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Wed Jan 2, 2013, 06:01 PM

Why I think Obama pushed for this deal and why I think it'll work.

Last edited Wed Jan 2, 2013, 07:23 PM - Edit history (3)

I know many on here disagree that the prospects of going fully over the cliff were that bad - but I believe they were. I think Obama knew he was going to be put in a tough spot if we went over the cliff and the outcome would've been bad regardless of the deal they struck.

Sure, the Bush tax cuts would've been history and then Obama could negotiate his own cuts and keep it to $250,000 and below like he promised. Maybe the Republicans would have blinked and given in without much fight. I guess that's always a possibility - though one we'll never know because it didn't happen.

But then you also have to factor in the fact the Republicans have been obstructionists from the get go - ever since Obama became president in 2009. Even when they were a minority party, even when they wielded little influence in Washington, they still emphatically opposed everything the President put forth - from the stimulus to his healthcare bill to even his first budget. They're convinced the best way to succeed is by having the President fail. This mentality has gripped the Republican Party for the last four years and I'm sorry, I don't believe it would have changed with the dynamics of the fiscal cliff changing. I don't think Obama believes they would have changed, either.

So, what very well could have happened is that the tax cuts would've expired and the White House would then turn to the congress and outline their plan - tax cuts for the middle class, or at least those making $250,000 or less, and maybe an extension of unemployment benefits considering, you know, the pending recession since congress didn't act when they really needed to.

The best case scenario is that the House somehow agrees to the deal without any negotiating, accepts the tax increase on the wealthiest two-percent and Boehner, or maybe Cantor, or whomever is Speaker, brings the tax cuts to the floor and gets enough of his members to vote on the deal.

That last part is important because the Republicans, even after the new congress is sworn in, still remain the majority party in the House. As the majority party, it's up the Speaker of the House, in this case either Cantor, Boehner or another ideologue, to bring what the White House wants to the floor. For that step to happen, you're going to have to have the Speaker of the House sign off on it and it's possible, in an ideal situation, Boehner does that with zero concessions.

But does anyone really believe he would? You can point to the fact Republicans would be holding up a tax cut for 98% of the country - but they were already doing that and had no problem doing it all year. In fact, the House refused to vote on middle class tax cuts for an extended period of time because they continue to believe those cuts must also included the top-percent.

So, the possibility of the Republicans swallowing a deal right out of the gate is nil. It's just not going to happen because that's the Republican way. It's even worse if Boehner is not Speaker of the House anymore and had this senate compromise not passed the House last night, it's almost assured Boehner would be out and someone with less incentive to negotiate with the White House would become his replacement. Do you honestly believe if Eric Cantor was Speaker of the House he would happily introduce a tax cut that gives the White House everything they wanted?

Of course not.

That puts Obama in a situation he already found himself in earlier this week - negotiating the tax limits. He could hold his ground and tell Cantor or Boehner or whomever that he will not budge on that $250,000 rate ... but if the Republicans, who have shown no regard for the American people in the past, continue to demand that rate move up to $400,000 or $500,000 or a million - what does Obama do? Does he give in and put us in the same boat we're at now or does he hold his ground and hope all the blame shifts to the Republican Party?

This is where the scenarios become increasingly limited for the White House. There would be a battle on taxes. We're almost guaranteed of that with the reaction we've seen from the Republicans over their supporting this compromise. At this point, though, the economy starts taking a hit because we've officially gone over the fiscal cliff and with every day that passes, the worse things look. In the end, though, there has to be movement. There has to be a deal that will pass both the House & the Senate and then one that can be signed by the President.

