Ed Driscoll

House Democrats Defy Obama on Tax Cut Bill


Far left PBS journalist Tavis Smiley, appearing on MSNBC in January of 2009:

Harry Reid, put down the crack pipe. You don’t work for Barack Obama? We’re all working for Barack Obama.

CNN, today:

Defying President Obama, House Democrats voted Thursday not to bring up the tax package that he negotiated with Republicans in its current form.

“This message today is very simple: That in the form that it was negotiated, it is not acceptable to the House Democratic caucus. It’s as simple as that,” said Democratic Congressman Chris Van Hollen.

“We will continue to try and work with the White House and our Republican colleagues to try and make sure we do something right for the economy and right for jobs, and a balanced package as we go forward,” he said.

The vote comes a day after Vice President Biden made clear to House Democrats behind closed doors that the deal would unravel if any changes were made.

The vote also comes less than an hour after Obama himself urged Congress to pass the compromise he struck with GOP leaders earlier this week and warned that failing to do it could cost jobs.

Jennifer Rubin observes Robert Reich’s four feet and ten inches of fury at the president’s rare moment of common sense and responds:

I don’t agree with Reich on the merits, but he sure does have the narrative correct. It’s as if Ronald Reagan entered office and announced unilateral disarmament — his most loyal supporters would have considered it not only dangerous policy but a personal betrayal. In other words, Brooks should hardly be surprised that Robert Reich Democrats are enraged as they watch their devoutly held economic precepts go down the drain — under a liberal president, no less.

As Jennifer wrote earlier in her post, a big part of the outrage from the left is that they’ve never embraced a dynamic understanding of tax policy:

For 30 years the Democrats have refused to think “dynamically” about the connection between tax rates and economic behavior (or, for that matter, between regulation and business activity). It is precisely because liberal Democrats (who are particularly well represented in Congress) have rejected dynamic tax policy for so long that they are now experiencing a spasm of frustration and anger.

It’s not easy coming to grips with the 21st century, when your view of taxes, labor and the economy is permanently stuck somewhere between the years of FDR and Harry Truman. Or as Stacy McCain dubs it watching Keith Olbermann of MSNBC in full Olberspaz mode, “Murthanomics:”

Elsewhere, I’ve described this resentful class-warfare mentality — the politics of envy – as “Murthanomics.” It is the exact opposite of sound economics, and is the sentiment that elects to office demagogues.

To watch Olbermann indignantly lecturing the President of the United States in this manner is a delightful smorgasbord of schadenfreude for Republicans watching the Left turn upon its own fallen hero. This is the misery inflicted on Democrats by the Republican mandate of winning 242 House seats in the mid-term elections.

Yet the fact that Olbermann speaks for tens of millions of his fellow Democrats, still trapped within the hate-filled darkness of their economic ignorance, is in fact a tragedy. And we should not gloat.

Oh, what the hell. Who am I kidding? Let’s gloat our asses off!

In between Reich and Olbermann and a lame duck Congress freaking out over a possibly (but certainly not necessarily) lame duck president, Stacy spots additional meltdowns in the studios of MSNBC: “First Olbermann smacks Obama, then Maddow smacks Obama, now O’Donnell smacks Grayson — clearly someone at MSNBC has figured out which way the political winds are blowing.”

Though the lame duck Congress is determined to hold off all of the winds of change until next month, it seems.

Update: Regarding MSNBC writing hate-filled screeds into the president’s ‘prompter, in the emailed version of his G-File, Jonah Goldberg notes how badly the cool of “No Drama Obama” has been shaken:

When the Norks tested a missile in the face of Obama’s hopey-changiness, we got cool. After various attempted and successful terrorist attacks on American soil, we not only got cool, we got cool condescension, whereby the president immediately suggested that it was silly or rash to assume that a guy shouting “Allahu Akbar!” as he murdered American soldiers had anything to do with Islamic terrorism. When Julian Assange vomited classified information, we got a strongly worded letter from Harold Koh and some tepid verbiage from Obama.

But when the press corps suggests that the likes of Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, Andrew Sullivan, Katrina vanden Heuvel, Markos Moulitsas, Sleepy, Dopey, and Bashful et al. might have reason to be disappointed in him, we finally see Obama the Pissed. At one point he reminded me of a favorite scene from The Simpsons when Homer tells Bart he can’t see the Itchy and Scratchy movie:

Bart: Look, can I please go to the movie?

Homer: I know my punishment may seem a little harsh, but I can’t go back on it. You’re welcome to watch anything you want on TV.

Bart: TV sucks.

Homer [visibly shaking with anger, grabs Bart by the shoulders]: I know you’re upset right now, so I’ll pretend you didn’t say that.

But what I think was most telling about the press conference(s) is that they happened at all. I can understand the first press event, when Obama wanted to get out in front of the news. But why the second? What did he add to the conversation? And in both, he seemed bizarrely unprepared to deal with the reality of the situation. I mean, did he not think he was going to get asked questions about whether he was going wobbly?

Deeper Ever Deeper

Ultimately, I think Obama’s biggest problem and his best path to political salvation can be gleaned from this passage in Peter Baker’s profile of Obama from just before the election:

Obama is preaching patience in an impatient age. One prominent Democratic lawmaker told me Obama’s problem is that he is not insecure – he always believes he is the smartest person in any room and never feels the sense of panic that makes a good politician run scared all the time, frenetically wooing lawmakers, power brokers, adversaries and voters as if the next election were a week away.

In other words, he’s arrogant. More importantly, he’s most comfortable in rooms where he thinks nobody is smarter than him and when he thinks all his advisers are dumber than him. We saw that man this week. He was visibly pissed that his friends couldn’t see the big picture and he lashed out at them, and none of his comparatively dumb advisers could stop him.

It’s not easy watching a closed loop worldview meet the real world outside.

Update: Speaking of triangulation in the Obama era, this post has been linked to by the PJM homepage, Michelle Malkin…and by Mr. Triangulation himself, Dick Morris. Welcome all!

(Bumped to top.)