Bad week for the little guy: a chronology


Wednesday, December 1 (The New York Times 12/1/10): All 42 Republican senators sign a letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada threatening to block any legislation until Bush-era tax cuts are extended for all Americans, including the wealthiest. The move came within 24 hours of President Obama’s meeting with senior Republican Congressional leaders, expressing hopes for “a new dialogue.”


Thursday, December 2 (CNN 12/2/10): “The U.S. House of Representatives passed a measure 234-188 to allow tax cuts instituted under President George W. Bush to expire this December 31 for Americans' incomes above a quarter-million dollars annually. The tax cuts for incomes below that would continue, and the bill would also maintain the current Alternative Minimum Tax limit for two years. Most Democrats backed the legislation, while Republicans resoundingly opposed it.”


Saturday, December 4 (CNN 12/4/10): “Two Senate procedural votes on Democratic measures to extend George W. Bush-era tax cuts for people who are not super wealthy failed on Saturday, preventing the measures from moving forward. …. Both votes garnered the support of 53 senators, but the Democrats needed 60 votes to end debate.”


Monday, December 6 (The New York Times 12/6/10): “President Obama announced a tentative deal with Congressional Republicans on Monday to extend the Bush-era tax cuts at all income levels for two years as part of a package that would also keep benefits flowing to the long-term unemployed, cut payroll taxes for all workers for a year and take other steps to bolster the economy.”

“I am not willing to let working families across this country become collateral damage for political warfare here in Washington.”
- President Barack Obama, 6 December 2010


What the lower- and middle-class workers would get in Obama’s deal: WHITE HOURSE FACT SHEET


Shaw Kenawe at “Progressive Eruptions” brilliantly explains Obama’s strategy and his missteps HERE.


Monday, December 6: The left-wing blogosphere goes ballistic in knee-jerk reaction claiming Obama made a deal with the Devil and calling fellow Democrats and economists who are defending the president’s action “Obama apologists.”


The sticky wicket in the Obama compromise is the estate tax. According to CNN: “The estate tax, which expired this year, is scheduled to be reinstated at a higher rate of 55 percent next year, with an exemption up to $1 million. A bill that passed in the House a year ago set the threshold for the exemption at $3.5 million and the tax rate at 45 percent, while the provision in the tax deal exempts estates up to $5 million and sets a lower rate at 35 percent.”


Tuesday, December 7 (The Associated Press, 12/7/10): "With fellow Democrats balking, President Barack Obama declared Tuesday that a compromise with Republicans on tax cuts was necessary to help the economy and protect recession-weary Americans. He passionately defended his record against Democrats who complain he's breaking campaign promises. … He staunchly defended his decision to deal with the GOP in order to extend about-to-expire tax cuts for all Americans.”


Tuesday, December 7 (MSNBC 12/710): Keith Olbermann of “Countdown with Keith Olbermann,” a leading booster of Obama’s bid for the White House, excoriates the president on tax-cut compromise HERE.


Wednesday, December 8 (The Associated Press 12/8/10): “Bill to award seniors $250 is defeated by Republicans.”


Thursday, December 9 (CNN 12/10/10): “House Democrats voted Thursday against considering the tax package that President Barack Obama negotiated with Republicans, raising questions over the president's influence in his own party. ..."


Thursday, December 9, 2010 (CNN 12/10/10): “... Later, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, released the first version of legislation to implement the negotiated deal and said the Senate would vote Monday to open debate on it. The Senate version made public by Reid was largely the same as the deal announced by Obama, but it added extensions of some tax breaks intended to spur green energy investment.”


Thursday, December 9 (CNN 12/10/10) : “A Senate bill to provide medical benefits and compensation for emergency workers who were first on the scene of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks failed to get past a Republican filibuster Thursday."


Friday, December 10 (CNN 12/10/10): Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) spoke out against Obama’s compromise in the Senate chamber for eight hours and 35 minutes – a speech cnn.com subjectively compared with Jimmy Stewart’s in Frank Capra’s “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” According to Senate rules, the speech was not a filibuster.


