And This Is the Thanks Obama Gets?

Progressives abandon the president

If we lived in a just world, liberals would still be singing (nondenominational) hosannas in honor of the extraordinary political sacrifice our president has made to further their cause. Instead, many whine and fume.

Quick question: What do you people want from this man?

Sure, it was odd seeing Barack Obama getting testy at Tuesday's news conference as he defended the tax compromise with the GOP. It was odder still watching him lash out at left-wing critics. Yet the president is neither a sellout nor a pragmatist (as some of his dwindling defenders contend). He's just a man at the effective end of his triumphant first term.

It's not as if the president takes any pleasure negotiating with "the enemy." A grumpy Obama admitted Tuesday that divided government impels real compromise. But, he explained, those who oppose tax hikes aren't engaged in legitimate opposition brought on by a belief in certain economic policies; they are "hostage takers." (It is so true: Hostages will always help with leverage.)

It is also clear that the man won't waste time waging "symbolic battles" or winning "symbolic victories." Certainly, the president has been more effective in solidifying the welfare state, strengthening centralized federal policy, growing government, and instituting a regulatory burden of an impressive scope than any lightweight president in memory.

And this is the thanks he gets?

"Sympathetic as I am to those who prefer a fight over compromise," Obama explained, "it would be the wrong thing to do."

"Wrong thing," as in "impossible thing." With Republicans coming, tax rates were going to stay the same or rise for everyone.

"Sympathetic," as in "I wish we could use reconciliation or some other procedural ruse to cram this tax hike through, but oh, yeah, we already did that to pass the most contentious domestic legislation in memory."

Again, this is the thanks he gets?

Obama gave us health care reform. In the middle of a downward economic spiral, he turned all his political capital, all his considerable power, all his impressive popularity, and his two congressional majorities into a grab bag of liberal policy schemes that, in the end, could only be passed with reconciliation.

True, some squishy Democrats wouldn't go for the entire single-payer nationalization scheme—which was, until today, considered "compromise"—but give it time. "When Medicare was started, it was a small program. It grew," explained the president Tuesday. Things grow. This thing of ours, he explained, "is a long game; this is not a short game."

After 10 silly years of blaming everything on the Bush-era tax rates—despite the subsequent stable federal revenue stream and recovery—it has become the Holy Grail of the economic policy for Democrats. So the tension rooted in extending the life of this mythical beast is understandable. Similarly, it must be nearly intolerable to support legislation that doesn't feature some embedded social engineering or spreading of wealth. After all, what are laws for?

Unseemly as it is to allow the "rich" to keep their own money, Democrats should be thanking the president for taking the hit on this lame-duck deal, as it can only help their prospects in 2012. We recently had that "national conversation" about the economy. The left, I believe, lost this time around.

Things change, of course. But it is a mystery how progressives can look back at these past two years and not appreciate that they had a president willing to sacrifice himself politically to champion their ideology.

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  • Old Mexican||

    Quick question, Harsanyi writes: What do you liberals want from this man?

    A perfect State, sir. One where the individual ceases to exist.

  • The Progressives||

    I want my fucking pony!

  • ||

    Transcendence

  • ||

    Mister, would you please help my pony?
    He's down and he ain't gettin' up.
    He coughed up snot in the driveway
    And I think his lung's fucked up.

  • Michael||

    Funniest thing I've read on the internet today.

  • wingnutx||

    He's eating grass and not the leaves.

  • Barney The Frank||

    ...fucking pony. Kinky!

  • Steve||

    Unicorns!

  • Suki||

    +10

  • Unicorns||

    Only if they shit rainbows!

  • Nancy||

    All Unicorns shit rainbows!

  • Hooha||

    for those smart enough to open the comments first, (you'd think I'd have learned by now) here's page 2;

    "It probably won't happen again for a while."

  • ||

    Poor Obama. I'll send him a bag of flaming dog poop as a consolation gift.

  • Wind Rider||

    And he'll thank you, at least for the flame. Michelle keeps stealing and hiding his lighters, makin it tough for a brother to enjoy his Kools. . .

  • Realist||

    With big ears on either side.

  • ||

    Abandoning Obama is cool, like sushi.

  • Suki||

    Just wait until the progressives hear about the entrapment of Mohamed O'Mohamud by Obama's FBI.

  • alan||

    There, I followed the link and got you an eye count. Even count it worth my while 'cause I had not seen that report yet. Merry Christmas.

  • alan||

    Unlike MM's snippet on Christine O'Donnell earlier today which was totally WGAS.

  • ||

    Mohamed O'Mohamud?

    Is he an Irishofascist terrorist?

  • BeltwayLurker||

    +69

  • Mohamed O'Mohamud||

    Top of the morning to ya, ya unclean infidel!!!

  • ||

    And again we have the two-page article with one vapid sentence on the second page. Come on, Reason!

  • ||

    Drink!

  • Finchy||

    It probably won't happen again for a while.

    There. Now no one else has to click through.

  • Derp||

    Seriously. Cut this shit down to a page.
    The website doesn't need to automatically divide articles into pages, should be author's discretion.

  • ||

    That's the problem... It is author's discretion and Harsanyi is a jackass.

  • ||

    Why can't we have inline images again?

  • ||

    I wonder if Lonewacko's blog has removed the inline image capability from the comments yet. We could use it as an outhouse to place our visual diarrhea in.