You might think the Republicans would be boxed into a corner over this because they don't want taxes to go up on 100% of the population - but I don't think the Republicans care. I don't think they've cared for years now. It's always been about the politics for the Republicans and they know that if the economy takes the hit, if the country plunges into a recession, that they won't be the ones who are fully blamed for it because they never are - it's never just the Republicans. When an economy tanks, the President is also the one who shoulders a great deal of blame. Washington shoulders a great deal of the blame. Republicans might have held up the tax plan on principle - but at the end of the day, people will hear that 'congress' and 'the President' couldn't come to an agreement. Well congress is a collection of people ... but we only have one president and everyone knows who that president is. Not everyone knows who their congressman is and it shows when, after years of obstruction, even with a presidential election, the Republicans only lost eight seats this past November.

They're banking on the ignorance of Americans and the complacency of our media. Let's get real here for a second - the media has already met the Republicans halfway on this by suggesting that all of Washington is culpable in this fiscal cliff mess. That doesn't automatically change if we go over. The repercussions for Republicans will be minor if we do go into a recession.

Why?

This is where things get real. If the tax cuts aren't extended, at least for 98% of the country, unemployment benefits aren't extended and you couple that with the uncertainty of the fiscal cliff, you then start to see the economy weaken even worse than it is. Just look at summer months of 2011 when there was uncertainty during the debt ceiling debate and how the economy slowed to its weakest pace since 2009 - and that resurfaced just last month during the lead up to the fiscal cliff. Consumer confidence took a hit, the wallets closed, business suffered, jobs stagnated and, for a period back in '11, some economists, including Robert Reich, predicted the U.S. to head right back into a recession. Fortunately, for reasons that I don't even know right now, the economy manged to stave off recession and actually started growing out of 2011 and through much of 2012 - which allowed some good news for Obama's campaign and helped get him a second term.

Well, while he doesn't have a reelection to worry about, he still has a second term to worry about. This is what the Republicans are banking on - a second term overshadowed by an early recession. Momentum at this stage is huge and if your second term goes off the rails early, it's almost certainly going to stay that way throughout the remainder of your four years. Just look at George W. Bush - who actually started his second term with 50-plus approval and a Republican House and Senate. But what two things happened in 2005 that completely wrecked Bush's second term?

The situation in Iraq deteriorating and Hurricane Katrina.

Bush started 2005 with an approval rating of 52% and a disapproval of 44%. He ended it with an approval of 43% and a disapproval of 54 - a near reversal.

He was politically crippled and could not get much done in his second term in way of policy. Now remember, Bush wanted to privatize social security - that's what he wanted to use his 'capital' on when he was reelected. It never happened. Good news for us ... but that didn't happen because Bush became such a polarizing figure in 2005 & '06 that no one wanted to support anything he supported. Even with the Republicans controlling the government, the most he could get from 'em in his second term was the Iraq War surge. That's it.

Now I'm not saying Obama is destined for the same - but it's an interesting comparison because I think we all know if Obama's second term starts off with a recession, or if starts off with a standstill in Washington, his popularity is going to be dinged and then he'll become less and less effective as the year goes on. Maybe he's able to turn it around as the economy turns it around ... but then by that point, he could be so politically damaged that everything he wanted to do in his second term becomes moot.

It's not that far fetched. A great deal of recent presidents have struggled in their second terms for a reason.

Obama has already said he wants to reform our immigration laws. Forget it if he's politically toxic. Obama says he wants to address gun control - or at least the Assault Weapons Ban. Forget it if he's politically toxic. Obama says he wants to address climate change in his second term ... but forget that if he's politically unpopular.

If this country goes into a recession, it will dominate much of his first year and by the time we climb out of that recession, if we climb out of it with such a divided government, he could be wounded, so crippled, that heading into the midterm election year, Obama is seen pretty much, like Bush was in 2006, as a lame duck.

Maybe you find that implausible - but those are the stark realities and something that could potentially drive a compromise even if the vote had not happened last night. The Republicans know the president is not going to just allow taxes to go up on 100% of the population. They know that. Obama is not going to force the American people to take a hit to score a political point ... that's not how he works, especially if it impacts his legacy and his second term agenda. In the end, they can wait Obama out, specifically if they have a Cantor-like figure as Speaker, because the option is too devastating to actually happen.

