Skip

I am simply here today to take as long as I can
December 10, 2010 10:17 AM   Subscribe

Since 10:24 AM ET, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont has held "a filibuster [or] a very long speech" on the tax cut deal brokered between the president and congressional Republicans. Watch it live on C-SPAN 2. Vermont's Peter Welch leads the charge against the deal in the House. The President has called his opponents "sanctimonious" and "unrealistic."
posted by l33tpolicywonk (364 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's almost eerie to see an elected official with a conscience these days.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 10:19 AM on December 10, 2010 [26 favorites]


Good for Bernie.

'Course, nobody's going to have the cohones to back him up, but good for Bernie anyway.
posted by lodurr at 10:20 AM on December 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


At present, Sanders is holding a colloquy with Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA). Though Landrieu speaks, Sanders maintains control of the floor under Senate rules during the colloquy.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 10:20 AM on December 10, 2010


Listening to Obama's NPR interview, it sounds to me like he thinks that he's going to be able to overhaul the tax code so completely over the next couple of years that this tax cut compromise won't matter much in the long run.

Which, in December 2010, sounds almost pollyanna enough to make me want to use the term "hopey-changey" derisively.
posted by gurple at 10:20 AM on December 10, 2010 [19 favorites]


Obama talks a good fight. The actual fighting part, he pretty much sucks at.
posted by unSane at 10:21 AM on December 10, 2010 [76 favorites]


Politics aside, Bernie is probably the most hugable congressperson in the country.
posted by that's candlepin at 10:21 AM on December 10, 2010 [13 favorites]


It's really just theatre, the vote wasn't scheduled for today. He would have to keep this up all weekend and through Monday to actually start delaying the vote.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:22 AM on December 10, 2010


The twitter link is borked. Here is the correct link.
posted by hippybear at 10:22 AM on December 10, 2010


I rather liked this article.
posted by adipocere at 10:22 AM on December 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


Sanders is awesome though.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:23 AM on December 10, 2010


Finally, Obama summons the courage to take a stand (for ruinous tax cuts for his rich friends)
posted by theodolite at 10:23 AM on December 10, 2010 [9 favorites]


Remember when Obama got elected, and the crazies on the right started spouting off about how he was a "sleeper agent"? It turns out that they were right about that part; they just didn't realize that he was one that was working for them.

It's nice to know that there's at least one Democrat who remembers why people vote Democrat. Good work, Senator Sanders.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 10:24 AM on December 10, 2010 [10 favorites]


So. Last term or so, everybody was soooo afraid of this filibuster threat from the Republicans in the Senate, because you needed 60 votes to end a filibuster, and there weren't enough liberal Democrats to shut it down.

And now, now a conscientious Democrat filibusters, and it's derided as "unrealistic"? By our President?

Fuck all.
posted by jabberjaw at 10:24 AM on December 10, 2010 [41 favorites]


Which, in December 2010, sounds almost pollyanna enough to make me want to use the term "hopey-changey" derisively.

Exactly. It's like when he states that he doesn't support DADT, but he thinks that it can and will be repealed by the Congress.

It's so laughably blind to the congressional situation over the last few months that I can't take his words seriously. He can't be that stupid (I know he's smart) and therefore I feel he's dissembling.
posted by muddgirl at 10:24 AM on December 10, 2010 [9 favorites]


That's awesome, isn't it? When the Republicans threaten to filibuster, the dems cave. But when a Democrat threatens it...
posted by unSane at 10:24 AM on December 10, 2010


What would it take to send blankets, food and NoDoze to the Senate?
posted by charred husk at 10:24 AM on December 10, 2010


Correct me if I'm wrong, but if we just stall and prevent anything from happening here, the taxes revert to Bill Clinton levels, right?

Shouldn't that be the strategy?
posted by keratacon at 10:25 AM on December 10, 2010 [15 favorites]


In other super-principled filibuster news:
Senate Republicans on Thursday morning filibustered legislation to monitor and treat first responders and emergency workers who suffered illnesses related to 9/11.

A vote to quash the filibuster failed by a vote of 57 to 42, three votes short of the necessary threshold. As a result, the proposal is unlikely to pass this year.

The bill would provide funding for a health program to treat first responders, construction and cleanup workers and residents who inhaled toxic particles after the collapse of the World Trade Center towers.

The $7.4 billion cost of the legislation over 10 years is paid for by a provision that would prevent foreign multinational corporations from using tax havens to avoid taxes on U.S. income.
Why?
Republicans complained that the $7.4 billion price tag was too high
posted by Rhaomi at 10:25 AM on December 10, 2010 [23 favorites]


It's nice to know that there's at least one Democrat who remembers why people vote Democrat. Good work, Senator Sanders.

Isn't he an Independent who caucuses with the Democrats? If liberals don't want to claim Lieberman they can't claim Sanders either :)
posted by muddgirl at 10:26 AM on December 10, 2010 [12 favorites]


This is a great thing for Democrats (like Landrieu) to participate in, because next year when the huge wave of new Democratic members of congress who were overwhelmingly elected in November are finally sworn in they will be in a much better position to negotiate a -- wait, what?
posted by The Bellman at 10:26 AM on December 10, 2010


I'm liking more and more the idea of primarying Obama.
posted by rhizome at 10:27 AM on December 10, 2010 [13 favorites]


Republicans complained that the $7.4 billion price tag was too high

Christ, what assholes.

Bernie, I love you.
posted by rtha at 10:27 AM on December 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


'Course, nobody's going to have the cohones to back him up, but good for Bernie anyway.

You can hold out hope for Al Franken but I think something happened to him.
posted by clarknova at 10:28 AM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Correct me if I'm wrong, but if we just stall and prevent anything from happening here, the taxes revert to Bill Clinton levels, right?

Shouldn't that be the strategy?


Should be, but the Democrats are too afraid to take the blame for the taxes going up for everyone. They would take the blame even though the Republicans blocked the bills without the tax cuts for the rich.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:28 AM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I want to send Bernie some of my favorite reading to read on the Senate floor, for instance, the Washington D.C. Area Phone Book.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 10:28 AM on December 10, 2010


Waitm, he's actually physically present rather than throwing up procedural roadblocks? Old-school.

This seemed like an interesting idea to me, though i have to admit i don;t know enough about Americas political ins and outs to know if it would actually work: One Senator's modest proposal: Force Senators to actually filibuster
posted by Artw at 10:28 AM on December 10, 2010 [9 favorites]


I just wanted to point out that "The Hill" article that was linked to in the main post refers to Democrats that are critical of extending a tax cut to the richest Americans while massively increasing the national debt yet futher as "far-left". When politicians that agree with David Stockman (leader of the supply side push under Reagan) are describe as far-left, I think the United States has lost all perspective on rational fiscal policy and what "far-left" actually means.
posted by SeanOfTheHillPeople at 10:29 AM on December 10, 2010 [20 favorites]


Something's amiss when a Rock-Ribbed Reagan Republican like myself is rooting for Bernie Sanders.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:31 AM on December 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


Looks like the filibuster is over as Mary Landrieu is now speaking. Can anyone confirm?
posted by Xurando at 10:33 AM on December 10, 2010


Correct me if I'm wrong, but if we just stall and prevent anything from happening here, the taxes revert to Bill Clinton levels, right?

Shouldn't that be the strategy?


That strategy would leave unemployment benefits expired for about 2 million people, leaving them in a potentially dire situation....
posted by mr_roboto at 10:33 AM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]




It's really just theatre, the vote wasn't scheduled for today. He would have to keep this up all weekend and through Monday to actually start delaying the vote.



No one has responded to this. Any thoughts?
posted by spicynuts at 10:34 AM on December 10, 2010


When politicians that agree with David Stockman (leader of the supply side push under Reagan) are describe as far-left, I think the United States has lost all perspective on rational fiscal policy and what "far-left" actually means.

Yes, you're quite right, a single newspaper article's description is proof of this.
posted by nomadicink at 10:35 AM on December 10, 2010



Looks like the filibuster is over as Mary Landrieu is now speaking. Can anyone confirm?


Sanders holds the floor, she is just "asking him a question."
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:35 AM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


What the hell is a rock ribbed reagan republican?
posted by spicynuts at 10:35 AM on December 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Nice, just like when Mister Smith saved the boy scout camp! Go Bernie Go!
posted by Ad hominem at 10:35 AM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I keep hearing that allowing all the tax cuts to expire would cost a million jobs. If that's true it makes Obama's decision into a no-brainer. This has been handled very badly, but allowing the cuts to expire would be a catastrophe.

As far as I'm concerned, half of Obama's job is getting re-elected and preventing a Republican presidency. Another 25% is reducing unemployment. Taking a stand on this and allowing the cuts to expire would seriously fuck these things up.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:36 AM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Obama talks a good fight.

If I say that I would love to beat Mohammad Ali in a boxing match and would totally do it too if only he was willing to generously spontaneously explode after the bell rang awarding me a victory and when that doesn't happen and instead his very first punch connects directly to my forehead and permanently eliminates my ability to remember what smell comes between yellow and three and in the post-fight interview I tell Howard Cosell that this is all the fault of my fans for not clapping hard enough to confuse Ali into forgetting that he can't actually explode you would not say that I had talked a good fight as much as you would say I am, perhaps, completely retarded for not even considering taking boxing lessons.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:36 AM on December 10, 2010 [33 favorites]


I think we can call agree that Vermont is awesome.
posted by Aizkolari at 10:37 AM on December 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Thank you, Bernie Sanders. I hope you succeed.
posted by DU at 10:38 AM on December 10, 2010


"I'm not going anywhere...take as much time as you need."
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:38 AM on December 10, 2010


Let us not forget that Obama's deal includes 13 months of unemployment insurance, Earned Income tax credit expansion, college tax credits, and a pay-roll tax cut. All for the relatively small cost of delaying real debate on the tax cuts until, oh, right before the 2012 elections.
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:38 AM on December 10, 2010 [25 favorites]


That strategy would leave unemployment benefits expired for about 2 million people, leaving them in a potentially dire situation....

Those are the only situations that get taken seriously in Washington, so I still consider it a viable strategy.
posted by coolguymichael at 10:40 AM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


The President has called his opponents "sanctimonious" and "unrealistic."

I've come to the realization that there's not much difference between a President who actively backs the right-wing agenda and one who constantly caves to it. The real bi-partisan compromise between Obama & the GOP: he capitulates to their every demand, they let him finish out his term (maybe).

Good luck Senator Sanders.
posted by Rarebit Fiend at 10:40 AM on December 10, 2010 [11 favorites]


What the hell is a rock ribbed reagan republican?

$20, same as in town.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:40 AM on December 10, 2010 [16 favorites]


I applaud this, but after about 45 minutes I have to say it's kind of mind-numbing. Anyone who is obligated to be in the Senate chamber for work ought to get hazard pay.
posted by jedicus at 10:40 AM on December 10, 2010


Obama saved the hostages by giving the Republicans more hostages.
posted by unSane at 10:40 AM on December 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


Let us not forget that Obama's deal includes 13 months of unemployment insurance, Earned Income tax credit expansion, college tax credits, and a pay-roll tax cut. All for the relatively small cost of delaying real debate on the tax cuts until, oh, right before the 2012 elections

Hey, don't you bother the mob with your damn facts! There's a clear party line here, re Metafilter and if you're not bitching with us, you're against us!
posted by nomadicink at 10:40 AM on December 10, 2010 [10 favorites]


All for the relatively small cost of delaying real debate on the tax cuts until, oh, right before the 2012 elections.

And adding something like $900 billion to the debt.
posted by jedicus at 10:41 AM on December 10, 2010 [6 favorites]


One thing no one seems to get about extending the tax cuts for everyone making less than $250,000 is that everyone would get a tax break. For people making over $250,000, all the income they make less than a quarter-million a year would receive a tax cut. The way taxes work in the USA is that for income between A and B, you pay X percent taxes. For income from B to C, you pay Y percent taxes. You certainly do not calculate your taxes at the highest rate applied to all your income.Therefore, someone making $250,100 a year would only pay approximately 3% more in taxes on $100, which means they would pay three dollars more a year if we revert to Clinton era taxes on the richest income bracket.

Here's the 2009 federal tax rates for the USA.

Why the Dems aren't hyping this as "No one pays more taxes on the first quarter million they make, and only pay another three or four percent on every dollar you make over a quarter million. Repeat. If you make less than a quarter mil a year, we're all cool and nothing changes. If you make more than that, you're awesome and you'll have to cough up the price of a big mac for every hundred bucks over a quarter mil that you make, so don't bitch about it, Mr. I'm-Making-At-Least-Eight-Times-As-Much-As-The-Average-Chump ." is beyond me.
posted by SeanOfTheHillPeople at 10:41 AM on December 10, 2010 [26 favorites]



Let us not forget that Obama's deal includes 13 months of unemployment insurance, Earned Income tax credit expansion, college tax credits, and a pay-roll tax cut. All for the relatively small cost of delaying real debate on the tax cuts until, oh, right before the 2012 elections.


Haha, yeah, in 2012 during the elections I'll totally believe Obama when he says he will force the Republican congress to get rid of tax cuts.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:42 AM on December 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


What the hell is a rock ribbed reagan republican?

Someone who bought the line, and was disappointed with the execution.

C.F. Obamamaniac.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:43 AM on December 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Let us not forget that Obama's deal includes 13 months of unemployment insurance, Earned Income tax credit expansion, college tax credits, and a pay-roll tax cut. All for the relatively small cost of delaying real debate on the tax cuts until, oh, right before the 2012 elections.

To put it another way: 4 million rich people split $133 billion dollars while 156 million people split $214 billion dollars. Seems equitable to me.
posted by muddgirl at 10:43 AM on December 10, 2010 [14 favorites]


Correct me if I'm wrong, but if we just stall and prevent anything from happening here, the taxes revert to Bill Clinton levels, right?

Shouldn't that be the strategy?

--

That strategy would leave unemployment benefits expired for about 2 million people, leaving them in a potentially dire situation....


--

What a shitty choice. We're making a deal that will cost the government money in the form of reduced tax revenue, in exchange for something that will cost the government money in the form of extended benefits. Basically, they made a deal to reduce income while increasing spending.
posted by jabberjaw at 10:44 AM on December 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


I have decided that I am happy to have my taxes raised in order to show the hyprocracy of the Tea Party and Republican Party (and the Democrats too, to a lesser extent).

Let the cuts expire and have the Ds introduce new middle class tax cuts in the next session. Let's see how close to April 15th the Republicans let it go before their base sets them on fire.
posted by twjordan at 10:45 AM on December 10, 2010 [12 favorites]


My commentary on this is it's nice to finally see a Republican President working with a Republican Congress to get things done!

I caucused for Obama. I'll probably vote for him again, but man, I am not seeing the things I'd hoped for. An Insurance Reform bill (it doesn't change healthcare), we've still got people imprisoned in Guantánamo, he bailed out the banks, the car companies, and if you go over to whatthefuckhasobamadonesofar.com a lot of what is stated there is either no big deal, a gross misrepresentation, a far stretch to give him credit, or not something I'd classify as a "good" thing.

The cash for clunkers program was a joke, the mortgage restructuring program was even funnier, and the Wall street bailout still has me laughing.

Security theater has gone past ludicrous right into plaid, we're still mired in a couple wars with others looming, and each day it looks more and more like Obama's definition of "compromise" is to give the other guy whatever he wants.

And I am an Obama supporter. Now, imagine the above written by a tea party person or a Republican.
posted by cjorgensen at 10:46 AM on December 10, 2010 [15 favorites]


The main impression I get is that Democrats want to get themselves safely out of any kind of position of power as soon as possible so they can safely get on with what they really enjoy, complaining about things in a dramatic yet ineffectual way with lots of pointless gestures, and you lot want to help them with it as much as possible because that's what you enjoy too.
posted by Artw at 10:47 AM on December 10, 2010 [9 favorites]


He can't be that stupid (I know he's smart) and therefore I feel he's dissembling.

I think that gives him too much credit. It is entirely possible to be smart about somethings and dumb as two bags of rocks about others. Obama has a reasonably good grasp of how to get elected, but seems to know about as much as your standard third grader about how to get things through Congress.

Seriously though, this latest move has almost crossed the boundary into self-parody. What the hell was up with that address on Tuesday morning? I'll go on record as saying that I haven't liked most of Obama's proposals since taking office, but I think I've at least understood most of them. But this thing? I mean, yeah, there's such a thing as triangulation, and Clinton managed to get a lot done after the curb-stomping the DNC took in 1994, but there's a difference between finding common ground with your opponents and simply proposing their ideas for them.

I wasn't aware that the White House had amateur hour, but apparently they do.
posted by valkyryn at 10:47 AM on December 10, 2010 [7 favorites]


That's awesome, isn't it? When the Republicans threaten to filibuster, the dems cave. But when a Democrat threatens it...

The Democrats cave.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:48 AM on December 10, 2010 [5 favorites]


I was actually amazed at what Mary Landrieu had to say. From media reports I had always thought she was a republican in sheeps clothing. Not so. Good job senator.
posted by Xurando at 10:48 AM on December 10, 2010



I'm liking more and more the idea of primarying Obama.


At the very least, it would keep dems from voting for Palin in the primaries.
posted by drezdn at 10:48 AM on December 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Hey, don't you bother the mob with your damn facts! There's a clear party line here, re Metafilter and if you're not bitching with us, you're against us!

There is not a single actual human being who makes less than $500k/yr that thinks extending those millionaire tax cuts is a good idea. Whereas there are a good deal who think the unemployment extension and so forth are. Forcing the issue into the light and showing who is blocking what why is a great idea and I'd be a lot more gaping in confusion that Democrats hate it if I hadn't seen it so many times.

IT'S ABOUT THE NARRATIVE, YOU IDIOTS!

People don't care how much you fight for them if they don't know you are fighting for them. The GOP knows this--that's why they harp on and on and on and on and on about "small business" and "heartland farmers" and stuff. They want everyone to hear how much the GOP is fighting for them (which they aren't, obviously). Jesus Christ, people, a little backbone. Even a smidge!

(Meanwhile, it takes an actual by-god socialist to break us out of the grip of the two right wings in this country.)
posted by DU at 10:49 AM on December 10, 2010 [15 favorites]


"Mister Sanders Goes to Washington"

I'm glad somebody has some balls.
posted by brundlefly at 10:49 AM on December 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Let's get something straight: Bernie's not a Democrat.

And: No school like the old school. Even if it is grandstanding.
posted by lodurr at 10:49 AM on December 10, 2010


Feingold should help with the filibuster. He's been against the tax cuts in general and he'll have plenty of time to recover from pulling an all-nighter in a few weeks.
posted by drezdn at 10:50 AM on December 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


Send Senator Sanders support here: www.DemocracyForAmerica.com/NoDeal
posted by joannemerriam at 10:50 AM on December 10, 2010


It's really just theatre, the vote wasn't scheduled for today. He would have to keep this up all weekend and through Monday to actually start delaying the vote.

No one has responded to this. Any thoughts?


The Senate is technically in a period of morning business, where senators are allowed to talk about anything they wish. Most senators aren't even around since there aren't any votes today. Reid scheduled a procedural vote on the tax cut compromise legislation for Monday at 3.
posted by ekroh at 10:50 AM on December 10, 2010


Grar link fail. Send Senator Sanders support here: www.DemocracyForAmerica.com/NoDeal
posted by joannemerriam at 10:51 AM on December 10, 2010


There is not a single actual human being who makes less than $500k/yr that thinks extending those millionaire tax cuts is a good idea.