  • ||

    Yes, I had forgotten about that.

    Go, and in-line some more!

  • BakedPenguin||

    We could use [Lonewacko's blog] as an outhouse to place our visual diarrhea in.

    Fitting, considering the written contents.

  • ||

    I miss LoneDipshit. It was so fun when he would show. I mean, I haven't been able to write any more chapters of LoneWacko: The Novel since he was banned.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Yeah. He was also great fodder for my comics. None of the recent trolls measure up, although gave it a short run.

  • Chad||

    I'm doing my best.

    Externalities!

  • Wind Rider||

    Because you can't have nice things. You just end up breaking them. Or if you don't SugarFree damn sure will.

  • ||

    Heed my warning!

    SugarFree|1.27.09 @ 2:27PM|#

    If registration comes with the ability to post pictures, I'm all for it. I will flood this place with lolcats macros and 4chan seizure gifs. And my tagline will be long, inane and Ringu-like in its ability to kill you after 7 days.

    I will make your eyes rue the day they first opened.
  • Ted S.||

    I surf the site with only cached images on, and when I see a multi-page article immediately click the "print" link to open the full thing in a separate tab (again, no images). You don't give them the idiotic click-through, and it's easy to see just how much (one sentence in this case) they've decided to put on the last page just to piss us off.

    Amazingly, it only took seven minutes for somebody to comment on it. :-)

  • ||

    So...the Chocolate Jesus isn't?

    *shocked face*

  • x,y||

    Eat a bag Harsanyi. You could spill a trillion pixels explaing why what the left wants is ludicrous, unsustainable, and flies in the face of every conceivable notion of "rights." But they don't deserve to be criticized for wanting what they want and not getting it. You would think a libertarian understands this.

  • ||

    But they did get a bunch of what they wanted just not everything forever. Imagine if there ever was a libertarian President who ended the drug war but then had to compromise and keep the FCC and the EPA. If Libertarians then wanted to abandon the guy, they would be being douches.

  • sevo||

    "But they don't deserve to be criticized for wanting what they want and not getting it."
    You're right. Who am I to laugh at folks who didn't get their unicorns?

  • x,y||

    So did libertarians. We got an extension of the Bush tax rates and a payroll tax rate cut. We want a whole bunch of other shit too, though, so fuck Harsanyi and his "What are you possibly complaining about, compromise!" trope.

  • Realist||

    Compromise is way overrated. One only compromises from a position of weakness.

  • Bucky||

    compromise is a condom with the end cut off.

  • Julian Assange||

    Agreed.

  • Robert||

    How is that overrated? Something you can do from a position of weakness looks pretty cool, I'd say.

  • ||

    I would abandon that hypothetical libertarian president in a heartbeat. "ended the drug war" is about as objective as "healed the nation". Whereas if he didn't do something vague and open-ended, but dismantled two very specific federal mainstays like the EPA and FCC thereby reducing the size and scope of government in objective ways, I would consider him a good man.

  • cynical||

    What if he left the EPA and reduced the FCC to only regulating device interference, but disbanded the DEA and ATF?

  • Robert||

    Of course disbanding agencies would take legisl'n, so realistically all he could do officially would be to fuck with them. He couldn't fire all the civil service employees, couldn't order them to not do their jobs, but he could see to it that the agencies were ineffective, probably.

  • ||

    Couldn't he just propose a budget without funding for those agencies in it? And then if Congress wanted to fund them anyways, veto said budget? I'm pretty sure a libertarian would say "Fuck it" to any budget that came up that increased or did not significantly decrease the size of government.

    Sure, Congress could still override the veto, but I wouldn't consider the president a failure because he did everything within his constitutional power to disband those agencies.

  • Robert||

    Oh, yeah? What if s/he signed a bill replacing the FCC with a 1 sentence statute outlawing all telecom? Objectively reduced the size & scope of gov't, huh?

  • ||

    They definitely deserve to be criticized for wanting what they want and villifying anyone who opposes them.

  • wingnutx||

    You know who else vilified everyone who opposed him?

  • Bucky||

    is that a "tricky dick" question?

  • cynical||

    No, I think he meant Keith Olbermann.

  • ||

    Chancellor Gowron.

  • Adolf Schicklgruber||

    No, who?

  • Zeke Hyle||

    Schicklgrüber schreibt man mit ue oder ü. In die Vergasungskammer!

    /grammar nazi

  • Hooha||

    You really going to subject somebody to a rant in German because they don't know how to add umlauts?

  • ||

    Except, what they wanted was simply not going to happen. Neither they nor the President had the votes to finagle raising taxes on some people (aka partial extension). The options were compromise or have the opposition institute it and make you look like you're putting class warfare ahead of recovery. Really, he got more, from his side's perspective, than their hand justified. I think we can fault them for expecting him to go along with a really futile and stupid gesture.

  • ||

    Love him or hate him I think Rush nailed this one. The left in general are angry spiteful people.

    Even when they get what they want they still whine and fume.

  • ||

    I guess it should also be noted that progressive economic polices do not work and the default leftist argument for this observable fact is that "They just have never had the right people or implemented correctly" Obama's policies obviously have not worked (they can't) so the left instead of questioning their own policies has chosen to blame Obama.

  • DJF||

    Obama is George W Bush who knows how to read a teleprompter.

