchange for these two things, he agreed to also cut some taxes on the well off and the very well off (which Republicans wanted). End of story.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 10:57 AM
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165 is the way it works. Educators push FDR way to the Left and Hoover way to the right so Obama can be considered in the "center." And then they say "The country is just so conservative, we must take what crumbs we can get."

167: Yeah, biggest tax cut in the history of the US. Bigger than Reagan's (who also raised taxes multiple times) bigger than GWB.

Since Obama has also been a war President, and vastly expanded the National Security/Surveilance State, and tried to make gov't opaque and behind closed doors, I put Obama way to the right of Reagan.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 11:00 AM
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(I don't consider 'lawyering' to be other than describing the literal truth of something!)


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 11:03 AM
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Reagan also fired the Fed President for keeping money too tight, and took a lot of heat for going against Volcker. Did tons of deficit spending, and although the Reagan economy was shit, it was much better than Obama's.

Reagan also protected SS by raising taxes, or at least that was the plan.

Reagan did well enough to get a third term for his party. I expect the PtB to nominate 95 year old Clinton, so the faithful can blame misogyny for her loss in 2016 instead of 8 years of shit.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 11:09 AM
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That rumbling sound you hear is Tip O'Neill rolling over in his grave. Jim Wright would be too, if he was dead.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 11:18 AM
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164: not sure how to respond to this. As you of all people should know, history is not a kangaroo court where we assign people to demon/angel roles. It is a fact that under Hoover Federal outlays increased (massively as a percent of GDP), infrastructure spending increased, taxes on the rich increased, and the Reconstruction Finance Corporation was started. I'm not enough of an expert to know, but I'm sure that these steps faced resistance and Hoover took some risks in not vetoing them or supporting them. It is also IMO a very fair judgement that Hoover was overly constrained by the conventional wisdom of the time and permitted substantial amounts of avoidable human suffering because he was not willing to take more radical steps. The progressive ideological take on Hoover emphasizes this second part and is IMO the correct take, politically and substantively. However, what Bob is trying to say here is that Obama, like Hoover, is overly constrained by the conventional/establishment wisdom of his time and is permitting substantial amounts of avoidable human suffering. I don't think this is an intellectually outrageous analogy, although any analogy between radically different political times is going to be to some extent rhetorical. Obama is a moderate neoliberal. If you think those policies are leading us to destruction it is fair to point back to another time when a President was willing to take moderate progressive steps within the conventional wisdom of his time but those steps turned out to be disastrously inadequate.

I think there is space to push back against Bob on whether our current situation is as bad aas 1928-32. The excuse for Obama is that if we can just stay the course on moderate neoliberal policies (plus more radical central bank interventions behind the scenes) then there is enough strength in the current system to right the ship.Obama has a Federal Reserve chair willing to take radical steps, Hoover did not, there are many automatic stabilizers benefiting the economy that were not present circa 1930, and possibly because of these factors GDP and unemployment numbers look much better today than in 1929-32 (this feels more Japan-like). The political situation is different as well.

But as a former 90s-style neoliberal myself I am not at all sanguine about our current course. The problem I see is that even what I would consider moderate steps to stabilize things get defined within DC conventional wisdom as radical (e.g. serious defense cuts, a tax increase on the top 5-10 percent of, say, 1.5 percent of GDP instead of the current tax increases being considered of no more than three-quarters of a percent of GDP, and it is doubtful we will even get that). From polling data it seems clear to me that there could be popular support for moving to the left of the DC consensus that Obama seems to follow. We need a forceful ideological pushback.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 11:53 AM
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180: I mostly can't figure out what you're saying here. Regardless, on the specific case of Hoover, I'm afraid I'm on a conference call and so can't check my books. Still, I'm nearly certain that the RFC spent almost no money under Hoover. And that fact is used, I think by both Alan Brinkley and Bruce Schulman, as a synecdoche for Hoover's broader opposition to federal aid. So in the end, I'd only half agree with you about history. There are, as you say, no angels. But there are plenty of demons. Hoover was one of them.

