The change you've been waiting for: let's talk tax cuts and deficits.

Positioning For The Battle To Come

by digby

I usually agree with Greg Sargent's analysis, but I think he's wrong here:

Sam Stein reports that the White House is reiterating a willingness to discuss a temporary extension as part of some sort of deal with Republicans:

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs reiterated on Thursday that the president will be open to extending the upper-end Bush tax cuts for one or two years as part of a broader compromise with Republicans.

"He would be open to having that discussion and open to listening to what the debate is on both sides of that," said Gibbs, during an off-camera gaggle with reporters. "Obviously... making those tax cuts for the upper end permanent is something the president does not believe is a good idea."

There is a way a one-year or two-year temporary extension could represent a compromise of sorts: If Republicans signal a willingness to at least entertain the idea of letting the high end cuts expire after that temporary extension. But many of them aren't doing that. Their position is that the high-end cuts need to be made permanent. Full stop. And that's fine: That's their position. It's understandable that they would stick to it.

I think this may be the one "compromise" the Republicans agree to. They will get credit for extending the cuts from the public, credit for bipartisan cooperation from the Village --- and most importantly, they will still get to run on the issue again going into the presidential election. This "compromise" a big winner for them all around.

This is one of those things the Democratic majority should have done long ago. They could have passed the tax cut extension for the middle class in the first year of the administration and argued about tax cuts for the wealthy as a separate issue. Instead, for reasons unknown, they waited until close to the election at which point a bunch of Blue Dogs went to the leadership and said they couldn't possibly win if they held the vote. (And then they lost natch.)

The Republicans are happy to have the "tax hike" boogeyman out there for 2012. And they are ecstatic that the administration has allowed themselves to be backed into the deficit corner --- the right's perfect terrain to wage this presidential campaign battle. Too bad for the rest of us.

Update: Gregg emailed me to let me know that I misunderstood him and I did. I thought he was saying that the Republicans were going to hold out for a permanent tax cut, but he just meant that it wasn't a "compromise" if they intend to extend them permanently in the long run.
We agree on that.

They see this as a great fight to have for the next two years and so they are happy to agree to this "compromise." Sadly, the Democrats allowed the middle class extension to be held hostage to this plan and now they have no choice. You'd almost think they really want to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy too ...