Dec 10 2012

 

 

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Without question, if you review the mass of political commentary from the last election year, Robert Shrum, columnist for The Daily Beast, called this election the best. From supporting the President's early attacks on Bain to calling President's victory, Shrum's accurate political predictions were right on target.

In his latest for The Daily Beast, Shrum makes clear who won the election and who is winning the 'Fiscal Cliff" battle. Here are some excerpts:

"What matters most is that the tax increases will happen on Dec. 31, unless Obama agrees to stop them. Republicans backed themselves into this corner first with Bush’s deal to sunset his tax plan after 10 years, then with the congressional party’s 2010 “victory” in extending the tax cuts until after the election, and then with the 2011 jerry-rigged contrivance of “sequestration,” automatic reductions in domestic and defense spending at the end of this year as the price for raising the debt ceiling. The latter two moves were premonitory expressions of the GOP delusion of unskewed polls and an unrepresentative turnout, which pervaded the Romney headquarters and its attendant pundit class all the way until Ohio and the election were called—and in Karl Rove’s case, screechingly beyond that. Obama, they believed with all the fervor of a false faith, was bound to lose. And now, in the fiscal negotiations, they’re still running on the same tattered laundry ticket that took them down the road to defeat.

The deception of hiding blessings for the rich behind a tax break for the middle class, the drivel about “job creators,” the doctrinal fulminations of Grover Norquist with his pledge never, ever to vote for a tax increase—which has turned Republicans into Stepford senators and representatives—all this is a bankrupt strategy both in terms of policy and politics.

On policy, the fight can play out in different ways. But whatever the way, we will end with tax rates at the top back up to the Clinton-era “job killing” level—when the economy created 22 million new jobs. Simultaneously or soon after, the tax cuts for the middle class will be restored"

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"The Democracy Corps’s post-election surveys, conducted by Stan Greenberg, who got the election itself almost precisely right, show “an unbelievably clear mandate” against “major cuts” in any of these programs. A leading Republican strategist, as sensible as he is conservative, laments the “folly” of his party’s course: just when the party needs to redefine its appeal and recast its image, the GOP is branding itself as anti-Medicare and anti-Social Security. The longer that goes on, he says, the clearer it becomes and the worse it is for the Republican future. The addled calculation seems to be: why shouldn’t the Grand Old Party alienate the elderly along with young people, minorities, and women? The GOP is in a hole, and its congressional leadership just keeps digging.

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So do the commentators for whom Republican-like cuts are the litmus tests of fiscal responsibility. But there is a rational, fair, and politically viable basis for agreement—the president’s proposals so cavalierly dismissed by Boehner and McConnell (photograph above), who at least have to put up a show of resistance to placate their own caucuses or fend off primary challenges. For example, Obama has called for hundreds of billions of dollars in savings in Medicare, with a modest increase in premiums for higher-income seniors but virtually no other benefit cuts. Instead there would be reforms that reduce payments to providers and to pharmaceutical companies for prescription drugs. Such changes will generate $400 billion in savings in 10 years.

To let Republicans save face, Obama may make more concessions, but not at the heart of the matter. One he shouldn’t, and I hope, won’t, accept is raising the eligibility age for Medicare from 65 to 67. That would “save” only $113 billion over a decade. And “save” belongs in quote marks because it would be more expensive to dispatch orphaned seniors into Obamacare, which unfortunately is not a lower-cost single-payer system."

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"There are signs they may choose the ideological route. Shamefully, Senate Republicans mustered enough votes this week to block a new international treaty on disability rights, which would simply have applied American standards to the rest of the world. They followed the benighted lead of Rick Santorum. As Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, “[E]xtreme elements of the Republican Party picked a fight where there was nothing to fight about.” They repudiated Bob Dole, who came to the Senate floor in a wheelchair as a powerful symbolic argument for ratification. (see photograph above) This is a party still lost in the Tea-infested swamps of mania about the sinister threat of the United Nations.

And if this remains the GOP mind-set, Reid continued, it will be “difficult to engage in rational negotiations when one side” disdains “facts and proven truths.” If so, take out your parachutes and prepare to go midair off the fiscal cliff.

But in the final analysis, the extreme cannot hold. The party of business will not be able to withstand the pressure if it craters both government and the nation’s credit rating—and the business of America. Former Michigan senator John Engler, a Republican who now leads the Business Roundtable, has argued that the debt limit should be raised enough so that the issue is off the table for four or five years. He’s been met with predictable denunciations from the far right, and his recommendation may be a step too far. But the direction here is inevitable, even if it passes through crisis and market collapse.

Indeed, the outcome is as plain as the prospects of an Obama victory in November were even as Republicans and much of the media flogged a close outcome and a Romney surge. Elections matter. Obama won—and Obama will win again."