Not to pick too many nits, but: Oh, shit, yes there are.

Why they think that is a whole 'nother smoke.
posted by lodurr at 10:51 AM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


God Bless Mr. Stackhouse.
posted by timsteil at 10:51 AM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


And why can't Sanders or some Democrat use one of those magical "holds" that Republicans have in endless supply? Stand up to the Republicans in Congress and the White House.
posted by DU at 10:52 AM on December 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


>Why the Dems aren't hyping this as "No one pays more taxes on the first quarter million they make, and only pay another three or four percent on every dollar you make over a quarter million. Repeat. If you make less than a quarter mil a year, we're all cool and nothing changes. If you make more than that, you're awesome and you'll have to cough up the price of a big mac for every hundred bucks over a quarter mil that you make, so don't bitch about it, Mr. I'm-Making-At-Least-Eight-Times-As-Much-As-The-Average-Chump ." is beyond me.

Do you really think that'd make any difference? It's still 96 words longer than "Hate taxes? Vote Republican."
posted by xbonesgt at 10:52 AM on December 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Let's get something straight: Bernie's not a Democrat.

Technically correct! The best kind of correct!

Sanders caucuses with the Democratic Party and is counted as a Democrat for the purposes of committee assignments.

A rose by any other etcetera.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:52 AM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


There is not a single actual human being who makes less than $500k/yr that thinks extending those millionaire tax cuts is a good idea

None of which means compromises aren't necessary. We get it: Obama didn't magically change the country into the place you think it should be and it turns out politics are dirty and the compromises you wind up making suck. That doesn't mean I'm obligated to root for some grand-standing theatrics during a lame duck congress. If there's anything Pollyana-ish, it's sticking your fingers in your ears and refusing to accede to the process— what is stalling now going to accomplish?
posted by yerfatma at 10:54 AM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm liking more and more the idea of primarying Obama.
posted by rhizome


No matter who it is, it will not succeed, and it will have a good chance of handing the Presidency to the Republicans. In all seriousness, I don't agree that Obama is as ineffective at getting liberal reforms as most here do, but anything that runs the risk of getting a true far rightist elected should not even be contemplated. Please, please, please I know he's not doing the things you exactly want, but he's at worst just moral pragmatist inarguably on the left side of the spectrum, not a rapture-worshipping anti-scientific right winger who would be owned by corporations and poor-hating bigots who think the government shouldn't help people who aren't old, white, right, or preferably all three. Please primary someone local, if you have a blue dog democrat in your district or whatever, and acknowledge that getting Obama reelected is too goddamn important to take any chances with.
posted by haveanicesummer at 10:55 AM on December 10, 2010 [12 favorites]


Not to pick too many nits, but: Oh, shit, yes there are.

Yep, I can think of two I know definitely and four who don't. And I basically live in a liberal echo-chamber.

The problem with the Fox News followers is that they aren't just screaming crazy shit - they buy in to the whole thing, hook line and sinker -- even if it seems entirely against their best interest. (Taxes on the rich mean no new jobs are created)

Unfortunately, I can disagree with the decision Obama is making and still agree with his take on those who oppose it.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:55 AM on December 10, 2010


I keep hearing that allowing all the tax cuts to expire would cost a million jobs. If that's true it makes Obama's decision into a no-brainer.

I keep hearing the Elvis is alive and aliens routinely abduct people from lonely country roads late at night.

No one knows what will "create jobs" or "cost jobs." No one. Ever. If someone says some policy will "create a hundred thousand new jobs," and the policy is not "A Bill For the Hiring of a Hundred Thousand People to Work for the Government," then they're lying. Same with "it will cost a million jobs." Some think-tanker pulled that number out his ass. It means nothing, it is presented and repeated solely to make people like you support bullshit policy like this.
posted by rusty at 10:57 AM on December 10, 2010 [30 favorites]


ChurchHatesTucker: Bernie Sanders is a Socialist. It's kind of insulting to call him a Democrat. He has a coherent ideological basis for his actions, and works to advance a left-wing agenda.
posted by rusty at 10:59 AM on December 10, 2010 [14 favorites]


As painful as it has been to watch Obama hand the car keys over to the Republicans, I have to agree with East Manitoba. Obama's making a choice between the economy and a more partisan class struggle. If the economy doesn't recover, the Republicans will get the entire car in 2012, not just the keys.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 11:00 AM on December 10, 2010



The Senate is technically in a period of morning business, where senators are allowed to talk about anything they wish. Most senators aren't even around since there aren't any votes today. Reid scheduled a procedural vote on the tax cut compromise legislation for Monday at 3.


That's not what I meant. What I meant is, there's a lot of RAH RAH SANDERS up in here and yet a claim was made that it's meaningless. That's what I'd like to hear thoughts on.
posted by spicynuts at 11:01 AM on December 10, 2010


who would be owned by corporations and poor-hating bigots who think the government shouldn't help people who aren't old, white, right, or preferably all three.

I meant to say "old, white, rich" there.
posted by haveanicesummer at 11:02 AM on December 10, 2010


And why can't Sanders or some Democrat use one of those magical "holds" that Republicans have in endless supply? Stand up to the Republicans in Congress and the White House.

A hold simply means that a senator has threatened to filibuster legislation that comes to the floor. A filibuster needs 60 votes to overcome in the Senate, and when a Republican places a hold, it is with the understanding that every other Republican will stand with him or her, and therefore if there are fewer than 60 senators in the Democratic caucus there is nothing they can do about it unless enough Republicans break ranks.
posted by ekroh at 11:02 AM on December 10, 2010


That strategy would leave unemployment benefits expired for about 2 million people, leaving them in a potentially dire situation....

...And as previously mentioned, it would raise tax rates on the middle income brackets significantly as well, which would have further short-term depressive effects on the economy. That's why the Dems first tried to pass an extension only to the middle income range tax cuts (an extension, BTW, which would have benefited both the wealthy and the rest of us alike, unlike this new deal, which would temporarily extend a second tax break that only the rich benefited from under Bush, in addition to the lower income tax break that we all got).

I stand by my early predictions post-mid-terms. Whether you accept it or not, the Dems have no options because the Republicans are too amoral, opportunistic, aggressive and disciplined to allow any political agenda other than their own to have any influence on the legislative process that isn't merely obstructive, once they formally assume the majority.

And that's bad news for the Dems because American voters don't punish Republicans for being obstructionist at the polls, but they gladly punish Democrats for the same. Why? Because American voters have a double standard. The Democratic party has evolved into America's favorite sacrificial goat. It's all-too-appropriate that the Democratic party mascot is a jackass. The party plays that role almost too well, but I think that outcome is as much a bi-product of the machinations of the political process and of the power structures and cultural landscape of America as it is a result of any lack of effort or commitment to principle on the part of the Democrats on the whole.

There are actually a few good eggs in the Dem's basket. Nothing but snake eggs in the Republican's.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:04 AM on December 10, 2010 [5 favorites]


The Senate is technically in a period of morning business, where senators are allowed to talk about anything they wish. Most senators aren't even around since there aren't any votes today. Reid scheduled a procedural vote on the tax cut compromise legislation for Monday at 3.

So is this a filibuster or not? If not, what is he doing? (I am not familiar with American political procedure - can someone explain?)
posted by weezy at 11:07 AM on December 10, 2010


Bernie Sanders is a Socialist. It's kind of insulting to call him a Democrat

Oh, I'd agree. But he caucuses with them, so it's a distinction without a difference.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:08 AM on December 10, 2010


Filibustering is stupid.
Tax cuts are stupid.
Politicians acting for anyone other than their constituents is stupid.
Mixing money and politics is stupid.
Archaic political procedures are stupid.
Stupid is stupid.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:08 AM on December 10, 2010


4 million rich people split $133 billion dollars while 156 million people split $214 billion dollars. Seems equitable to me.

It's such a crazy crappy deal that I'm embarrassed even listening to Obama shill for it. I'm certainly willing to forgo the scraps of "middle class" benefits in the deal if that prevented the grotesque handout for the ultra-rich (paid for, of course, by borrowing).

I'll almost certainly vote for Obama again (I mean, am I going to vote for Palin instead? Really?) but I'll be holding my nose. He's turned out to be a pandering wuss who has caved on every serious issue I care about. He's slightly better than Bush, but mostly because he can string together entire sentences, not because his record is some shining example of brilliance.

Obama has a reasonably good grasp of how to get elected, but seems to know about as much as your standard third grader about how to get things through Congress.

This.
posted by Forktine at 11:08 AM on December 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


And: No school like the old school. Even if it is grandstanding.

Darn right.
posted by zarq at 11:14 AM on December 10, 2010


- Bernie Sanders is a Socialist. It's kind of insulting to call him a Democrat

- Oh, I'd agree. But he caucuses with them, so it's a distinction without a difference.


So if he was born in a barn it would make him a horse? What's you're point here.
posted by Rarebit Fiend at 11:15 AM on December 10, 2010


well, one of my colleagues in the know said HARRY REID ALREADY FILED FOR CLOTURE. this "filibuster" is more of a "teach-in". dissent theater that wont do much to stop the legislation.

*sigh*
posted by liza at 11:16 AM on December 10, 2010


So is this a filibuster or not? If not, what is he doing? (I am not familiar with American political procedure - can someone explain?)

I wouldn't call it a filibuster because he's not obstructing anything. Reid said this morning that Sanders would be able to speak for as long as he wants.
posted by ekroh at 11:17 AM on December 10, 2010


There is not a single actual human being who makes less than $500k/yr that thinks extending those millionaire tax cuts is a good idea.

If you actually believe that, you're more deranged than Obama.

Furthermore, there are plenty of people who aren't millionaires (depending on how you define the term) who would be affected by the tax bracket starting at $250k. If you mean "people who have earned more than $1 million in the last four years," then obviously not, but if you mean "people with a more-or-less liquid net worth in excess of a million," then there's a whole ton of people who will be affected by the top bracket who aren't millionaires.

I just can't figure out why he didn't propose cutting these taxes as currently proposed but then proposing new brackets starting at $500k, $750k, etc.
posted by valkyryn at 11:19 AM on December 10, 2010


Obama is a political dunce who has handed his opponents an incredible win. Forcing unemployment benefits to expire would be death for the Republicans, who rely on votes in rural, high-unemployment states to get elected. Obama made a deal in which they will "support" the extension of these cuts... in exchange for tax cuts for the rich that we cannot afford.

This forces sensible people on the left to oppose Obama's idiocy, which in turns means that they are handing a talking point to the Republicans: "The Democrats voted against extending your unemployment, and giving you a tax break!"

Obama has come a long way on hot air, but his actual understanding of the game being played is patently worthless—or he's playing for the other team.
posted by sonic meat machine at 11:24 AM on December 10, 2010 [14 favorites]


So if he was born in a barn it would make him a horse? What's you're point here.

He wasn't born in a barn. He was born in Brooklyn. My old-school New England Republican grandmother never fails to point out that he isn't a real Vermonter.
posted by maryr at 11:25 AM on December 10, 2010


love you bernie...been watching all day. and happy someone else here posted this...
posted by lslelel at 11:26 AM on December 10, 2010


Proud Vermonter and Bernie supporter here.

Give 'em hell, Senator!
posted by brand-gnu at 11:27 AM on December 10, 2010


It is so nice to see real socialism at work in this administration.

Raise my taxes. I'm fine with that. TANSTASFL.
posted by QIbHom at 11:27 AM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


You've got to admire American politics, you've got your first house which is artficially tilted to underpopulated states and therefore favours republicans, and then you've got your second house which is marginally less tilted but hobbled by this whole cloture votes thing which means you need a two thirds majority to do anything with it.
posted by Artw at 11:28 AM on December 10, 2010


cjorgensen: An Insurance Reform bill (it doesn't change healthcare)

Where were the votes to "change healthcare"? Lieberman vowed to support a filibuster against any bill with a public option, and single-payer didn't even have enough support to make it out of committee.

we've still got people imprisoned in Guantánamo

Both the Senate and House blocked funding for closing the base and moving detainees to U.S. soil.

he bailed out the banks

TARP was a Bush administration policy. And as handled by the Obama administration, a significant amount of the money has been recovered.

the car companies

...which saved millions of jobs as well as the economic foundation of the Rust Belt.

and if you go over to whatthefuckhasobamadonesofar.com a lot of what is stated there is either no big deal, a gross misrepresentation, a far stretch to give him credit, or not something I'd classify as a "good" thing.

It's a random walk through dozens or hundreds of accomplishments big and small, what do you expect? Check out PolitiFact's "Obameter" -- it lets you break down administration actions by promises kept, promises broken, compromises, the Top 25 promises, etc.
posted by Rhaomi at 11:29 AM on December 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


Yeah, he shouldn't sign on to this so they can get a better deal next year with more Republicans... oh.

They aren't getting unemployment benefits next year with more R's. They aren't getting anything in here other than the tax cuts if this goes to next year. The tax cuts will still happen (that will be the whole Republican agenda if this bill fails). Seriously, what do some of you think the alternative is here? The Republicans are very good at politics. I think we've seen over the last two years the Democrats as a whole really really aren't.

Do I think that those making over 250k a year after all their deductions should pay an extra $60 for every $1000 they make? Hell yes. Do I think that deal is still on the table? Hell no. I think they got a lot from a very poor leverage standpoint.

This is a second stimulus that costs more than the first one, only the Republicans are signing on for it and not using that dirty 'stimulus' word. Actually let's take a look at who's getting what.
posted by dig_duggler at 11:29 AM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


But he caucuses with them, so it's a distinction without a difference.

And so does Vinegar Joe Lieberman. Yet he's managed to personally screw the party on any number of occasions.

If you want committee assignments, you've got to caucus with somebody. I think his current actions demonstrate pretty well that the distinction does make a difference.
posted by lodurr at 11:29 AM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Isn't he an Independent who caucuses with the Democrats?

Independent, hell, he's a goddamn Socialist.
posted by kenko at 11:31 AM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm certainly willing to forgo the scraps of "middle class" benefits in the deal if that prevented the grotesque handout for the ultra-rich (paid for, of course, by borrowing).

But the middle class cuts aren't merely scraps: My own middle income tax rate stands to go up as much as 4% if the cuts aren't extended at all.

I'm willing to take the hit, personally, but I can tell you, it's not going to encourage me to be more economically adventurous since the increase alone will cancel out roughly the last five years of growth in my personal income. If all the cuts expire right now, a lot of people on the financial fence will see themselves go from running small deficits every few months to running large deficits every month (leaving them little recourse but to either go into debt to maintain their standard of living or to accept a decline in their standard of living). Republicans will be able to tell the truth for once, and it will benefit them politically (an inversion of the natural order): They'll be able to say the economy is worse off and your taxes are higher today because liberals in Washington playing politics decided to raise everyone's taxes during one of the worst recessions in American history.

How can you possibly believe American voters aren't going to fall for that old Republican snake oil sales pitch again? Is there any historical evidence of voters not choosing to take that particularly tempting piece of bait in recent history?

I agree that the extensions are bad policy, but if you think this is as bad as its going to get with the Republicans now effectively in charge of putting legislation on the agenda, you've got so much more grief and anguish in store over the next two years, I feel too sorry for you to care to spend any more effort disabusing you of your misconceptions.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:31 AM on December 10, 2010 [7 favorites]


That stat he just gave is phenomenal:

The top tenth of the top one percent of earners in the USA make 11 percent of the country's income. Can that be true? Incredible.
posted by dobbs at 11:32 AM on December 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


Yeah, he shouldn't sign on to this so they can get a better deal next year with more Republicans... oh.

Look, nothing can get done without both the House AND the Senate. And nothing has gotten through the Senate since the Massachusettes special election. THEREFORE, we are no worse off with a Republican House.

No. Worse. Off.
posted by muddgirl at 11:34 AM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yes, because spending into huge deficits has been proven to end this type of depression. See Japan for an example!
posted by sonic meat machine at 11:34 AM on December 10, 2010


No. Worse. Off.
posted by muddgirl


It's not just about what gets passed though, it's about the agenda. When the house is working on something, that's what all the news stories are about. Pelosi's slate of votes is a lot more beneficial to us on the left when it comes to the news cycle, and in addition Scott Brown thinks he can win Mass again (I don't think he can) so he's willing to cross over if he thinks it'll help him politically.
posted by haveanicesummer at 11:39 AM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


What would it take to send blankets, food and NoDoze to the Senate?

The cameramen and directors work in shifts. We have cots and blankets on standby, should the Senate run through the night. They haven't started bringing them out just yet...

The chamber itself is probably mostly empty, as it usually is whenever a vote is not taking place.

It's also worth mentioning that, for a guy presumably without a script, he's doing a pretty great job up there.
posted by schmod at 11:41 AM on December 10, 2010 [6 favorites]


Actually let's take a look at who's getting what.

That chart is somewhat inaccurate. Surely the wealthy will also be taking a fair slice of that payroll tax reduction.

And as muddgirl pointed out, you have to think about it in terms of how many people are taking from each of those pies. The per-person advantage is much, much higher for the wealthy than for everyone else.
posted by jedicus at 11:43 AM on December 10, 2010


It's a good deal in all the cicumstances. The alternative is bad: for the economy, for the poor bastards that are unemployed. Because the alternative is no stimulus, no unemployment extension, no payroll & tax credits and a big tax increase in 3 weeks time. If you're searching for the double dip formula, it's right there. Just because Obama doesn't scream bloody murder across the airwaves to mimic the apparent anguish of the left, doesn't mean he didn't get the best deal POSSIBLE. It's 60. It's always 60 that the path of legislating and compromising has to aim for. This is a pretty good deal now and could only get worse in the next congress.
posted by peacay at 11:44 AM on December 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


I applaud this, but after about 45 minutes I have to say it's kind of mind-numbing.

Interesting, I've been listening for almost two hours and I think he's KILLING IT out there.
posted by rollbiz at 11:44 AM on December 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


No. Worse. Off.

Not true. We are definitely worse off because the body of the legislature empowered for creating legislation is now under Republican control, and that means only the Republicans have the power to actually move anything through the legislative process. The Republicans do not compromise on their core aims at all, as we already know, so the best the Dems could possibly do is obstruct them. Unfortunately, you can't so much actually do anything through obstruction, and since the Republicans whole political platform is oriented around keeping the government from being effective or advancing any positive, substantive legislative agenda (their aim being to "drown the government in the bathtub," as Norquist put it), they've won that fight now.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:45 AM on December 10, 2010


Obama is a political dunce who has handed his opponents an incredible win.

Someone should invent and patent a machine that runs on the ability to underestimate this POTUS. The profits alone would bail out the American economy in no time.
posted by joe lisboa at 11:45 AM on December 10, 2010 [5 favorites]


Oh, I'd agree. But he caucuses with them, so it's a distinction without a difference.

No there are some real differences actually. And I speak as someone who has voted for him [and Welch] as someone who feels that Vermont is the last state in the country I could live in without despising most of my elected representatives. He is my senator. He's not a party-line guy. He doesn't make you a party-line person if you contact him to discuss issues that you are about. He doesn't quote party platforms back at you. His website is free of party posturing. He doesn't shrug and say "well that's how it had to be" and vote with the Dems because of some other weird reason, or because he's afraid. He's generally consistent about this and about the things he cares about. Not that I always agree with his decisions, but I'm rarely surprised by them which is something I like in an elected prerepsentative, if we have to have them.

