Barack Obama brought out Bill Clinton to address the press in the White House briefing room yesterday, and then gave the former president the stage. It no doubt caused a lot of us to flash back 15 years to when it was President Clinton reeling from a mid-term election defeat in Congress. Former President Clinton used the opportunity yesterday to make a strong case in support of the compromise on taxes that President Obama has made with the Republicans. Clinton laid out the specifics with the kind of clarity that seems to have eluded the Obama White House throughout the first two years of the Obama presidency.
That being said, it’s a little difficult to figure out where Speaker Pelosi and the House Democrats are coming from in their supposed outrage. It’s hard to imagine the Republicans conceding a lot more than they have in these current negotiations. President Obama has apparently gotten the Republicans to agree to almost three times as much in the way of benefits for working class Americans over the next two years as Republicans got for wealthy Americans.
In addition to extending middle class tax cuts, a two percent reduction in the Social Security payroll tax will put a lot of money in every working American’s pocket in the coming year, and the extension of unemployment benefits will keep at least a little cash coming for the unemployed. Add to that extensions of the child tax credit, the college-tuition aid program, and the earned-income tax credit for low-income Americans, and you have a pretty reasonable accomplishment in light of the partisan gridlock that has been the norm in Congress over the past two years.
The sad reality for Speaker Pelosi and her Democratic House colleagues is that they are about to become irrelevant when the Republicans take control of the House of Representatives in a few weeks. The Republicans will be in no mood to compromise with Democrats in the House who seemed quite uninterested in Republican input during the four years Democrats controlled the House starting in January 2007.
Although the new alignment will require compromise between Democrats and Republicans to accomplish almost anything legislatively, the Republican leadership in the House should have little trouble controlling the legislative agenda in the House Of Representatives. For most legislation beginning in January, two competing bills from the House and Senate will likely go into conference committees to work out any differences. This will leave the White House free to weigh in on issues when necessary — taking the kinds of principled stands on issues that will among other things, position the President for re-election. It seems like House Democrats seem more angry about their loss of power than anything else.