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Even then, the deal he worked out arguably favored Democrats. A Washington Post analysis showed that Obama-sought items in the package amounted to $343 billion, compared with $103 billion for GOP items and $500 for mutually agreed-upon items.
But the deal was denounced as “capitulation” by liberal Members of Congress and as “kowtowing” and “triangulation” (a dirty word to liberals) by left commentators.
Most polls indicate that only about 20 percent of Americans self-identify as liberal. The Battleground poll last year showed that 10 percent consider themselves “very liberal” and 26 percent “somewhat liberal.”
The left’s outrage — and Democratic Congressional resistance — was all the more irrational given that next year Republicans will be in a much stronger position to write tax laws their way.
Obama is showing that he, at least, got the message of the 2010 elections. He met Wednesday with big-business leaders he’d previously bashed. He closed a trade deal with South Korea. His idea of economic stimulus is heavily weighted toward tax cuts, albeit temporary ones.
And, he is signaling that he is ready to start working next year on deficit reduction and tax reform. If achieved, that would do much to undo the damage of this week’s $900 billion tax deal and save the country from long-term fiscal disaster.
But that requires bipartisan cooperation to do unpleasant things — cut spending, reduce the growth rate of entitlement benefits, cap or take away tax breaks and raise revenue.
The Washington Post poll showed that the public favors debt reduction by a combination of spending cuts and tax increases but opposes most specific items in both categories.
The Post poll indicated that the public thinks Obama is more willing to compromise than Republicans are — and that it’s less enamored of GOP ideas than it has been after other big election victories.
So, just imagine a 2012 election in which Democrats and Republicans competed over who deserved the most credit for defusing the debt bomb, for reforming the tax system, for improving education — instead of battling over who’s to blame for deadlock. It’s a dream, I know.