I'm not a huge fan of America's two-party system personally and I think him caucusing with the Dems makes sense because of their common approach to a lot of social problems but he's really coming from a different place.
posted by jessamyn at 11:48 AM on December 10, 2010 [10 favorites]


Actually let's take a look at who's getting what.

That chart is bullshit. The payroll tax holiday is a Republican proposal.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:51 AM on December 10, 2010


Someone should invent and patent a machine that runs on the ability to underestimate this POTUS. The profits alone would bail out the American economy in no time.

Which issue of importance has he handled well? Torture? Corruption? The environment? Healthcare? Bailouts? Gay rights? Free speech?

I can't seem to think of anything.
posted by sonic meat machine at 11:51 AM on December 10, 2010


We are definitely worse off because the body of the legislature empowered for creating legislation is now under Republican control, and that means only the Republicans have the power to actually move anything through the legislative process.

The Senate is empowered to create legislation. I don't quite understand the point you're trying to make - are you perhaps thinking that only the House can originate tax bills?

I was exaggerating, of course, but I'm sick and tired of this narrative that Democrats == Some sort of Supernaturally Powerful Force for Good and Republicans == Chaotic Evil. Both parties are working inside a broken capitalist system. Yes, the Republicans will break us slightly faster than the Democrats, but we're on a runaway track either way.
posted by muddgirl at 11:52 AM on December 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


We're left with three studies that vary slightly but which all point in the same general direction -- showing the top 1 percent earning between 21.4 and 23.5 percent of the national income in 2007. The studies also show that this share exceeds what the entire bottom 50 percent of the United States earns. So we rate Sanders' statement True.
posted by Rhaomi at 11:54 AM on December 10, 2010


Let us not forget that Obama's deal includes 13 months of unemployment insurance, Earned Income tax credit expansion, college tax credits, and a pay-roll tax cut. All for the relatively small cost of delaying real debate on the tax cuts until, oh, right before the 2012 elections

When the Republicans will be able to smear the dems with a "They want to raise your taxes" campaign, perfection.

Republicans acknowledged that the expiration of the tax holiday will be treated as a tax increase. "Once something like this goes into place, a year from now, when it expires, it'll be portrayed as a tax increase," said Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.).

"Once you bring a rate down, if it goes back up, people will feel that. They'll feel their paycheck being less and that argument" -- that letting it expire amounts to a tax hike -- "eventually is bound to be made," said Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.).


The really scary part about all this is that the "payroll tax holiday" is gutting a primary means for funding Social Security. So this deal 1) expands the deficit 2) does not provide stimulus 3) gives the Rs something to campaign on in 2012 4) makes the Bush cuts inch closer to being permanent and 5) furthers the argument that Social Security needs to be cut. Krugman even argues that this deal will make the economy worse in 2012 and therefore make it harder for Obama to be re-elected. That's how bad it is.
posted by mek at 11:56 AM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Someone should invent and patent a machine that runs on the ability to underestimate this POTUS.

This rope-a-dope meme needs to, you know, die in a bathtub or drown in a fire or whatever it is.

When a person shows you who they are, believe them.

It's just sad now to hear Obama's remaining fans saying "Just you wait... any moment now he's gonna do something spectacular... it's all a plan... you don't understand how smart he is..."

He had two years with control of both houses to do anything he wanted. It does not get better than that in politics, ever. Result: two wars continue. Guantanamo still open, not even the hint of a whiff of an inquiry into any of the Bush era shenanigans, horribly watered down healthcare legislation, Bush tax cuts extended, no DADT reform, capitulation to Republican hostage-taking.

I saw him on TV the other night talking about how he was gonna fight. Ha fucking ha. He doesn't fight.

At this rate he will be a one-term POTUS and go down as the biggest damp squib in the history of American Presidential politics ever. And the next nutjob on the right who gets in should write him a big kissy thank you card as their first job in office.
posted by unSane at 11:58 AM on December 10, 2010 [10 favorites]


That chart is somewhat inaccurate. Surely the wealthy will also be taking a fair slice of that payroll tax reduction.

Yes, but it only applies on gross income up to 106k.

Because the payroll tax applies only to the first $106,000 in gross employee income, this one-third reduction of the payroll tax rate is, by definition, a cut targeted at lower-income and middle-income families
posted by dig_duggler at 11:58 AM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


He probably kicked ass as a community organizer, though. Maybe he could get back into that.
posted by unSane at 12:00 PM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]



Actually let's take a look at who's getting what.

That chart is bullshit. The payroll tax holiday is a Republican proposal.


I will add that it is additionally bullshit because it counts the tax cuts for the rich cost at only $91 billion, which is only counting the two year extension. Everyone knows DAMN WELL the rates are permanent now, the Democrats will never have this much power in congress any time soon. When you take that into account, the "What they got" bar shoots off the fucking page and breaks your monitor.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:00 PM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


He had two years with control of both houses to do anything he wanted.

Suuuure, cuz that's how it works. The Republicans pulled it off for quite a few bills in the 00's because they were united and have a small tent. You are acting like a Blue Dog Dem from Arkansas is the same as a Dem from California.

Control of both houses only works if:

a). Republicans didn't filibuster everything (which they did) and weren't united (which they were). They only have to peel off one Dem from the South or Midwest. Manchin voted against DADT just yesterday (a D from WV).

b). EVERY single member of the Democratic Senate, after they seated Franken and before Kennedy died, voted for it. That window was pretty small, the legislation would have had to be ready to go and all of the D's in the Senate had to be on board. Also the Senate moves at a snail's pace.

He got a HCR bill passed that others couldn't, even in the face of all the opposition. It may not have been exactly what you wanted, but it was far more than any other Democratic president has been able to produce.
posted by dig_duggler at 12:10 PM on December 10, 2010 [7 favorites]


A good time to remind everyone that the filibuster is unconstitutional:
Although Art. I, § 5, cl. 2 of the Constitution grants each house the authority to “Determine the Rules of its Proceedings,” this rule-making authority is not absolute or unlimited, and cannot be used to violate other provisions of the Constitution.

No one would argue, for example, that a majority of senators could adopt a rule that stated that no treaty could be ratified without a 3/4ths vote of the Senate instead of the 2/3rds vote specified in Art. II, § 2, cl. 2, or to adopt a rule prior to the impeachment trials of Andrew Johnson or Bill Clinton that reduced the number of votes in the Senate required for a conviction from the 2/3rds specified in Article I, § 3, cl. 5, to a vote of simple majority, or to adopt a rule that stated expressly that no bill could be sent to the House or presented to the President without 60 votes instead of a vote of the simple majority. And if the Senate cannot adopt a rule that repeals or supersedes the majority vote provision in Art. I, § 7 directly, surely the Senate cannot accomplish the same result indirectly by adopting a cloture rule that has the same practical effect.
What's more, the combination of Rule V, which declares the rules of the Senate to be continuing and Rule XXII’s prohibition against amendment to Senate rules without a two-thirds vote, is unconstitutional:
Unlike the Rules of the House of Representatives that expire at the end of each term of Congress and must be readopted by the House when each new Congress convenes, Senate Rule V declares that: “The rules of the Senate shall continue from one Congress to the next Congress unless they are changed as provided in these rules.”

Debate on a matter in the Senate, including a proposed amendment to Rule XXII, cannot begin over the objections of a single senator without the adoption of a motion to proceed under Rule VIII, which is a debatable motion and can be blocked by a filibuster. Moreover, Rule XXII provides that a vote on a motion for cloture of debate on a “motion to amend the Senate rules” is not “three-fifths of the senators chosen and sworn,” as is the case with other cloture motions, but requires an “affirmative vote … [of] two-thirds of the Senate present and voting.” The combination of these three rules means that debate on a motion to amend the Senate filibuster rule cannot begin without a motion to proceed under Rule VIII, which, if objected to, requires 60 votes, and a motion for cloture of the substantive debate on a motion to amend the rules of the Senate cannot be brought to an end without 67 affirmative votes (assuming all 100 members of the Senate are present) – the same number of votes in the Senate that would be required to approve an amendment to the Constitution.

Whether the Senate is “a continuing body” as stated in Rule V has been disputed within the Senate for at least 50 years, and is seriously open to question. If the Senate were really a continuing body, (1) legislation that passed by the house and pending in the Senate would not die at the end of each term of Congress; (2) nor would the Senate hold a new election of majority and minority leaders at the commencement of each new Congress. The old leadership would hold over and continue just as the rules are claimed to do. Moreover, as a matter of practice, the majority leader of the Senate asks the Senate at the beginning of each new Congress to adopt the existing Senate rules by unanimous consent. These three facts are incompatible with the notion that the Senate is a continuing body, notwithstanding the fact that a third of its members must stand for election every two years.

The issue of whether the Senate is a “continuing body” is, however, beside the point. Rule V would be inconsequential but for the provisions in Rule XXII prohibiting cloture on proposed amendments to the Senate rules without a 2/3rds vote. There would be no constitutional objection to Rule V if a majority of senators had the power to amend the rules without being filibustered. Rule V would then be nothing more than a default provision – a convenient way of making it unnecessary for the Senate to adopt a whole new set of rules when it first convenes in January of every odd numbered year, but without preventing a majority in the Senate from amending the rules when the occasion required.

posted by anotherpanacea at 12:11 PM on December 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


(that should read against DADT repeal)
posted by dig_duggler at 12:12 PM on December 10, 2010


I feel bad for Obama, he is noticeably greyer and every picture he is all facepalm or looks like somebody just kicked his dog. Poor guy needs a spa day. He's probably got Hillary agitating in the background too "I told you so, but nooooooo you didn't listen"
posted by Ad hominem at 12:12 PM on December 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


They'll be able to say the economy is worse off and your taxes are higher today because liberals in Washington playing politics decided to raise everyone's taxes during one of the worst recessions in American history.

Well, no -- they won't be able to say that truthfully, since it's the Republicans who are blocking an extension of the tax cuts on the middle class. They'll say it, sure; but calling it truthful is a stretch.
posted by steambadger at 12:13 PM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


From the President's interview on NPR this morning:

INSKEEP: Let me ask you about something that we heard from one of our listeners. … The question that we got was: “Please ask him how keeping the tax rate for the richest the same as it has been for a decade creates one single job.”

OBAMA: It doesn’t, which is why I was opposed to it — and I’m still opposed to it.

The issue here is not whether I think that the tax cuts for the wealthy are a good or smart thing to do. I’ve said repeatedly that I think they’re not a smart thing to do, particularly because we’ve got to borrow money, essentially, to pay for them.

The problem is, is that this is the single issue that the Republicans are willing to scotch the entire deal for. And in that circumstances — in that circumstance, we’ve got, basically, a very simple choice: Either I allow 2 million people who are currently getting unemployment insurance not to get it, either I allow the recovery that we’re on to be endangered or we make a compromise now.
posted by ofthestrait at 12:18 PM on December 10, 2010 [6 favorites]


He had two years with control of both houses to do anything he wanted.

That understanding is largely incorrect and it's not really helpful to frame it that way. The House was clearly Democrat owned, but the Senate was not, with a bare majority, counting the 2 independents.

A person can not laud Saunders for what he's doing, which involved bucking the President on this issue, and then complain about the Democrats not getting whatever they wanted in the proceeding two years. The Democrats range from liberal to conservative and it was more and less impossible to get all 58 +2 completely in line and on the same page at the same time in order to avoid Republican obstruction.

I'm not saying Obama is perfect or that he couldn't have done and be doing better, but your framing of those two years is wildly inaccurate.
posted by nomadicink at 12:19 PM on December 10, 2010 [5 favorites]


Why are we even discussing going for it on fourth down this early in the game? It is the first quarter.

I would prefer that Mr. Sanders' program be enacted. The President would prefer that Mr. Sanders' program be enacted.

But we don't have the votes. If somebody's got the actual whip count, names and all of the 60 senators who are going to vote for this, please provide it to me.

What exactly is the plan of all the haters out there to get this passed in the next congress? Because without a plan, it is just stupid emotional acting out that advance the policy we want passed.

Because the GOP is going to take over the House. The first thing they are going to do is pass a permanent extension of the tax cuts for everyone. And if the Dems in the Senate block it and/or Obama vetos it, then the vast majority of Americans are going to be pissed that their tax bills are going to go up by an average of $3000 a year. Soon enough they are not going to care one bit that this is all about the deficit or anything else. They are gonna want their $3000 and they are going to want it now.

And there will be no extension of unemployment insurance. We will get clobbered in 2012, and we won't be able to run on tax relief for the middle class only.

What pisses me off about the House revolt is that these are the same idiots who refused to vote on this issue before the election. They get their balls after getting beat.

Oh, but the Republicans are gonna just cave on this. Yeah, right. They gave 2 votes on the stimulus, zero votes on HCR and 3 votes on financial reform and 1 vote on DADT. The idea that they are gonna cave on their signature issue is ludicrous.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:24 PM on December 10, 2010 [7 favorites]


Ironmouth: amend the rules. The Democrats sat around and did NOTHING about the rules for the entire time they've been in power, and it is directly because of that failure that this Senate has accomplished virtually nothing, and all of what they have accomplished was heavily compromised. This is their last chance to amend the rules and pass something that the country needs.
posted by 1adam12 at 12:30 PM on December 10, 2010


When the Republicans are in, they get their tax cuts passed. When the Dems are in, the Republicans get their tax cuts extended AND get to bitch about the deficit. Fuckin' A.
posted by unSane at 12:30 PM on December 10, 2010 [11 favorites]


And now he's talking about trains and cell phones!
posted by The Whelk at 12:38 PM on December 10, 2010


We are definitely worse off because the body of the legislature empowered for creating legislation is now under Republican control, and that means only the Republicans have the power to actually move anything through the legislative process.

I don't think you really understand how the legislative process works. Both houses are equally capable of initiating legislation. While it's true that the House is technically the only chamber that can introduce taxation bills (U.S. Const., Art. I, sec. 7, cl. 1), Congress has been avoid that particular restriction for years.

What happens is that the Senate takes a bill with some kind of tax provision that has passed the House--and there are a lot of them--and either adds the taxes it wants or, even more blatantly, completely rewrites the bill, i.e. hollow out the text and replace it with their own, leaving nothing but the bill number.

This is a sneaky dodge, but it's been in use for years with no real challenge. The Senate is thus entirely capable of initiating legislation.

This still doesn't get around the fact that even a bill that makes it through the Senate will have to pass the GOP-run House before it can become law, but let's at least get the procedure right.
posted by valkyryn at 12:43 PM on December 10, 2010


amend the rules

Thing is, this is a really dangerous thing to do. Right now, the rules seem to be working in favor of Republicans. But the next time the Republicans control the Senate, those same rules will work in favor of the Democrats. This is why Republicans railed against the filibuster until 2006 but didn't actually change the rules: they were playing a longer game.

If the Democrats were to change these rules now, they'd gain the ability to pass more legislation in the Senate for two years. Two years which, it must be pointed out, have the GOP in massive control of the House. And two years before it is likely that the Democrats will actually lose control of the Senate, giving both houses to the GOP and leaving the Democrats completely unable to oppose GOP legislation.

TL;DR: the rules may be a problem, but changing them is not as simple a solution as you think.
posted by valkyryn at 12:46 PM on December 10, 2010


What exactly is the plan of all the haters out there to get this passed in the next congress?

Get what passed? The end of the Bush tax cuts that is absolutely critical to the health of our country? What's your plan to do it?

It can't be done? Oh well, since it is terrible for our country we should probably take the hit and end it now, let the Republicans worry about the other stuff, America put them in charge.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:46 PM on December 10, 2010


ahaha he basically insulted the GOP to their face.
posted by The Whelk at 12:47 PM on December 10, 2010


ahaha he basically insulted the GOP to their face.

Details, please!! I need a little pick me up.
posted by nomadicink at 12:49 PM on December 10, 2010


"Tell the truth, Rich people gave money to my campaign and now I have to make money for them, if you say that I'll respect you" or words to that effect.
posted by The Whelk at 12:51 PM on December 10, 2010


Bernie Sanders is one of the things that makes me wicked proud to be at least from Vermont, even if I no longer currently reside there.

Other things in that category: Ben & Jerry's. Maple Syrup.

Today, Bernie, I love you even more than Ben and Jerry put together. And coming from a lady in her third trimester of pregnancy, that's pretty much the highest praise I can give.
posted by sonika at 12:52 PM on December 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


*breathes it in*
posted by nomadicink at 12:55 PM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't understand how this is even a debate. It is obvious that the super-wealthy elite run this country and do so at the expense and misery of the vast majority of their fellow Americans.

Stop apologizing for Obama, he is giving us a bad deal and is unwilling to fight for what is right. He lost my vote for 2012 and if you care about equality for both the poor and the rich then the POTUS should also lose your vote. Vote 3rd party, help organize a primary challenge but don't allow him to believe he can get away with such abysmal behavior and still count on your vote. Democrats argue for their Senators and Congressmen and their President like a battered woman argues it is her fault she gets beaten.

Standup, revoke your party membership, remove yourself from Democratic newsletters, and stop donating your money and time. Your elected representatives do not support you, why are you continuing to support them?
posted by Shit Parade at 12:57 PM on December 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


A friend of mine was trying to talk me into writing an article called "Almost Helped By Obama," since my car was too reasonable to qualify for a tax credit, my house is more or less worth what I am paying and I am more or less current with my mortgage, and I get to keep the same health care I have with only the usual increase in cost, and and and.....

I realize it does have to be about me me me me, but at the same time I am baffled by things. So if you lose your job when everyone else does we'll extend benefits until the economy recovers, but if you lose your job when everyone else is doing well you're screwed?

I love how Obama had the Republicans by the short hairs to where if they didn't extend job benefits they were going to run out on Christmas day. I was all, Fuck yeah, take that you tea partiers! since there was no one out there with a big enough pair to do this on Christmas! Then I wake up and the ball is in the Democrat's court, the Republicans are going to get their tax breaks, and if job benefits don't get extended it'll be the Democrats fault? Take about snatching defeat from the mouth of victory.

Don't mind me. I'll be over in the corner putting my money into gold.
posted by cjorgensen at 12:58 PM on December 10, 2010 [5 favorites]


Shit Parade: Because the structure of our government discourages third parties and the last time we tried something like you suggested we got the worst president since the 1800s if not ever?

If my choice is the 6" shit sandwich and the 12" shit sandwich with an extra side of shit, I'm going to take the 6" shit sandwich every time.
posted by entropicamericana at 1:04 PM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Bless Bernie Sanders, it's enough to make me want to move to Vermont.
posted by dbiedny at 1:05 PM on December 10, 2010


WE don't have to pass anything. We just have to let the tax cuts expire and start the message machine to put the blame on the Republicans.

Oh, right. We don't seem to have a message machine. And Harry Reid is blazingly incompetent, so don't expect any help there.
posted by vibrotronica at 1:07 PM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


If my choice is the 6" shit sandwich and the 12" shit sandwich with an extra side of shit, I'm going to take the 6" shit sandwich every time.

And that, my shit-eating friend, is your problem right there.
posted by unSane at 1:09 PM on December 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


Support Sarah Palin, vote Nader in 2012!
posted by entropicamericana at 1:11 PM on December 10, 2010


See I disagree with you guys that any significant portion of the population cares one whit about what party controls congress, who is pressuring who, or triangulation. Rightly or wrongly since Obama is the man in the office, he is responsible for everything good or bad. If people's unemployment runs out and people are plunged into a world of shit, nobody is going to care what the master plan is, all they will want is Obama's head on a pike.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:12 PM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


And that, my shit-eating friend, is your problem right there.

