For GOP It’ll Be Win-Win. For Dems Lose-Lose.
Students of the presidency knew from the start that by turning negotiations on the stimulus in the last session, the Obama administration made a grievous mistake. Nancy Pelosi and friends loaded the bill up with enough goodies to make it a Christmas tree. Result: a great waste of money and when the stimulus didn’t work, it engendered bitterness about overspending that led to the electoral revolt in the midterms.
Now it’s clear the Obama administration hasn’t learned a thing from the mistakes that torpedoed its popularity in the past session….and is determined to repeat the same strategy with the Lame Duck. The game plan once again: Give the ball to the Dems in Congress to run for the goalposts. And Harry Reid has this idea:
We’ll use the Bush tax cut renewal issue as a plum for the session’s end. We’ll take everything else up first…repeal of don’t-ask-don’t-tell…food safety…nuclear arms treaty (applies only to the Senate for ratification)…the “Dream Act” to allow children of illegals to earn citizenship…consider the Renewable Energy bill…mine safety…child nutrition…extension of the Elementary and SecondaryEducation Act…extension of unemployment benefits. Time for tax cut extension will be running out Dec. 3—so Reid and Pelosi will play the game of “chicken” with the Republcans. Meaning this:
Okay, Republicans: You say you want to extend the entire package of Bush tax cuts and you understand we want to extend only the middle class ones. How bad do you want the whole extension? Real bad? Very-very bad? Well why don’t you play ball with us on food safety, repeal of don’t-ask-don’t-tell and if you are good little boys and girls maybe we’ll give you a bite of the apple—or the whole tax cut extension apple! How’s that?
Not smart. First, just as he did earlier, Obama is sitting back and delegating the dealing to the Congressional Dem which is a show of weakness. Second, the Republicans have no incentive to play that game because they’ll have control of the House in January and more troops in the Senate. If the taxes aren’t extended totally in the Lame Duck who will take the blame if the economy continues to be flat as economists forecast? The Democrats, that’s who! Odds are the Dems will pass the middle class extension and the Republicans will have an issue for 2012 because the whole extension package wasn’t passed.
Then in the next session, Republicans will be able to pass another tax cut bill with the help of some panicky Dems and Obama will likely veto it. Superb issue for 2012 for the Republicans. So for the GOP it’s win-win; for the Dems it’s lose-lose.
What Obama should do is take over the negotiations himself…then in the spirit of cooperation pass extension of the entire Bush tax cuts saying he doesn’t want to continue the bickering. He’s bound to be a hero if he does that.
That might very well stimulate business to hire, unemployment will go down and voila! Obama’s popularity will rise just as Bill Clinton’s did by allowing Republican measures such as welfare reform to pass….for which Clinton got the credit and went on to get reelected in 1996.
But that’s not likely to happen. Obama is inflexible and in-educable. Nancy Pelosi’s face will be the face of the Democratic party, she being the most unpopular congressional politician in the nation, inveighing against the extension of all the tax cuts…and Harry Reidwho had a tough time getting reelected in Nevada will be the other face—with Obama out of the loop.It all comes down to Obama’s and the Dems’ inflexibility and their inability to learn from the disaster of the last Congress.