So, what would have happened had a deal not been struck is that there would've been another fight on taxes, the Republicans would've held their line and Obama would have either called their bluff and allowed all the taxes to go up in hopes that it doesn't wreck the recovery he staked his presidency on, or he goes back and compromises for a figure that is more generous for them than what we got because the pressure is automatically higher.

This is why guys like Joe Scarborough and Newt Gingrich are angry because they saw the potential of holding everything hostage to get their deal and now they don't have that leverage. Obama didn't put any spending cuts on the table and only lost $200,000 on his limit - while keeping his promise of taxes not going up on 98% of the country. Moreover, even if temporarily right now, the economic outlook is more positive than had the Republicans not accepted a deal.

The deal was a huge win for Obama because it forced the Republicans to do something no one thought possible - they voted to raise taxes.

You can speculate all you want that the crumbling of this deal would have led to the $250,000 tax rate - but with everything we've seen ... with so many Republicans actively objecting to this current deal ... and with the possibility of a Speaker not even bringing a $250,000 cut to the floor for a vote, there is a lot of uncertainty and what ifs tied to that outcome. The best case scenario, I concede, might be better than what we got - but the worst case scenario ... or even the most likely scenario?

Absolutely not.

And now, Pres. Obama can begin his second term with a win, hopefully a growing economy, an even more fractured GOP ... and a higher popularity because he's seen by the American people as getting things done. That will bode well in every battle he's set to face in the coming years - from the debt ceiling to immigration reform to gun control.

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Arrow 34 replies Author Time Post
Reply Why I think Obama pushed for this deal and why I think it'll work. (Original post)
Drunken Irishman Jan 2013 OP
Jackpine Radical Jan 2013 #1
DonRedwood Jan 2013 #2
Still Sensible Jan 2013 #3
bucolic_frolic Jan 2013 #4
Drunken Irishman Jan 2013 #5
JoePhilly Jan 2013 #19
IWelcome TheirHatred Jan 2013 #6
pnwmom Jan 2013 #7
Scurrilous Jan 2013 #8
Grown2Hate Jan 2013 #9
Jack Sprat Jan 2013 #10
bahrbearian Jan 2013 #12
JoePhilly Jan 2013 #20
BumRushDaShow Jan 2013 #11
Richardo Jan 2013 #13
buzzroller Jan 2013 #14
heaven05 Jan 2013 #15
JackBeck Jan 2013 #16
Raine1967 Jan 2013 #17
Cha Jan 2013 #30
Raine1967 Jan 2013 #31
Liberal_Stalwart71 Jan 2013 #18
JoePhilly Jan 2013 #21
BlancheSplanchnik Jan 2013 #22
lovemydog Jan 2013 #23
SunSeeker Jan 2013 #24
bardgal Jan 2013 #25
MissMarple Jan 2013 #26
magical thyme Jan 2013 #27
TheKentuckian Jan 2013 #34
nolabear Jan 2013 #28
loudsue Jan 2013 #29
Hekate Jan 2013 #32
grahamhgreen Jan 2013 #33

Response to Drunken Irishman (Original post)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 06:17 PM

1. K&R for a thoughtful OP.

I'm not sure I agree with you, but I believe your ideas deserve attention and discussion.

Where I might disagree is that I think Obama could have hung the obstructionism on the Republicans like an albatross around their collective neck. He an all the other Dems could have kept hammering that message at every opportunity.

On the other hand, by dealing as he did, he freed some of the hostages the Republicans were holding--particularly the long-term unemployed. That has to weaken their hand some when the debt ceiling discussions begin.

The long & short of it is that I haven't sorted out the complexities of the situation & haven't even been able to decide whether it's a moderately good deal overall for the 99% (or 98%) or not.