Yes, go on. If we're having a civil discussion, one needs details about these sort of things.
posted by nomadicink at 1:13 PM on December 10, 2010


He's basically calling Big Business traitors now.
posted by The Whelk at 1:16 PM on December 10, 2010


Yes, go on. If we're having a civil discussion, one needs details about these sort of things.


My point is that if you lunch choices are a 6" shit sub or a 12" shit sub you might want to look into the catering.
posted by unSane at 1:19 PM on December 10, 2010 [9 favorites]


Ironmouth: amend the rules. The Democrats sat around and did NOTHING about the rules for the entire time they've been in power, and it is directly because of that failure that this Senate has accomplished virtually nothing, and all of what they have accomplished was heavily compromised. This is their last chance to amend the rules and pass something that the country needs

Need 60 votes for that. Think the GOP is going to provide the extra votes? No. So the rules aren't going to be amended. Since they aren't going to be amended, what is the purpose of doing this. It will not advance our policy agenda.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:22 PM on December 10, 2010


huh, I didn't expect to hear an actual, if veiled, class war argument on the floor of the U.S Senate.
posted by The Whelk at 1:23 PM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


You do understand we have a winner-take-all system, not proportional representation, right?
posted by entropicamericana at 1:23 PM on December 10, 2010


Stop apologizing for Obama, he is giving us a bad deal and is unwilling to fight for what is right.

Please explain this "fighting" what it is, exactly, how it will get the GOP to vote for things and how Obama isn't doing it.

I see this all of the time. I don't know what is meant by it. Is he supposed to duke it out with someone?

Or is it that he is supposed to yell and scream and make it seem to you like he really, really cares about this? Because if that is it, it still does not get the policy advanced. And that is the only goddamned thing that counts. Us feeling all warm like we just watched an episode of The West Wing does nothing. This is real life.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:25 PM on December 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


Please explain this "fighting" what it is, exactly, how it will get the GOP to vote for things and how Obama isn't doing it.

He has the ability to shoot magical laser unicorns out of his eyes, that impale Republicans and Wavering democrats on their horns and fill them with virue, which would force them to vote the way he wants. However he is stubbonly not using it.
posted by Artw at 1:29 PM on December 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


And that is the only goddamned thing that counts.

No, that really isn't. You don't negotiate with hostage takers because although they may kill these hostages, if you give them what they want, they will take more hostages. That is one reason why the POTUS' recent analogy was both inept and inapt: his own actions were the exact opposite of what you do when lives are actually at stake.
posted by unSane at 1:30 PM on December 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Guantanamo? Unprosecuted torturers? Persistent wars of sketchy legality? Health Care reform written by Health Industry lobbyists? Free passes for Wall Street criminals? Continued tax breaks for the obscenely rich? Yup, yup, yup, yup, yup, yup -- and more.

But you're losing sight of Obama's chief accomplishment: he's the first black American president. That fact doesn't mean much over the short term, but it may be important to future generations.

Assuming that America does have a future.
posted by fredludd at 1:31 PM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I see this all of the time. I don't know what is meant by it. Is he supposed to duke it out with someone?

I'd pay to see Obama in a steel cage match with Mitch McConnel or John Boehner.
posted by nomadicink at 1:31 PM on December 10, 2010


Fighting is impossible for Democrats, yet somehow Republicans seem to manage to fight for the policies they want. Maybe try doing what they do.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:32 PM on December 10, 2010


Ironmouth: they want him to do irrational things. There's a minimum that the R can accept, and a minimum that the D can accept. Doing nothing results in a mutually unacceptable situation. Examples are health care (it sucks for the GOP's voter base; it's bankrupting the country), this tax situation, many financial and environmental situations. If the R makes clear that they absolutely refuse to do anything other than the minimum that the D can accept, it appears to be rational for D to accept and be getting a crappy deal every time.

D needs to allow bad things to happen, to prove that they are willing to, otherwise they will always get legislation which is the absolute worst that they can take. That's bad for the country in the short term, but probably good in the long run. The GOP appears to be willing to tolerate complete destruction, but there is a limit.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 1:32 PM on December 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


*turns on teevee*

Oh hey I guess Clinton is president now or something?
posted by Rhaomi at 1:37 PM on December 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


D needs to allow bad things to happen, to prove that they are willing to...

If you hired someone to do a job and they purposefully allowed bad things to happen in their job duties, would you keep them or fire them?

If you were hired to do a job, would you allow bad things to happen to the extent that you could get fired?
posted by nomadicink at 1:39 PM on December 10, 2010


Stop apologizing for Obama, he is giving us a bad deal and is unwilling to fight for what is right. He lost my vote for 2012 and if you care about equality for both the poor and the rich then the POTUS should also lose your vote. Vote 3rd party, help organize a primary challenge but don't allow him to believe he can get away with such abysmal behavior and still count on your vote.

I agree. Then I think at all of the good which could have been done with a progressive majority on the supreme court over the last 5 years.

The reforms of the 60s and 70s had the groundwork placed by the Warren Court. We need to think long term, Obama may give me a heart murmur by 2012, but by keeping him in office the left may have the Supreme Court go 5-4 in favor of the left. That would be huge.
posted by banal evil at 1:40 PM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


No, that really isn't. You don't negotiate with hostage takers because although they may kill these hostages, if you give them what they want, they will take more hostages. That is one reason why the POTUS' recent analogy was both inept and inapt: his own actions were the exact opposite of what you do when lives are actually at stake

This is governance. You can't take your toys and go home. That is not doing your job.

Tell me again, how sabotaging this deal advances the idea that we need to tax the top 2% more?

Its just emotional acting out. I don't understand why some small segments are so petulant and unrealistic about it. As if we are always going to win. As if HCR, Stimulus and Financial Reform were not gigantic wins. Wins that Bill Clinton, Carter, LBJ, Kennedy, Truman and FDR never got.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:40 PM on December 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


D needs to allow bad things to happen, to prove that they are willing to...

I'm sorry, but that is just wrong. How about Health Care Reform, the Stimulus, Financial Reform, the bailout that saved our asses and ended up costing far less than originally thought?

These are things Democrats are doing for you and I.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:42 PM on December 10, 2010


FDR didn't get HCR, stimulus, and financial reform?

huh.
posted by entropicamericana at 1:43 PM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


No, that really isn't. You don't negotiate with hostage takers because although they may kill these hostages, if you give them what they want, they will take more hostages. That is one reason why the POTUS' recent analogy was both inept and inapt: his own actions were the exact opposite of what you do when lives are actually at stake

I don't understand how getting the policy advanced is not the goal. That doesn't make any sense.

I think a lot of this is people want to feel like it will all work great and perfect. Sorry, you will never get that. Only on TV shows.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:44 PM on December 10, 2010



Tell me again, how sabotaging this deal advances the idea that we need to tax the top 2% more?


Because if we don't pass something the top 2% will automatically be taxed more.


This is governance. You can't take your toys and go home. That is not doing your job.


In that case the Democrats should hold the line, because the Republicans won't take their toys and go home.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:45 PM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


The interesting thing about this to me is that it's essentially forcing the Republicans to come back to the table after they called the bluff of the Democrats.

Everyone wants the <$250k tax cuts extended. The reasoning from the Republicans was that Democrats also wanted unemployment benefits, etc., enough to go along with extending all of the tax cuts, and they were bargaining from a position of strength. So, they called the Dems' bluff, voted no on the reasonable cuts and went for the big 'uns, because, hey, Bush was like two years ago at least and so no one remembers that it was these exact policies that drove us into the ditch. They figured that there weren't any Democrats willing to fight back, but both the House and now Sanders are willing to play chicken.

It's negotiation brinksmanship, and it's a shame that Democrats won't run hard on the Voted Against 9/11 = Republicans love Bin Laden ticket, or even They Tried To Fuck You With Rich Dicks slogans, because even though the Republicans are far right, the Democrats are kind of center right (with a few leftist sympathies thrown in, but frankly, there aren't any real viable leftists in American politics on the national level). Which means that their electioneering money comes from the same pockets.
posted by klangklangston at 1:46 PM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


...their electioneering money comes from the same pockets.

winner winner, shit sandwich dinner
posted by unSane at 1:48 PM on December 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


Clinton looks like he could talk all night.
posted by fixedgear at 1:52 PM on December 10, 2010


Meta-Bernie - About 20 years or so ago I was going to vote in the local Burlington, VT elections. Bernie was running for something or another. He came up to me outside the school and I swear he was a homless guy looking for some change... but he introduced himself as a candidate and I voted for him (and ever since). It's great to see that he is still around and keeping everyone thinking.

I believe that he is the only politician that gives a crap anymore.
posted by alfanut at 1:54 PM on December 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


Oh hey the U word.

Usury!
posted by The Whelk at 1:54 PM on December 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


Tell me again, how sabotaging this deal advances the idea that we need to tax the top 2% more?

Because if we don't pass something the top 2% will automatically be taxed more.


This is governance. You can't take your toys and go home. That is not doing your job.

In that case the Democrats should hold the line, because the Republicans won't take their toys and go home.


No, if we don't pass something, the top 2% will have their taxes PERMANENTLY EXTENDED because the people will get pissed that they are paying a lot more in taxes and force it.

Please, please, please get real. This is suicide in front of our faces! Why so stupid!

It feels good now but we will pay so hard you will cry.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:56 PM on December 10, 2010


My point is that if you lunch choices are a 6" shit sub or a 12" shit sub you might want to look into the catering.

That's not a actual choice, so 6" or 12"?
posted by nomadicink at 1:57 PM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Holy fuck, Ironmouth has lost his words. Maybe he donated them to Bernie.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:57 PM on December 10, 2010


I need a little pick me up.

nomadicink, you should find a way to listen if possible. This ENTIRE THING is a pick me up. I've been listening for four-ish hours now.
posted by rollbiz at 1:58 PM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Everyone wants the <>

I love how the house is playing chicken when the GOP will be taking it over in a month. This is why it is literally the stupidest move ever. Its like bluffing on the 2 of Clubs. No chance of it succeeding. Not a one.

posted by Ironmouth at 1:58 PM on December 10, 2010


No, if we don't pass something, the top 2% will have their taxes PERMANENTLY EXTENDED because the people will get pissed that they are paying a lot more in taxes and force it.

How? What is their plan to make that happen? If the president and Democrats stand up to them and obstruct like Republicans do they can't stop anything they want.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:58 PM on December 10, 2010


*can stop.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:58 PM on December 10, 2010


Ironmouth: To "PERMANENTLY EXTEND" tax cuts on the wealthy, they'd have to get either a 2/3 majority (which they won't get) or get the President to sign it.

If you're basing your case on Obama signing a permanent extension, then you might have an argument. Without that, I'm not seeing it.

And: as disappointed as many of us are right now in Obama, I still don't think he's deluded enough to be talked into signing a permanent extension bill.
posted by lodurr at 2:04 PM on December 10, 2010


furiousxgeorge: "If the president and Democrats stand up to them and obstruct like Republicans do they can't stop anything they want."

Since the Republicans have a massive, relentless media machine, Obama and the Democrats will get tarred as tax-raising obstructionists and it will ruin them.

Think about it... the Senate GOP just filibustered health care for 9/11 rescue workers because it was too expensive. While simultaneously fighting for billions of dollars in tax cuts for billionaires by holding unemployment insurance hostage. And they are suffering zero blowback in the media. Because there isn't a Fox-News-like apparatus out there designed to savage Republicans on an hourly basis.
posted by Rhaomi at 2:05 PM on December 10, 2010 [11 favorites]


That's not a actual choice.

If you keep buying shit sandwiches they will keep making them. Why wouldn't they?
posted by unSane at 2:06 PM on December 10, 2010


Because there isn't a Fox-News-like apparatus out there designed to savage Republicans on an hourly basis.

Obama has a bully pulpit which he absolutely refuses to use except to criticize the left for having believed, you know, his campaign promises.

He was all full of piss and vinegar on the campaign trail. Now, with a Republican party whose stated goal is to do anything they can to sabotage his presidency, he's all bipartisan compromise.

Just ask yourself for a moment what GWB would have done in the same situation. God knows, I don't miss the old bastard but he knew how to strong-arm the opposition when it was necessary.

Fox are going to excoriate Obama no matter what he does, so I've no idea what all this tippy-toeing is supposed to achieve.
posted by unSane at 2:11 PM on December 10, 2010 [16 favorites]


I applaud this, but after about 45 minutes I have to say it's kind of mind-numbing. Anyone who is obligated to be in the Senate chamber for work ought to get hazard pay.

They already do; most senators are zombies.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 2:12 PM on December 10, 2010


I see this all of the time. I don't know what is meant by it. Is he supposed to duke it out with someone? Or is it that he is supposed to yell and scream and make it seem to you like he really, really cares about this? Because if that is it, it still does not get the policy advanced. And that is the only goddamned thing that counts. Us feeling all warm like we just watched an episode of The West Wing does nothing. This is real life.

The thing is, I and a lot of others consider "showing that the Republicans are full of shit and are obstructing any policy advance, including on issues with vast public support" to itself be an important policy worth advancing. Of course legislators can't "take their ball and go home" when the going gets tough (Evan Bayh notwithstanding), but letting a few bills fail so that you get to show precisely who is making them fail could be damn well worth pursuing. Saying that legislators have to continue doing their jobs is not the same as saying they have to strike every single sellout compromise possible just to get "something" passed.

Take the tax cuts, for instance. First of all, the Dems should've started, in January 2009, referring to the situation as the "Bush tax bomb" or somesuch and simultaneously started advocating the "Obama American Families Tax cut" - consistent messaging that Bush got us into a major snafu and dems would be getting us out of it ASAP. Then, submit a bill re-instating the cuts up to $250K. And if the bill fails - LET IT FAIL. Dare the republicans to vote against a tax cut! And let everyone know whose fault it was if it fails! This is not the bank bailout, there will not be an immediate slide into a great depression if the tax cut had failed. Americans are something like 60-40 in favor of raising taxes on the rich - the dems should tell them that they damn well mean to put that policy into effect and it is the republicans who are preventing the will of the people from being done.

And the republicans are not going to be doing any tax cutting in the new Congress, not by themselves, because they still don't have a majority in the Senate. Obama doesn't even need to veto anything if the Senate can get its shit together, but he should be willing to. He should stick to his guns on a policy Americans support rather than folding to the minority party at every turn, period.
posted by rkent at 2:12 PM on December 10, 2010 [20 favorites]


And they are suffering zero blowback in the media. Because there isn't a Fox-News-like apparatus out there designed to savage Republicans on an hourly basis.

That's because way too many liberals and progressives and such want so badly to be reasonable and moderate. That's what the whole Jon Stewart march was all about. When Maddow or Schultz or anybody actually gives a little back, the moderates whine "be reasonable" and "Keith Olbermann is just as bad as Rush Limbaugh and David Duke put together".

Obama really seems to think he can negotiate with people who have no interest in negotiating. It's revealing that, again, he seems to feel more passion against the left of his own party than against his sworn enemies in the Republican Party.

It's like Lucy swiping the football away from Charlie Brown. Again and again and again.
posted by jhandey at 2:14 PM on December 10, 2010 [8 favorites]


Since the Republicans have a massive, relentless media machine, Obama and the Democrats will get tarred as tax-raising obstructionists and it will ruin them.

I'm okay with that, I prefer elected officials who fight my policies more than they fight for re-election. If America wants to elect someone else who does bad things to them, that isn't my responsibility. As we saw with Bush by the end, the best way to illustrate to people not to vote for Republicans is to let them try and govern. It's too bad America has a short memory, but I can't change that.

It's not worth sacrificing long term priorities for short term goals on an issue as major as these tax cuts, no matter the consequences.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:14 PM on December 10, 2010


If you keep buying shit sandwiches they will keep making them. Why wouldn't they?

You never answered the question, 6" or 12"? If your choices are a lot of bad or less bad, which would you choose?
posted by nomadicink at 2:20 PM on December 10, 2010


In addition:

No, if we don't pass something, the top 2% will have their taxes PERMANENTLY EXTENDED because the people will get pissed that they are paying a lot more in taxes and force it.

I'm sorry, but this is the rhetoric of cowardice that so many people are so sick of and angered by. The republicans are getting a majority in one house in January. They absolutely CANNOT pass a permanent extension of the Bush tax cuts without democratic capitulation, both in the senate and in the white house.

Whereas if the Senate would stick to their guns and/or Obama would dare to veto, they could in theory still set up a showdown where the dems are advocating a VERY POPULAR POLICY INCLUDING TAX CUTS FOR 98% OF AMERICANS, and republicans are obstructing it by extracting concessions for the very rich.

Why are you acting like the world would end if the democrats stood up for something and backed it up with a solid media campaign? If the bill doesn't pass, life will go on. Hell, they could even make the low-end tax cut retroactive if it passes during 2011 - it doesn't actually have to be done in the next 3 weeks. I suppose you'll come back with "the republicans would love it if they tried," but I think you underestimate how much people despise the democrats because they're losers who won't stand up for anything and keep getting rolled by the republicans.

I mean, something like 60% of Americans support raising the high-end income tax while keeping the low-end rate the same. The democrats want to pass exactly this policy. Why should they piss that away? Why? And why should those 60% of Americans respect or support them if they do?
posted by rkent at 2:24 PM on December 10, 2010 [16 favorites]


Americans don’t approve of keeping the breaks for upper-income taxpayers that are part of the deal President Barack Obama brokered with congressional Republicans, a Bloomberg National Poll shows.

The survey, conducted before, during and after the tax negotiations, shows that only a third of Americans support keeping the lower rates for the highest earners.
Even among backers of the cuts for the wealthy, fewer than half say they should be made permanent.


Yes, even with the massive, relentless media machine of the Republicans. It isn't an all powerful juggernaut we always have to surrender to.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:29 PM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


You never answered the question, 6" or 12"? If your choices are a lot of bad or less bad, which would you choose?

Hunger strike. And then go on every media outlet that will have you and say "hey, I noticed that they are serving shit sandwiches around here and I for one am not going to take it anymore. America, are you with me? Or do you want the 6 inch?"
posted by rkent at 2:29 PM on December 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


If your choices are a lot of bad or less bad, which would you choose?

I personally will not vote for a person in the shit sandwich business. (I'm not a US citizen but I would have voted for Obama in the what-turns-out-to-be-utterly-mistaken belief that he was trying his damnedest to get out of the shit sandwich business. He would never get my vote again.)

Also, doesn't anyone miss Rahm Emmanuel about now?
posted by unSane at 2:30 PM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ironmouth: Clinton won for the country in the long run by letting the government shut down. Personally, I think the HCR is bad policy. Brinksmanship has its place; you can't always blink first.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 2:35 PM on December 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


Even among backers of the cuts for the wealthy, fewer than half say they should be made permanent

As a similar point, a majority of people making $250,000 or more voted for Obama despite his statements in the campaign that he would roll back the Bush tax cuts on income over $250,000. Support for this is broad and even exists among those affected by it. It's pretty damn sad that such a minority view (extend for all) is likely to prevail.
posted by wildcrdj at 2:35 PM on December 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


Hunger strike.

That's not getting much done, that's grandstanding.

I'm not a US citizen

Oh, then go away and worry about your own country.
posted by nomadicink at 2:36 PM on December 10, 2010


Oh, then go away and worry about your own country.