    Bush created the Drug proscription program which rewarded the drug companies and Obama created the Health care program which rewarded the insurance companies

    Obama has jumped on board Bush’s Iraq and Afghanistan program

    Obama has jumped on board the Bush bank bailout and stimulus programs and expanded them.

    Bush expanded the federal government and Obama expands the federal government.

    Bush supports torture and detention of suspected terrorists, Obama supports it

    Bush creates the TSA and Obama expands its powers

    Both Bush and Obama supports using US military and tax dollars to defend allies who spend less then half the GDP that the US spends on defense

    Both Bush and Obama supports managed trade agreements and calls them free trade

    Both Bush and Obama supports amnesty for illegals.

    Please tell me the big difference between Bush and Obama?

  • ||

    A deadbeat black dad.

  • Old Mexican||

    Please tell me the big difference between Bush and Obama?

    His wife is prettier... guess who?

  • ||

    I don't think Laura is bad looking for a woman of her age. And Michelle never smiles and always looks pissed off.

  • Matrix||

    and she looks like Sigourney Weaver

  • ||

    Sigourney Weaver a la Alien 3 or Heartbreakers?

  • Steve||

    They both look fine, but who wants to be married to a harpie?

  • ||

    There is nothing "fine" about Michelle "man face and arms" Obama.

  • Sleestak||

    Funny, Cha-Ka and I were just saying how attractive Michelle Obama was...

  • alan||

    Agreed. Michelle is fug to any set up eyes and brains that don't let a race based grading curve get in between them (and I like my sugar brown so we are not talking about a grading slope here). Laura is average, which is alright.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Steve,

    They both look fine, but who wants to be married to a harpie?

    You say that as if there were other types... how naive.

  • Steve||

    I'm an optimist!

  • ||

    Now THAT is a revealing comment.

    Noted.

  • ||

    The Professional Left has to be the most craven un self aware group of people in the world. Just a year ago it was unpatriotic to criticize Obama. Anyone who did it only did so out of racism and the desire to see Obama fail. The guy makes one deal with the other party in the wake of the worst landslide in seventy years and all of the sudden dissent is cool again.

  • Da Left||

    Re: John,

    The guy makes one deal with the other party in the wake of the worst landslide in seventy years and all of the sudden dissent is cool again.

    It ain't racism when we do it!

  • ||

    To a limited extent; that is, dissent to the effect that he isn't "progressive enough". Everything else is still taboo. And Teh Racist.

  • Drogus||

    So now being mad at Obama = SWPL?

  • Bucky||

    john, he made a deal with "hostage takers", don't you see?

  • Thomas O.||

    And seven years ago it was unpatriotic to criticize Dubya. (Ask the Dixie Chicks.) Anyone who did it only did so out of the desire to see America crumble and the terrorists win. Don't think that only the left is guilty of this.

  • DesigNate||

    To me, it wasn't so much that they criticized W., it was the fact that they did it in another country. But freedom of speech and all that jazz.

  • stuartl||

    ....than any lightweight president in memory.

    Very nice Mr. Harsanyi.

  • ||

    Obama hit one out of the park by extending unemployment benefits until the 2011 holiday season. No way will the ball-less Reps want to take the scolding from the media about pulling these welfare payments right before *sob* Christmas.

    I think he blew it when he went for a two-year extension of the tax rates. This means he will be arguing for raising taxes as part of his re-election campaign. That never sells well.

  • Bingo||

    There is no doubt in my mind that the unemployment checks will be pushed back another year once 2011 rolls around. Winter 2011 is way too close to Election 2012 for the political class to discuss phasing them out.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    And so on... and so on...

    Have we inadvertently recreated the dole?

  • Joe M||

    Have we inadvertently recreated the dole?

    FIFY

  • XR4l||

    Why would anyone work nowadays?

  • Fatty Bolger||

    Well you got to do a short stint to qualify for your years of unemployment. For now.

  • C'mon man||

    Obama hit one out of the park by extending unemployment benefits until the 2011 holiday season.

    No shit. He more or less got a quasi-stealth stimulus. Of course, unemployment insurance is going to be an economic nightmare for small business.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "If we lived in a just world, liberals would still be singing (nondenominational) hosannas in honor of the extraordinary political sacrifice our president has made to further their cause. Instead, many whine and fume."

    Whining is an inherent genetic trait of liberals.

    It's in their DNA.

  • Wind Rider||

    Maybe the arsenic incorporating organisms aren't exclusive to Mono Lake? Hmmm.

  • ||

    When I was in high school, I dated this chick for a year and a half. There was another (hotter) chick who lived a couple doors down and hung out with my girlfriend's younger brothers. The hotter chick regularly saw me hanging out with my girlfriend and decided that I was the greatest boyfriend in the history of the world.

    When my girlfriend and I broke up, I ended up hooking up with hotter chick. Unfortunately, she had a completely unrealistic image of me as a boyfriend, and the first time I blew her off to hang out with my buddies she freaked out. That's when I learned that you never want to set the bar too high. Obama's ability to set high expectations may have won him the presidency, but his inability to meet them could cost him a second term. Probably a good trade-off for him, but a pretty shitty one for the country.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: ClubMedSux,

    That's when I learned that you never want to set the bar too high.

    Good lesson to learn about politicians. You, however, learned the wrong lesson about women: it's not the height of the bar with them, it's the fact that you're their property the moment you hook up with them...

