The Note: How The Left Was Lost

Dec 6, 2010 9:15am

By MICHAEL FALCONE and AMY WALTER

SLOUCHING TOWARD COMPROMISE? That’s certainly how liberals would characterize the increasing likelihood that White House and Congressional leaders will cut a deal on the Bush-era tax cuts that includes a temporary extension of the cuts for both middle-class and wealthy Americans as well as a continuation of benefits for the long-term unemployed. The across-the-board temporary extension would last for at least two years and the jobless benefits, a Republican concession to Democrats, would be at least for one year. But, as our ABC Congressional team reports, this compromise could leave Senate Democrats fuming and it's already enraging progressive activists. ABC’s Jonathan Karl notes that to work out this deal, Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell has had multiple discussions directly with the president and the vice president. As McConnell said on “Meet The Press,” on Sunday, he's had more conversations with President Obama over the last two weeks than he had over the last two years. Democrats have largely been left out of these talks, and as Karl reported on “Good Morning America" today, all that has Democrats uneasy. Some are privately threatening to vote against this deal when it is finally done. The compromise is likely to be hammered out by mid-week. http://abcn.ws/gOQTlo

Liberals have been upset with the White House plenty over these last two years (we're talking about you, public option). But, the White House decision to compromise on taxes has sparked ire within the progressive community to an extent we haven't seen before. Are we going to look back at this week as the one where the president lost his base? On Sunday, New York Times columnist Frank Rich compared Obama to a Stockholm Syndrome victim, willingly placating his GOP captors and commentator, Paul Krugman, writes in The Times today that the tax negotiations look more like a hostage situation: “[If] Democrats give in to the blackmailers now, they’ll just face more demands in the future. As long as Republicans believe that Mr. Obama will do anything to avoid short-term pain, they’ll have every incentive to keep taking hostages. If the president will endanger America’s fiscal future to avoid a tax increase, what will he give to avoid a government shutdown? So Mr. Obama should draw a line in the sand, right here, right now. If Republicans hold out, and taxes go up, he should tell the nation the truth, and denounce the blackmail attempt for what it is.” http://nyti.ms/gJPFKG

PROMISES BROKEN. ABC’s Rick Klein underlines the fact that a compromise on extending the tax cuts for the highest income earners — even temporarily — marks a “reversal of a long-held position, dating to the early months of Obama's presidential candidacy.” That’s why commentary like Krugman's has become common-place, and will only get louder (and angrier) if the deal is struck, and why left-leaning groups like MoveOn.org and the Progressive Change Campaign committee are on the air with ads urging Democrats not to “cave.” As one Obama supporter says in an ad being aired by MoveOn.org: “The guy who stands for all the people and is not gonna let himself get pushed around.” And it's not just the White House with which progressives are frustrated. One progressive leader lamented to the Note that the DNC, DCCC or DSCC have been A.W.O.L. Why no pressure, for example, on Maine Republican Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins?

Here’s Klein’s cost-benefit for President Obama: “[Seeing] a loss on a major priority now, while Democrats retain full control of the levers of power, is deeply disappointing to a chunk of the president’s base. It reinforces perceptions among Democrats that even the president’s seemingly firm stands wind up being quite malleable. The compromises will help move some long-sought priorities, and — most importantly in the current economy — are likely to prevent a broad-scale tax increase from going into effect. Yet to a president who is seeking to reassert his authority after a rough midterm election, the lame-duck session could prove counter to his longer-term goals.” http://abcn.ws/gOQTlo

SENATE LOOK-AHEAD. From ABC’s Matthew Jaffe: Tomorrow the Senate will work on the impeachment of Judge Thomas Porteous, a federal judge in Louisiana who investigators say engaged in financial and judicial wrongdoing. Then on Wednesday senators are set to vote on the DREAM Act, the 9/11 firefighters bill, and a COLA for senior citizens. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wants to wrap up work and head home for the holidays by the 18th, leaving only two weeks for a lengthy to-do list. In addition to taxes, the Senate's other must-do matter is extending government funding before a continuing resolution runs out on December 18. Throw in ratifying the START nuclear pact with Russia and passing the annual defense authorization bill, which included the “Don't Ask Don't Tell” repeal measure. That's one long Christmas list for Reid at a time when lawmakers are slogging through a lame-duck session.

CHANNELING SPUTNIK. President Obama will travel to Winston-Salem, North Carolina today to call on Congress, American businesses and the private sector to work with him to help America achieve the next “Sputnik” moment by investing in education, innovation, and infrastructure, ABC’s Sunlen Miller reports. (The historical reference, of course, is to the late 1950’s-era Russian satellite that spurred the United States to invest more heavily in technology and education.) President Obama will tour two biotech classrooms at the Forsyth Technical Community College. Afterward he will deliver remarks on the economy to students, faculty, and local business leaders. “The President will also renew his opposition to even a temporary extension of the Bush tax cuts if it does not include an extension of benefits for the unemployed and extensions of the other tax cuts that benefit middle class families," a according to a White House official, “Without them, taxes would still rise for 95 percent  of Americans. He will discuss the need to accelerate our recovery and make the tough choices necessary to reduce our deficit in the long run.”