No, thanks. I'm quite happy here.
posted by unSane at 2:37 PM on December 10, 2010


this is high politics.
posted by clavdivs at 2:38 PM on December 10, 2010


jhandey: "It's like Lucy swiping the football away from Charlie Brown. Again and again and again."

I've seen this comparison a few times lately, and I don't think it's quite accurate. Lucy actually bothered to pretend to be playing football with Charlie Brown.
posted by brundlefly at 2:39 PM on December 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


i smell constitional convention
posted by clavdivs at 2:39 PM on December 10, 2010


You never answered the question, 6" or 12"?

Why, I think I'd have the 12", with some I Can't Believe It's An Analogy! spread very, very thin.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 2:40 PM on December 10, 2010 [6 favorites]


In a post about Bernie Sanders why are we arguing the merits of eating shit sandwiches of varying lengths? If Vermonters can nosh on a tasty meatball sub, so can you.
posted by Esteemed Offendi at 2:40 PM on December 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


5:30 PM:, Bernie is reading letters from middle class vermonters who are burning their furniture to keep warm, going without food, and walking 8 miles to work in the cold because they can't afford gas. Do you think Mitch McConnel has his iPod on while Bernie is orating or can't they do that? I wish they would pan to Mitches' face was in a while. He probably looks like he is having to eat a shit sandwich. Go Bernie!
posted by Xurando at 2:41 PM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Lucy actually bothered to pretend to be playing football with Charlie Brown.

Yes, that's exactly it.

This is more like Lucy stating repeatedly in the national media that her aim was to make sure that Charlie Brown made a complete ass of himself by never ever actually letting him kick the ball.

And him going for it every time anyway, while releasing statements about her good faith.
posted by unSane at 2:42 PM on December 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


GO BERNIE!
posted by clavdivs at 2:42 PM on December 10, 2010


Talk remains cheap.
posted by buzzman at 2:43 PM on December 10, 2010




Sanders/Pelosi '12
posted by vibrotronica at 2:44 PM on December 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


levin sec. def.
posted by clavdivs at 2:47 PM on December 10, 2010


This ENTIRE THING is a pick me up.

He really is killing it.

I wish they would pan to Mitches' face was in a while.

I'm sure the chamber is mostly empty. This (incredible) speech is for TV. And history.

GO BERNIE! Speak truth to power, brother.

"The very reasons I'm down here today, and I've been here for a few hours ..."

lol.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:49 PM on December 10, 2010


Ironmouth,

I noticed you are in DC, work in politics? I'm guessing an advocacy group or in the administration. Care to comment?
posted by dibblda at 2:49 PM on December 10, 2010


That's not getting much done, that's grandstanding.

Sorry, I have to disagree. I think maybe the shit-sandwich analogy may have outlived its usefulness; to be clear about what I'm talking about, I don't believe the options are limited to "republicans get everything they want" vs. "republicans get 75% of what they want." I believe that there is a time to just stop, refuse to go down a terrible path, and explain to everyone why you stopped and what you're ultimately trying to get done.

And just so you guys don't think I'm a total nut, I think there are times to play this game of chicken and times not to. For instance, I myself would not support a third party or a primary challenge because I think every office occupied by a democrat is a marginal improvement over having that office occupied by a republican. But as to specific, non-emergency bills (and face it, most bills are not emergencies), you just can't always be willing to sell the farm for the sake of "bipartisanship" or "compromise" or "getting things done."

Because here's the thing. I personally may be persuaded that voting for a democrat is a marginal improvement, but how can I explain or defend that position to less politically engaged people if the democrats a) never get what they want, and b) never even try particularly hard to get what they want, even when they have majorities in both houses? I mean I'm sorry, but I can't sell that. And it's frustrating as hell that democrats keep putting their supporters in a position to try to sell that.
posted by rkent at 2:50 PM on December 10, 2010 [7 favorites]


I applaud this, but after about 45 minutes I have to say it's kind of mind-numbing. Anyone who is obligated to be in the Senate chamber for work ought to get hazard pay.

Jeez, I'm an hour in and I find it riveting. He is better at talking extemporaneously after seven hours about a complex issue than many of his colleagues in Congress are at reding prepared statements about simple issues. Seven hours in and he's still articulate, balanced, and passionate. Bernie Sanders has just dealt my cynicism a cruching blow, and that is saying something.
posted by googly at 2:51 PM on December 10, 2010 [8 favorites]


Never ever underestimate the value of political theater. See also: Palin.
posted by unSane at 2:55 PM on December 10, 2010


dude is harsh on his helpers... *snaps fingers*
posted by PenDevil at 3:00 PM on December 10, 2010


and just so you guys don't think I'm a total nut, I think there are times to play this game of chicken and times not to.

But this is not the time. Dems should have done this in October. But Pelosi caved to the caucus. Now they are in revolt. Why didn't they do it then?

Here's the thing, if those cuts die, there will be incredible pressure on the Congress to pass the same cuts next year. But the Dems position will be totally way, way, way worse. And the GOP is going to push for permanent cuts for all. And they will be in the drivers seat because the House is more powerful in getting legislation pushed (rather than stopping it).

More importantly, an issue like this is perfect for a presidential election year. We have a much better chance of winning on this issue in 2012. Much better. We have no chance of winning this one because they can run out this clock and wait until they get in power. It will be unemployment benefits on the table for PERMANENT extensions of these cuts. Already DeMint says he wants to fight this bill now to get permanent cuts.

The sunset provision is powerful and will help us greatly. But not now when we are about to lose our majority. It makes zero sense. If they are so damned up in arms about it now, where the hell were they eight weeks ago? Bernie, why didn't you filibuster then? We could have used you then, when we had a chance and the GOP did not know what the next Congress would have looked at.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:11 PM on December 10, 2010


Ironmouth,

I noticed you are in DC, work in politics? I'm guessing an advocacy group or in the administration. Care to comment?


Federal Employment and Labor lawyer, Union-side, employee side. I've never worked in any of those areas. Would love to work in the Administration.

But if I worked in the Administration I'd be breaking every rule in the book to come on here.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:12 PM on December 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


still going!
posted by The Whelk at 3:13 PM on December 10, 2010


I mean I'm sorry, but I can't sell that. And it's frustrating as hell that democrats keep putting their supporters in a position to try to sell that.

I think this might be part of why there aren't any Limbaugh style figures on the left in America. There are a few like Olbermann, but how can he do the job of demagoguing for Obama when Obama is trying to convince everyone to support policies people like Olbermann have been in the lead in railing against for years? So of course Olbermann calls him out, splitting his viewers in half between the people who agree with Olbermann and those who agree with Obama.

Now we have totally disunified messaging and instead of trying to convince everyone outside the liberal echo chamber why the tax breaks are a bad idea we have to expend all our energy debating it with ourselves.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:15 PM on December 10, 2010


But as to specific, non-emergency bills (and face it, most bills are not emergencies), you just can't always be willing to sell the farm for the sake of "bipartisanship" or "compromise" or "getting things done."

Why now? Now we have no power and cannot possibly win. They will hold the majority in the House and we will be diminished in the Senate. The GOP wants these tax cuts to run out and they will be in a much better position come January to fight on this issue. Instead, we need to run on this issue in an election year. This is a lame-duck congress! How could we succeed? The GOP is gonna be so scared that they are going to cave in? Why?

Little Big Horn is what this is.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:16 PM on December 10, 2010


Clinton/Clinton '12
posted by Ad hominem at 3:18 PM on December 10, 2010


Because here's the thing. I personally may be persuaded that voting for a democrat is a marginal improvement, but how can I explain or defend that position to less politically engaged people if the democrats a) never get what they want, and b) never even try particularly hard to get what they want, even when they have majorities in both houses

How can you say that they "never get what they want?" Only if you declare "getting what they want" as 100% of the biggest wish list ever.

And what is not "trying particularly hard?" The HCR bill was a massive 12-month slog that was declared dead many times over. But they kept on fighting, despite massive opposition. The GOP en masse voted against it. Every single GOP senator. Every single GOP House Member. It was a titanic battle the GOP lost and the Dems won.

What about Health Care Reform? We got what we wanted there. What about the Stimulus Package? We got what we wanted there. What about Financial Services Reform? We got what we wanted there.

If this was a do-nothing Congress, then sure. But damn! They passed a ton of massive legislation--one bill in particular being the biggest change to US Healthcare ever, bar none.

Why do you tell yourselves these things? They are simply not in accord with reality.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:21 PM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Listen to Bill Clinton, who has been there so many times and knows his stuff:
I think this a net plus. And you know how I feel, I think the people that benefit most should pay most. That's always been my position -- not for class warfare reasons, for reasons of fairness and rebuilding the middle class in America. But we have the distribution of authority we have now in the congress, and the one we're gonna have in January. And I think this is a much much better agreement than would be reached were we to wait until January, and I think it will have a much more positive agreement on the economy. So for whatever it's worth, that's what I think."

There is no better deal to be had. None. show me the votes that are gonna win the day for what we all want. And if we can't win today, we need to comeback and fight another day.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:24 PM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Stop apologizing for Obama, he is giving us a bad deal and is unwilling to fight for what is right. He lost my vote for 2012"

AMEN!!
posted by CRESTA at 3:24 PM on December 10, 2010


Man, he is on fire right now
posted by The Whelk at 3:28 PM on December 10, 2010


Heh, this thread is like a MeFilibuster.
posted by unSane at 3:29 PM on December 10, 2010


It's 6:28 PM Eastern time as I type this, and Bernie continues to speak truth to power.

For the last few hours, I've had the rare sensation of true hope and pride in a political voice. Sanders is a fucking hero.
posted by dbiedny at 3:31 PM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


There is no better deal to be had. None. show me the votes that are gonna win the day for what we all want. And if we can't win today, we need to comeback and fight another day.

I think the fundamental disconnect here is that to many people the tax cuts for the rich was the only issue here. And it is a big issue, a really big issue in practical and ideological values terms.

Health care reform was far from ideal, but getting some kind of serious reform really was the ideal at stake, and they got it done.

In this case, it is more like if Obama had said "Ok, no health care, but here is another $500 billion in tax breaks for everybody, ain't that great?"

Like sure, that is some good stuff, but weren't we talking about health care?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:31 PM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm still unclear as to why they pushed this till after the election. What was the political calculus, were the republicans less likely to deal because they were hoping for a dem bloodletting?

The dems are certainly not in a position of strength right now.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:34 PM on December 10, 2010


It's 6:28 PM Eastern time as I type this, and Bernie continues to speak truth to power.


Bernie is right on the facts. But his timing is terrible. This hurts us.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:39 PM on December 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Has he been to the bathroom?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:40 PM on December 10, 2010


What does it hurt? He isn't actually going to stop the vote.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:40 PM on December 10, 2010


The Dems pushed it off until after the election because both parties are owned by the richest 0.5%.
posted by benzenedream at 3:42 PM on December 10, 2010


Over 8 hours in, and Sanders hasn't stopped talking. More importantly, the whole thing as far as I can tell has been content - he hasn't been reading the phone book, he's been lecturing.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 3:43 PM on December 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


What does it hurt? He isn't actually going to stop the vote.

It could cause the GOP to think that they have a Dem revolt on their hands and back out of the deal for political gain. DeMint wants to sabotage this deal because he thinks that they can get a better one when they have the House and more seats in the Senate next year. DeMint is right.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:46 PM on December 10, 2010


Bernie is right on the facts. But his timing is terrible. This hurts us.

Man, people always say that. Civil rights? Timing is bad, it'll hurt us. Gay rights? Timing is bad, it'll hurt us.

The time is never wrong for truth, and if we're hurt by gestures of conscience, we don't deserve to win.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:48 PM on December 10, 2010 [27 favorites]


If they are so damned up in arms about it now, where the hell were they eight weeks ago? Bernie, why didn't you filibuster then? We could have used you then, when we had a chance and the GOP did not know what the next Congress would have looked at.

Hey, I'm with you there.
posted by rkent at 3:48 PM on December 10, 2010


Clone Bernie Sanders.
posted by Hobbacocka at 3:51 PM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


isberniesandersstilltalking.com
posted by NoraReed at 3:52 PM on December 10, 2010



It could cause the GOP to think that they have a Dem revolt on their hands and back out of the deal for political gain. DeMint wants to sabotage this deal because he thinks that they can get a better one when they have the House and more seats in the Senate next year. DeMint is right.


If there was a Dem revolt there would be no reason for them to do anything, much better to let the Democrats implode on their own. If they were as confident in their abilities to get a better deal later as you are, they would not have signed on in the first place.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:52 PM on December 10, 2010


Over 8 hours in, and Sanders hasn't stopped talking.

I just tuned in. This is flat-out amazing.
posted by Devils Rancher at 3:58 PM on December 10, 2010


I just tuned in.

- Let me conclude.

Doh
posted by The Whelk at 3:58 PM on December 10, 2010


Have I missed anything?
posted by vverse23 at 3:59 PM on December 10, 2010


AND HE'S DONE
posted by The Whelk at 3:59 PM on December 10, 2010


And it's over!
posted by rollbiz at 4:00 PM on December 10, 2010


finished!
posted by QueerAngel28 at 4:00 PM on December 10, 2010


*wipes sweat off brow* Thank God that is over, the Republicans were THIS CLOSE to pulling out of the deal that let them extend the Bush tax cuts forever in exchange for not letting the unemployed starve for a year. I hope no liberal ever risks our treasured policy goals by talking about them at length again.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:02 PM on December 10, 2010 [5 favorites]


Heroic.
posted by Hobbacocka at 4:02 PM on December 10, 2010


What about Health Care Reform? We got what we wanted there.

Public Option.

In fact, if Obama had fought for the public option, he wouldn't be in this predicament with the left right now. We on the left needs to hold his feet to the fire until he starts to put us on his political balance sheet.
posted by vibrotronica at 4:03 PM on December 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


he just ended his filibuster
posted by liza at 4:03 PM on December 10, 2010


No, but he's still awesome!
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:04 PM on December 10, 2010


Well done, Mr. Sanders.
posted by Osrinith at 4:04 PM on December 10, 2010


To quote The GF, "I want to play poker with Obama."
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 4:04 PM on December 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


I just gave him 25 bucks cause wow he talked for 8 and a half hours.
posted by The Whelk at 4:05 PM on December 10, 2010


Oh, what the hell?! I just got home!
posted by dirigibleman at 4:09 PM on December 10, 2010


Well done, Bernie!

My favorite quote (of many) that I happened to be able to write down: "For the past 40 years, under both Democratic and Republican administrations... whenever the unemployment rate has been above 7.2%, unemployment insurance has ALWAYS been extended. This already has been bipartisan policy for 40 years, so I don't accept President Obama's contention that this is some sort of great compromise or gift."

So the fact that this was even a question when the (official) national unemployment rate is nearly 10% merely points to how utterly venal the GOP has become, and how utterly craven the Democrats are.
posted by scody at 4:30 PM on December 10, 2010 [8 favorites]


I walked into a coffee shop this afternoon which for some reason was playing Fox News and caught the moment when Obama was leaving Clinton at the podium alone to take questions. I thought, "Man, shit must be gettin' real up in there. Obama not only pulls out the big gun, he leaves it cocked and unsupervised. Dayum." It was a interesting deja vu moment to see Clinton standing at the presidential podium taking on the press.

he is giving us a bad deal

I don't think Obama is "giving" us this deal. He's only the messenger, and the message is that we have to take it or the deal could be a lot worse, for many, many innocent people. Unfortunately, when elephants dance, the grass suffers.

Clinton/Clinton '12

If such a ticket were constitutionally allowed, I could get behind half of it, in part for the entertainment value. Unlike Obama, Clinton's got some real fight in him and knows how the political games are played, both in the open and behind closed doors. Obama can't seem to get rid of that wetness behind his ears, and seems to be remaining mostly about the theater of it all. Too bad that in this showing, the popcorn's cold, the candy has gone stale, and the soda machines are almost empty.
posted by fuse theorem at 4:33 PM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty broke, but I just kicked him $8.50, $1 for every hour he spoke.

For those of you who support what he did today but don't have a lot of dough, it might be a good way to make a cheap statement.
posted by rollbiz at 4:36 PM on December 10, 2010


vibrotronica: "Public Option. "
Independent Sen. Joseph Lieberman said Tuesday he would join a Republican filibuster to block the final vote on any health care bill that has a government-run public health insurance option. Lieberman's vote is crucial to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's hopes of passing a health care bill that includes the controversial public option. Lieberman said he would support a vote to launch debate on the health care bill but would oppose a motion to end debate if the public option remains in the legislation. Democrats would need 60 votes in the 100-member Senate to close debate on the bill, and the Democratic caucus has 60 members, including Lieberman.
Sure, maybe they could have finagled things a little better so that his vote wasn't necessary. Or maybe they could have pressured and/or enticed him more effectively. But something tells me that he would have done it anyway, or if not him then someone else. When a unanimous 60-vote caucus is required, every member has tremendous leverage and knows it.

Also, this is where the irritation over perceived whining over lack of perfection comes from. We didn't get a public option -- but we covered millions of people and boosted funding for health centers and reined in insurance abuses and abolished pre-existing conditions and shrunk the deficit. A successful bill with all this and no public option is better than a defeated bill with all this (or likely without some of it due to public option negotiations) and a public option.

ChurchHatesTucker: "To quote The GF, "I want to play poker with Obama.""

I heard a quote from some old acquaintances of his recently that he plays poker rather conservatively, never risking either an outsize victory or a crippling defeat. Sounds about right to me.
posted by Rhaomi at 4:36 PM on December 10, 2010


You can make the argument that we are better off long term with health care as it passed Rhaomi, can you make a long term argument that permanent Bush tax cuts are good?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:41 PM on December 10, 2010


Jesus Ironmouth. Where were the votes for an HCR bill that actually reformed health care? Well, we don't live in a universe in which the Democrats made it clear that they prioritized passing GOOD legislation over passing ANY legislation, where this administration placed pressure on Blue Dogs to fall in line and vote for the progressive legislative priorities he campaigned on, instead of vice versa, where the left had a coherent messaging strategy and successfully put out their narrative, their terms and framing for each issue and made clear that if bills failed, it was the fault of Republicans instead of the fault of those "fucking retarded" progressives, and where Obama didn't immediately surrender every bargaining chip Democrats have in advance in a futile attempt to appease either an entire party that repeatedly announced, in public, that they would vote against him on every issue, or massive industries that campaigned against Democrats in the midterms anyway. No, we certainly don't live in such a universe, so to answer your question, let me just pull on my alternate reality goggles and check out the Earth-2 Congressional Record to see who v--

Wait a minute! Those don't exist, and your argumentative tactic is bullshit, and you're smart enough to know it! (Otherwise I'd ask you where the 67 votes would come from that you're so sure will force an across-the-board tax cut through a veto if Democrats don't shut up and vote for this deal immediately)

The worst part is that you're basically arguing: the tactics the Democraqts used during the HCR nightmare failed to get the votes we needed to pass a good bill then, so we CAN'T switch tactics and actually stop capitulating NOW! This is like having a broken watch, and trying to fix it for a while by smearing shit all over the face and hoping that that'll fix it. Only it doesn't, andNobel Prize-winning watch repairmen agree that the right move is to replace the battery, and a majority of Americans want you to replace the battery, but instead of replacing the battery, you hold press conferences where you castigate your allies who want you to replace the battery and urge them to come together and help you smear shit all over this watch already, because the mean Republicans are coming and they want to drop the watch in a flaming bag of shit and that's much worse!!! And sure, the Senate and the President could easily prevent them from doing that, but why change tactics now, just because this shit-massage strategy was so ineffective that it led to resounding Democratic losses 5 weeks ago?

