Bill Clinton returned to the White House briefing room with President Obama, and he put on a tour de force, with the President excusing himself while the former President seemed to bask in the short term restoration. While Obama has been called a great communicator there is no question that the master put on a show, explaining key policy details in a language that could be understood. He defended the bipartisan compromise against Democratic critics, and pointed out that there was some Republican opposition to the deal as well. President Clinton specifically referred to a Charles Krauthammer column in the Washington Post that paints the bipartisan agreement as a major political victory for the President. And Krauthammer makes some very interesting points.
Obama is no fool. While getting Republicans to boost his own reelection chances, he gets them to make a mockery of their newfound, second-chance, post-Bush, Tea-Party, this-time-we’re-serious persona of debt-averse fiscal responsibility. And he gets all this in return for what? For a mere two-year postponement of a mere 4.6-point increase in marginal tax rates for upper incomes. And an estate tax rate of 35 percent – it jumps insanely from zero to 55 percent on Jan. 1 – that is somewhat lower than what the Democrats wanted.
Krauthammer ridicules the left for their myopia in not realizing what a good deal this was for Democrats, and speculates that Obama has created a second “stimulus” bill, with Republican help, that may goose the economy enough to ensure his re-election in 2012. Krauthammer also recognizes the Democratic intra-party mud-fight as benefiting Obama amongst independents, where elections are won and lost these days.
Obama’s public exasperation with this infantile leftism is both perfectly understandable and politically adept. It is his way back to at least the appearance of centrist moderation. The only way he will get a second look from the independents who elected him in 2008 – and abandoned the Democrats in 2010 – is by changing the prevailing (and correct) perception that he is a man of the left.
Ah yes the political deal struck by the President begins to take form. After the midterms this deal was a foregone conclusion, with the President signaling its arrival a few months back. I thought he might have signaled it too early, but maybe I was wrong about that. The Democratic leadership in the House and the Senate are in no position to criticize Obama now. They had their chance to get a tax bill through for two years. They failed. Bill Clinton is right. This is the best deal available, and the more you look at the particulars the more you realize just what the President got the Republicans to agree to.
Krauthammer is not the only Republican to oppose this deal. Jim Demint announced his opposition, as did the Club for Growth.
The Club for Growth today declared its opposition to the tax compromise proposal reached yesterday by President Obama and congressional Republicans.
“This is bad policy, bad politics, and a bad deal for the American people,” said Club President Chris Chocola. “The plan would resurrect the Death Tax, grow government, blow a hole in the deficit with unpaid-for spending, and do so without providing the permanent relief and security our economy needs to finally start hiring and growing again.”
“Instead, Congress should pass a permanent extension of current rates, including a permanent repeal of the death tax, and drop all new spending,” Chocola said. “A month ago, the American people repudiated Washington big government. It’s time for both parties to finally hear that message and act on it.”
Congressional Democrats better act quickly, or come January they will find out what a bad political deal really looks like.