Not long after Obama spoke, Democrats ignited a partisan row in the House with legislation that would prevent taxes from rising on lower- and middle-income wage earners but allow them to go up for people at higher incomes.
Given Republican objections, that measure has no chance of passing the Senate. But Democrats there insisted on voting on it Friday as a way to dramatize their support for the measure and, officials said, register unhappiness with Obama.
The president has already signaled he will accede to Republican demands for extending tax cuts at all income levels, making votes on the Democratic-backed bill purely symbolic.
Heckova compromise, Mr. President!
Editor’s note: I hope that kirth will forgive me for hijacking this post. I was considering writing the following up separately, but it fits right in here. I was struck by comments made by Obama’s press guy Robert Gibbs the other day regarding the federal employee pay freeze. They reveal, it seems to me, how profoundly the Obama administration doesn’t understand how negotiation and compromise is supposed to work. Check this out:
Q My question is, why does the President — he did this with off-shore oil drilling, too. Why does the President go out and set — and make these proposals at a podium instead of behind closed doors with your political adversaries in a negotiating position where you might be able to get something in return? What is the President getting in return by making this [the federal employee pay freeze] gesture?
MR. GIBBS: I think $2 billion in savings next year and $28 billion over five.
Q And he does not think that Democrats should try to actually extract some concessions from Republicans when he makes moves that anger the left? Because he has angered the left.
MR. GIBBS: Jonathan, I think on a daily basis we anger many people. That comes with the job of governing. The President makes a series of decisions that he thinks are in the best interest of the country and I think, as he said today, not focused on the next election, but focused on the next generation. That’s why the President made the decision that he made with the deadline that we had — not as a bargaining chip or a bargaining tool, but because it was the right thing to do.
That, I’m afraid, is exactly wrong. Let’s assume (without deciding) that the pay freeze is, in fact, the “right thing to do.” That doesn’t mean you just do it! Because there are lots of other things that Obama wants, and that are also “the right thing to do,” but that the Republicans won’t give him for free. So why not offer them something that they do want – say, the pay freeze – in exchange for something that Obama wants but that they don’t?
I simply don’t understand why Team Obama don’t seem to get how this works. This isn’t “Washington” stuff. This is Negotiation 101.