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Response to Drunken Irishman (Original post)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 06:29 PM

2. An excellent Political Essay Mr Irishman

From one irish man to another :0)

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Response to Drunken Irishman (Original post)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 07:25 PM

3. Pretty good analysis DI n/t

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Response to Drunken Irishman (Original post)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 07:49 PM

4. He should have publicized the Obstructionism

He would have gotten a better deal in the next Congress because
there will be 10 more House Democrats.

He didn't lead, he cooperated. It's a missed opportunity, and it will take 10
years or more to again raise taxes on the wealthy.

All the budget cuts to come when the debt ceiling expires.

It won't be pretty. In this divided government, a good deal is when
no one is happy. I think this passed that hurdle.

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Response to bucolic_frolic (Reply #4)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 08:00 PM

5. Those 10 new Democrats in the House don't matter.

They would've only mattered had the Democrats won a majority. They didn't. Because the Democrats remain the minority party, that still means the Speaker of the House has to bring the tax cut plan to the floor for a vote. Had Boehner not delivered a deal, it's likely his leadership would have been compromised and Cantor would be the Speaker of the new House. Do you really believe Cantor would bring a tax cut to the floor that gave the White House everything they wanted?

Of course not. We would have been forced into seeing spending cuts, maybe no unemployment benefit extension and a tax cut that includes the wealthiest 1%. Even with this deal, the only reason it passed was because Boehner brought it to the floor. No one should expect the House to bring an even more Democratic generous bill to the floor ... which is something many here are banking on in their opposition.

So, as I said, the likelihood is that we would have had another deal after the cliff and the White House would've given up all its leverage.

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Response to Drunken Irishman (Reply #5)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 10:57 AM

19. Correct. Boehner was going to have to break the Hassert rule either way. nt

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Response to Drunken Irishman (Original post)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 08:01 PM

6. Obama had all the leverage until .....

 

he seen that the debt-ceiling fight is 2 months away. In other words, the Republicans had all the leverage.

The Republicans, had Obama gone over the cliff, would have held out until the debt-ceiling fight and would have rolled Obama at that point.

Obama got the best deal he could have now without getting rolled during the debt-ceiling fight.

The Republicans are going to use the debt-ceiling fight to gain concessions from Obama on Social Security spending. I'm afraid Obama is much too inclined to do a deal that cuts Social Security (chained CPI).

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Response to Drunken Irishman (Original post)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 08:11 PM

7. I think you're right, DI. Unfortunately, typical voters don't pay a lot of attention

to politics, so when the media pretends Obama and Congress are both to blame, too many people believe that.

The Republican members of the House are safe in their gerrymandered districts, so they don't care what happens to the economy or to the country. All they care about is their next election, and not being challenged by someone even further to the right.

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Response to Drunken Irishman (Original post)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 08:31 PM

8. K & R

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Response to Drunken Irishman (Original post)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 08:56 PM

9. Excellent analysis as usual, DI. From one Drunken Irishman to another. K&R :)

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Response to Drunken Irishman (Original post)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 10:11 PM

10. You were drunk and paniced

 

I told you that we were in the driver's seat over the cliff. Boehner was desperate heading into New Year's Eve and the tax cuts (all of them) due to expire. There's no reason to have not gotten a guarantee on raising the debt ceiling and gotten that out of the way, especially since we had yielded the extra 200K on revenues.

Now as 2013 begins, we are going to be defending SS/Med cuts while the Repubs have that debt ceiling card ready to throw down. We had them reeling against the ropes. You got drunk again and let them recover. We are crowing now, but you have set them up to draw real blood from us later.

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Response to Jack Sprat (Reply #10)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 12:37 PM

12. Your right,,

Obama said he wanted 1.6 Trillion in Revenue, Boner offered 800 billion, Biden took 620 billion, not very good for our side. Now we still have to negoitate Spending (SS and Medicare) we are not in a good postiion.

