President Obama Takes on the Liberal Democrats
President Obama's tax deal with the congressional Republican leadership amounts to spontaneous combustion of the already
smoldering resentment in liberal Democratic ranks on
The most explosive element is the two-year extension of the Bush income tax cuts for the 2 percent of wealthiest Americans. But giving the rich a better break on estate taxes also has rankled the party's progressives.
The president's press conference produced a volley of voices calling on him to justify caving in to the Republican blackmail of holding middle-class tax cuts "hostage" by threatening to let all the Bush cuts die at year's end.
One reporter noted that while Obama had said he opposed the tax cuts, he'd never said he'd "be willing to go ahead and extend them for a couple years if the politics of the moment demand it." He asked: "When you take a stand like you had, why should the American people believe that you're going to stick with it? Why should the American people believe that you're not going to flip-flop?"
Another asked: "What do you say to Democrats who say you're rewarding Republican obstruction here? ... A lot of progressive Democrats are saying they're unwilling to budge, and you're asking them to get off the fence and budge. Why should they be rewarding Republican obstruction?"
When the president was asked where the "line the sand" was over which he would not step for the sake of compromise, he bristled. "Not making the tax cuts for the wealthy permanent -- that was a line in the sand," he said. "Making sure that the things that most impact middle-class families and low-income families, that those were preserved -- that was a line in the sand."
In agreeing only to a two-year extension, Obama said, he remained committed to resuming the fight against the cuts for the richest taxpayers before the extension expires in 2012. That much is certain; with his anticipated bid for reelection then in full swing, retaining liberal Democratic support will be essential to his prospects.
"So this notion that somehow we are willing to compromise too much," he said, "reminds me of the debate that we had during health care. This is the public-option debate all over again. We finally get health care for all Americans ... but because there was a provision in there that they didn't get that would have affected maybe a couple of million people, even though we got health insurance for 30 million people and the potential for lower premiums for 100 million people, that somehow that was a sign of weakness and compromise. Now, if that's the standard by which we are measuring success or core principles, then let's face it, we will never get anything done."
At the cost of "having a purist position" and being "able to feel good about ourselves and sanctimonious about how pure our intentions are and how tough we are," he said icily, the American people would have been denied health insurance "because of preexisting conditions or not being able to pay their bills because their unemployment insurance ran out."
Continuing his case for the imperative of compromise, Obama insisted he remained consistent to the long-term goals he promised in 2008. His job, he said "is to make sure that we have a
Obama said he didn't think "there's a single Democrat out there, who if they looked at where we started when I came into office and look at where we are now, would say that somehow we have not moved in the direction that I promised."
That obviously is not enough for the liberal Democrats who'd rather fight than switch against the dug-in Republicans. Further opposition to the tax deal from them, however, would likely only delay its approval next month, when the
Jules Witcover's latest book is Joe Biden: A Life of Trial and Redemption (William Morrow).
Available at Amazon.com:
Read the latest political news.
- Our Government has Become Greedy
- When Will Obama Go 'Gangster'
- Transcending Progressive Discord
- John Boehner's Curious Tears
- A Tractable and Pragmatic President
- The President's Tax Deal Is Just More Trickle-Down Economics
- President Obama: A Decent Deal, a Weak Sales Job
- Questions for Democrats
- The American Jobs Emergency Requires Action
- Why Not Soak the Rich?
- President Obama Takes on the Liberal Democrats
- President Obama's Surrender
- Reigniting the Spirit of 2008
- Learning the Constitution Is Essential for Americans
- Obama-Clinton's Tag Team Show
- Behind Bill Clinton's Smile
- Obama Tax Deal Debate Is a Classic Beltway Christmas Story
- Voters Say Obama Has No Clear Narrative
- When Words Fail
- 10 Senate Democrats Targeted for Defeat in 2012
- Senators Amass Campaign War Chests Ahead of 2012
- Redefining the Global Warming Debate
- The Need to Protect Our Aging Workforce
- First They Came for My Twinkie ...
- More Nixon Wisdom
- Politics Without Labels? What a Silly Concept
- No Backslide for House Ethics
- Obamacare in Critical Condition
- The Death of Health Care Reform
- Sarah Palin's Economy
- In a Giving Mood But Only Toward Rich
- Congress Must Help Struggling Families Not Millionaires
- Will Obama Fight or Fold on Tax Cuts?
- Obama, Democrats Must Worry About the Center, Not the Left
- Selling the Economic Recovery
- Democrats Lost Because They Didn't Fight for Popular Progressive Policies
- Next Tea Party Target: Corporate America
- George Bush's Campaign to Repair His Image May Not Get Far
- A Modest (Book) Proposal for George W. Bush
- Bipartisanship? Waste of Time!
- 2012 Presidential Hopefuls Pour Cash Into Iowa
- New GOP Members Praise John Boehner's Style
- Abraham Lincoln and the Election of 1860
- The Religious Ties of the Republican Party
- GOP Pushes for Healthcare Reform Repeal
- Redistricting Likely to Help GOP
- A 'Never Mind' Energy Policy
- Adventures in Polspeak, Or: Barack Obama Talks the Talk
- When Washington Regulated Wall Street
- Danger of a Global Double Dip Recession Is Real
- The Bashing of American Exceptionalism
- Coercive Diplomacy That Went Wrong
- Dubya's Worst Moment
- The Party of Organized Money
- Time to Decide What Congress Is For
- Throw Nancy Pelosi Overboard!
- Obama's Blind Side
- Comparisons Between Obama and Dictators Horribly Misguided
- Democratic Finger-Pointing and Obama's 2012 Comeback
- 10 Reasons Obama Is Floundering
- Trouble Ahead for Obama's Presidency
- Obama Cannot Play Center
- America's Love Affair With Obama Is Over
- Both Parties Need to Wise Up
- 2010 Elections: After the Fall
- Political Reporters Look Ahead to 2012 Presidential Election
- Is Sarah Palin's Alaska a 2012 Campaign Ad?
- Support for Sarah Palin Declines
- Groups Prep for Pricey 2012 Presidential Campaign
- The George W. Bush Fixation
- Bush Tax Cuts: How Washington is Making the Rich Richer
- Flood of Campaign Spending Was Good for 2010 Elections
- 4 Billion in Election Spending a Drop in the Bucket
- America Checks Into Rehab
- Jefferson and Madison's Constitution and Modern Gridlock
- GOP Stars to Take Over Congressional Committees
- Obama's First Stand
- Using the Lame Duck Session
- The Right Way to Reform Healthcare
- The Coming 'Monstrosity' Battle
- The Politics of Budget-Cutting
- Michele Bachmann's Plan to Fix the Economy
- Time Machine
- Battle Over Earmarks: Much Ado About Nothing
- Achieve Balanced Federal Budget Through Spending Restraint
- Unemployment Trumps the Budget Deficit
- America's Two Economies: Why One Is Recovering and the Other Isn't
President Obama Takes on the Liberal Democrats | Politics
(c) 2010 Jules Witcover, TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.