Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Horse Latitudes

Obama and a handful of Senate Republicans have brokered a deal which, if it goes through, will ensure that the crummy economic conditions we're experiencing now will prevail for the next couple of years. Unemployment payments will be extended, so the jobless can still buy food and pay rent, the tax cuts that are in place will remain in place, which will ensure that the jobless rate won't rise significantly. Our friends at the New York times point out:

The package would cost about $900 billion over the next two years, to be financed entirely by adding to the national debt, at a time when both parties are professing a desire to begin addressing long-term fiscal imbalances.

It would reduce the 6.2 percent Social Security payroll tax on all wage earners by two percentage points for one year, putting more money in the paychecks of workers. For a family earning $50,000 a year, it would amount to a savings of $1,000.
What Republicans remain vehemently opposed to, though, is any attempt to make the climate for employment BETTER. They're demanding the return of unspent stimulus funds (except in their own states, of course) and the notion of even encouraging business to behave differently will be met with howls of tea-fueled anger. Thus conditions will be in place by 2012 to run whatever good-looking cypher against Obama that Republicans can dig up. This guy will claim to be able to fix the problem, then once he's in he'll pursue the same policies that we're pursuing now. The economy will erode and somehow they'll sucessfully blame Democrats for it.

More and more I'm looking at Obama's strategies and thinking that the "long game" that he's playing accounts for him to be out of office in 2012. It's too bad. I'm all for compromise if it means both sides give up equal , but that's clearly not what's happening here. The one thing that IS different in this deal - the Obama Tax Cut. Somehow the Republicans managed to get him to agree to an estate tax cut. This isn't so bad because hardly anyone is affected by it; but symbolically it's devastating. It's still better than having McCain in charge, but I'm less and less able to explain how.

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