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Response to Jack Sprat (Reply #10)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 10:59 AM

20. Going over the cliff would not get you a debt ceiling deal.

And the GOP was never going to include it in any other fiscal cliff deal.

And we'll be defending SS and Medicare for as long as those programs exist.

What, you think the GOP was going to drop their attacks on those programs?

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Response to Drunken Irishman (Original post)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 11:29 AM

11. Huge K&R

An excellent analysis.

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Response to Drunken Irishman (Original post)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 03:28 PM

13. This is one of the best posts I've ever read on DU

...and I've been here since 2002.

Nice work, Irishman!

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Response to Drunken Irishman (Original post)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 04:51 PM

14. Intelligent

analysis because you seem to be aware that things are not always as simple as they seem. The President's seemingly greater leverage goes away if only a few Senate D's were insisting on higher tax thresholds or lower capital gains rates as examples. I can speculate this was the case but I do not know.

It is also very hard to negotiate with people who are willing to hurt the economy or many citizen's (such as the unemployed) for political points or perceived political points. I have been involved in enough legislative negotiations on a state level to know that the negotiators most willing to be irresponsible sometimes win. It may not be fair but it is still true.

Most Democrats would have liked a better deal but that doesn't mean a better deal was there-maybe-but anyone who has confidence there would have been a better deal is guessing.

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Response to Drunken Irishman (Original post)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 08:27 AM

15. I agree

And the POX news addicted american people and others have shown an abysmal willful ignorance since the election of tea party fascists and nazis in 2008-10. Americans are an easily fooled and led sheeple. How do I know that? Just the fact that some people, 47 percent of the american electorate, thought that the mitttwit had a chance to win and voted that choice. Obama has only one thing the next four years that he doesn't have to worry about, reelection. McConnell eat it! I just hope my President can continue with his game and 'win' without a lot of quislings and naysayers nipping at his heels and trying to stab him in the back, but that is a fantasy. Best deal possible was accomplished with the repugnant thugs who call themselves republicans, small r on purpose. Go Obama!

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Response to Drunken Irishman (Original post)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 10:38 AM

16. Second day in a row that Stephanie Miller has highlighted a DU post.

She's reading this on her show right now and posted it to her show's Facebook page.

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Response to Drunken Irishman (Original post)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 10:45 AM

17. Well Done Drunken Irishman! The Stephanie Miller show just read parts of this!

Posting on her FB page as well!


and might I add this? APPLAUSE!

better yet: BIGGER APPLAUSE!

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Response to Raine1967 (Reply #17)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 10:25 PM

30. Thanks for reporting this, Raine67!

And, thank you DIrish for writing your thoughtful analysis on why you think the President went with this deal.

Senators Bernie Sanders, Sherrod Brown, and Al Franken must have thought it was the best they could get too. As well as the "progressive" caucus members in the House.

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Response to Cha (Reply #30)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 10:28 PM

31. Well I hope DI gets a chance to enjoy my little sound effects. :) I've got more! n/t

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Response to Drunken Irishman (Original post)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 10:55 AM

18. Amazing!! Congratulations DI!!

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Response to Drunken Irishman (Original post)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 11:01 AM

21. All hail the official Drunken Irishman of the Stephanie Miller show!!!

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Response to Drunken Irishman (Original post)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 11:32 AM

22. superb analysis. Thank you!

Wish I had the insight that you have.

Glad I finally read this--so worthwhile. (Thanks to another DUer for posting that Stephanie Miller read it on air!)

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Response to Drunken Irishman (Original post)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 12:36 PM

23. Thank you for a thoughtful intelligent

post, DI. I like that you've analyzed it from the angle of the left wing. I'm left wing, and recognize that we can't get everything we want in deal making with an obstructionist gop. In the presidency and congress, it's about compromise and trying to reach what's best now. I'm not into quixotic arguments that contain pithy statements about no compromises. As long as there's a majority of republicans in the house it won't work that way. I oppose austerity. I also recognize that one way out of it is by raising taxes on the ultra rich. That happened here. We didn't get everything we wanted. But we made some important gains. We won.

