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April 11, 2011


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I hope you're right. You stand alone in seeing this as an Obama victory among my shrunken blog roll, which pretty much consists these days of Talk Left, Shakes, Gawker, and you.

I wouldn't call it "victory" - I'd say "effective use of a successful strategy." I think the point is - cheekiness aside - that Republicans attempted a risky strategy that backfired. I think conservatives talked themselves into believing that they could put Democrats in a position of having to take vast, drastic cuts or risk political destruction... and Democrats took somewhat reduced cuts with no apparent political damage, well positioned to beat back future aggressive budget talks. We'd be in a better position, and probably have cut less, if Democrats had any real sense of principles to back up their strategies. But in terms of averting a shutdown and forcing a compromise on better than expected terms, Obama outmaneuvered John Boehner. For what that's worth. For poorer people and people reliant on government services... it's probably cold comfort.

We can argue, at length, about whether the agreement gave away too much, or the cuts will wreck the economy... but I tend to think that lefties should, for now, be somewhat grateful and impressed

Uh. No.
More abortion restrictions, this time in our nation's capital.

Also, from Corrente:

And so with Obama's budget cuts. Ezra Klein:

"The final compromise was $38.5 billion below 2010’s funding levels. That’s $78.5 billion below President Obama’s original budget proposal, which would’ve added $40 billion to 2010’s funding levels, and $6.5 billion below John Boehner’s original counteroffer, which would’ve subtracted $32 billion from 2010’s budget totals."

In other words, the "compromise" the Ds got was even worse than the R's originally proposed. Those are truly mad negotiation skillz!

The D's gave away more than the R's originally asked!...LOLsob

Without suggesting - or implying - that I am in favor of the cuts (or the abortion restrictions)... please give me a scenario in which a) a government shutdown would have produced a better deal or b) Democrats had any leverage to get anything close to their original proposal (remember... we've already cut about $14 billion along the way in continuing resolutions, as I recall). Do I think $79 billion in cuts is a good idea objectively? No. Compared to other options? Probably. And the reality here is Democrats had (and have) basically no real alternative budget plan in mind. We'll see what Obama pulls together by Wednesday, but yes, there's a reason this process has been reactive and in its way conciliatory. All of that said... I think the worst fear - and not out of the question reality - was that Republicans would steamroll almost every compromise to get even more cuts and a solid line on enacting Ryan's plan. Instead they've got a deal that Republicans and conservatives hate, a sense that their mojo is broken, and no likelihood of passing anything like Ryan's proposal. Worst outcome we could have had? I don't see it. Am I happy about it? No. But things could have been much worse.

And PS, when Lambert's beat argument in his favor comes from Ezra, you can tell he's grasping at straws.

I think jinb reflects the perspective of the further left than you, weboy, and the one I'm used to reading/hearing and with which I'm inclined to agree. The reason I'm not arguing w/you about the details, is because I know you like to take a broader view of this stuff and also toe more of a mainstream line. That's why I say I hope you're right, not whether I think you are or not - I hope that "the middle" / independents / centrists / swing voters, whoever we're supposed to be catering to to keep the Dems in power as the lesser of 2 evils sees this as a victory (based on Obama's successful strategy, per your comment). When the NYT - no great lefty voice - gives credit to the GOP as "winning" this round, I'm not sure that's a good thing. Though I don't follow their editorials regularly, nor those of any comparative national papers, so I don't know.

Basically, I never liked Obama because he was conciliatory, and I think his "above the fray" thing that you've critiqued him so well on is incredibly evident here. It may have worked for him in this round, but your other point in the comments about Dems lacking principles is much more depressing and alarming for this far lefty.

I guess I just don't see the point of all of this who wins talk if, in the end, we end with repub-lite. I think posts like these only help to move everybody a little more to the right. This is Chris Matthews' beat.

And PS, when Lambert's beat argument in his favor comes from Ezra, you can tell he's grasping at straws.

I think your comprehension is off here. Are you disputing the point that Lambert makes or just name calling?

"The final compromise was $38.5 billion below 2010’s funding levels. That’s $78.5 billion below President Obama’s original budget proposal, which would’ve added $40 billion to 2010’s funding levels, and $6.5 billion below John Boehner’s original counteroffer, which would’ve subtracted $32 billion from 2010’s budget totals."

