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Barack Morsi

Barack Morsi

The danger of overplaying one’s strong hand.

I don’t think anyone doubts that Obama has superior bargaining power on the “fiscal cliff.”

Part of that power comes from a superior messaging machine which bizarrely has convinced the public that Republicans are holding “middle class” (including people making low six figures) “tax cuts” (which are not tax cuts, but a continuation of rates in effect for a decade) hostage, when in fact it is Obama holding those middle class tax cuts hostage to his desire to punish the “rich” (who are not actually rich in most cases, just successful professionals and small business owners).

Part of that power comes from an entirely ineffective Republican messaging machine. 

Every time I punish myself by watching a Democrat being interviewed, that Democrat pounds the stuffing out of Republicans in the most accusatory class warfare terms. The uniformity is amazing.

Every time I punish myself by watching a Republican being interviewed, that Republican (not uniformly, but frequently) whimpers about the need for compromise and finding common ground.

By all appearances, Obama holds the cards and owns the streets.

Obama’s strategy is to “slow walk” the negotiations until we are at the supposed cliff:

Democrats did not do much on Wednesday, adopting a deliberate strategy to slow-walk Republicans to the edge of the fiscal cliff in a belief that mounting pressure from within the GOP will force conservatives to fold on tax hikes.

Their aim is to string out the negotiations to give Republicans space to wrap their heads around the idea of raising tax rates on the rich. So far, each passing day seems to add another GOP voice to the chorus coming around on tax hikes.

“We’re all in a holding pattern here waiting to see if the Republicans will come to their senses and negotiate on tax rates,” said Democratic Rep. Gerald Connolly. 

“Our basic strategy is to let them sweat it out,” said a top Senate Democratic leadership aide. “We don’t necessarily have to do anything.”

Obama is so emboldened, he even is demanding unilateral power to raise the national debt.

But there is every indication Obama is overplaying his strong hand.  Richard Brodsky of the ultra-liberal Demos foundation sees the danger most Obama-cheerleaders don’t see:

But the 800 pound, the-country-needs-a-deal gorilla in the room can smack Obama just as hard. It matters that the country sees who really wants to reduce spending on needed and popular government initiatives. The Republican counteroffer is as unserious as Obama’s original, which is part of the positioning for the eventual fistfight over what is enacted. But if a deal is going to get done, Obama will at some point, holding his nose, have to agree to those very cuts. And then deliver the votes on his side. It’s not easy moving energized Dems back into the position of responsible compromisers.

If he can’t, then the failure that sends us hurtling over the fiscal cliff will be wholly owned by Obama. And that’s no way to start your second term.

Tim Geitner says that Obama “absolutely” is willing to go off the cliff if Republicans do not agree to higher tax rates (not just higher revenue):

Obama may just get what he claims he “absolutely” is willing to do. And if the results are as disastrous as some (but not all) predict, there is no predicting how it plays out.

Obama’s overreach on Obamacare in 2009-2010 gave rise to a blow out of Democrats in November 2010. Democrats have convinced themselves that the opposite will happen with the fiscal cliff.

That’s a chance Republicans may be willing to take if the only alternative is Obama spiking the football on their heads.


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I keep reading about not raising taxes on top earners because to do so would stifle job creation. Has anyone ever put the numbers to it to predict how many jobs would be lost?

If not then the GOP is just setting itself up for more failure because saving the “rich” a little money is a corner we don’t need to be painted into. It is a non-starter and has no emotional appeal. In other words, a typical GOP issue.

If someone has run the numbers why aren’t we hearing numbers,i.e., “if Obama gets his way we will lose XXXX jobs?”

This is basic communications 101. Be specific, give people something to identify with and to hang onto. Something positive, not a vague, unfocused negativity that can be spun by mendacious Democrats.

    Ragspierre in reply to jimposter. | December 6, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    How many video clips of Bill Clinton and Pres. Not Optimal SAYING that raising taxes has a slowing effect on the economy would we need?

    Obama LOBBIED for the extension of the Bush rates only months ago on the basis they were STIMULATIVE (i.e., good for the economy, ergo good for job formation).

    You can find dozens of job-loss estimates from Obamic tax hikes all over the interwebs.

      jimposter in reply to Ragspierre. | December 6, 2012 at 8:28 pm

      Are there specific numbers that can be cited by the GOP, and if so, why aren’t they? GOP leadership needs to learn how to repeat, repeat, repeat. Expecting people to find them on the internet is a poor substitute. Generalizations are a poor substitute.

      The GOP leaders need to learn that it’s a sales job, not a debate or negotiation. Convincing the low information citizen who to blame will result in poll numbers that will sway the outcome. That’s how you win these things. And the GOP is not winning, that’s for sure.

        Ragspierre in reply to jimposter. | December 6, 2012 at 9:20 pm

        Google…or Bing…is your friend.

          jimposter in reply to Ragspierre. | December 6, 2012 at 10:05 pm

          Apparently I have not chosen the magic combination of words to get the point across.

          It doesn’t matter what is on the internet. Only wonks care. The people to reach aren’t going to look for it or care to look for it.