START STOPPED? Two senators, two different views. Arizona Republican Sen. Jon Kyl threw cold water on the prospect that the START arms control treaty would be approved before the end of the lame-duck session. "No, no,” Kyl told CBS’s Bob Schieffer “Face the Nation,” yesterday referring to the treaty. “The answer is there is not time to do it in the lame duck when you consider all of the other things that the Democratic leader wants to do.” But on the same program, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, offered the opposite argument. “Harry Reid and the Democrats understand the priority for national security behind the START treaty. We are prepared to work with Senator Kyl. He said at one point he needed two weeks. Then it came down to seven days,” Durbin said. “Whatever it takes, we're going to get this done. We have to get this done for our nation’s security. And Harry Reid's not standing as an obstacle to this. We are prepared to sit down with the Republicans and work out a schedule to do it.”

 

ON TODAY’S “TOP LINE”: ABC’s Amy Walter and Jonathan Karl sit down with Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, one of the groups that has been at the forefront of criticism of the Obama administration’s plans to compromise with Republicans on a temporary extension of tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. Also on the program today, Politico’s Jonathan Martin. Watch “Top Line” LIVE at 12:00 p.m. Eastern. http://bit.ly/ABCTopLine

 

THE BUZZ

EXCLUSIVE: PETRAEUS NOT ‘SURE.’ ABC’s George Stephanopoulos sat down with Gen. David Petraeus in Kabul, Afghanistan on Sunday. The general said he was encouraged by the progress made since President Obama's surge of forces into the country, but is he confident that the Afghan army can take the lead from U.S. forces by NATO's 2014 deadline? “I think-no commander ever is going to come out and say, ‘I'm confident that we can do this.’ I think that you say that you assess that this is– you believe this is, you know, a reasonable prospect and knowing how important it is– that we have to do everything we can to increase the chances of that prospect,” Petraeus told Stephanopoulos. “But again, I don't think there are any sure things in this kind of endeavor.  And I wouldn't be honest with you and with the viewers if I didn't convey that.” More from George’s report: http://abcn.ws/fBhypP

NEWT ‘INCLINED’ TOWARD 2012. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich sparked more speculation about a potential presidential run, saying in an interview with “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace that he was leaning toward it. “I think we're much more inclined to run than not run. And I think we — everything we've done over the last year, talking to friends, thinking things through, has made us more inclined to believe that it's doable,” Gingrich said on the program. And his handicapping of the 2012 field so far: “I mean, Mitt Romney's probably the frontrunner. Huckabee may well be ahead in most polls.  Palin is a phenomenon in her own right.  You have to look at somebody like a Mitch Daniels, a Tim Pawlenty … Haley Barbour, a John Thune.  I'm somewhere in that bunch. I mean, I think, you know, I'm competitive, but I don't think — you know, if I were picking a frontrunner, I'd say that structurally Romney's the frontrunner and in popularity probably Huckabee's the frontrunner.”

PROP 8 REDUX. A three-judge panel in San Francisco will convene today for two-hours of arguments on California’s same-sex marriage ban, Proposition 8. As the San Francisco Chronicle’s Bob Egelko points out, the hearing “appears to be just a step on the road to the U.S. Supreme Court, which almost certainly will have the last word” but today’s proceeding “could determine the boundaries of the case that reaches the high court and may influence its outcome.” More from Egelko: “The lower-court ruling that the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will review stated the issue in the broadest possible terms. It held that gays and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry that trumps not only California's 2008 initiative Proposition 8, but the laws of the circuit's eight other states – and ultimately those of nearly every state.” http://bit.ly/edrvRa

DCCC GETS AN EXEC. Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel announced today Robby Mook has been named Executive Director of the c for the 2012 cycle. “I’m excited that Robby Mook will be our new Executive Director,” Israel said in a statement. “Robby has the right combination of experience, political know-how and leadership savvy to help make this the shortest Republican majority in history.” Mook served as the DCCC’s independent expenditure director and before that, as the committee’s political director. Previously, he managed Jeanne Shaheen’s successful 2008 campaign for the U.S. Senate in New Hampshire and worked for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

 

WHO’S TWEETING?

@JFKucinich: New House Whips Work in Tag Teamhttp://www.rollcall.com/issues/56_54/-201154-1.html

@benpolitico: Take Huckabee seriously, .@jmartpolitico and I (and Huckabee!) argue http://is.gd/ii1Ph

@KarlRove: ABC Radio Tour continues. Now joining @treywareshow on KTSA to discuss "Courage and Consequence." LISTEN HERE:http://bit.ly/g6Mu4L

@steveholland1: Howling winds here at Andrews AFB for POTUS trip to NC, definitely a combover alert.

@MattMackowiak: GREAT new website for the relaunched firm of @JimDykeJDA, @kevinmaddendc & @lauracrawford, JDA Frontline –http://www.jdafrontline.com/

 

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