    ... unless you want to remain a bachellor.

  • ||

    Anything else you want to reveal about your difficult personal relationships ?

  • Mike M.||

    For the life of me, I don't understand why Obama doesn't come out and say "after much long and difficult deliberation, I've decided to bring the military occupations to end. Troop withdrawals are underway starting tomorrow and will be completed by the end of 2011."

    Not only would this have the benefit of saving the country a tremendous amount of money during a period of frighteningly enormous deficits, it's what the wretched, miserable scum of the Professional Left wants to see more than anything. And at this point it would probably be a fairly popular decision with most of normal America as well.

  • ||

    If Obama ordered immediate withdrawals he would be blamed for every bad thing that happened in the Middle East for the next 10 years, and any terrorist attack in North America or Europe for the next 20 years.

  • Santa Claus||

    Fucking liberals - you bring 'em a bag full of other people's money and they want it delivered on a goddamn unicorn.

  • Wind Rider||

    And if they got that, they'd piss and moan that the unicorn didn't shit fairy dust and fill their yards with tulips or something.

  • ||

    No, they'd bitch about the bag full of money being delivered by a non-union unicorn.

  • ||

    scabicorn?

  • BakedPenguin||

    Teamster unicorns: 6.5 hours off the clock, 1.5 on.

    That's why it's taking so long for Obama's policies to work.

  • Bucky||

    +10

  • 2cents||

    +1 and thanks, Santa!

  • ||

    "But, he explained, those who oppose tax hikes aren't engaged in legitimate opposition brought on by a belief in certain economic policies; they are "hostage takers."

    I would have much preferred the president pointing out that these guys are hypocrites - no desire to deal with the deficits...no serious proposals on what to cut...
    Hmmmm....well, than again, maybe the standard issue republicans aren't hypocrites - they don't care about the deficit!

  • Chad||

    Political "hostage taking" takes one of two forms.

    1: Threatening to shut down or bog down the government if one does not get one's unpopular wishes

    2: Threatening to block legislation that large majorities agree with if one does not get one's unpopular wishes

    Republicans do both constantly. I am hard pressed to think of any time Democrats have used either tactic.

  • Jen||

    HAHAHAHAHAHA!!! That was the best spoof yet!

  • DesigNate||

    I'm not gonna be your porn if you are the real Chad, but that made me laugh and now my boss is looking at me funny.

  • C'mon man||

    Quick question: What do you people want from this man?

    How about this:

    Obama strolls in for the State of the Union, grabs his dong and says, "The era of big government is here for good, bitches! I want to give a shout out to W for getting the ball rollin'. Out!" Bums a smoke from Boehner and exits.

  • waffles||

    I would totally respect that, that is real honesty. In a perfect world all our political scumfucks wouldn't have to pretend they aren't scumfucks.

  • ||

    Wow. I watched the MSNBC hit parade last night and was pretty overwhelmed with the crying. Policy-wise, I don't think the lefties are that pissed - even if they themselves don't know it - what has them miffed is the way Obama does things.

    Apparently he didn't even tell his own party he and Republicans were making out late at night when no one was looking. All the old codgers in the Senate and that crazy lady in the HoRs didn't get an inside track on the negotiations, compromises, or gimmees. That's what they're really pissed off about even if they don't admit it.

    I have to admit though, for the first time ever I was kind of worried about Obama as a dude while watching his little presser. So tired, hair going gray, pissed, stammering. The 'hostage' metaphor was clumsy and ad-hoc. Though I did like the compromise metaphor, he hit a good note there. But he looked like someone slowly getting beaten down by monster-of-a-job they seriously underestimated. I've seen that with most presidents. Even worse though, he looked like a guy who didn't want to be President anymore...a first for Presidents I've seen.

  • Tman||

    I get the feeling that Obama want to be elected president, but he didn't want to be president. One of the reasons Bush gives for why he doesn't comment on Obama at all under any circumstances is because he says that "people have no idea how hard of a job this is" and I believe him.

    I think Obama thought the job would be a lot easier than it has turned out, and nothing in his past has prepared him for the workload. He looks frustrated and worn-out lately, and I think part of it is the fact that he is suddenly realizing that the left will never be as happy with him as they were when he was elected, and there's nothing he can do to change that.

  • CavMedic||

    Nail. Head. Etc.

  • Realist||

    "people have no idea how hard of a job this is" And like life it is even harder when you're stupid!

  • cynical||

    Poor fucker. He should toss the government in the fires of Mt. Doom, then he can be free.

  • ||

    I think that a lot of people of various political stripes have completely unrealistic ideas about what a president can do. The office has been an object of cult worship, one that no human being can live up to, much less a politician (who are only mediocre human beings at their very best).

  • MNG||

    This is important. A lot of people, even here, crap on Obama for something like DADT. He and the Dems should have pushed for repeal sooner and harder. Of course one thing preventing them was that there is this filibuster thing and you had GOPers united to not support anything going through and several Dems that held back on it (Nelson, Webb, etc).

    But one thing that the administration and the Dems need to get better at is holding votes so they will have to actually be filibustered. Get everyone on the record and then when you can do no more move on. But don't forget that first part...

  • Vermont Gun Owner||

    But one thing that the administration and the Dems need to get better at is holding votes so they will have to actually be filibustered. Get everyone on the record and then when you can do no more move on. But don't forget that first part...