As for whether there's some analogy between Obama and Hoover, I'm inclined to think that if you want to go there -- and that isn't really related to whether you're rehabilitating Hoover -- the question should probably be where they sit/sat in the ideological context of their respective moments. If so, Obama is a centrist, probably quite close to the media Democratic vote in the Senate (he was, before he was elected, to the left of that). Hoover, even in 1932, after he had moved to the left, was center-right for a Republican.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 12:34 PM
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Sorry, I should have been clearer: by ideological context, I mean the ideological context of partisan politics. I think it's much, much harder to gauge the broader ideological context, though it's clear that the country was further to the left overall in 1932 than it is now.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 12:36 PM
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Also, media s/b median.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 12:37 PM
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And now, back to the search for "academic efficiencies".


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 12:37 PM
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Maybe they are behind the core competencies?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 12:40 PM
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184: Affordable housing for faculty keeps getting harder to find.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 12:42 PM
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Jerry Brown wants UC faculty to teach an additional class per year. Apparently across the board (with no regard for the fact that teaching loads vary widely by discipline). That this isn't going to happen doesn't mean we don't have to talk about it, apparently.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 12:47 PM
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OT: early tv reporting about SF newspapers publishing on the internet.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 1:17 PM
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[Obama] was, before he was elected, to the left of that

Obama was looking for his party's nomination for the Presidency, against very stiff competition, while still in the Illinois State Legislature. That, and only that, is what his record in the US Senate reflects.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 1:25 PM
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Too bad he wasn't like the rest of the presidential candidates who never let the thought of running for the White House enter their minds until choirs of school children urged them to run in order save the innocent.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 1:27 PM
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188: I still hook up a red rotary phone to a modem to read the news and I likes it!


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 1:36 PM
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I tried to explain the workings of a rotary phone to my five-year-old yesterday. I had to keep reminding myself that he's never known a world in which Kanye and Kim's child isn't emperor.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 1:40 PM
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Did you download the rotary dialer app for your iPhone? That could help.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 1:40 PM
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193: really? I love America!


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 1:41 PM
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You know how to download an iPhone app, right? You just put your finger on the screen and touch.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 1:43 PM
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After downloading Vintage Phone, I found myself automatically dialing the number of the home where I grew up, the last place I lived with a rotary phone.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 1:47 PM
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196 is sweet. Muscle memory is a funny thing.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 1:49 PM
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187: Just for that you get to teach two extra classes, Von Wafer.


Posted by: Opinionated Jerry Brown | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 2:06 PM
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The phone call Von Wafer's on seems like a rare opportunity to use the phrase "California Uber Alles" appropriately.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 2:10 PM
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195: Now I can't get an image of Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart texting each other out of my mind.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 2:13 PM
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199: On a conference call no one knows that you didn't use an umlaut.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 2:14 PM
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198: I can't take you seriously if you're not using all-caps.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 2:16 PM
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198 wasn't me.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 2:20 PM
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YOU IDIOTS CAN"T TELL A COUNTRY WHALE FROM THE GOVERNOR OF CALIFORNIA?????


Posted by: OPINIONATED JERRY BROWN | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 2:40 PM
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Jerry Brown wants UC faculty to teach an additional class per year.

In some departments they're going to have to go searching for new students to take those classes, then.

Unless they're planning to fire a third of the faculty, I guess.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 2:48 PM
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Ezra Klein cautiously optimistic about the deal -- based mostly on the fact that he thinks Obama will be less open to "hostage taking" in the debt ceiling negotiations than he was last time.

He doesn't address at all the objection by liberals like that made by PGD, "The problem I see is that even what I would consider moderate steps to stabilize things get defined within DC conventional wisdom as radical" but it seems to me like that was a likely consequence of any last-minute deal.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 2:55 PM
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I just got a copy of my new book. It's all very exciting until I find the first mistake. Mistake: found! Maybe this is why teo thinks I'm mopey.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 3:00 PM
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205: just so. It's striking how little the governor seems to know about the UC. Eh, it's striking but not surprising, since Mark Yudof is only slightly more knowledgeable about the workings of the institution.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 3:02 PM
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206: That said, I'm quite convinced that they don't intend to be held hostage over the debt ceiling. As a former constitutional law professor, the president sees himself as a steward of the executive branch and is deeply hostile to setting the precedent that congressional minorities can hold presidents hostage through the debt ceiling

What is Ezra smoking? Obama doesn't intend to be held hostage over the debt ceiling !? Maybe not, but being held hostage isn't usually a choice.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 3:07 PM
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Holy shit snacks, being told to calm down by Ezra Klein angries up my blood.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 3:12 PM
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Somebody's been watching Archer.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 3:18 PM
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210: More or less than seeing his byline in the NYRB?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 3:18 PM
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Somebody has been watching Live! with Kelly and Michael. I don't know why.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 3:19 PM
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209: I don't think he's right, but I think the claim he's making is not that Obama won't be held hostage, but that he'll tell the Republicans "Fine, don't approve a new debt limit, I'm not giving you anything for it" and the situation will resolve through some means other than Obama negotiating with the hostage takers (platinum coin? Total default? I dunno.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 3:21 PM
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Holy shit snacks, being told to calm down by Ezra Klein angries up my blood.

