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Sat Dec 1, 2012, 12:37 PM

Go Suck Your Thumb...

How Obama Killed the Norquist Pledge

Monday, November 26, 2012 | Posted by Deaniac83 at 11:24 AM

Under the pressure of the fiscal cliff, Republicans are beginning to buckle. And the first casualty seems to be – drumrolls, please – the Grover Norquist pledge. I mean, when Republicans from blood-red states like Georgia and South Carolina start telling Grover Norquist to go suck a thumb, you know something palpable has changed in American politics. The one pledge that has come to define Republican governance – the “taxes = baaad” paradigm – is falling apart.


Too many people in the beltway seem to internalize an interesting case of cognitive dissonance about this president: that he is both a brilliant tactician who put together an unprecedented coalition to become the first Democrat to win a majority of the popular vote twice since FDR and that he’s a dumb negotiator who gives away football fields to opponents and “negotiates against himself.” Both things cannot be true, regardless of how much the beltway insists on both.

So what gives? Barack Obama is the most brilliant strategic mind of our time – perhaps since FDR. Anyone who believes that he did not figure out the Republican tactic of obstructing everything and being hell bent on robbing the public sector of all possible revenue within his first few months in office is a fool. He did figure it out. And when he figured it out, he set out to systematically destroy it. But being a strategic genius, he knew that it wasn’t going to be done in a day. In the first two years, he had sizeable (but by no means non-obstructable) Democratic majorities in the House and the Senate, and he needed to get the big policy agenda through: the largest economic recovery package in history, health care reform, Wall Street reform, equal pay for women, credit card reform, student loan reform, repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, keeping the safety net tight while the economy was still in upheaval.

But then, the tax cuts were going to expire at the end of 2010, as well as unemployment and other safety net benefits. Triumphant from an election, Republicans made a deadly mistake: they took the Norquist pledge as biblical. When the president offered them a deal they couldn’t refuse – freezing all tax rates and enacting a new one for the payroll tax, and asked for an extension of the safety net benefits as the price, they saw what was a brilliant setup for a cave-in from a politically rebuked president. And really, all they needed was to extend the tax rates till 2012, since they believed their own hype that this president would be a goner after this election.

But the payroll tax cut, the middle class tax cuts, the unemployment insurance benefits and other safety net benefits aren’t … how do I say… “gifts”, as Mitt Romney so eloquently put it of late. They are, on the contrary, an economic stimulus of a massive size. All of that helped spur consumer spending, stablized home prices, and began creating jobs. See, the very deal that Republicans thought was a concession from a shellacked president was setting up the case for an improved economy, and thus, the president’s re-election.


All of this – the Republican bubble – hinged on a single thing, however. Their fantasy would or would not become reality based on a singular event: the 2012 presidential election. The Republicans bet their house on their inside-the-bubble idea that they were successful in their obstruction and thus this president would be a one-term president. The President, on the other hand, made a different bet with the same hinge. He bet that he could make the case to the American people to return him to office. While Republicans did everything with an eye towards a goal of making this president a failure, the president put his presidency on the line to do the right thing. And he took his case to the American people.

The American people listened, and we sent the president back to the White House with a thumping victory. Suddenly, the Republican bubble burst. Suddenly, their house of cards collapsed in on itself. Suddenly, the GOP found a strengthened, re-elected President who ran on the promise of raising taxes on the wealthiest, and won. Twice. The real “demographic” the GOP should be worried about isn’t just the increasingly ethnically diverse face of America but a the spring of a new American economic patriotism that believes in the common good and in investing in our people by ensuring everyone pay their fair share.


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Reply Go Suck Your Thumb... (Original post)
sheshe2 Dec 2012 OP
alcibiades_mystery Dec 2012 #1

Response to sheshe2 (Original post)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 03:25 PM

1. Careful...you'll make the pseudo-progressives howl louder than their conservative bedfellows


Of course, they still think that Barack Obama "alienated his base" (the one that just elected him to a second term), so there's plenty of dissonance to go around.

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