Simply unbelievable how typical this all is at this point.
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 4:42 PM on December 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


It's been occurring to me that the centrists who want us to compromise with the Republicans the most hold the worst opinion of them.

Republicans will never extend unemployment if we don't give them these tax cuts. Really? They will sit there and watch millions of people in fucking America starve to make a point about tax cuts or some shit? Cartoonish super-villainy.

They will play hardball and block them while they know the Democrats are still negotiating, but in the end they have basic human decency just like us, plus they have to win elections. They aren't immune to bad press, no matter how much liberals whine about Fox.

They will really, when there is no more negotiating and the Democrats have left the table over the tax cuts for the rich...not vote to make sure taxes don't go up on poor people and the middle class during a recession and send millions of families out to live on the street?

They aren't bond villains, they will do the right thing if you make them.

This is the shock doctrine at work, scaring the liberals to go along with a bad deal because otherwise the Republicans will burn the country down. They won't.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:51 PM on December 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is the shock doctrine at work, scaring the liberals to go along with a bad deal because otherwise the Republicans will burn the country down. They won't.

Or if they do cause a catastrophic mess, e.g. the US Federal Government Shutdown of 1995, it is entirely possible to make people understand whose fault that is.
posted by benzenedream at 4:58 PM on December 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


furiousxgeorge: "You can make the argument that we are better off long term with health care as it passed Rhaomi, can you make a long term argument that permanent Bush tax cuts are good?"

Of course not, but that's not what's on the table. Right now congressional Dems have the option of passing a two-year extension along with a lot of other needed items (unemployment insurance, EITC expansion, etc.), whose expiration will be easier to handle during a presidential election season than now, right after a midterm drubbing.

The alternative? Punting the issue to next year's GOP-dominated House and even-more-tenuously-Democratic Senate. The deal coming out of that body will almost certainly be a crappier one than this. And since the GOP will be officially setting the terms, it will be easier for them to paint the Dems as ideologues raising everyone's taxes through stubborn obstruction, a charge that will stick better thanks to the aforementioned messaging machine.

And if that deal is refused and taxes do go up for everyone? That threatens to hobble the economic recovery, endangering the 2012 race.

Republicans will never extend unemployment if we don't give them these tax cuts. Really? They will sit there and watch millions of people in fucking America starve to make a point about tax cuts or some shit? Cartoonish super-villainy. They will play hardball and block them while they know the Democrats are still negotiating, but in the end they have basic human decency just like us, plus they have to win elections. They aren't immune to bad press, no matter how much liberals whine about Fox.

How many Americans die or go bankrupt every year due to absurd medical costs? And just how much flak did Republicans take for so transparently opposing any attempt to reform that broken system?

Never underestimate the electorate's ability to misattribute blame, especially when they're scared and hurting.
posted by Rhaomi at 5:00 PM on December 10, 2010


Never underestimate the electorate's ability to misattribute blame, especially when they're scared and hurting.

And also especially when you can't stop pushing a meme that both sides have just some super great ideas and are both really eager to get us out of this mess that we're in and do the right thing for the majority of Americans.
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 5:06 PM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Really? They will sit there and watch millions of people in fucking America starve to make a point about tax cuts or some shit?

Yes. I really do believe that. After all, they repeatedly talk about how they make themselves successful, how unemployment keeps people from seeking work, how it's bad to accept government handouts. I don't think they believe in unemployment insurance at all.
posted by wildcrdj at 5:10 PM on December 10, 2010


Of course not, but that's not what's on the table. Right now congressional Dems have the option of passing a two-year extension

Uh-huh, two years, right.

whose expiration will be easier to handle during a presidential election season than now, right after a midterm drubbing.


Yes, Barack Obama will campaign on his ability to make a Republican dominated congress raise taxes on the rich when he couldn't get Democrats to do it and it will work very well. Everyone will believe him and start putting those Hope posters back up. Obama girl is working on another video as we speak.

The alternative? Punting the issue to next year's GOP-dominated House and even-more-tenuously-Democratic Senate.


Where we can still filibuster or veto anything we want, this time after making it clear the tax cuts for the rich are under no circumstances acceptable.

The deal coming out of that body will almost certainly be a crappier one than this.

This deal is only not fatally crappy in a universe where there is another option for preventing the tax cuts for the rich from becoming permanent. There isn't, this is the only chance. The deal has to make up for that sacrifice in the long term, short term economic stimulus doesn't cut it.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:11 PM on December 10, 2010


Yes. I really do believe that. After all, they repeatedly talk about how they make themselves successful, how unemployment keeps people from seeking work, how it's bad to accept government handouts. I don't think they believe in unemployment insurance at all.

Some don't, but unemployment has enough support among the sane Republicans that it has always been extended in previous recessions.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:13 PM on December 10, 2010


From the way his presidency has gone, if I played Obama at poker his hand would consist of a two of clubs, a four of spades, Colonel Mustard, Advance to the Nearest Utility and whatever the worst Magic the Gathering card is.
posted by Artw at 5:18 PM on December 10, 2010 [12 favorites]


Artw: that's the best hand there IS in 12-dimensional poker!
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 5:28 PM on December 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


... and the first thing he'd do is turn the cards over so you could see.
posted by unSane at 5:30 PM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Uh-huh, two years, right."

That's what the proposal is, yes.

"Yes, Barack Obama will campaign on his ability to make a Republican dominated congress raise taxes on the rich when he couldn't get Democrats to do it and it will work very well. "

I was thinking more along the lines of campaigning to raise taxes on the wealthy now that the recovery is steady and the deficit is a more pressing issue. Which will hopefully be the case -- if not, then he's probably screwed no matter what he does.

"Where we can still filibuster or veto anything we want, this time after making it clear the tax cuts for the rich are under no circumstances acceptable."

Which is a favorable situation for the GOP. Democrats had their chance to paint the Republicans as tax-raising obstructionists with the failed votes to extend the cuts for the sub-$250k and sub-$1m households, which wasn't very effective in a post-midterm lame duck session. Next year, Republicans will be the ones proposing legislation. As long as it looks like Democrats are the ones obstructing a deal, especially when the effects of that hold-up are actually being felt by the public, they'll take the brunt of the blame. And the longer a deal is held up, the slower the economic recovery is, which is what Republicans have apparently wanted since Obama's inauguration.

I'm not saying this is definitely how it's going to play out if no deal is made. But it's a distinct possibility, and if it does go that way it will be much more harmful than a compromise now will be.
posted by Rhaomi at 5:31 PM on December 10, 2010


I was thinking more along the lines of campaigning to raise taxes on the wealthy now that the recovery is steady and the deficit is a more pressing issue. Which will hopefully be the case -- if not, then he's probably screwed no matter what he does.

The status of the recovery is irrelevant to Republican opinion the tax cuts, and there is no one else he needs to convince. The people already agree the cuts have to go.

Which is a favorable situation for the GOP. Democrats had their chance to paint the Republicans as tax-raising obstructionists with the failed votes to extend the cuts for the sub-$250k and sub-$1m households,

They had a chance, but they didn't take it since they made it clear they were purely symbolic votes and the real votes were yet to come. You can't paint someone as obstructionist when you don't let them finish obstructing.

Next year, Republicans will be the ones proposing legislation. As long as it looks like Democrats are the ones obstructing a deal, especially when the effects of that hold-up are actually being felt by the public, they'll take the brunt of the blame.

Taking the blame for standing up for a popular position is okay. If the Republicans want to consider the tax cuts for everyone else we could still do that. With the bully pulpit of the presidency you can set the narrative if you desire to.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:49 PM on December 10, 2010


CSPAN 2 is showing a replay, if anyone who missed it wants to catch some of it.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:52 PM on December 10, 2010


whatever the worst Magic the Gathering card is

Maybe something like this?
posted by wildcrdj at 6:03 PM on December 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


Rhaomi, what political price did Lieberman pay for blocking the President and Speaker Reid's top priority to come to an up-or-down vote? We're not talking about voting no because you don't agree with the legislation. We're talking about joining with the opposition party in using a procedural trick to thwart the will of your president (or at least the party you allegedly caucus with) and your party and the majority of the American people. There must be reprisal for that sort of betrayal. And yet, Lieberman retained his chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee. It's the thing he cherishes the most. They had the leverage to make him allow an up or down vote and they refused to use it. Party discipline, never a sure thing when you're talking about Democrats anyway, is crucial in this situation, because the enemy is displaying exceptional party discipline. Reid and Obama's refusal to impose some measure of party discipline is exactly why we're in this situation today, and I see no indication that either one of them realize that.
posted by vibrotronica at 6:04 PM on December 10, 2010


Bravo Bernie!
posted by peppito at 6:06 PM on December 10, 2010


Lieberman is the shit Magic: The Gathering card.
posted by Artw at 6:07 PM on December 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


But he trumps Harry Reid, doesn't he?
posted by unSane at 6:09 PM on December 10, 2010


Public Option.

In fact, if Obama had fought for the public option, he wouldn't be in this predicament with the left right now.


This. Exactly this. Exactly how many times did Obama vote against the public option? The answer is zero. Obama doesn't get to vote on anything ever. He only gets to say yes or no to what the Congress says. So who killed the Public Option? Blanche Lincoln and Joe Lieberman. Why can't you blame them?

Seriously, the entire theory of Obama sold out requires a magical theory of agency. Obama isn't responsible for only his own actions--he's responsible for every single democratic member of Congresses actions too. Because he has magical powers which can mind-control democrats and republicans. Its his fault the gop opposes everything, and its fault that some dems vote against things he wants. Why he is just failing to exert his magical mind control over everyone. If he only "fought" (whatever that means), then all of the Congress persons would just abandon, for no reason whatsoever, their opposition. Geez, why won't this guy "fight" to force people what to do? Doesn't he realize the magical powers he has?

Somebody please explain how he forces people to vote the way he wants. Please explain the mind control power.

More importantly, how is it that Clinton never brought HCR to a vote, and is judged to have "fought" for it, and Obama brought it to the floor and got it passed. Yet Obama is the "sellout." How is this?

Time to get real and analyze our actual political system that exists, not the magical one in people's minds.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:18 PM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hey Barack, look we have to tal. We had some fun time together. It was lots of fun in the beginning, but you and I both know the spark has faded and lately it seems we're heading in diffident directions. It's not you. Your just you. It's me. You said it yourself, I'm an idealistic liberal who can't accept the big picture that the compromises actually mean something for millions of Americans. I'm not saying we should breakup, but maybe we should just take some time apart. I need some space to think. May e a short absence will bring back the passion. Here have a tissue and wipe away those tears. I'll call you as soon as I've worked this thing out. Anyway I gotta go. If you really have to talk you can call me on Monday. Howard Dean, Allen Grayon, Nancy Pelosi and I are goIng skiing in New Hampshire this weekend.
posted by humanfont at 6:23 PM on December 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Obama has no vote on tax cuts either, and yet the news gave me headlines this week about the WHITE HOUSE making a tax cut deal with the GOP. How could that be? The president doesn't get to vote, silly media.

I'll be honest with you, I would have let them have their stupid fucking tax cut in exchange for the public option. At least the public option would be permanent. Better deal than trading permanent tax cuts for short term stimulus.

Anyway, my point is you can negotiate. If the Democrats were as firm in their beliefs as the Republicans are, they could have found a way to negotiate into some Republican votes for healthcare. If the Democrats will trade away their beliefs on the tax cut for a bag of goodies, a couple Republicans would do the same for the public option. There was no visible effort to try that, maybe he was doing it in the background but who knows?

If it was so fucking impossible though, he should not have said he was going to do it during the campaign.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:24 PM on December 10, 2010


Ironmouth, it is disingenous of you to pretend not to know what 'fight' means. Please substitute 'argue strongly in public and private' if it makes it harder for you to pretend to be stupid, which you aren't.
posted by unSane at 6:25 PM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I called his office to thank him today, you can too: DC (202) 224-5141 and Burlington (802) 862-0697
posted by serazin at 6:26 PM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Someone somewhere made the point that Obama has a fucking perfect batting record if you just imagine him arguing for the other team.
posted by unSane at 6:27 PM on December 10, 2010


If it was so fucking impossible though, he should not have said he was going to do it during the campaign.

Yeah. Exactly. It was like he described some fantastic molecular gastronomic confection full of umami and high in fiber and protein, packed with vitamins, low in cholesterol, zero trans fat. It was so good it was gonna blow your mind.

INT. COMMISSARY - TWO YEARS LATER

A sign reads: 'Shit sandwich. 6" or 12".'
posted by unSane at 6:31 PM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


vibrotronica: "Rhaomi, what political price did Lieberman pay for blocking the President and Speaker Reid's top priority to come to an up-or-down vote? "

Not enough, which is clearly one of the mistakes Reid made in handling the process. With a Pelosi-like majority leader in the Senate, who knows how much better the final bill would have been? (Of course, Pelosi did have a larger majority and a lower bar to clear).

But I'm not saying everything went smoothly -- mistakes were made, and a lot could have been done better. Point is, we got a reasonably strong model for healthcare reform despite those mis-steps, an achievement no other administration can claim. It's not perfect, but it's about the best that could be secured in that kind of political environment without sinking the entire effort.
posted by Rhaomi at 6:36 PM on December 10, 2010


Rhaomi, what political price did Lieberman pay for blocking the President and Speaker Reid's top priority to come to an up-or-down vote? We're not talking about voting no because you don't agree with the legislation. We're talking about joining with the opposition party in using a procedural trick to thwart the will of your president (or at least the party you allegedly caucus with) and your party and the majority of the American people. There must be reprisal for that sort of betrayal.

How, when there are exactly 60 dems in the Senate, is Lieberman going to be punished? Because if you fuck him over, he fucks you over. He has POWER. These are the solid facts. This isn't a TV episode where people get their comeuppance. This is a question of self interest and power. And that is how every system works. And the way to get things done is to learn how to bend that system to your will. It takes a lot of effort and you win some and lose some.

But I tell you now the worst thing to happen for Lieberman is that the GOP gained seats. He has less power now. His downfall is imminent.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:40 PM on December 10, 2010


Why couldn't they have just shoveled pork to Lieberman till he agreed to vote for the public option? Did they try?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:47 PM on December 10, 2010


If it was so fucking impossible though, he should not have said he was going to do it during the campaign.

Bullshit. Total bullshit. He's supposed to predict, during the campaign, exactly how hard it will be to get things done? He doesn't even know what the makeup of the House and Senate will be! Not only that, but this is after the midterms and this is like saying he's supposed toi predict the 2008 and the 2010 elections before making a prediction!

This is about people being disappointed that he has not provided emotional reactions they like rather than policy. These people are looking for the liberal Bush. Does stupid shit, accomplishes nothing, but makes you feel good about yourself. No thanks.

posted by Ironmouth at 6:54 PM on December 10, 2010


Ironmouth, don't do that thing where you childishly pretend the President is powerless just because he doesn't have a vote in Congress. You know damn well that he has ways of exerting pressure on Congresspeople, as he DOES with causes that he actually FIGHTS for. Like when he threatened to withdraw all suppport from anyone who didn't vote for the Afghanistan war reauthorization bill, saying that they'd be dead to the White House. Or by using his bully pulpit to advocate forcefully for a particular cause, like he's been doing for this tax cut "deal."

If he had no power, it wouldn't matter what kinds of deals he made behind closed doors, whether it's a rich white guy handjob like this tax deal, or an insurance company handjob like when he negotiated away the public option over the summer. But it does, because he's the fucking President, and he has ways of motivating his own party members and altering the public discourse when he deigns to do so.

Example one: the most effective way to FIGHT these tax cuts is not to say, firsthand or through your press secretary, "oh well obviously we don't think tax cuts on the highest income bracket should be permanent, but we're willing to work together with Republicans to reach a compromise that has bipartisan support." It's to hold a press conference and say "We're in our nation's worst economic crisis in 80 years. The middle class and less fortunate among us simply cannot afford higher taxes right now. But the most prosperous Americans can. We've seen from the last ten years that tax cuts for the rich don't create jobs, and we can't afford to blow a $700 billion hole in our deficit. Democrats in Congress understand this and want to give every single taxpayer a cut, but the Republicans say they won't let you get yours until they can guarantee even more for their richest friends. Write your Congresspersons and your local newspaper and demand that Republicans stop holding the middle class's recovery hostage for yet another bailout for millionaires." Can you divine a difference between those two statements? Is there any reason on Earth that you'd be saying the former if you actually gave a shit about the outcome?
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 6:55 PM on December 10, 2010 [9 favorites]


I adore Bernie Sanders. He soothes my dirty, low-down, no-good, unAmerican, pinko Socialist soul. I wish he could be president.
posted by perilous at 6:55 PM on December 10, 2010


Bullshit. Total bullshit. He's supposed to predict, during the campaign, exactly how hard it will be to get things done? He doesn't even know what the makeup of the House and Senate will be!

Haha, yeah, there was a chance he was going to get like 75 Dem senators! Then he maybe could have pulled it off!

Dude, if a 60 seat supermajority isn't going to do it, it isn't getting done.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:56 PM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


He's supposed to predict, during the campaign, exactly how hard it will be to get things done?

Well, yes, for Christ's sake. Not exactly, but roughly. Otherwise why wouldn't politicians simply promise the impossible?

We elect politicians who promise to do hard things because we expect them to move heaven and earth to do the hard things. A campaign promise is a promise not to be given up lightly, not an mumbling expression of a vague hope that something might be possible if the wind is blowing in the right direction.

So, anyway, that 12-dimensional chess thing seems to be working out real well this week, huh?
posted by unSane at 7:00 PM on December 10, 2010


Politics aside, Bernie is probably the most hugable congressperson in the country.

This is true. Like when he was comparing not doing anything about crumbling infrastructure to not getting your tooth filled when you first get a cavity -- "I should know! I've done it! And then you have to get root canals, and it's much more painful and expensive!" -- and I was all, awwww, Bernie, you should have called. I would have brought you something soft to eat.
posted by scody at 7:19 PM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Can you divine a difference between those two statements?

I'll take a stab. Bernie is saying WAKE THE FUCK UP because parisanship ptreeeety much went out the door month and half ago. nothing concrete or Iron.
posted by clavdivs at 7:24 PM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


he is telling the members of both house the people have had enough. bold and correct. Your bickering is meaningless, your wars meaningless, your drive for tax meangless. Gridlock has set in, the people will suffe, my brothers, this will soon become evident.
posted by clavdivs at 7:27 PM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Dude, if a 60 seat supermajority isn't going to do it, it isn't getting done.

There is a tianic difference between a 60 vote supermajority and a 61 vote supermajority.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:16 PM on December 10, 2010


No, there isn't, because the other one would be an ass like Lieberman too.

No-one buys the excuses any more, Ironmouth. You do a great job of explaining why this is the best of all possible worlds and nothing could possibly have gone any differently, but that is not a message of hope but defeat.
posted by unSane at 8:52 PM on December 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Black Evan Bayh.
posted by bardic at 9:17 PM on December 10, 2010


Dear Democratic Party Apologists,

I supposed it's fun to treat politics like a team sport, but keep this in mind: While you root for your chosen side, you should realize that neither team is what it claims to be. And neither one is on your side.

I suggest that you put aside this idea that you have a team out there. You don't, and it was never a good way to think in the first place.

Senator Sanders gave us a hint of something very important today, viz. the message that a real Democratic party might carry; you know, if it weren't just the leftish faction of the One Business Party.