    This is extremely important. You can't blame the Republicans if you were too scared to try. It works the other way too. Even if its clear that Obama would veto a repeal bill, the Republicans have to force him to do so (or the Senate Dems to kill the bill) if they want to claim that they would have done it if they could.

  • Realist||

    +10

  • Realist||

    Ooohhh, poor baby!

  • fish||

    Even worse though, he looked like a guy who didn't want to be President anymore...a first for Presidents I've seen.

    And just think he could still be enjoying his senatorial sinecure knowing that his side would likely retain the majority for a few more election cycles because "Obama Care" wouldn't exist!

    Sometimes you should just let the brass ring go by!

  • ||

    Given Chicago machine politics, he'd have been a Senator until he decided he didn't want to be a Senator anymore.

    Oh well....

  • Hooha||

    "Sometimes you should just let the brass ring go by!"

    'But the young [Senator of Chicago] need only extend his hand, take the One Ring for himself, and the world of men will fall to darkness and shadow...'

  • Paul||

    Quick question, Harsanyi writes: What do you liberals want from this man?

    They want to feel as good as they did in 2008 when they vote for him again in 2012.

  • MNG||

    I think Harsanyi needs to read and mix more with actual liberals if he can say with a straight face "what more do liberals want from Obama?" It is hard to think of any significant legislation Obama has signed off on that didn't involve some significant compromises that liberals didn't like. Liberals would have liked single payer or at least the public option. They wanted the government to buy stock in troubled financial companies instead of just buying their toxic assets. They wanted a stronger consumer protection angle to that bill.

    And then of course there is the stuff he did not push. I've long maintained that people misundertand liberalism when they think of New Deal/Great Society type legislation. Since McGovern liberals are more about "lifestyle liberalsim": women's rights, gay rights, etc. Obama has either not done much here or has not sold what he has done very well (the Ledbetter act).

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: MNG,

    It is hard to think of any significant legislation Obama has signed off on that didn't involve some significant compromises that liberals didn't like.

    You can't please everyone, especially when trying to present a semblance of respect for the constitution: those that couldn't care less for the obsolete document will not have patience for such theatricals.

  • Contemplationist||

    I'm trying to understand what a baseline list of accomplishments for Obama would've been in 2008 tht would've ensured widespread support from lefties.
    For example, for libertarians, if a prez ends the drug war and then brings the troops home, then no action on regulatory state would EASILY be tolerated. Don't you think?

    So what does Obama have to do similarly for the proggies?

  • Slut Bunwalla||

    Make sure that no one anywhere actually has to work for a living.

  • ||

    It would be progress and we would accept it only because we were expecting nothing and promised next to nothing. Obama promised the Left the world, and now the Left is seeing that these things were just convenient campaign lies.

  • Betty Friedan||

    Lots of misogyny today. Tone it down boys! If women are so bad, why are we always the ones who need to get PFAs against men who are stalking us?

  • alan||

    I shit in your mouth. How is that for misogyny, Betty?

  • Zeke Hyle||

    Does it make me a sexist if all I could think when I was reading your book was "it's a shame she's so ugly; she could use a good dicking."?

  • ||

    It is hard to think of any significant legislation Obama has signed off on that didn't involve some significant compromises. that liberals didn't like.

  • MNG||

    Lamar
    I see your point, but people who identify as liberal or conservative have staked out a position on a continuum that is going to result in them being dissatisfied with such compromise. You see it from both sides. So it's silly to scrath one's head and say "man, what did they want?" They'll tell you what they wanted.

  • ||

    There's political winds to work with too, and competence of leadership.

    When the Republicans had big majorities and the Presidency, they got all kinds of goodies basically without compromise.

    They got their war on in Iraq (with considerable Democratic support; every Dem Senator whose run for Prez since 2003 - and was a Senator in 2003 - voted for that sucker. Obama's smartest political move was not representing a broad Senate constituency in 2003 or he woulda voted for it too).

    They got their Medicare Part D on. I remember Tom Delay holding the vote open to get recalcitrant Republicans on-board with that turkey...the Dems were all for it. Dems didn't ask for any 'goodies' like free abortions or whatever either - they just voted for it.

    No Child Left Behind...Ted Kennedy was frickin on-board, 'nuff said.

    Those examples - of pachyderms getting their wishlist - while Dems in majority get the shaft is testament as much to legislative leadership for the Donkeys that's incompetent in the minority and impotent in the majority. The only constant on the sad decades-long Republican Hit Parade is the Dem caucus leadership.

  • Chad||

    MNG: As a kind-of oddball progressive, there is virtually NOTHING in this bill I support.

    The only two elements I do support were the EITC and UI extensions. I do not support tax cuts for anybody, of any income level, until we are running a steady surplus. Even with respect to the UI extension, I only moderately support it. I believe it should have been deliberately phased out, and also believe we need greater oversight in our UI system, as it is too easy to scam.

    What I would have done is the following:

    2011: 25% reduction in the Bush and Obama tax cuts

    2012: 50% reduction

    2013: 75% reduction

    2014: Complete phase-out

    2015-2020: 30% REVERSE Bush and Obama tax cut, to pay back the money borrowed from 2011-2012.

    Obama should simply veto anything that increases the deficit, and sit back and watch as Republicans choke on their own hypocrisy.

