12/05/2010 archive

What Happened to the “Other” Tax Bills

From David Waldman at Today in Congress, seems to be the only one pointing out that there were two other bills on the agenda for the Saturday Tax Cut Showdown in the Senate. One was to extend all the tax cuts permanently and the other was to extend them for two years. What happened to those two bills? This is what happened, the Republicans manipulated the Senate rules to make the Democrats look bad and the White House just tags along.

In the Senate, courtesy of the Office of the Majority Leader:

   Convenes: 8:15am

   By unanimous consent, at 10:30am Saturday, December 4, the Senate will proceed to vote on the motion to invoke cloture on the Reid motion to concur with the House amendment to the Senate amendment to H.R.4853, with the Baucus amendment #4727 [link] (tax cut extension for those making up to $250,000, plus several additional items such as UI extension, AMT relief, estate tax, 1099 repeal, making work pay credit, and others).

   If cloture is not invoked, the Senate would immediately proceed to vote on the motion to invoke cloture on the Schumer amendment #4728 [link] (tax cut extension for those making up to $1 million, plus several additional items such as UI extension, AMT relief, estate tax, 1099 repeal, making work pay credit, and others).

   The time from 8:30am until 10:30am will be equally divided and controlled between the Leaders or their designees.

So what ever happened to the supposed deal for having four votes rather than two? Well, apparently that deal — which would have included two Republican amendments that would have offered the choice of either a temporary or a permanent extension of all the cuts — fell apart when a Republican objected to it at the last minute, leaving a surprised and embarrassed Mitch McConnell at the table empty-handed.

Why would a Republican object to a deal offering the minority an equal number of amendments on the bill, each aimed at doing exactly what they supposedly wanted? Because someone in the Republican Conference thinks both of the Democratic amendments will fail on their cloture votes, and Dems will be embarrassed by their inability to settle this situation, and then House Republicans will be free to write the extension bill they way they want it come January. And they’ll make the extension retroactive to January 1, and look like heroes.

Why would a Republican make a surprise objection at the last minute and embarrass Mitch McConnell like that? Because Mitch McConnell hasn’t been the Republican Leader for at least the last year. Jim DeMint is the real Senate Minority Leader, and he plays harder ball than McConnell does. He just showed Mitch who’s boss by pulling the rug out from under him, and reminded Republicans that the source of their power is not their ability to use procedure to leverage deals, but their ability to leverage procedure to prevent any from being made while Democrats control the White House and Congress.

It’s time to stop trying to understand Republicans in terms of figuring out what they want and trying to find middle ground. If “what they want” were even really of interest to Republicans at this point, then they’d have been over the moon at having a legitimate shot at passing an amendment to make all the tax cuts permanent today. But they walked away from that (as they walked away from a legitimate shot at passing both 1099 repeal and a $39 billion stimulus rescission earlier this week, totally abandoning their “tax cuts don’t have to be paid for” rhetoric in the process) because “what they want” at this point is for Democrats to be seen losing as often as possible, on as many things as possible.

Waldman repeated this several times today on Twitter:

I can’t repeat this enough: Senate GOP was offered a vote to extend all cuts permanently and still said no.

His explanation of why they did this:

Why would GOP oppose their own plan for permanent extensions? It might pass, and people might think Dems helped. And they can’t have that.

The Republicans along with his Tea Party allies and a few Blue Dogs have 98% of the country held hostage and will most likely continue to do so for the next two years.

Rant of the Week: Alan Grayson

I am so going to miss this man in the House.

Alan Grayson Schools Democrats On How To Win The Taxcut Debate

The Week In Review 11/28 – 12/4

297 Stories served.  42 per day.

This is actually the hardest diary to execute, and yet perhaps the most valuable because it lets you track story trends over time.  It should be a Sunday morning feature.