In other words, the "compromise" the Ds got was even worse than the R's originally proposed. Those are truly mad negotiation skillz!

My point is that Lambert's conclusion about the deal being "worse than the R's originally proposed" hinges on Ezra's way of looking at the numbers. And my point is... I don't buy Ezra's analysis. I think Ezra Klein is a lousy economic analyst, and wrong about the shape and contours of the negotiations that preceded the potential government shutdown last Friday (and, to both of you on my previous consistencies, I've long pointed out that Ezra's terrible at all of this).

I read Ezra's post and I sympathize with his, and the left's general, frustration here... but what I go back to about how this compromise turned out is... as opposed to what? The alternatives here are not hard to figure: without a deal, there was going to be a shutdown. Once there was a shutdown, options for a deal got worse. Boehner's Tea Party coalition wanted $61 billion in cuts. Obama beat that back to $39. The alternative was not, as Ezra suggests, $32 billion or some other lower number. The alternatives were $61 or a shutdown. And we got no shutdown and $39 (which, added to $40 billion in nonexistent increases that were never going to happen becomes $78 or $79 billion).

I don't mind the "ha ha, you're an Obama apologist and naturally moderate" assessments of my POV as a general rule, but the real lesson here, I think, as I've said all along is that the "far left" has nothing. No leverage, no set of actionable goals, and no real sense of a realistic alternative to much of any of this. I like Lambert, I admire his passion... but his notions on government spending are unrealistic and unlikely to occur. Rachel Maddow spent her first segment last night grousing that the left should "hold Obama accountable"? Really? By doing what? Her options? Nothing. I watched Katrina vandenHeuvel(!) in her la-di-da way tell Ed Schultz last night that she wanted Obama to come out tomorrow and suggest that Medicare could be "reformed" with price controls on health care. Price controls? That's almost as crazy as Paul Ryan.

My point is that we are here, in an enormous fiscal crisis because almost everyone is unrealistic about the problems we have and the realities we face in trying to solve them. Ideally, and you both know I favor this, we should end the Bush tax cuts. That would put us on a far more sustainable revenue path. But even if we did that, there would need to be spending cuts. Yes, Defense needs substantial cutting. But even then, Medicare is in need of substantial reform. Medicaid needs to be addressed. And, at the bpttom of that pile, there are places in discretionary spending where some cuts (farm subsidies? anyone?) that are simply overdue.

Yes, I know... I'm the Obama apologist. I'm the one who supports "moderates" and the "mythical middle." As if. What I believe in - which is fairly radical - is much of what I just outlined. But here's the thing: that's not what the Democratic Party stands for or fights for, these days. So my choice, and yours, is give up on Democrats, or try and figure out, for now, what's doable, advocate for what I believe in, and try and figure out how to get there from here. I know both of you, and Lambert, and others of the "further left" have already said "let's give up on the Dems" but again... towards what? There's a reason the "further left" had no leverage, and will still, after today, have no leverage over the Democrats. And it's because the lesson too many people learned, post Howard Dean, is not to keep pushing against the Democratic Establishment... but to walk away and grouse. It's lovely that Charlie Rnagel (Charlie Rangel!) says he can't vote for the CR or the new round of cuts. I think we should have replaced Charlie Rangel last year, or well before that. I think we, on the left, needed to replace Nancy Pelosi. That's the work we need to do. It's at the local level, it's replacing the people we don't want in government representing Democrats and it's work. No one's doing it. That's the reality. And that's why, as "further left" as my own views are, I'm looking at what we're actually dealing with. Is $39 billion a lousy deal? Absolutely. Is it the best we were going to get? As far as I can tell, yes. That's the reality. Don't like it? Tell me how we're going to get anywhere else.

I love that you interpret what progressives consider "advocacy" as "grousing." I obviously hit a nerve suggesting you're a moderate - I don't know which of us suggested you're an Obama apologist - I see no such history of that here on this blog. But my impression of your writings is that when those outside the center/mainstream attempt to take action - flawed or not - you dismiss it as futile or worthless. Protesting in Wisconsin - anger won't help, you write. Public option - why bother? There is such a thing as principles and trying to shift the debate, and I don't see you ever giving lefty activists credit for that. Now, their strategies or process might be worth debating, their anger might be distasteful, but your guiding political principle in this discussion sounds like it's pragmatism and accommodation, which aligns with Obama's, and something others just do not agree with - so they don't do it. And thus, like Obama's team, you dismiss the left as useless, unhelpful, impractical. I don't see anyone "giving up", per se, but certainly they're feeling like they're fighting an isolated, lonely fight. That's my lens, especially vis-a-vis this post. I think you should at least own that - I think it's the flip side of bothering to read Town Hall and the ilk to "understand" what the right is all about.