  • Mensan||

    What I would have done is the following:

    2011: 25% reduction in the Bush and Obama tax cuts Increase taxes

    2012: 50% reduction Increase taxes again

    2013: 75% reduction Increase taxes again

    2014: Complete phase-out Increase taxes again

    2015-2020: 30% REVERSE Bush and Obama tax cut, to pay back the money borrowed from 2011-2012. Increase taxes even more

    Obama should simply veto anything that increases the deficit net earnings, and sit back and watch as Republicans choke on their own hypocrisy.

    FTFY

  • Number 2||

    Turn the clock back for a moment to 1978-9. President Jimmy Carter instituted draft registration in response to the Soviet invasion of Afganistan, and appointed Paul Volker to the Fed to counteract the inflationary expectations set loose by Carter's first Fed appointee. For these and similar slight moves to the right, Carter was villified by the left wing of the Democrat party and declared to be "little better than a Republican." This helped weaken him and contributed to his defeat in 1980.

    Now we have Obama making an even slighter move to the right following a GOP victory in the midterms, and the left wing of the Democrat party is revolting against him. History about to repeat itself?

  • MNG||

    Dude, the left has been pissed at Obama's compromises throughout his term. This is just the straw on the camels back.

  • Number 2||

    Perhaps, but the point remains..the parallel to Carter.

  • ||

    Harsanyi missed the ball on this one, considering the answer to his question is blatantly obvious. The Left is finally coming around to the fact that Obama really hasn't governed any differently than Bush and is even more willing than Bush to sell out his principles. You don't have to be a progressive Democrate to sympathize with the fact that they haven't really gotten anything Obama promised them in his campaign besides a poorly designed, compromised healthcare plan and "Mission Accomplished!" version 2. On many things (civil liberties, drone attacks, etc.) Obama is worse than W.

    Opposition to the Iraq War was the main reason Obama even rose to political power and there's no end in sight, with another escalated (and by now pointless) war in Afghanistan and potentially another in Korea on the horizon.

  • ||

    Obama is not worse on civil liberties than Bush. Bush (i.e., Cheney/Rumsfeld) invented most of our current crushing authoritarian/police-state policies, so they should get the lion's share of the credit. Obama is just happy to enforce (emphasis on force) the status quo created by them.

    I'm predicting a ratcheting effect: every new administration of team red ratchets up the authority and every team blue maintains it. By the time I'm retired, there should be surveillance cameras in my home. Invented by republican paranoia and funded by democrat taxes.

    When a black guy isn't bothered by a police state, you know we're in trouble.

  • ||

    When a black guy isn't bothered by a police state, you know we're in trouble.

    Perfectly said. Like in Animal Farm when the pigs start walking on two feet.

  • ||

    That's when I learned that you never want to set the bar too high.

    I agree. With politicians, you need to set the bar high enough that their toes don't touch the ground after you pull the noose nice and tight, but not so high you have a hard time getting the rope over it.

  • ||

    Brutal. You're hired.

  • employer entitlement||

    So we've gone from the left has failed to criticize Obama about the war and other probusiness leanings to, "What do you want from this man." Clever market thugs, very clever, the delusion it takes to be one of the collective on this site is truly staggering.

  • ||

    "Market thugs." Clever. Did you make that up yourself?

  • ||

    I see you're onto us...muni-thug.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Looks like one of the Farkers stopped beating off to anthropogenic cat anime long enough to comment here.

  • ||

    "After 10 silly years of blaming everything on the Bush-era tax rates—despite the subsequent stable federal revenue stream and recovery"

    Stable revenue stream? For 10 years (8 of those Bush) we have hemorrhaged money. The only "stable revenue stream" was under Clinton. Maybe he meant stable as in our money running rapidly downhill away from us.

    Recovery? What recovery? Are you talking about Bush's "recovery" from Clinton's surplus, or what?

    I realize a lot of this has to do with Congress, as well as the President's budget proposals, but Harsanyi framed this in terms of presidents...and those terms have no factual basis whatsoever.

    I don't like team red or team blue, but I like facts. Logic. Stuff like that.

  • Vermont Gun Owner||

    "After 10 silly years of blaming everything on the Bush-era tax rates—despite the subsequent stable federal revenue stream and recovery"

    Stable revenue stream? For 10 years (8 of those Bush) we have hemorrhaged money. The only "stable revenue stream" was under Clinton. Maybe he meant stable as in our money running rapidly downhill away from us.

    Revenue =/= budget. The deficits weren't caused by the tax cuts, since the revenue (money coming in) was stable after them. The deficits were caused by spending increases.

    I don't like team red or team blue, but I like facts. Logic. Stuff like that.

    But apparently not definitions.

  • Chad||

    You are not adjusting for inflation, population growth, or GDP growth, are you?

    Of course nominal tax revenues rise over time. But what matters is tax revenues vs GDP, which shrank under Bush.

  • ||

    What employer entitlement misses is that the relative lack of complaint (there has been some, sure) about all the fierce moral urgency stuff (Gitmo, warrantless wiretapping blah blah), coupled with the explosion of rage at the lack of higher taxes on the "rich", merely illustrates what the left is about.

    Its not about civil liberties and all that stuff.

    Its about class envy, class hatred, class warfare, and taking other people's stuff so they can use it themselves.