2 Bloggers, an Economist and a Comedian

There were these two Bloggers, an Economist and a Dead Comedian who met in a virtual bar to discuss the economy and Social Security. The conversation turned to why President Obama is trying to do what George W. Bush failed to do, cut the only safety net many Americans have, Social Security. The President’s Cat Food Commission failed to get the 14 votes needed to pass the resolution that Congress would have been obligated to vote on. Now there are those on both sides of the aisle that want to bring to a vote anyway. Why do these people and the President hate 98% of Americans?

What the first Blogger said:

Well naturally the commission failed to get the required 14 votes and the press is spinning it as a new majority baseline for future compromise. But we knew this.

What is far more disturbing is Dick Durbin voting for it on the basis of wanting it to “move forward.” He is seen as a proxy vote on this for the president.

If they pursue this Social Security/Austerity business I think we’ll have a one term presidency (even, Gawd help us, if the Queen of the Arctic gets the nomination.) And I’m not sure that the Democratic Party won’t be permanently shattered.

I know that sounds hyperbolic, but it’s vitally, vitally important that the president understand that if he goes after Social Security, the Republicans will turn the argument on him just as they did with “death panels” and “pulling the plug on Grandma” and end up solidifying the senior vote for the foreseeable future and further alienate the Party from the liberal base. I know it makes no sense that Republicans would be able to cast themselves as the protectors of the elderly, but in case you haven’t been paying attention lately, politics doesn’t operate in a linear, rational fashion at the moment. After all, the Republicans just won an election almost entirely on the basis of saving Medicare.

The Economist added his two cents agreeing with the first Blogger that “a fair number of “centrist” Democrats – probably including the Incredible Shrinking President – seem willing, even eager, to join up with Republicans in cutting Social Security benefits and raising the retirement age.”:

The question you have to ask is, why are Democrats such suckers on this issue?

The proximate cause is that cutting Social Security is one of those things you’re for if you’re a Very Serious Person. Way back, I wrote that inside the Beltway calling for Social Security cuts is viewed as a “badge of seriousness”, which has nothing to do with the program’s real importance or lack thereof to the budget picture; that column elicited a more or less hysterical reaction, which sort of proved the point. (Looking back at the column, I was surprised to see that it was about the ISP himself; tales of a debacle foretold.)

But why Social Security? There was a telling moment in 2004, during one of the presidential campaign debates. Tim Russert, the moderator, asked eight or nine questions about Social Security, trying to put the candidates on the spot, while asking not once about Medicare, which serious people – as opposed to Serious People – know is the real heart of the story. Why the focus on Social Security?

The answer, I suspect, has to do with class. . .

So going after Social Security is a way to seem tough and serious – but entirely at the expense of people you don’t know.

From the past, the Dead Comedian weighed in to remind his bar stool companions that this is what the “owners of this country” have wanted all along:

The second Blogger summed it up:

The political analysis is equally simple, but it uses power as the dynamic – If you’re in the predator group, you get to eat the prey. It’s just a matter of feeding; no ill will intended.

(“The Incredible Shrinking President”? Well, that one’s gonna stick.)

On This Day in History: December 5

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

December 5 is the 339th day of the year (340th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 26 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1933, The 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is ratified, repealing the 18th Amendment and bringing an end to the era of national prohibition of alcohol in America. At 5:32 p.m. EST, Utah became the 36th state to ratify the amendment, achieving the requisite three-fourths majority of states’ approval. Pennsylvania and Ohio had ratified it earlier in the day.

The movement for the prohibition of alcohol began in the early 19th century, when Americans concerned about the adverse effects of drinking began forming temperance societies. By the late 19th century, these groups had become a powerful political force, campaigning on the state level and calling for national liquor abstinence. Several states outlawed the manufacture or sale of alcohol within their own borders. In December 1917, the 18th Amendment, prohibiting the “manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors for beverage purposes,” was passed by Congress and sent to the states for ratification. On January 29, 1919, the 18th Amendment achieved the necessary three-fourths majority of state ratification. Prohibition essentially began in June of that year, but the amendment did not officially take effect until January 29, 1920.

