A wealth of recent good commentary on the "fiscal cliff" deal the Obama administration has just cut with the Republicans, much of it continuing to focus on the president's performance in the deal-cutting and what this may portend for future negotiations with the GOP hostage-takers:
Be clear: there is no reason to celebrate. This is a mournful moment. We — and by we I mean Congress, and by Congress I mean the Republicans in Congress — have again demonstrated just how broken and paralyzed our government has become, how beholden to hostage-takers, how vulnerable to extremism.
And the cost to the president is significant. Once more Republicans have learned that obstruction works, that the president will always blink.
The next extortion – the debt ceiling, automatic sequester – in the next eight weeks makes this a big deal. The President says sensibly that he will not negotiate over lifting the debt ceiling. Period. And now there is even less reason for the Republicans to believe him than before. This encourages extreme demands rather than discouraging them. This was the time to draw the line.
Republicans won more in the fiscal-cliff deal than they had any right to expect. Permanent tax cuts for the middle class and millions of wealthy families, a permanent break on the estate tax and dividends, a five-year limit on tax credits for low-income families, and only a single year of extended unemployment insurance.
The country is run by and for the wealthy
The real scandal of the deal is that taxes went up more for people making $50,000 than those making $400,000, thanks to a combination of ending the payroll tax cut “holiday” and keeping the Bush tax cuts for those making between $250,000 and $400,000. The deal also continued the practice of protecting the wealth of the super-rich.
As President Obama and congressional leaders continue to negotiate long-term deficit reduction, the first programs that they trim should be those subsidizing high-income households. More than any other social spending category, tax expenditures for high-income households constitute frivolous spending.
The only thing that might save this situation is the fact that Obama has to be aware just how much is now riding on his willingness to finally stand up for his side; if he doesn’t, nobody will ever trust him again, and he will go down in history as the wimp who threw it all away.
The president’s second term will publicly begin on Jan. 21, the hard-fought-for holiday celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.‘s birthday. "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice," King said. If President Obama aspires to do more than perpetuate an unjust status quo, he must start now.