  • Watts||

    You berate Democratic leaders, having them say "I wish we could use reconciliation or some other procedural ruse to cram this tax..."
    and frame Obama's health care success like this:
    "...two congressional majorities into a grab bag of liberal policy schemes that, in the end, could only be passed with reconciliation."

    You laugh off reconciliation so easily for someone defending the Bush tax cuts....that were put into place through....you guessed it, reconciliation. In fact, it was a tie in the Senate before ol' Mr. Deficits-Don't Matter" Cheney signed his name to it.

  • Watoosh||

    As a former liberal/progressive and a regular follower of progressive news, I feel obligated to defend the liberal position here. (I've since become a libertarian but I still understand fairly well where liberals are coming from)

    Health care reform? Please. There are taxpayer-funded health care programs in Europe that maximize consumer choice and quality by pitting private insurance companies (who have common regulatory rules) against each other - nearly every liberal in the USA would have been satisfied with that, and it wouldn't have been "government-run" health care. Granted, it's not a libertarian solution by a mile, but it's mostly a free market solution that gives the consumer maximum amount of choice while being a lovely entitlement program from the liberal perspective (to those worried about the costs: France spends only 11.2% of its GDP on health care and gets significantly better results than the USA). Instead, Obama passed a half-assed corporatist program that forces broke and unwilling people to buy insurance (here's a newsflash: most liberals don't actually like the mandate as it stands now either!) and made deals with the insurance and pharmaceutical industries, while doing nothing to lower the costs. Despite the handful of new regulatory measures included in the bill, there's nothing progressive about it, and liberals are right to criticize the reform.

    As for the tax cuts, there may be many leftists out there who just have a visceral reaction against the fact that the richest people in the country are so damn rich, but the outcry was mostly about the deficit and Obama being so unprincipled. The argument goes as follows: the state collects all of its revenue by stealing money from the people, so if you really need to balance the budget, why not steal it from those who don't need it as much? Also, the progressives want Obama to be a strong leader who uses his political power to persuade the Congress to go along with him. Consider Bush: he scared the Dems into agreeing with him on domestic security and defense with his "either with us or against us" -rhetoric, but Obama thinks he can win the GOP over by making compromises on top of compromises.

    The main criticism towards Obama from the left (aside from being a weak leader who's unwilling to deal with civil issues such as DADT, the drug war or unwarranted wiretapping) is that he's a corporatist, and even though progressives unwittingly support many aspects of corporatism by supporting regulation, they definitely don't like the way Obama seems so outright comfortable with big business. I don't know a single liberal who thinks making backroom deals with Big Pharma and Big Insurance is progressive or that bailing out big banks was for the good of the country. The left has long since realized that Obama's progressive rhetoric and his actions are far removed from each other. The progressive utopia is a statist one, but one where the common man has protection against the mighty, whereas Obama's actions, while still statist, have moved the country to the opposite. As libertarians we know that all statism is tyrannical to at least some degree (and, no matter what, will ultimately favor the mighty against the weak), but it's still dishonest and condescending to suggest that liberals will accept any kind of statism if it has the words "health care" and "financial reform" in it.

  • ||

    As someone who watches Rachel Maddow like some secret bad habit on the DVR (my girlfriend does the same thing with various Housewives of... installments) I empathize with your POV.

    But political baggage hurts. The Democrats primary financial/manpower artery at this point are unions and trial lawyers. That's the 'meat and potatoes' of their operation. There's no way you could institute European-style health-care scheme in the USA without eviscerating those two special interests. For example, no lefty talks about European style tort system to go with the health-care part, yet one kinda depends on the other.

    Same with unions. Health-care is huge perk of union membership in USA, at least as they advertise it. Its just par for the course in Europe. Most union folks would have to 'downgrade' their health-care setup to truly go egalitarian in single-payer, or even the pseudo-private schemes like in Belgium. Not gonna happen.

  • ||

    but Obama thinks he can win the GOP over by making compromises on top of compromises.

    Until the midterm elections he never compromised with the GOP. Remember "elections have results"? Remember his constant vilification of anyone who opposed his legislative agenda as servants of eeeeeevil greedy speculators?

    He's already tried the intimidation route. He's just not good at it (or, alternatively, the Dems that Bush cowed were just wimps).

  • ||

    Obama knows damn well the Tax-and-Spend Left are going to come back kissing his ass come 2012 just like the Christian Right kissed Bush's ass in 2004 despite his not doing enough in their opinion promote their extremist agenda. One thing Liberals and Conservatives have in common is that they both drink from the same pitcher of Kool-Aid.

  • The Antagonist||

    And This Is the Thanks Obama Gets?

    Amazing. So just because you like to get fucked by Obama (or the Republicans for that matter) you have to turn around and complain about the complainers 'cause it's alright if you don't get a reach around? I'm sure you like it without lube David, but now you got a little something on your chin.

    A better question. What's up with your schizophrenia?! One second you're letting Bernanke sit on your face and the next you're swallowing everything Obama throws at you. I just can't tell which rag you should write for anymore.

    I'm thinking the National Inquirer but I'd hate to insult their integrity, compared to yours.

  • Tony||

    I have to admit, it's more fun even talking with you guys than hardcore lefties nowadays. They are always itching to dump the pragmatist who can win an election for the next Nader-ish purist. I agree with Obama's scolding. He got the best he could get, unless you think nothing would be better than something. I don't understand why people don't realize this--it's not like he secretly wanted the tax cuts for the rich. But man some of those people at Huffpost and Salon and places are too bent out of shape over Obama to even care about Republicans anymore, and unfortunately they seem quite willing to give them back power because Dems once again weren't perfect on everything and Obama failed to have a magic wand.