Sorry. It's an annoying piece. I like Ezra Klein, but in that case I think he does a poor job of communicating his reasons for optimism (or just seems deluded if those are his reasons).


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 3:22 PM
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He does say that default (which might or might not include the constitutional option, though EK doesn't mention that) sounds more likely to him than blatant capitulation.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 3:24 PM
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They'll be no platinum coin or constitutional option; Obama has said as much. He might, though, go on television and say that if the Republican Congress wants to tank the international economy, they're welcome to do so.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 3:24 PM
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215: there's no reason to apologize. I know many otherwise very bright and very thoughtful people who like Ezra Klein. I've never understood why exactly, but that's a conversation we've had many times before.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 3:26 PM
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212: you're hurting me.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 3:26 PM
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I tried to explain the workings of a rotary phone to my five-year-old yesterday.

My friend's 7 year old kid: I know I sound like a broken record, but...
[kid wasn't repeating herself or doing anything broken-record-like]
My friend: Huh? Do you know what a broken record sounds like?
Kid: Like this? [Makes a screeching pterodactyl noise. Probably picturing something between DJ scratching and screeching brakes.]

So my friend went on a hunt and showed her kid what an actual record looks like, and a record player, and what it sounds like when they skip.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 3:30 PM
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Hmmm. I liked Ezra because he seemed to like me.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 3:30 PM
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220: It's funny watching metaphors die.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 3:31 PM
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221: that's a totally valid reason to like him. I'm not judging!


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 3:34 PM
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Who Won the Fiscal Cliff Fight ...Andrew Samwick at Mark Thoma's

Who won? George W Bush. Vindicate. Immortalized. "Made a difference."

Obviously, former President George W. Bush. Despite how much he has been vilified in the years since his departure from office, the Congress* and the President yesterday decided to ratify almost all of his tax policy agenda.

*Congressional Democrats


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 4:07 PM
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217: Yeah but he also said he wasn't gonna cave


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 4:20 PM
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Look, it is fairly obvious what is going to happen in the next two months, and at the last minute. The debt ceiling may be ignored

Obama and Pelosi will pass a deficit reduction un-sequestering bill with 50-75 Republican House votes. This will largely be another Republican-favoring bill, to the right of the rightmost Democratic House member. It will be fucking pug-ugly. People, maybe millions, will be immiserated, suffer, and die because of what a majority of Democrats pass with Republican help.

But Obama will finally have gotten his bi-partisan new coalition. He will have gotten it by moving the Democratic Party a long ways to the right by creating crisis conditions. Shock politics.

What happens after that I don't know.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 4:42 PM
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I really, really like the platinum coin option: it solves the problem, I think it's solidly legal, it's absolutely ridiculous, and it punishes Congress for making a silly law without thinking it through, which is something I want to do to a legislature daily.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 4:44 PM
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225: and he hasn't. Yet.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 4:47 PM
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227: me too! For all of the reasons you give, it would be awesome. Alas, for all of the reasons you don't give -- our political system sucks, the president isn't much for retribution, it might destroy the international economy by undermining the fiction that money means anything -- it's not going to happen.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 4:49 PM
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Obama's deft manipulation of the Republican Party to "create crisis conditions" is nothing short of astounding. I think it will one day be revealed that he uses a mind-control ray.


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 4:54 PM
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As long as Congress passes the spending authorization, the debt ceiling can just be ignored.

This Constitutional Crisis will suck the air out of Village Media for months, as Pelosi and Peter King - NY pass the necessary spending bills.

The "Hell in the House" will be another Media frenzy. Boehner may decide to keep his speakership with Democratic votes. Members may change parties. The Republican Party may be over, as the Democratic Party adopts its platform.

Meanwhile, no one will be watching as the Grand Bargain condemns the American people and their children to forever debt slavery and a lifetime of hurt.

This is the plan.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 4:57 PM
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230:Simple. Obama has the power and created the crisis.