Or, to put it another way: Today's Democrats would have been called moderate Republicans 40 years ago.

Just keep it in mind. Cheerleading does you no good. Building real parties, or fixing broken ones, might.
posted by anarch at 9:18 PM on December 10, 2010 [6 favorites]


i'm finding myself wishing that obama would decide to hang it up in 2012 - he does not know how to work congress or the bully pulpit - he is not enough of a fighter

this is not to say that he hasn't done anything - he has - or that this compromise, which sucks, isn't still necessary at this stage of the ballgame

but he is not an effective leader of his party, which a president needs to be - even though it would sure as hell help matters if the democratic party were effective followers

all i know is that he and his party had effective control of this government and they've played softball instead of hardball - they've blown it - and i see nothing good coming out of republican control of the house

part of the idea of change for america is that one can only hang around as long as he is an effective agent of that change

it's time to give someone else a shot at it in 2012
posted by pyramid termite at 9:30 PM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


When Senator Sanders came out of the chamber and he heard that Bill Clinton had spoken in favour of the tax extension bill, he said, "I think they are selling the American people short."

Without reflecting on it too much, you would take that to mean, "I think they are underestimating the American people." But if you actually think about the phrase (and say, look up "selling short" at english-for-students.com, or somewhere) you get:

Comes from short selling of stocks ... Selling short is used when investors believe the price of the stock is going down, and they wish to profit from that drop in price. They can sell a stock at today's price in anticipation of acquiring the stock at a lower future price.

Which, yeah.
posted by Trochanter at 9:45 PM on December 10, 2010 [9 favorites]


Fighting is impossible for Democrats, yet somehow Republicans seem to manage to fight for the policies they want. Maybe try doing what they do.

Okay, let me repeat this, since it never seems to register: The Republicans sole policy aim is to weaken the Federal government, particularly in areas related to regulation and taxation.

That means, basically, all Republicans need to do politically to achieve their policy aims is to thwart the effective functioning of the government. An inept, corrupt or gridlocked congress couldn't be a more perfect instrument for implementing the Republican agenda. The Democrat's agenda, on the other hand, is explicitly concerned with using Federal policy constructively: implementing regulations where they do the most good, spending on social programs that improve people's lives in measurable ways, etc.

Since the Republican's explicit political aim is to shrink (or even "dismantle") government bureaucracy and curtail the government's ability to regulate industry, provide social services, and otherwise interfere in the unimpeded machinations of the market, all they ever have to do is obstruct or bungle while in office to achieve their aims. Literally, they win by fucking up.

The Democrats, on the other hand, not only have to win, they almost have to be universally incorruptible and competent. The Democrats have a much bigger rock to roll up the hill than the Republicans do. The Republicans have a massive advantage in our system--because it was designed to make it far easier to obstruct legislation, particularly in the upper chamber, than to advance it.

(And yes, I realize the Senate can introduce legislation, but as I've already explained elsewhere dozens of times, the House is still by custom and tradition the body of the legislature whose role is primarily generating new legislation and setting the legislative agenda. The Speaker of the House is the third most powerful position in our government and third in line for presidential succession for a reason. The house effectively sets and advances the legislative agenda for the entire sausage factory. And in practice, the house leadership will determine what legislation lives or dies through it s control over scheduling and agenda setting.)
posted by saulgoodman at 10:11 PM on December 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


And FWIW, to the commenter up-thread urging those of us who don't share their knee-jerk skepticism of the Democrats and the current administration to burn our Democratic Party voter registration cards, I may consider doing that to my own Green Party voter registration card pretty soon just out of spite.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:15 PM on December 10, 2010


I'm not sure why anyone thinks that the Democrats have ever had 60 votes in the Senate. Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson are both Republicans.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 10:22 PM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


The entire speech on C-SPAN's website:
Part One
Part Two
Part Three
posted by HumuloneRanger at 10:23 PM on December 10, 2010 [5 favorites]


The system only slows things down. The people still get to vote, and not enough vote for what's good, even what's good for them. If the citizens were more progressive, then the politicians would follow. It's not like they're leading.
posted by snofoam at 10:57 PM on December 10, 2010


Listen.

When we come back from the recess, the GOP will control the House, the Dems will still control the Senate, and there will be a Democrat in the White House. The Dems are far from dead, they just need to learn to fucking strategize. (Step one would be getting Harry Reid out of his seat, but apparently he has photos of every Democrat in a gay orgy-coven or something.) Anyway...

Ironmouth, you know exactly what fighting looks like. Okay, maybe not exactly, per se, but you know the difference between working all angles to get shit done and not doing so. Yes, there will be compromise, and HRC provided a foundation by which one may, in the future, secure a public option. It was better than nothing, to be sure.

Still, you've got a bunch of freshman Republicans coming into the house. They'll be gung-ho and chock-full of the kool-aid, to be sure. But you know the thing that all freshman congresmen have in common (not all but in general, I guess) is that they come from districts which were voting the other way two years ago. They aren't used to the town yet, they are universally ambitious, and they are the least individually powerful members of congress. They can be leaned on. Ideology thrives in the senate, to be sure, but most members of the house live and die on pork and name-recognition. These things are exploitable.

As for the Senate? They've still got a majority. Get your fucking ducks in a row.

And the way you do that is by letting this bill not pass. Let the next congress swear in during panic mode, and use Sanders' 8.5 hours of substantive soundbites rule the airwaves in the interim. Come out to the podium and say, "On second thought, no. We're not going to be held hostage by billionaires who don't want to pay taxes, which are already at a lower rate than anyone else pays. If the Republicans want to be responsible for ending Unemployment Insurance during a jobs crisis - something they haven't done in the past forty years - they can try, but they will not succeed. I remain steadfast that I will work with those who will work with me. But I will no longer move an inch for those who offer only obstructionism. Happy Holidays, and I will see you in the new year."

And if you need one more example of what "fighting" looks like, I believe CSPAN 2 is still replaying today's senate feed.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:59 PM on December 10, 2010 [8 favorites]


2000 years since Rome fell because it couldn't pay its bills for -all- the same reasons. Now we're seeing closeup how that happened and why good people couldn't stop it.
posted by Twang at 12:08 AM on December 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


saulgoodman: The Republicans sole policy aim is to weaken the Federal government, particularly in areas related to regulation and taxation.

I'm sort of with you, but here's the thing: Republicans actually do not want a reduced role for the federal government -- they want a different role.

The Republican party is the part of the Federal-Industrial Complex, and has been so almost since birth. It was founded by northern business interests as an alternative to batshitinsane and southern-agrarian interests, evolved into a war-profiteering/reconstruction-profiteering party during and after the Civil War, and that set the pattern since.

What the Republican party wants is not necessarily less government; what it wants most of all is government that buys shit from them (preferably expensive shit like weapons), subsidizes the shit they want to sell (like corporate-farmed corn or soybeans) and sells them valuable shit like oil and minerals at fire sale prices, while placing more or less no regulatory burden on them w.r.t. safety or ethics.

It may seem like a "distinction without a difference" (to borrow a criticism from up thread), but there's actually a really important difference: Republicans who really wanted a genuinely smaller role for the fed would end up with a smaller Fed at the end of the day. The Republicans we have typically end up with a bigger Fed.
posted by lodurr at 4:35 AM on December 11, 2010 [9 favorites]


2000 years since Rome fell because it couldn't pay its bills for -all- the same reasons.

Ah, so that's why Rome fell: Deficit spending. Nothing at all to do with massive corruption, despotism, or imperialism. (Not that those wouldn't apply here, but...)
posted by lodurr at 4:36 AM on December 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


(also, in the historical nitfilter department: It's more like 1500 years. 2000 years ago the empire was approximately at its height.)
posted by lodurr at 4:37 AM on December 11, 2010


saulgoodman wrote The house effectively sets and advances the legislative agenda for the entire sausage factory. And in practice, the house leadership will determine what legislation lives or dies through it s control over scheduling and agenda setting.

I said it before, and I'll say it again: bullshit.

That wasn't true in the slightest when the Democrats ran the house, but you expect me to believe that it's true now that the Republicans run it?

You expect me to believe that the poor, powerless, Senate just can't stop the awesome power of the House?

Bullshit.

The Democrats have more than 50% of the votes in the Senate, they can filibuster absolutely anything they want to. There is no reason whatsoever why we magically have to acquess to 100% of the Republican demands now that they have the house.

I'm not saying they won't. I'm sure we'll get a steady stream of Republican victories between now and their glorious reclamation of both the Senate and the Presidency in 2012 and I'm sure Obama and the Senate Wimpocrats will facilitate that Republican victory by giving in to Republican demands at every turn. I'm equally sure that we'll hear all the talking heads repeating your bullshit about how, now that the Republicans control the House they magically basically run the government.

But let's not lie here please. The **HOUSE** just passed a bill that extended only the tax cuts for income below $250,000, and (amazingly for such an all powerful, legislation determining body) the Senate has killed that bill and told the Democrat controlled House to go fuck themselves. The exact polar opposite of what you claim must, inevitably, happen once the Republicans take over the House come January.

There is absolutely no reason but Democratic collusion and surrender why a 100% Republican agenda must go forward in 2011 and 2012.

We can stop them, but I'm sure you are right and we won't. But don't blame that on bullshit about how the House is super-powerful and the poor Senate just can't do anything to stop the juggernaut that is the House. That wasn't true when the Democrats held the House, so you don't get to pretend it is true when the Republicans do.

I know it's an amazing, horrifying, concept but we can be partisan too. We can filibuster **Republican** bills, I know it's a staggering, almost revolutionary, thing to consider. What's really amazing is that we won't even have to filibuster Republican bills beacuse the Democrats still have over 51% of the votes in the Senate, we don't even need a filibuster we just need to vote down Republican bills.

The 2011 Bill To Expand the PATRIOT Act and Implement Cavity Searches in Airports? We don't have to give them that, we can just vote it down in the Senate.

HB23435, to be introduced on August 15 of 2011, which requires all people earning under $250,000 a year to fellate one millionaire per month on penalty of being thrown into Guantanamo? Yeah, we don't have to pass that, we can just vote it down in the Senate.

HB3543, to be introduced on December 20 of 2011, which would increase the tax rate on unemployment benefits to 100%, just in time for Christmas, in order to "make being unemployed less attractive" doesn't have to be passed. We can vote it down in the Senate.

Or, and I know this is totally veering into fantasy land, Obama could (get ready, this is a hard concept) veto those bills even if (when) the Senate Democrats capitulate.

I know, not passing Republican demands is a radical departure for Democrats, but it is possible. Believe it or not, the Constitution does not contain a clause declaring that the House is all powerful (but only when held by Republicans, when held by Democrats the House is powerless and it's the Senate that's all powerful).

What I don't get is why you are so eager for us to believe that the House will magically become all important as soon as the Republicans take possession, it damn sure wasn't the case over the last two years, why should we change the rules now?

Yes, I agree that stopping things is easier than accomplishing things, yes there's a double standard. But you don't fix those problems by preemptively surrendering and just giving up.

What, exactly, do you expect to happen in the coming legislative session that will convince anyone to vote Democrat in 2012? A steady diet of Democrats capitulating, as you claim they must, to each and every Republican whim isn't going to get the base out voting for Democrats you know.

If, however, we work to change the narrative we might be able to get a victory or two. If we actually stand up and stop some Republican bullshit we might get something done.

But no. The magic has happened and now that the Republicans own it, the House is all that matters and all that has ever mattered, ignore the fact that for the past two years the House has been ignored and hasn't mattered at all.

Rhaomi wrote, WRT closing Guantanamo, Both the Senate and House blocked funding for closing the base and moving detainees to U.S. soil.

Please stop with this line. The issue is not, and never has been, about where the unconstitutionally detained victims of George W. Bush are illegally detained. This is not about whether or not we hold those people, without trials or even charges, on US soil or foreign soil. It is about the EXISTENCE of people held in cages, for life, without trials or charges.

Candidate Obama said it was horrible and unconstitutional, and I agreed. President Obama says he wants to keep 50 without ever giving them a trial, and will give only show trials to the rest and if by some miracle they are acquitted he will invoke his magic "post acquittal detention" powers and hold them in a cage for the rest of their lives anyway.

This isn't about where the cages are located, it's about the fact that we've got these people held anywhere without trials or even charges. But don't pretend that this is a bizarre and pointless issue of where we are illegally and unconstitutionally holding people in cages with neither charges nor trials. Neither I, nor anyone else who objects to Guantanamo cares if they're held there or in Alaska. The issue isn't where they are held, but that they are held.

If Obama "closed Guantanamo" by simply moving the detainees (they aren't prisoners, prisoners have charges leveled against them and will face trial) to a facility in US territory neither I, nor anyone else who cares one bit about justice or the Constitution, would be happy or believe that he solved the problem. The problem is not the location of the unconstitutional and illegal detention facility, it is the existence unconstitutional and illegal detention program.
posted by sotonohito at 5:17 AM on December 11, 2010 [6 favorites]


One other thing: compromise is great, in theory. In practice we aren't getting compromise but rather abject surrender.

Look, for example, at the estate tax part of Obama's "compromise". Obama decided to offer a 20% cut in estate tax rates out of the blue. The Republicans hadn't included that in their demands, Obama just decided that he ought to toss it in, maybe he thought it would finally make the Republicans like him. Maybe he actually believed that tripe he spewed about how he hadn't given them enough during the 2010-2011 session. I don't know.

But I do know that it was pointless, undercut everything the Democrats stand for, further entrenched the idea that estate taxes are somehow horrible and awful, and made the debt even worse.

And he just gave it to them.

For free.

He isn't even making the Republicans negotiate for what they want, he's trying to anticipate what they want so he can give it to them preemptively and with nothing in return.

And, again, look at the deal.

The Republicans get tax cuts for the uber-wealthy for the next **TWO** years, Obama got unemployment extended for **ONE** year. What happens in 2011 when the unemployment runs out, people still desperately need it, and the Republicans start throwing a temper tantrum? What will Obama have to give them then? A federal abortion ban?

Worse, he gave them a win in the 2012 elections propaganda. The extensions on the Bush era tax cuts are set to run out just in time for the 2012 elections, and he seem to see no problem with that, he seems not to anticipate that this will result in the Republicans hammering him, again, with the "Democrats want to raise your taxes" line.

But by God he cut the estate tax, surely that means now FOX will stop being mean to him, right?

Why would the Republicans ever, in the coming session, give the Democrats even the slightest, tiniest, thing they want when they don't even have to negotiate to get everything they want?

The first thing we have to do is show them that we can, and will, block their wish list. Then they might start real negotiations. But as long as Obama is just giving away, for free, their fondest desires they have no motive to compromise.
posted by sotonohito at 5:41 AM on December 11, 2010 [5 favorites]


Come out to the podium and say, "On second thought, no. We're not going to be held hostage by billionaires who don't want to pay taxes, which are already at a lower rate than anyone else pays.

no - it might sound good, but if obama's going to have any effectiveness in the next two years, he's going to have to stand by the deals he makes

let the republicans be the ones to break agreements

i think he gave way too much away for nothing, but now that he's done it, he's going to have to follow through on it
posted by pyramid termite at 5:54 AM on December 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Congressional Budget Office released its score Friday on the tax plan hammered out between Republicans and President Barack Obama, showing a $893 billion hit on the deficit over the next five years.

Hey, it's just another trillion on the deficit, no big deal. Only liberal purists care about the deficit anyway.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:12 AM on December 11, 2010


Okay, let me repeat this, since it never seems to register: The Republicans sole policy aim is to weaken the Federal government, particularly in areas related to regulation and taxation.

See, apologists love to say this and repeat it over and over, but the Republican party has a long history of passing actual legislation that does stuff. Bush did things like NCLB and Medicare Part D for example. It's a retarded talking point used to excuse Democratic failures. Stop it.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:16 AM on December 11, 2010


I was waiting for a thread on this topic for awhile, and now I'm late to it, and I don't have time to read all the comments, so forgive me if anything I'm saying has been said before.

But:

1) This compromise is a terrible deal for the America in the long run. It's not the rich screwing the poor, or even the middle class (since all of their tax cuts are extended as well). It's the baby boomers screwing the young. It's a $900 billion tax cut extension, to be financed entirely by adding to the national debt. The exact opposite of fiscal responsibility, which is the most important thing this country needs right now, to avoid going the way of Argentina circa 2002. So everyone gets to pay fewer taxes today, and, inevitably, the result will be punitive taxes well in the future, long after most of the movers and shakers in this deal are dead.

2) When really bad decisions are made, it's oftentimes hard to tell the difference between extreme malfeasance and extreme incompetence. I'm having a hard time discerning that here in regards to Obama's promotion of this 'compromise.' Speaking politically, it plays right into the Republicans' hands: they get to pin the blame for raising the debt on Obama and the Democrats, but they get to take credit for the tax cuts. Most Americans right now will be very happy with this proposal, since most Americans are middle-class and most Americans hate paying taxes. So this will be Obama's policy when it's convenient for Republicans to tout their fiscal responsibility, and their policy when it's convenient for them to point out how they cut taxes. Then, speaking ideologically, it also plays right into the Republicans' hands: one of their holy grails--extremely low taxes for the rich--becomes reality for another few years, probably forever. So either Obama is a double agent, or he's dumb as rocks, at least in this case. I tend to think the latter--he's so used to being conciliatory, and the Republicans can just eat those tendencies alive. He seems to be the only Democrat who doesn't realize this, and he's now facing revolt from his party in Congress because of it. Which, incidentally, only makes the Democrats look more idiotic--the one thing about the Bush years, Republicans in Congress NEVER crossed the administration. Obama looks like a weak and ineffective leader here, and frankly, I think he is.

3) The political system as a whole is broken. After the midterms, both parties, and the general public, agreed that government spending was way too high, and something had to be done about the mounting national debt. Furthermore, only 26% of the population supported extending the Bush tax cuts to the top one percent. The only thing the Democrats get out of this is an extension of jobless benefits. Frankly, unemployment benefits have already been extended to almost two years. I don't care what the state of the economy is in, if you have been out of work for two years, it's pretty much a guarantee that you're never going to work again. 'Structurally unemployed' is the term. Better to transition these people off the unemployment rolls and into some other form of assistance than to keep spending money on a lost cause. What should have happened, given this environment, is that no legislation at all should have been passed. That way, tax cuts on the wealthy, the middle class, and unemployment benefits would have lapsed. Tough for a lot of people, but necessary given the untenable nature of the nation's fiscal policy. It may have even brought on a double dip recession. But hey, that's the price you pay for fiscal responsibility. It happened under Paul Volcker in the early 80's--there was a brief but deep recession as the Fed worked to get a different problem (the 70's runaway inflation) under control. People suffered for a year or two, and then the economy emerged strong and with inflation no longer a menace. So anyhow, the worst ideas of both parties got merged together in this trainwreck of a bill that nobody can support but that 'everybody has to support.' It's a trade of shit for shit, and, again, it helps baby boomers and the uber-rich now, but screws my generation for years to come.