I didn't, and wouldn't, say "protesting in Wisconsin" was useless. What I said is that, aside from defending collective bargaining... where is that going to go? And I've written chapter and verse on why the "public option" is a fantasy that makes unrealistic lefties feel good, and I stand, firmly, by that opinion. I've written extensively about worthwhile, doable approaches to healthcare reform, and I don't think the whole thing is hopeless or not worth working toward. I've never said - or done - anything of the sort. I don't give a goddamn about "distasteful" - protest is meant to be ugly, confrontational, difficult. All I ask, all I've ever asked... is that we protest with a goal of getting somewhere, and yes, I submit that what passes for a "progressive" movement right now is mostly whining and crying and stamping one's feet because supper was cold. "It wasn't a good deal" whaaaaa. Really - who proposed a better one? Who did any work trying to sell it? Answer: no one. Who's trying to work for actionable,useful protections for workers in real life situations rather than historic, feelgood notions of a gauzy union past we 'll never recreate? Answer: not the Labor Movement, or what passes for it. Isolated? Lonely? My question to you is... what fight?

Useless, unhelpful, impractical... really does about sum it up. The hard, far, further, progressive left is in tatters, and the fact that it's a bloody mess is not my fault; and, honestly, not something that's going to be solved through whining or attacking those who point out, firmly, that the left is filled with aimless, unrealistic complaints and slogans. This isn't hard. I want us to dedicate more resources to poor people. I think privileged people ought to give up some of their privileges. I'll back anyone who's pushing for those goals. That's not the point of wailing that Batrack Obama is a wimpy compromiser. That argument over whether the glass is half full or half empty is silly - it's just a glass. It's got some stuff in it. I think we need more stuff. I think you feel the same way. Why don't we focus on that?

Why are you yelling at me?

So much wrong here.

1) Pretty sure Lambert is no fan of Ezra's and only posted that portion to point out Ezra's blindness, as an Obamabot, to his own data.

2) The Left has its votes to leverage. Grousing and leaving the Democratic party for creating something further Left isn't the problem. Grousing and staying with the D's is. Once one realizes the D's don't have his interests in mind (see last Congressional majority), the old argument about voting third party being meaningless loses all validity.

3) Pelosi needed to go when she took impeachment off the table. The American people would like to have seen the D's stand for a principle or 3, and prosecuting those that lied us to war...yeah, that would have counted

4) As would have regulating as opposed to appeasing the Health Insurance and Finance industries. I'm pretty sure you've argued before for regulating health care costs...what would your preference be to controlling costs? the R way of letting people die? Otherwise, I'm not seeing it.

5) Once there was a shutdown, options for a deal got worse. Nice toss-off and completely unprovem (as tossoffs usually are). Seems to be, this tactic backfired for the R's back in 96. Evidence please.

6) "Progressives" don't count. They've replaced principle with fanbottishness for whomever is in power be it Bush or Obama (see Kos, A. Sullivan) and are the true epitome of Versailles

7) The trouble with the farm subsidies at the bottom of the pile is that our government, both the D's and the R's, seems insistant on perpetuating the myth that Social Security reform comes first, in the middle of that pile.

8) Your syntax has me thinking that you are implying that Rangel should be replaced because he wouldn't vote for the CR or cuts; is that your position.

9) This post and your comments do read like an apology or cheer for Obama. If they are not meant to be than, perhaps, instead of scolding your readers for misunderstanding, you look into more stringent editing.

10) The lesson of Howard Dean was not that he was too far Left for the American people but for the MSM.

11) I want us to dedicate more resources to poor people. Yet anytime anyone argues for this, they get your "that's just not realistic right now" bunk.

12) This far-Lefty does not want the "public option." This far-Lefty wants socialized medicine and will fight the Democrats (and you) and die losing before giving up.

13) half-empty, half-full...that glass has poison in it

p.s. Check out Shakesville and Obama's exciting new plan...I guess according to you the best we could hope for:


Obama's schtick is getting really old.

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