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Response to Drunken Irishman (Original post)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 01:44 PM

24. AND he scored a great stimulus program in this deal.

He got the Repukes to agree to a one year extension on benefits for the 2 million long term unemployed whose money was set to be cut off on 1-31-12. The Repukes were just itching to kick these folks to the curb, as they have done in the past. This would have cause untold misery and homelessness and tanked the economy like nothing else. Instead, the unemployment checks will keep flowing--and it is THE most stimulative use of government funds.

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Response to Drunken Irishman (Original post)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 06:25 PM

25. BABE!!!!

AWESOME PIECE! Heard Stephanie Miller read it this morning on her show..... laying in bed, half asleep, fevered, drugged on cold meds, and I hear her say, "...great piece by DRUNKEN IRISHMAN..." and I was WIDE AWAKE thinking, I KNOW THAT DUDE FROM THE OBAMA DIARY!!!

Congrats babe - great work! And great shout out on the TV!!!

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Response to Drunken Irishman (Original post)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 07:01 PM

26. I continue to support the President. Thank you for your post.

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Response to Drunken Irishman (Original post)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 07:17 PM

27. One thing I always try to keep in mind is that

we don't have all the facts at our disposal that President Obama (or any number of other people) has, or even close to it. We also don't know in detail what's coming down the pike.

So while I was prepared to go over the cliff, and I believe that being prepared for it and letting TPTB know that we were prepared and eager for it, made it easier for the President to get what he felt was the best deal at the best time considering the bigger picture.

We need to simply consistently let congress and the President know what we expect, in particular as regards outcomes, let them know we have his back and that we are ready for war...and then accept what he negotiates.

I'm also not particular about how his negotiating style is. It is very easy to be an armchair quarterback. Again...we don't know what he knows, all the cards he holds, etc.

There is a point where we have to trust and let go. To those who are wringing their hands about social security, I think we need to accept that there will always be wars over Social Security. It is a humongous pot of money and the 1% won't stop trying to steal that money until they are dead, and then their worthless, do nothing children will go after it. So we need to recognize that, accept it and be prepared to be at unending war over it.

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Response to magical thyme (Reply #27)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 09:08 PM

34. Accepting that there will always be wars over Social Security doesn't mean accepting

deals and compromises on it.

In fact, I demand war at the slightest provocation on the subject and tolerate no talk on our end for any reason.

My willingness to compromise only covers expansion of benefits, whether we need to and how much to increase revenue, or the merits of successor programs that are of greater benefit to the citizen.

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Response to Drunken Irishman (Original post)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 08:26 PM

28. This is the post that Stephanie Miller raved about on her show this morning!

I posted from a remote and couldn't look it up at the time but w00t!

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Response to Drunken Irishman (Original post)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 09:35 PM

29. Good post, DI. And it just reaffirms for me that we need to reinvent an economic meme

that will work for all of humanity. Personally, I think a combination of well-regulated capitalism and socialism strikes a pretty good balance. But I know one thing for damn sure: unregulated capitalism is an abomination. It destroys most of what it touches, and is dangerous for the world.

On edit: That was so much of what your post brought home to me: the system is really broken.

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Response to Drunken Irishman (Original post)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 02:57 AM

32. This is very good, DI. I'm glad I finally found it ...

It certainly got mentioned a lot, and now I see why.

Thanks,

Hekate

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Response to Drunken Irishman (Original post)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 02:00 PM

33. The R's would have agreed to ANYTHING to keep us from cutting Big War,

that was what Obama missed in these negotiations. The sequester on the military is the prize.

Also, R's did not vote to raise taxes, by waiting until AFTER taxes went up on the first, they actually cut taxes - especially cap gains and estate taxes for the Hoarders

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