4) This is the dumbest shit Obama has pulled in his presidency. An abject, terrible, failure of a policy. Worse than Afghanistan, way worse than his slow movement on gay rights, detainee policy, state secrecy, etc. But not as bad as invading Iraq, trying to privatize social security, coming up with the idea of widespread, state-sanctioned torture, appointing crazy people like John Roberts and Sam Alito to the supreme court, denying climate change and scoffing at attempts to do anything about it... the list goes on and on. Obama is starting to stink, even stink quite badly. But the Republicans fucking reek. I know how strong the desire is to punish him, to punish the Democrats. But compare what we have now to what a President Gingrich, or a President Romney, or God forbid a President Palin would look like. I know it makes me shudder more than a little.
posted by notswedish at 7:25 AM on December 11, 2010 [3 favorites]




Enjoy your President Romney, everyone!
posted by Ironmouth at 8:22 AM on December 11, 2010


Oh, nobody wants that Ironmouth. Can you just imagine what a nightmare it would be? War would continue, DADT wouldn't be repealed, the tax cuts for the rich would be extended, and Guantanamo would stay open. Healthcare would probably be changed to be some weird amalgamation where plans are subsidized, everyone is required to buy one, and there is no public option. They would probably support bailouts of their rich buddies on Wall Street and put Goldman Sachs executives in positions of power. Vote Obama people, we have to prevent this.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:58 AM on December 11, 2010 [6 favorites]


President Barack Obama's approval ratings have sunk to the lowest level of his presidency, so low that he'd lose the White House to Republican Mitt Romney if the election were held today, according to a new McClatchy-Marist poll.

Psst: The elections aren't today.
posted by nomadicink at 9:10 AM on December 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Psst: The elections aren't today.

To be more specific, the elections are two years (less a month) from today. So at pretty much the halfway point of his term, the President's popularity hits a low. Gosh, one might even begin to think that this is by design.
posted by philip-random at 10:38 AM on December 11, 2010


hits a low

No, it just passed a low. It's still on the way down.
posted by unSane at 10:47 AM on December 11, 2010


you can see the future?
posted by philip-random at 10:56 AM on December 11, 2010


In the absence of Obama doing anything different, the trend will continue. To imagine otherwise is magical thinking.
posted by unSane at 11:17 AM on December 11, 2010


One thing I think it is worth noting about the poll data. That drop is people who just got pushed over the edge by this tax deal. A significant portion of the people Obama is calling sanctimonious purists for being angry about this are people like me who have stuck by him despite everything else. The purists dropped out long ago.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:21 AM on December 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I can't see the future any better than the next guy. What I do know is that it's standard political strategy to do all your most "unpopular" stuff as far away from the next election as possible. So I'm not saying that Obama and co will somehow turn everything around in time to get re-elected in 2012; just suggesting that we shouldn't be surprised that they're at a nadir of popularity right about now. In fact, the surprise would be that they weren't, particularly given the mess of problems DEMANDING action that they inherited upon taking power and the absurdly byzantine mechanisms available to them for taking on these problems.

yada-yada-yada ...
posted by philip-random at 12:16 PM on December 11, 2010


They can't even do things that are supposed to be popular in a popular way though, they lost support in giving people health care. They lose support in giving people tax cuts. What exactly is on the agenda that could raise popularity?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:23 PM on December 11, 2010


What exactly is on the agenda that could raise popularity?

The protracted process of watching the Republicans (good, decent humanitarians all) choosing their next Presidential nominee?
posted by philip-random at 1:05 PM on December 11, 2010


The nominating process tends to end at the convention, with the nominee at peak popularity.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:36 PM on December 11, 2010


Boy oh boy, this Obama fellow is terrible! I have an idea: let's hold an anti-Obama rally! We can all bring signs with Obama's face with a Hitler mustache!
posted by notswedish at 1:43 PM on December 11, 2010


Boy oh boy, this Obama fellow is terrible! I have an idea: let's hold an anti-Obama rally! We can all bring signs with Obama's face with a Hitler mustache!

Mr. Strawman, I don't see that here at all, I see people saying "he should try harder."
posted by peppito at 10:28 PM on December 11, 2010


Remember how I predicted that the Republican would demand a ban on abortion as their price for whatever the next short term, quick to run out, only halfway decent measure they want to hold hostage?

They're already signaling exactly that: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/12/health/policy/12abortion.html

It isn't a full ban, but it would prohibit any insurance company receiving subsidies under the new health insurance laws from offering abortion coverage even if that is 100% funded by non-subsidies. Which means, of course, that abortion will become effectively prohibited for poor women. Yay.
posted by sotonohito at 4:42 AM on December 12, 2010


Ahh, I can see the future Metafilter thread now.

Look, you liberal babies can't get everything you want. I wanted to keep abortion rights too, but look at this great deal we got! The Republicans allowed us to continue funding the war in Afghanistan, can you imagine if they really followed through on their threat to make the troops buy their own bullets? You know Sean Hannity would blame that on Obama!

And we got two weeks of funding for unemployment! You guys really need to join us in the pragmatic world of reality instead of your idealist fantasyland.

posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:02 AM on December 12, 2010 [8 favorites]


That wasn't true in the slightest when the Democrats ran the house,

Yes it was.

It absolutely was true that the house set the agenda: on every major legislative push, the House introduced the more liberal versions of bills (or sometimes, introduced executive proposals for legislation), which the Senate then either stalled or diluted, which is pretty much always how it works because that's the system's design.

Pelosi's House actually did churn out far more quality sausage than the House usually does, and it was on the whole, a far more constructive and liberal House than anything to come out of the Bush era. But all along, the Senate has done it's part and packed as much sawdust into that sausage as it could--or in the case of the Republicans and various other ideological hardliners, it's obstructed the sausage grinder when expedient for political advantage.

If you've been paying any attention at all, you've seen that's exactly how it's been playing out, and the fact that these institutions were explicitly designed to function more or less as described also goes a long way toward establishing the validity of this view of the situation.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:45 AM on December 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Senator Sanders' website has posted a transcript. Word doc is also available.
posted by zarq at 8:54 AM on December 13, 2010


saulgoodman Yet your comment states that for some reason the Democrats can't do just that to the Republican House.
posted by sotonohito at 2:05 PM on December 13, 2010


As sort of a coda to our little sub-thread (hopefully not a "derail" exactly) about what Obama and the democrats should've done and said on the tax situation, check out this excerpt of a John Boehner interview on CBS, wherein the incoming speaker of the house says that he "rejects" compromise, that he refuses to compromise his principles or the interests of the American people.

In addition to being a craven lie, this is John Boehner absolutely giving the back of his hand to Obama, particularly after the way the President was talking up his compromise on Friday and (via interlocutors) over the weekend. Given that the democratic proposal was actually in line with the view of the majority of the US population, and given that they actually had control of both houses plus the presidency at the time, it is politically unforgivable that they did not seize this rhetorical ground first. Because look at the rhetorical situation now: the democrats stated that they believed in position X, which the US people also supported, but then they (via the frickin' President) made a bunch of noise about how they were "compromising" that issue away, blowing a hole in the budget in the process, and now the republicans get to ride into town and say "we will not compromise the interests of the American people."

This is an absolute own-goal by the democrats, through and through.
posted by rkent at 5:49 PM on December 13, 2010


saulgoodman Yet your comment states that for some reason the Democrats can't do just that to the Republican House.

Of course they can! But if they do, they'll actually be giving the Republicans policy successes in the process, because the entire Republican agenda is to dismantle and obstruct the functioning of the Federal Government to clear the way for their private sector allies (and occasionally just to throw them a big payout or other perks of ownership).

If the Dems in Senate just play the same game the Republicans did in the previous congress, obstructing everything that comes their way, what do the Dem's accomplish relative to their goals of using public policy to address social and economic problems? Nothing. Which is basically exactly what the interests bankrolling the Republicans really want in the first place. The rest is window-dressing; the social issues the Republicans pretend to care about are just useful because they are inflammatory and can be used to fracture coalitions and whip up public sentiment rapidly in one particular direction or another.

The Dems can't succeed through obstructionism because they're basically the only ones left claiming the Government should actually be doing things to help solve our problems in the first place. The Republican platform explicitly argues that government should play less, not more, of a role in the world, so anytime the government is in fact less able to carry out policies due to obstructionism on either side, that's basically a win for the Republicans.

When government fails, the Republicans succeed, because that's exactly what they're selling: the idea that government can only fail and therefore should be dismantled. If the Democratic senate becomes as obstructionist as the Republican senate was, the best they could hope to accomplish is nothing. And that is the ultimate own-goal for the Dems and basically a capitulation to the Republican agenda. It's a double-bind. Even the best intentioned Dems are literally damned if they do, damned if they don't.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:19 AM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


But the alternative to using the Senate to water down or kill Republican bills is to let them pass unimpeded. Where's the good in that?

Already even the Democrats are abandoning those who have been unemployed for more than 100 weeks, this latest extension cut them off. What will happen towards the end of 2011 when, thanks to Obama's brilliant plan of extending tax cuts for two years while only asking for a one year extension of unemployment benefits, we're back against the wall on unemployment benefits and we don't have tax cuts to bargain with again?

Shall we surrender yet another liberal item either forever or at least for the long term in order to acquire a short term extension of unemployment?

Or take healthcare. The Republicans are stating they intend to try a repeal, must we let that go through because it's bad for Democrats to block things?

Or, less drastically, say the Republicans simply refuse to fund Obama's health care "reform" and pass a budget that defunds it entirely. They've already got a great excuse, that Virginia judge who declared it unconstitutional. Are we to trade away something important, and again either trade it away in the long term or even forever, to get a single year's budget out?

I think what I'm saying is that even if I accept your argument, I still don't see the benefit in passing Republican bills. As you say, the House traditionally introduces legislation. Why would they introduce legislation that we want or like? And why do the Democrats seem to think they must offer long term or even permanent sacrifices to buy the very short term gains they get from the Republicans?

Obama already, back when the Democrats theoretically had power, traded away not just everything we could afford to, but also a lot of stuff that really hurt to trade away. We're getting down to the stuff that I don't think we can ever, even at the expense of getting a budget passed or extending unemployment benefits, afford to give up. Obama already traded away so much, I don't see how there's anything left but absolutely critical, core, things.

We can't just keep surrendering, not even for unemployment extensions or funding HCR. We're losing long term, big, battles for short term, small, gains. That's not a sustainable strategy.

And, I don't see why we can't try shifting some blame and moving the Overton window, other than Obama's bizarre and infuriating insistence that somehow it's out of bounds to call out the Republicans for their acts. Let them pull a Gingrich and refuse to consider a budget, we've got the bloody presidency and that's a big bully pulpit. If Obama can't get the public to blame the Republicans for shutting down government he's not the speaker we know him to be.

"But the media always buys the Republican spin" isn't an explanation, it's an excuse. They buy the Republican spin because the Democrats don't try hard enough to counter it, because the Democrats won't fight the Republican spin. Yeah, the next couple of years are going to be tough, but we could win if we'd fight. Unfortunately I don't see that happening, the one thing that Democrats are united in is their utter refusal to fight.

So, yeah, I agree with your analysis of the outcome. I just disagree that it's inevitable or the result of anything other than cowardice and a lack of will among the elected Democrats, and especially on Obama's part.
posted by sotonohito at 3:11 PM on December 14, 2010


Personally, I suspect that's because you are human and like the rest of us, have a cognitive bias toward personalizing blame for bad outcomes stemming from complex problems that are fundamentally larger than any one person (even than a sitting president), and you and others may also underestimate how deeply entrenched the political right has become in America's power structure and how big a role the media plays in sabotaging the political process.

In many cases, no doubt, the Dems will do their best to obstruct bad Republican policy, and I'm confident Obama will be willing to whip out his veto pen now and then. But anywhere there's room for even the measliest scrap of potentially economically beneficial compromise, there's compelling reason to at least entertain the possibility of pursuing it in a bipartisan spirit, as much as that may feel like sleeping with the enemy.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:03 AM on December 15, 2010


you and others may also underestimate how deeply entrenched the political right has become in America's power structure

I'm going to play that game we play...

you and others may also underestimate how deeply entrenched the political right has become in America's power structure Democratic Party
posted by Trochanter at 8:48 AM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sure. There are definitely tentacles of the oligarchy-loving right embedded in the Democratic party. But there are also true progressives, with integrity. The same cannot be said for the Republican party, as the Republicans' obstructionist agenda over the last two years demonstrates.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:08 AM on December 15, 2010


Sure. There are definitely tentacles of the oligarchy-loving right embedded in the Democratic party. But there are also true progressives, with integrity.

Yes, but it's the rightwing of the Dems who have long been calling the shots via the DLC. The progressive wing doesn't possess any sort of comparable power at a national party level in terms of strategy, platform, etc., and in fact are often openly marginalized and demonized by the DLC Dems (e.g., Howard Dean). There's no comparison.
posted by scody at 6:22 PM on December 15, 2010


Yeah, though the progressives had a big win against the DLC in 2008 in terms of controlling the party infrastructure and apparatus, which unfortunately didn't translate in 2010. There's a pretty real power struggle going on inside the Dems, and one of the biggest disappointments of Obama was that he looked like he was going to enable much more of the institutional power to be wrested away from the DLC faction, but that didn't carry over, in part because the entrenched party leadership didn't give the progressives much to run on, so they got massacred in the midterms.
posted by klangklangston at 10:20 AM on December 16, 2010


Ahh, Democratic compromise. Give the Republicans what they want, bring it to the floor, they refuse to vote for it, gloat over embarrassing you. Useful Democratic idiots on the internet find some way to urge you to try doing this some more.

After long deliberations with Republican principals Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced on the Senate floor that nine GOP members had reneged on their pledges to vote for the omnibus spending bill, which reflected months of bipartisan negotiations, and included earmarks benefiting both parties.

That left Reid several votes shy of the 60 he'd need to overcome a filibuster and essentially vaporized a year's worth of work by the Appropriations Committee.

Democrats on the floor -- including Appropriations Chairman Daniel Inouye -- were visibly wounded by the development, and were unable to contain their anger after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell rubbed in the salt. "There is only one reason cloture is not being filed," McConnell said. "They don't have the votes. And the reason he doesn't have the votes is because members on [the Republican] side of the aisle increasingly felt concerned about the way we do business."

Durbin barked under his breath at McConnell, but ultimately vented his frustrations through Reid. "I would like to ask the Majority Leader, does he recall the time when I returned from the Appropriations Committee and said that Senator McConnell had come to the committee and said that he was going to establish the maximum amount that he would vote for in all the appropriations bill...$1.108 trillion?" said Durbin in a veiled accusation of hypocrisy. "And I said to the Majority Leader, I think ultimately that's what we're going to be voting for is Senator McConnell's number?"

Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) weighed in. "We had to cut the money to meet the [Republican] level...and that's what we have before us and that's what we're being told, after a year's worth of work, that somehow we don't have the capability of knowing what's in this bill."

Minutes later, in one of the most chortling colloquies of the 111th Congress, Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) gloated over the defeat of the spending bill.

Kirk, the most junior member of the Senate asked, "Did we just win?"

McCain responded, "I think there's very little doubt that the Majority Leader of the United States Senate would not have taken the action he just took if we didn't have 41 votes to stop this monstrosity."

Kirk continued, "so for economic conservatives, a 1,924-page bill just died?

"A 1,924-page bill just died," McCain responded laughing.

posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:03 AM on December 17, 2010


Oh, and the tax cuts passed with plenty of Republican votes, enough to make it clear as crystal the Democrats could have gotten more concessions. Great jorb compromisers!
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:05 AM on December 17, 2010


This is like watching a peewee hockey team get shellacked.
posted by unSane at 7:13 AM on December 17, 2010


Well, we only need a majority vote to remove the filibuster, and a majority vote to put it back again if Dems lose the senate.

And a big part of the problem is that Republicans literally want the country to get worse so that they can have a better shot at Obama, which means that they won't negotiate in good faith and will break the system because they realize that they can get away with it.

If Obama's fallen down on one huge thing, it's the use of the bully pulpit to call these motherfuckers, motherfuckers.
posted by klangklangston at 8:20 AM on December 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


... plenty of Republican votes, enough to make it clear as crystal the Democrats could have gotten more concessions

Since Republicans vote as a monolithic block on things like this, the number of Republicans voting is pretty much irrelevant to what Democrats could or could not get from them.
posted by lodurr at 11:49 AM on December 17, 2010


The Republicans voted 138-36 in favor, hardly monolithic.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:27 PM on December 17, 2010


Lemme guess, the 36 wanted to extend the tax cuts while discontinuing the unemployment benefits?
posted by entropicamericana at 12:40 PM on December 17, 2010


If you're looking to make your blood boil further, consider that individuals making less than $20,000 or couples making less than $40,000 may end up with a higher tax burden in 2011 because of the elimination of the Making Work Pay tax credit. (No, it's not a huge amount, but still.)

Congress once again shows that honest work does not pay. Why work, stupid? Investing your savings wisely is a far better deal. Long-term capital gains are taxed 0% until 2012 ... what? You don't have any savings ... ?!?!

"51 million, mostly lower-income, will do worse under new tax law" - Consumer Reports

"Wealthy taxpayers benefit most from proposal" - Kathleen Pender, SF Chronicle

I never understood the hatred of boomers (I thought it was some retread anti-hippie sentiment), but now I think I get it: "We got ours; we'll take yours."
posted by mrgrimm at 1:31 PM on December 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


But in general, while Reid played hardball after the fact, this is a classic Lucy with the football moment. There were two major things to move in the lame duck, according to Republicans: the tax cuts, and funding the government. They now got what they wanted out of both. For some insane reason, Democrats didn’t insist on those two measures moving together, so Republicans couldn’t pull back their support of the omnibus like they did last night. One could have been a condition of the other.

Instead, Republicans will have a chance in February of next year to set spending levels. The Democrats could have pushed this off until October, and could have written it into the tax cut deal as well. They failed to do that. And if anyone thinks that the result will not be a slashing of vital social safety net spending, take a look at how Reid folded last night, trading other priorities. The “stimulus” from the tax cut deal is GONE. It’ll be gone by February, at least. Republicans are fulfilling the Norquistian promise of lowering taxes massively, and then using that lack of revenue as a pretext to cut social spending. That’s what’ll happen in February. And the debt limit vote provides just another opportunity.

The only way out of this is for the President to say today, after singing the tax cut bill, “Now we need to give time for the tax cuts to work. Therefore, I will veto any bill that reduces spending across the government for this year and the next, because we must keep aggregate demand high.”

Anyone want to place bets on that happening?


More compromise please! This is all working so well!
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:21 PM on December 17, 2010


Norquist said that not only would a government shutdown be a good idea, it's also probably going to happen. Though he says he hasn't had any specific discussions with Congressional Republican leaders, Norquist says it's clear to him that the government is headed for another 1995-style showdown.

"It's the path that I recommend and I think that it's the path that is likely to be followed," Norquist said.


Norquist must be writhing with glee that he got the dems to de-fund social security and he'll still screw them next year.
posted by benzenedream at 5:01 PM on December 17, 2010




William Rivers Pitt also has a good recap: What Bernie Said. Part II.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:17 PM on December 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Thanks homunculus and mrgrimm. It will take me a while to get through Pitt's piece, but, as usual, Taibbi uses his prose like the axe we need to cut through the layers of obfuscation and jargon that hides the essential evil in this system.

I really really really recommend "Griftopia." I can't recommend it strongly enough. We need Matt Taibbi and we need more Matt Taibbis.

We need more Bernie Sanderses, too, but I think it's a miracle that we've managed to get even one. Way to go Vermont!
posted by Trochanter at 3:19 PM on December 20, 2010


Thanks, I voted for him! People may enjoy this YouTube video with some auto-tuned Bernie.
posted by jessamyn at 7:59 PM on December 20, 2010




« Older All that is solid melts into air...   |   "What I do is try to give... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post