Is Mitt Romney the President-elect or what? For the past several days, the media and the Republicans have acted as if they won.
In fact, President Obama won in the Electoral College by 126 votes and the popular vote by 3.3 million votes (so far). Democrats added 2 seats in the Senate and are likely to have a 55-45 majority if both independent Senators caucus with them. Democrats also increased their numbers in the House by 7. By any measure Democrats won a huge victory on November 6.
Is it just me, or are the corporate media and Republican leaders continuing to act under the assumption that Republicans will still be in full control of the nation’s destiny going forward and that Obama’s reelection means nothing?
Yesterday on Meet the Press, Bob Woodward produced a document that he described as follows:
MR. WOODWARD: Well, this is the confidential doc last offer the president, the White House made last year to Speaker Boehner to try to reach this four trillion dollar grand bargain. And it’s long and it’s tedious and it’s got budget jargon in it. But what it shows is a willingness to cut all kinds of things, like TRICARE, which is the sacred health insurance program for the military for military retirees; to cut Social Security; to cut Medicare, and there are– there are some lines in there about we want to get tax rates down, not only for individuals but for businesses. So Obama and the White House were willing to go quite far, in a sense this is the starting point…
Dancin’ Dave Gregory says he’ll put it up on the MTP website so the “budget wonks” can see it. I can almost see his gleeful expression as he turns to newly elected Texas Rep. Joaquin Castro.
GREGORY: Right, we just got it here and we’ll– we’ll put it on the web [read it here]. But that’s the point. And congressman, I guess the– the question that Bob and I talked about is, there’s a lot of spending pain in there that Democrats are going to have to go back to their folks and say, hey, this is the pain you’re going to have to suffer. Are you prepared to do that?
REP. CASTRO: Oh, look, there’s no question. I mean, these are tough issues and that’s why there’s been a lot of hand-wringing and wrangling over them. But, yeah, I believe so. I believe you’ve got a Democratic Congress, especially in the House and in the Senate that are willing to make those tough choices, that know that in the long term that we’ve got to reform entitlements.
So these guys (including Democratic Rep Castro) are assuming that this same “grand bargain” will be the starting point for new negotiations? WTF?! From Lucas Kawa at Business Insider:
Yesterday on “Meet the Press,” Bob Woodward of the Washington Post displayed documents that outline a “Grand Bargain” the White House offered during debt ceiling negotiations in 2011.
The document in question appears to have been drafted by White House Legislative Affairs Director Rob Nabors, and includes the annotation ‘Post Gang of 6′ which suggests it was created as Supercommittee talks broke down.
Woodward describes the three-page document as “confidential” and points out Obama’s apparent willingness to take on sacred cows such as Medicare and Social Security. Specifically, the president was open to increasing the minimum age for Medicare recipients.
I assume Woodward would not have this “confidential document” and be handing it over to MTP if the White House didn’t want him to. The White House offer included cuts to veterans health benefits (Tricare), civilian and military retirement plans, social security, the Post Office, and Pell Grants. So it appears the White House is floating this idea to see what the public reaction will be.
This morning, I clicked around to a number of morning TV shows, and the meme I saw most often was that Obama and Congressional Democrats need to accept the reality that Obama’s supposed drop dead insistence on raising taxes on the top 2% is suddenly dead in the water and the only increased revenue will have to come from closing tax loopholes. There was much talk of enacting “Simpson-Bowles.” I even saw Grover Norquist being asked whether he’d agree to raising some revenue in this way–but of course not by raising taxes on the wealthy!
The only tax loopholes that could be eliminated to raise significant revenue are the mortgage tax deduction and the charity deduction–and those would primarily affect middle class taxpayers.
Every year our leaders honor our nation’s veterans with flags and parades. Are they also about to betray them this year with a backroom deal? Words won’t be enough this time. Our returning warriors need — and deserve — jobs, opportunity, and a thriving Social Security system that protects them and their families.
Bob Woodward obtained a copy of the deal the White House offered to Speaker of the House John Boehner last year. That proposal asked our nation’s vets to sacrifice for the luxuries of others once again It included cuts to TRICARE, the military health insurance program, which would have meant higher out-of-pocket medical costs for active and retired military personnel and their families.
The secret White House offer would have also cut Social Security payments for anyone receiving benefits today, along with everyone who’ll ever receive them in the future.
But Americans didn’t vote for a “grand bargain.” If Obama ran on anything, it was letting the Bush tax cuts expire on incomes over $250,000. He said it again and again on the campaign trail and he said it in a speech just a few days ago:
President Barack Obama on Friday signaled willingness to compromise with Republicans, declaring he was not “wedded to every detail” of his tax-and-spending approach to prevent deep and widespread pain in the new year. But he insisted his re-election gave him a mandate to raise taxes on wealthier Americans.
“The majority of Americans agree with my approach,” said Obama, brimming with apparent confidence in his first White House statement since securing a second term.
Finally, Josh Barro at Bloomberg writes that the Bush tax cuts for the rich aren’t going anywhere, “for now.”
Conservatives have taken a lot of well-deserved mockery about their overconfidence in last week’s election. But this week, I am seeing overconfidence from liberals that they are about to win the coming tax fight in Congress. They’re not.
On Dec. 31, all of the Bush tax cuts are set to expire, and, just like two years ago, Republicans want to extend them all while Democrats only want to extend about 80 percent of them, applying them to taxpayers making less than $250,000 a year….
If the fiscal cliff isn’t resolved before the end of the year, House Republicans will pass a tax cut in January — a tax cut that extends the Bush tax cuts in their entirety, including the part for people with high incomes. The Senate will pass one that excludes the high income tax cuts. Then both parties will say they have passed a tax cut bill and are just waiting for the other side to agree to it.
Democrats cannot force Republicans’ hand unless they are more willing than Republicans to let all the Bush tax cuts expire. And they won’t be. A full expiration might well cause a new recession, which would be even more politically damaging for the Barack Obama administration than for congressional Republicans. Congress is already about as unpopular as it can become, and Republicans know they are not going to get their legislative agenda enacted in the next two years anyway. But a new recession would greatly interfere with Obama’s second-term plans.
Obviously, I’m not Sky Dancing’s economist, so I’ll leave it to Dakinikat to tell me whether to freak out about this or not. But it isn’t sounding good to me so far.