  • Chad||

    Tony, I don't think most lefties are calling for Obama to be Nader or Sanders. They simply want him to fight back when his hand is slapped, and start in the center-left before moving right, rather than starting in the center, moving right before even engages his opponents, and winding up in the looney bin.

    Yes, he really needs to call some bluffs sometimes. What's the worst that could have happened? We quit borrowing trillions from our grandkids for a few years?

  • ||

    The progressive utopia is a statist one, but one where the common man has protection against the mighty,

    Savor the inherent contradiction.

    "We want a Total State where no one can be pushed around!"

  • Tony||

    But it is kind of annoying how the news cycle is focused on Obama's base problem and not the fact that Republicans are willing to actually compromise for once, but only because, horror, rich people might have to pay a little more in taxes.

  • sevo||

    "rich people might have to pay a little more in taxes."
    Did you wet your pants when you typed that?

  • Tony||

    Nah, shooting 3 Vanderbilts before breakfast keeps me continent.

  • sevo||

    That wasn't the "wet" I was posting about.

  • Chad||

    What did the Republicans compromise on, Tony? The entire package consists of nothing but tax cuts and a one-year UI extension.

    The latter is the only compromise they made, and it is a tiny one.

    I find it odd that so many "centrists" think that Republicans are against tax-cuts for the working class or middle class, and that by allowing them as part of the deal, Republicans have compromised.

  • Tony||

    That is a compromise for Republicans. At what other time would they have backed off their calls for paying for unemployment benefits? Or backed off anything?

    The primary cause of the alleged watered-down-ness of Obama's policies, the inability to get important things accomplished, and the basic insanity of Washington, is Republicans acting like nihilistic psychopaths to an extent they never have before. They still have some power, especially with the filibuster, and now they will have even more power since the American people saw fit to reward them for nothing. It's a reality Obama has to deal with, and no amount of "leadership" or podium-pounding on his part is going to change their attitude, which has been articulated in plain English, that their primary concern is making him fail. I am willing to be shown where alternative, more robustly liberal, paths could have been taken in Obama's first two years, I just don't see them.

  • Chad||

    Republicans have been "compromising" on UI benefits for the last two years. The further UI extension is the *only* thing in this debacle compromise that a typical Republican would disagree with.

    Liberals, on the other hand, are certainly against much of the bill and lukewarm at best to most of the rest. The only things most true liberals support are the EITC and UI extensions, and perhaps some of the lower-income tax cuts.

  • ||

    Sorry, the Republicans in congress were indeed hostage-takers. They refused to do the jobs the taxpayers pay them to do, in order to throw a hissy fit like a 3 year-old.

    I don't disagree with their stated aim of preserving lower tax rates for all. They were welcome to refuse to even discuss tax cut extensions that did not included all income brackets.

    But they should be removed from office for refusing to work on any other legislation until they got their way. It's not a way to run a government.

  • Vermont Gun Owner||

    But they should be removed from office for refusing to work on any other legislation
    That's the job I voted for them to do.

  • pmains||

    Yes, this is a common leftie tactic. When they lose the substantive point, they pretend to be non-ideological technocrats who only care about the process.

    "We need to get back to work. Republicans are immature for not continuing to pass our destructive legislation. Congresspersons should be paid by the page. Harumph harumph."

    Yeah. Miguel Estrada is playing his tiny violin for you.

  • ||

    Sorry, the Republicans in congress were indeed hostage-takers.

    Err, how, exactly? The Dems still hold a very health majority in the House.

    While the Repubs have a blocking position in the Senate, they only have it because the Dems refused to pass a budget. If the Dems had passed a budget, they could ram through whatever tax bill they wanted on reconciliation.

    But they should be removed from office for refusing to work on any other legislation until they got their way.

    Yeah, saying "Oh, don't bother voting on our stuff until you get all your stuff out of the way" is the route to legislative success.

  • ||

    I think its kind of dumb for the President to use how he thinks of a hostage situation when negotiating with hostage takers. The retard is begging the Iranians to take his critics up on the offer to make another Jimmy Carter out of him doing shit like that.

  • Anonymous||

    What a shitty fucking article. Can we please stop letting conservative hacks write for this blog? At least try and understand the positions you're criticizing.

    Certainly, the president has been more effective in solidifying the welfare state, strengthening centralized federal policy, growing government, and instituting a regulatory burden of an impressive scope than any lightweight president in memory.

    Obama's health care bill did not "solidify the welfare state," not in the sense of the liberal goal. It was a corporatist piece of shit that mandates people to buy services from a select group of providers whose prices are kept high with subsidies and tax breaks which tie their products to the labor market, thus ensuring limited market flexibility because people can't just up and find a new job ITE. It was a Pyrrhic victory at best, and it squandered a lot of capital that could've been spent on issues with more consensus like DADT.

    Just because an initiative increases the size of government doesn't make it liberal. If you think the definition of liberalism is "grow the government" you need to pull your head out of your ass and take a fucking political science class. There might be policies the left pursues that have the effect of growing certain parts of the government, and they might be bad policies, but please try apply marginally more intelligent criticisms.

  • frances||

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  • frances||

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