Obama could have simply let the Bush tax cuts expire and the vetoed any new tax cuts.

We have what $700 billion a year in new revenue for Congress to pork out to its membership? Politics would be calm and easy under those conditions


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 5:03 PM
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re: 220

My niece regularly asks me why I have stupid stuff like a record player [when I could use my phone, or youtube]. I can't really come up with any answer that would make sense to a 12 year old.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 5:05 PM
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You're not as good at that as you used to be, bob. Was a time you could sell it so I almost believed you believed what you were saying.


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 5:08 PM
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Has someone already posted the letter that McConnell's campaign sent to his donor lists?

Subject: Score one for the good guys
Dear Patriot,
I have had the honor of working for some leaders I could really be proud to stand with. And let me tell you, I have never been more proud of a boss than I am of Senator McConnell right now.
Let me tell you why.
When Barack Obama won re-election in November, Obama decided he was willing to force the country off the fiscal cliff to push through his agenda. The result would be the largest tax increase in American history.
Unless Congress took action, everyone's taxes were going up January 1st, big time. Middle class families across Kentucky and our country would have seen their first paychecks on January 15th literally hundreds of dollars smaller due to new federal income tax withholding.
I don't know about you, but as a middle class working man raising a young family, I can ill afford Barack Obama reaching deeper into my pockets, and I'll bet just about every Kentuckian feels the same way.
In the end, there is only one reason why Kentucky taxpayers avoided these tax hikes: Senator Mitch McConnell.
For two months, well-intentioned allies in the fight for smaller government attempted to thwart President Obama's plan. But it wasn't until Leader McConnell took the reins that real progress was made. He showed the strong, disciplined and savvy leadership that only he can provide. And, in the end, he ensured that over 99% percent of Kentuckians will not pay higher income taxes.
What's also important to know is that he has put us on strong footing in the fight to cut spending.
You see, the fiscal cliff was a two-part problem, one of both taxes and spending. Leader McConnell wisely separated the two to put us on stronger footing in both. First he fought off President Obama's tax hikes for as many Kentuckians as he could.
Now comes part two.
In order to keep spending, Congress must raise the federal debt limit in two months. Through his leadership, Senator McConnell has not only ensured that your taxes will not go up, he has taken the threat of income tax hikes totally off table for debt limit negotiations. Now, President Obama and his allies will not be able to threaten every American with higher taxes as we fight for spending restraint and entitlement reform.
And let me tell you, I know Senator McConnell will be as rock solid and resolute in that fight as he was in protecting our paychecks.
Senator McConnell is a special leader and we can all be proud of what he just did for us. I hope you will stand with him now and in the coming months. If you are able, please help with a contribution of $50, $100, $250 or even $500 today.
If we come together and stand with Leader McConnell, we can get this country back on track. So, make sure to forward this email to your friends and neighbors to let them know that Mitch McConnell just saved their paychecks. Help us spread the word Facebook and Twitter. And please, if you can, help us with your generous contribution right away.
Thank you,
Jesse Benton
Campaign Manager
McConnell for Senate 2014

Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 5:50 PM
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I want to know what Boehner sent out.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 5:57 PM
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Posted mostly because I worry that when McConnell promises his supporters that "he has taken the threat of income tax hikes totally off table for debt limit negotiations", I worry that he's likely serious.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 6:00 PM
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We've got a special leader!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 6:03 PM
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Oh man McConnell's being a total dick to the rest of the Republicans there isn't he?


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 6:07 PM
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Boehner says he won"t be negotiating with the WH any more. Instead, they're going to pass their own bills, and negotiate with the Senate.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 6:15 PM
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The Senate is opaque to me.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 6:21 PM
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Ooh, that's so self-actualized.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 6:21 PM
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242 -> 240.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 6:22 PM
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241: Hard to see anything past one's own big intestine.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 6:24 PM
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240: Honestly, Boehner sounds so whiny these days.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 6:29 PM
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Every intestine is opaque in its own way.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 6:30 PM
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On the question of Ezra: he's a puzzle. He's been guest-hosting Rachel Maddow's show for almost a week, last week, and you know, he's pretty good, and much more outright-liberal sounding than he is in print. (He's also quite attractive to my eyes, but that's surely irrelevant!)

In the end he trades on his inside sources -- that's what it's all about -- and it's clear even on the Maddow show that he knows practically everybody.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01- 2-13 6:36 PM
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