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September 20, 2011

White House: No, We're Not Really Serious About Passing These Jobs And Tax Ideas

Uh, don't call my bluff?

“It is fair to say we’ve entered a new phase,” said Dan Pfeiffer, Mr. Obama’s communications director. But he disputed what he called the conventional wisdom behind the president’s shift.

“The popular narrative is that we sought compromise in a quixotic quest for independent votes. We sought out compromise because a failure to get funding of the government last spring and then an extension of the debt ceiling in August would have been very bad for the economy and for the country,” Mr. Pfeiffer added. “We were in a position of legislative compromise by necessity. That phase is behind us.”

In this new phase, Mr. Obama must solidify support among Democrats by standing pat for progressive party principles, while trusting that a show of strong leadership for the policies he believes in will appeal to independents. Polls consistently suggest that perhaps the only thing that unites independents as much as their desire for compromise is their inclination toward leaders who signal strength by fighting for their beliefs.

I'm pretty sure if you a President are pretending to be "the adult in the room" by claiming to try and govern in a balanced and above it all way, it doesn't help that your communications director is saying, "nah, we don't want compromise, we just want to rally our base".

In Pfeiffer's defense he's probably worried that the Democratic base is too stupid to realize they are being pandered too. Judging by this post from Greg Sargent, it would be a reasonable concern.

A variety of commentators and news outlets are responding to Obama’s new approach — his vow to take his jobs bill to the country, his call for tax hikes to be included in the deficit package, his veto threat — by reductively insisting that it’s only about winning back Democrats.

Politico today is a case in point, insisting that his plan reads “like a blueprint for shoring up his restless Democratic base.” There’s been tons of other chatter along these lines today.

The unstated assumption here is that Obama’s policies — in particular hiking taxes on the wealthy and corporations — couldn’t possibly have any appeal to the middle of the country.

Why are folks so reluctant to embrace the obvious truth that a combination of tax hikes and spending cuts to reduce the deficit is the mainstream American position?

So, the White House says they are simply pandering to their base and not really trying to forge a compromise and a liberal hack says, no you're not!

Ok.

As for how Obama's gambit will play, I think actual Democratic politicians who have to get elected in moderate to conservative states and districts probably have a better read on this than a guy like Sargent.

Centrist Democrats, a dwindling breed on Capitol Hill, were quickly faced with another rough choice once Obama went public with his plans: Reject their president or back what Republicans are already calling the largest tax increase in the nation’s history.

Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, who is up for reelection in 2012, has supported raising taxes on millionaires but was still weighing whether he’d support higher taxes on those who make more than $200,000 a year, said spokesman Dan McLaughlin.

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), a key moderate who’s up for reelection next year, didn’t mince words: “There’s too much discussion about raising taxes right now, not enough focus on cutting spending.

Seems to me if Obama's tax hikes were as super popular as Sargent seems to think, these guys in tough races would be racing to embrace them. But what do they know about actual voters compared to a guy toeing the White House line from the safety of the Washington Post?


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posted by DrewM. at 11:01 AM

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