What I thought would never get done has gotten done. Last week, a compromise was struck, and the Bush tax cuts will be extended for two additional years, closely mirroring the bipartisan Ryan-Conrad proposal from the summer (see ‘Bush Tax Cuts: To extend or Not to Extend?’ in the August Archives). The compromise extended the tax cuts for every American, and in exchange, unemployment benefits were funded as well for an extended period time. This is one of President Obama’s biggest victories in office, as he was able to bring the GOP to the discussion table and dictate his terms.
One problem: This compromise was met by a legendary 8-hour filibuster…by three Democrat senators, and scathing criticism from the left for caving so readily to the Republicans, and from the far-right for extending unemployment benefits, or as they put it “welfare”. The tax deal finally went through with the 60 votes necessary to invoke cloture, but Obama came away from this trying to justify himself to an angry Democratic base, and even dragging Bill Clinton to back him up. For the Republicans, this was a massive victory because it exposes President Obama for what he really is: a weak leader with no ability to push his agenda against a party that is still technically the minority until January, and they were able to walk away with what they, and much of America wanted, the continuation of low taxes until the economy is out of the ditch and on stable ground. Think about this: if President Obama couldn’t hold his line on taxes now, what do people expect him to do when the Republicans move into the majority in the House? President Obama, of course, tried to portray this as a “me against the machine” battle, saying the GOP was holding the tax cuts “hostage”, and he had to do what he had to do to ensure everyone would have the same tax rate that they’ve had the past 10 years.
According to Obama, the best way to deal with hostage-takers is to…give them all that they want? Not only is calling the GOP a gang of hostage takers a ridiculous smear, it’s also a sign that he doesn’t know how to deal with those who have opposing policy decisions as him, a big problem when he’ll have to negotiate with a less friendly Congress for the next two years. This was a test of his ability to show power and authority, and he failed miserably. Nobody is buying his charade anymore, and it is becoming clear to him that tough words and using Bill Clinton as a crutch can only get him so far.
As conservatives, this is a golden opportunity to really make him squirm, not by shutting down government as some policy experts suggest, but by passing in the House some of the most conservative pieces of legislation ever, packing with cuts in spending, cuts in taxes, and a scaling back of the government, particularly with the health care law. This will create a backlog in the Democratic Senate, put pressure on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to pass these pieces of legislation and President Obama to sign them into law. If they don’t, then all of a sudden, the Democrats become the “Party of No”, and the age of Obama will come to an end in 2012.
Hey, maybe I’m wrong, maybe those two comrades learned something from November, and will work with Speaker Boehner to create smart solutions to get America out of the tailspin it is currently in and all will be hunky-dory inside the Beltway, but I’m not holding my breath.