Friday, December 10 (The New York Times 12/10/10): President Obama meets with former President Bill Clinton for 90 minutes. In an impromptu news conference with a hastily assembled White House Press Corps, Mr. Clinton praised the president's willingness to compromise as "a principled decision" and defended the deal:

“I have reviewed this agreement that the president reached with the Republican leaders. The agreement taken as a whole is, I believe, the best bipartisan agreement we can reach to help the most Americans.

“In my opinion, this is a good bill, and I hope that my fellow Democrats will support it. We all see this differently. But I really believe this will be a significant net plus for the country.

“There are a lot of fights worth having, but this holds the promise that after the fights are over, we will be able to find principled compromise on those as well. To me, that’s worth doing.”

Read “Bill Clinton Holds Forth on Tax Plan, for Starters,” Michael D. Shear, The New York Times, December 10, 2010.


"I think it is inaccurate to characterize Democrats at large as feeling, quote unquote, betrayed, I think Democrats are looking at this bill and you've already had a whole bunch of them who've said this makes sense, and I think the more they look at it, the more of them are going to say this makes sense."
- President Barack Obama


If nothing is done before December 31, 2010, your taxes will go up. This has been a week of hysteria, hyperbole, homily and harangue across the liberal/progressive blogosphere. Tax cuts for the wealthiest remain, as President Obama so aptly noted, the GOP’s “holy grail.” If you need a touchstone for Democratic philosophy, listen to these words:

“Democratic priorities remain clear: to provide a tax cut for working families, to create jobs and economic growth, to assist millions of our fellow Americans who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own, and to do this in a fiscally sound way."
- Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi


tnlib said...

Bravo. I can only imagine the hours and hours of research that went into putting this timeline together. Whew! It certainly helps put things in perspective.

I'm impressed with all of this but this quote from Bill Clinton stands out:

"I believe, the best bipartisan agreement we can reach to help the most Americans.”

"The agreement taken as a whole is, I believe, the best bipartisan agreement we can reach to help the MOST Americans."

MOST Americans. Isn't this what the president is supposed to do? Look after MOST Americans?

Of course the Republicans are showing their greedy asses with the extension of the tax cuts for the wealthy but they aren't MOST Americans. If they hadn't gotten theirs, MOST Americans wouldn't have gotten anything at all. It's sad but that's politics as it has always been.

I may be mistaken here but I "think" the estate tax can only be used one time. Someone else might know better or more.

Excellent post, BJ. A lot of work.

Frodo, a litter-bearer, said...

Frodo avoids discussions that deal with the motivations of others. He prefers to analyze the position and talk factually about its impact. Barack Obama's postion reduces anxiety on a stressed population. It allows businessmen to compute the financials on potential strategies for the future. It allows family-budgeteers to get a grip on the availability of government assistance. It gives those hunting for employment another reason to pass out more resumes and go on more interviews. It is Frodo's belief that, when paired with the rapidly-upcoming holiday season, the President acted to ease anxiety, and offer hope to those under stresses they did not deserve.

What is written here adds credence to Frodo's position. It is incumbent upon a Democrat to act on behalf of those who need a helping hand. This is what the President has done, albeit with a little less of the grace and aplomb which Frodo associates with John Kennedy or Franklin Roosevelt. The analogy here is that of the US Narines, who never leave one of their own behind. You help the wounded to safety, and you fight another day.
Good job, Mr. President. Good job, Proud Merry.

Jerry Critter said...

Nice piece of work, BJ. Is it the best agreement we could have gotten? No one really knows. Does it help the majority of Americans? Yes. Does it help the economy? Yes. Does it unfairly give tax bonuses to the top 2%? Yes.

It is called compromise. Neither side gets everything they want and both sides get something the other side does not want they to have.

Do it, or do nothing.

