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Tue Jan 1, 2013, 07:48 PM

what if obama had proposed, congress had passed, and obama had signed this deal in 2009? or 2010?

what if obama, with his historic victory in 2008, 60 nominal democrats in the senate, and house majority, had proposed (or worked out a deal with congressional democrats) for this exact deal we're looking at today.

let's say he completely shut out republicans out of the process, saying hey, you guys lost, elections have consequences.

let's say kenneday was able to vote.
let's say lieberman wasn't a schmuck.
let's say conservadems climbed on board, demanding only that the deal wasn't any better than the one we're looking at today.

relative to the 2008 tax code, the 2009 tax code would have:

"permanently" raised taxes on income over $440,000 (for couples) or whatever, back to the clinton-era levels.
"permanently" kept the shrub tax cuts for income under that same threshold.
restored the exemption phase-out for income above $300,000
restored the deduction phase-out for income above $300,000
fixed the estate tax to the 40% level on estates over $5,000,000 (the rate was higher and the threshold lower in 2008, but was on a track to expire entirely)
raised the tax on qualified dividends and capital gains from 15% to 20% for income above $450,000 (for couples)
extends the child tax credit
extends the earned income tax credit
extends the college tuition tax credit
creates across-the-board spending cuts to start two months after passage barring a further deal.
makes the routine annual amt patch permanent.

i'm not saying it would have been ideal. yes, the various levels could/should be lower. yes, there's still no excuse for taxing investment income more favorably than labor income. yes, sequestration is a manufactured crisis.

but this deal would have been, then a better tax code than shrub left us.

any way you cut it, this is an improvement over what we actually had in the past.
the only reason anyone thinks otherwise is because it's easy to imagine an even better outcome.

i'm not going to argue that obama got the best deal imaginable, or even the best deal realistically possible.
but i simply cannot accept that this is in any way, shape, or form, a defeat or capitulation.

this is an unambiguous VICTORY for progressives and democrats.

we can quibble over the SIZE of that victory, but the FACT of it being a victory is flat out undeniable.

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