The proponents of Prohibition had believed that banning alcoholic beverages would reduce or even eliminate many social problems, particularly drunkenness, crime, mental illness, and poverty, and would eventually lead to reductions in taxes. However, during Prohibition, people continued to produce and drink alcohol, and bootlegging helped foster a massive industry completely under the control of organized crime. Prohibitionists argued that Prohibition would be more effective if enforcement were increased. However, increased efforts to enforce Prohibition simply resulted in the government spending more money, rather than less. Journalist H.L. Mencken asserted in 1925 that respect for law diminished rather than increased during Prohibition, and drunkenness, crime, insanity, and resentment towards the federal government had all increased.

During this period, support for Prohibition diminished among voters and politicians. John D. Rockefeller Jr., a lifelong nondrinker who had contributed much money to the Prohibitionist Anti-Saloon League, eventually announced his support for repeal because of the widespread problems he believed Prohibition had caused. Influential leaders, such as the du Pont brothers, led the Association Against the Prohibition Amendment, whose name clearly asserted its intentions.

Women as a bloc of voters and activists became pivotal in the effort to repeal, as many concluded that the effects of Prohibition were morally corrupting families, women, and children. (By then, women had become even more politically powerful due to ratification of the Constitutional amendment for women’s suffrage.) Activist Pauline Sabin argued that repeal would protect families from the corruption, violent crime, and underground drinking that resulted from Prohibition. In 1929 Sabin founded the Women’s Organization for National Prohibition Reform (WONPR), which came to be partly composed of and supported by former Prohibitionists; its membership was estimated at 1.5 million by 1931.

The number of repeal organizations and demand for repeal both increased. In 1932, the Democratic Party’s platform included a plank for the repeal of Prohibition, and Democrat Franklin Roosevelt ran for President of the United States promising repeal of federal laws of Prohibition.

Punting the Pundits: Sunday Preview Edition

Punting the Punditsis an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

The Sunday Talking Heads:

This Week with Christiane Amanpour: Ms Amanpour will discuss the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell debate with Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Wesley Clark, Lt. Col. (ret.) Bob Maginnis, Senior Fellow of the Family Research Council, R. Clarke Cooper, Executive Director of the Log Cabin Republicans, Elaine Donnelly of the Center for Military Readiness and Tammy Schultz, Director of National Security and Joint Warfare at the Marine Corps War College.

Can we win in Afghanistan? will be the question for former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, former ambassador to the United Nations and Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad, Sakena Yacoobi of the Afghan institute of Learning and George Will

Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer: Mr Schieffer’s guest will Sen. Richard Durbin, Democratic Whip, (D-Ill), Sen. Jon Kyl, Republican Whip, (R-Ariz), Nancy Cordes, CBS News Congressional Correspondent and Jim VandeHei, Executive Editor, Politico

The Chris Matthews Show: This week’s guests are Andrea Mitchell, NBC News Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent, John Heilemann, New York Magazine National Political Correspondent, Susan Davis, National Journal Congressional Correspondent and Andrew Sullivan, The Atlantic

Senior Editor. They will discuss these questions:

Will Obama Grab the Deficit Cause and Drive a National Movement for Shared Sacrifice?

Why are Combat Commanders and Troops Worried about Open Service by Gays?

Meet the Press with David Gregory: The Republican Leader of the Senate Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Democratic Senator John Kerry (D-MA) will talk about the “battle grounds” in the Senate.

MTP’s Round Table panel New York Times columnists David Brooks and Tom Friedman, BBC World News America’s Washington Correspondent Katty Kay and Republican Strategist Mike Murphy will continue the discussion of the Senate, as well as, Wikileaks, START, DADT and tax cuts.

State of the Union with Candy Crowley: Taking center stage this Sunday: the lame duck Congress tackles some hot button issues: compromise over tax cuts, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, unemployment benefits, and the deficit. What will they achieve before the new Congress and is there room for compromise? The president makes a surprise trip to Afghanistan. And the leak felt around the world as Wikileaks releases confidential State Department documents.