Sue said...

very good BJ! I'm starting to look at this bill in another way though. Yes there are positives in this legislation that will benefit the unemployed and middle class, but I'm reading more into the massive spending and added pork as a way for the GOP to come back in the next 2 years and claim the bloated deficit problems are because of bills like this. This is where they will start to point fingers at Social Security and try to destroy it. I don't trust the rethuglicans and even though Obama is smarter than I, I'm getting very nervous. I would like to see the tax cuts expire, unemployment benefits extended and no pork involved. But this is considered a massive stimulus bill and alot of experts are saying that is what the country needs right now.

Jerry Critter said...

The problem with just letting the tax cuts expire is that the bottom people will see a 50% increase in their taxes (10% to 15%). The republicans will have a heyday with that come 2012. They look far ahead. There was a reason they cut the bottom rate in half originally. This may be it.

Sue said...

I found this from Robert Reich, I'm agreeing with him (for the moment!)

"The real problem is that the $900 billion tab for this deal gives Republicans a bigger rationale for cutting domestic discretionary (non-defense) even more, and for gutting Social Security. They'll be giving vast rewards to their wealthy constituents through the tax cuts for the rich, which they have every intention of continuing beyond 2012, while being able to satisfy the Tea Baggers and deficit hawks who demand cuts in spending. It's a double-win for Republicans and a strategic trap for Democrats - as well as for the American middle and working class."

tiny said...

Excellent post BJ. Tiny still has a queasy feeling about all of this when the Rethuglicans are demanding big bucks for themselves and very little for the unemployed and working class. And it's Tiny's understanding is that the 99ers don't get an extension of unemployment insurance checks. Such blatant greed from the Rethugs and no concern for their down and out fellow human beings doesn't set well with her. She wonder if Mark Maddoff's suicide this
morning will give any of them pause to consider the harm they are doing to those who have fallen by the wayside.

Tiny also wonders too if Bernie Madoff will still say he would do the same thing again if he were not in prison. His Ponzie Scheme has cost the life of one of his sons at this point. His sons are the ones who turned him in for his scheming people out of their life savings, retirements etc. after Bernie admitted to them what he had done. His sons did the right thing in turning him in. If Bernie has one ounce of caring now, will he give up where he might have other assets hid that have not been found. From all indications he will not ever be free to put his hands on a dime of it.

With the Rethugs doing the blackmailing to satiate their own greedy appetites, is that any different than what Bernie Madoff did? Tiny doesn't think so. Although President Obama got the best deal he
could from them, is it really enough to give those who have fallen by the wayside due to the economic and job situation? Former Pres. Clinton says Dems are getting twice what the greedy guts are getting with this deal, but it plays havoc with the deficit. Tiny hopes the Dems
will offer a more equitable deal. Otherwise what are the 99ers to do with. We really cannot afford to leave them behind either. They have the same basic needs as everyone else.

On a final note, Tiny doesn't cotton to the Rethugs bragging how they have set a trap for Obama with this deal. Can he outsmart them on this deal? It is Tiny's ferver ent hope and prayer that he can. no jobs and no unemployment checks coming in. It's time to think of the fervent.
Gonna take a lot of sincere prayer and effort to bring the focus back to the masses of needy people.

Thanks for tying all the penitent info in neat little packages for yoooand the kids

tnlib said...

Tiny and others: If you haven't already seen this, it is worth a read at Progressive Eruptions. Charles Kraughthammer claims Obama pulled off the swindle of the year and the Republicans don't even know they've been had. He also has some choice words for the lefties who, imo, have all the characteristics of the righties.


dmarks said...

"Tax cuts for the wealthiest remain, as President Obama so aptly noted, the GOP’s “holy grail.”

Not very factual. The GOP has consistently wanted to keep the tax cuts for everyone. Everyone. That's the holy grail. It's the Dems who are trying to score class warfare cards by dividing it. And it's not working well.

dmarks said...

tiny said:

"Excellent post BJ. Tiny still has a queasy feeling about all of this when the Rethuglicans are demanding big bucks for themselves and very little for the unemployed and working class"

Actually, the vast majority of the tax cuts "go to" working people. That's most of the money, not very little.