          What matters is that the GOP leaders should be selling a specific, easily quoted, emotionally appealing message, which they have not been doing.

“Overplaying” one’s hand is wishful thinking.

“Playing” one’s hand is reality.

It would appear that going over a smaller cliff now would be better than a larger cliff later. I am reminded of how Poland bounced back (and Estonia currently is) when they took their dose of strong medicine for a couple of years, and came out much better shape than countries around them that didn’t.

Though this all feels like “Thelma and Louise” – 20 years ago, they decided to start driving towards the cliff, then off the cliff, figuring they’d figure out where/how to land once they got to the bottom. But they’ve had a very scenic view in the meantime – to die for, in fact.

    Browndog in reply to radiofreeca. | December 6, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    We’re already over the cliff.

    Consider if Boehner get’s what he wants–cliff avoided?

    This is nothing more than the GOP adopting the liberal’s highly successful language, thought process, and values for power.

    Drives me nuts.

Obama’s man the Speaker is willing to give everything away again


The Speakers confirmation election is next month

It might explain why DeMint feels the need to leave.

I have to dispute the contention that Obama is at danger. He’s invulnerable. The last four years have proved that. The media is simply too strong and redoubtable. He knows it. Why shouldn’t he flaunt it? That’s what power does. Yes, Obama lost the House is the 2012 midterms, but he won re-election, won back more seats in the Senate, and is now marginalizing the Republican House for re-conquest in 2014.

We could change this paradigm, but we obviously won’t or can’t. The GOP is pathetically ineducable, and seemingly only getting weaker and more pathetic by the day. On those points I fully agree.

Nothing changes until something changes, and that process of realization and change is beyond the ken of the people now in power in the GOP.

Time wounds all heels.

One problem is the simplest: it’s easy to coordinate the Democrats’ messaging because (here it comes) they are collectivists. They are socialists or near-socialists. Their mind-set is to work in concert, even if they squabble amongst themselves.

Getting people to message consistently is easy when that’s what they want to do.

The Pubs, in contrast, have a wider ideological range to paper-over, including those Pubs who don’t believe that the Pubs need central messaging.

How do you coordinate people who don’t want to be coordinated?

That’s the central problem every RNC chair has that his counterpart at the DNC doesn’t have.

The Pubs say they want to be ‘led’, that they want a Reagan-esque person lead them. But they really don’t — just check the history books when Reagan was president, and it was dog-eat-dog in the Pub party.

For the Dems, they don’t want to be led, they want to be told what to say and what to do — give them that and the rest is easy.

That’s the problem.

    That’s pretty much it. There are way more stupid opinions in the Republican Party because the Republican Party is overwhelmingly composed of people who have sufficient brain function to hold an opinion.

    Sen. Whitehouse (D-RI) was on NPR today saying that the world doesn’t end on Jan 1st … that it will take months before ant ill effects of the lack of a budget deal. He seemed to say that f

    Sen. Whitehouse (D-RI) was on NPR today saying that the world doesn’t end on Jan 1st … that it will take months before ant ill effects of the lack of a budget deal. He seemed to say that folks shouldn’t be surprised if a deal isn’t reached until Febuary.

I don’t see any way the GOP wins. Even if they walked away gave the Democrats everything the story would be “Because the GOP wouldn’t compromise, bad things happened”

Obama’s drawn his line and said “give me everything.” We’re going to negotiate, have a deal that the Conservative base hates, and he will either take it then blame the fallout on the GOP not giving him everything, or reject it and say “The GOP had too many strings attached” “They weren’t serious” etc.

They control all the narratives, and as WarGames taught us, the only way to win a war of ideas where total destruction of a side is the endgame is not play.

“The Republican counteroffer is as unserious as Obama’s original”

So the Republican counteroffer written by a Clinton Democrat is un-serious. All the ultra liberal a$$hat has managed to prove is that when it comes to fiscal sanity Democrats are never serious.

Right… Is that why Harry Reid just refused to put up Obama’s $1.6 trillion plan up for a vote in the Senate????

Reid, McConnell duel over Obama’s debt-ceiling demand

The political dance started a day earlier, when Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell tried to call a vote on Obama’s fiscal plan which included granting the White House the ability to approve automatic increases in the debt ceiling. Democratic Leader Harry Reid blocked it, allowing McConnell to suggest even Democrats don’t want Obama’s plan to pass.

But then Reid turned around Thursday and proposed calling a vote in the afternoon on the debt-ceiling plan. Reid, though, wanted to call a simple majority vote — McConnell objected, saying a 60-vote threshold was warranted. Reid in turn objected to that, and the entire vote was scuttled again.

In other words this is NOT about the fiscal cliff but Obama and the Democrats wanting a middle class tax increase but sticking the GOP with the blame.

Honestly, folks you really need to brush up on your tactics if you are going to play in the big leagues. McConnell got it right and the rest of you guys need to follow his lead.

Let it burn, let Obama own it. Let the majority of voters own the consequences, they have to if they are ever to learn from their mistakes. Let Obama take the credit for the Depression.