Democrats could play their own games, of course, for instance by trying to line up some Tea Partiers to oppose war spending or corporate tax breaks. Unfortunately, that would probably open the door for the president to make a deal with the rest of Republicans to protect war funding and corporate tax breaks. (Think NAFTA) These games are much easier for the Republicans since the president has already signaled that he's willing to deal on their terms as long as they will "regretfully" give up some extreme strawman legislation to throw to his base as evidence of sharp negotiating.
--E.J. Dionne, in next Monday’s column, sees “perverse genius” in the GOP approach: “Boehner can just sit back and smile benignly as Democrats battle over which concessions they should give him. When the negotiating gets tough, he can sadly warn that his freshmen need more because he can't guarantee what they'll do. The perpetually tanned one is a shrewd dude. Democrats who underestimate him will only be playing into his hands.”
The problem is that, on economic issues, DC Democrats have forgotten how to be Democrats. By making the Bush tax cuts their own, they have removed even from discussion the most obvious means of addressing any fiscal issues. And it isn't confined to the White House. Congressional Democrats are playing along by accepting those short-term budget cuts for a mere delay in the shutdown showdown, signaling as the White House already did with the tax cuts that the Republicans can get their way by playing hardball. But is it really only the Republicans' way? That's the question. And while some Democratic governors are attempting a more responsible approach, their efforts are being hampered by those Obama tax cuts:And guess what? I'm sure you've noticed that these actions haven't made the Republican governors any less hostile. As with their DC brethren, you give them an inch and they ... bust unions.Struggling states could lose as much as $5.3 billion in tax collections during the next few years in an unintended consequence of one of the lower-profile federal tax cuts that President Obama enacted in December, according to a report released Tuesday.
The tax-cut package the president signed in December is best known for extending the Bush-era tax rates for two years and giving a one-year payroll tax cut to most Americans. But it included a business tax cut that could blow a hole in state budgets: a provision allowing businesses to deduct the full value of new equipment purchases from their taxes through 2011.
Those Democratic governors deserve a lot of credit, because the politics of supporting responsible tax increases is not easy when a Democratic White House and its Congressional allies have removed tax increases from the federal conversation and are actually doing the exact opposite by promoting tax cuts at the same time they're ostensibly concerned about deficits. Tax cuts that are making the jobs of those Democratic governors even more difficult.