Up first the view from both sides of the aisle with Democratic Senator Ron Wyden and Republican Senator Orrin Hatch.

Plus, an exclusive: New York Rep. Charlie Rangel in his first television interview since being censured by the House of Representatives.

Then the unlikely Republican maverick in an era of increasing partisanship, we’re joined by the ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee Senator Dick Lugar of Indiana.

Fareed Zakaris: GPS: This week on GPS: Just what have the 250,000 diplomatic cable from the latest WikiLeaks document dump proven? Nefarious backroom dealings? The secretive inner workings of the State Department? Or do these documents show that American diplomats might actually be good at their jobs? Fareed offers his take.

And to help make sense of WikiLeaks, the financial crisis in Europe and its effect on America, we’ve assembled an all-star GPS panel. Niall Ferguson of Harvard, Richard Haass of the Council On Foreign Relations and Gillian Tett of the Financial Times.

Then, 2010 was a catastrophic year. Devastating earthquakes led the list, but the year also brought an uptick in climate-related deaths — from floods and droughts, heat and cold, . What’s it all about?

Next up, someone Fareed calls “one of the sharpest observers of American politics and life-in-general out there.” Bill Maher, the host of HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher” and one of this county’s most prominent stand-up comedians has had Fareed on his show before. Now see what happens when the tables are turned.

And finally, a last look at when nationalism, is perhaps, out of fashion.


Morning Shinbun Sunday December 5

Sunday’s Headlines:

Giant panda breeding breakthrough in China


Mounting State Debts Stoke Fears of a Looming Crisis

Tension grows between Calif. Muslims, FBI after informant infiltrates mosque


Spain, the world capital of prostitution?

Grandson of Chancellor Konrad Adenauer wants Germany to end eurozone bailouts

Middle East

Covert war against Iran’s nuclear aims takes chilling turn

Egyptians vote in runoff elections


Chinese blamed for Google attack

Unveiled: Work by Anthony Burgess suppressed for years


UN calls for ceasefire in Congo to expedite vaccinations following polio outbreak

Ken Saro-Wiwa was framed, secret evidence shows

Latin America

SWAT team sent as Easter Islanders take land

Fed workers told: Stay away from those leaked cables

Directive notes the content ‘remains classified’; Columbia U. also warns future diplomats

msnbc.com staff and news service reports

NEW YORK – With tens of thousands of U.S. diplomatic cables still to be disclosed by WikiLeaks, the Obama administration has warned federal government employees, and even some future diplomats, that they must refrain from downloading or even linking to any.

“Classified information, whether or not already posted on public websites or disclosed to the media, remains classified, and must be treated as such by federal employees and contractors,” the Office of Management and Budget said in a notice sent out Friday.

The New York Times, which first reported the directive, was told by a White House official that it does not advise agencies to block WikiLeaks or other websites on government computer systems. Nor does it bar federal employees from reading news stories about the leaks.

Caption This!

Prime Time

College Throwball, Big 12 Championship: Nebraska v. Oklahoma.

Prepare every vessel that floats.  At dawn we are at war


SNL– Host Robert De Niro, Diddy-Dirty Money.

GitS SAC: 2nd GigFake Food, Ambivalence (Episodes 8 & 9).

What? You’ve seen it all, done it all. Survived. That’s the trick isn’t it? To survive?

It’s not just about living forever, Jackie. The trick is still living with yourself forever.

Zap2it TV Listings, Yahoo TV Listings

The Wikileaks Debate

Democracy Now hosted a debate about WikiLeaks and Julian Assange. The guests were Glenn Greenwald, a constitutional law attorney and legal blogger for Salon and Steven Aftergood, senior research analyst at the Federation of American Scientists. He directs the Project on Government Secrecy and runs Secrecy News. The transcript is in this link to Democracy Now.

Is WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange a Hero? Glenn Greenwald Debates Steven Aftergood of Secrecy News

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