In the Arena

Latest Column: The Press Depression

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Well, everyone was feeling really bummed about the 2012 presidential campaign–BC. (Before Clinton.) And while a gust of great oratory always lifts my spirits, we still have a gridlocked political system and a fiscal cliff looming. In the two days since I wrote this column, I’ve done some reporting–the fiscal cliff seems to be Topic A among the Democratic Party’s Wall Street contingent–and had some second thoughts about my most depressing conclusion: that Mitt Romney may be better positioned to make the grand budget/deficit deal than President Obama. Here are some additional cogitations.

It’s All About John Boehner. If Obama wins, will Boehner make a deal? One close friend of the President’s told me that it was “90%” certain that Boehner would make deals on both the Fiscal Cliff and Immigration, since rationality will have dictated to the Republican Party that they’re on the wrong side of history on both these crucial issues.

But Wait A Minute…Since When Did Rationality Matter? Well, maybe, another finance guy proposed to me, if the Tea Party suffers some serious losses in the coming election, Boehner will acquire the, well, brass–in the immortal words of Bill Clinton–to stand up to the wingnuts. I doubt it, especially if the most serious loss–the presidency–is the result of having nominated an unloved moderate named Romney for the job. In that case, the wingers will be all the more convinced that they only way they win is with a true believer, and without compromise of any sort. (Although it is possible, as the financial guy argued back, that enough non-wingnut Republicans will decide not to Thelma and Louise with the wingers to sneak a Grand Bargain through the House.)(To which I could only say, name me ten of them.)

But Klein, Do You Really Believe Romney would make that deal if he wins? Uh…got me. There is absolutely no evidence that Mitt Romney will have the…brass to stand up to Boss Limbaugh. I can fantasize that under all the extremist crud he’s barnacled himself with during the campaign, a moderate Romnoid dealmaker still exists. But I have zero–or zee-row, in the immortal enunciation of Bill Clinton–evidence. And if he did, the right wing of his party would go berserk and start a half-dozen rebel primary candidacies in Iowa by Mother’s Day.

And so, here’s what is actually going to happen. Nothing. And I have it on good authority, from one of the smartest senior politicians in the Democratic Party, that the odds-on bet is that they’ll kick the can down the road. I don’t know about that. I’m not that cynical. Surely, the President, if reelected, will demand that we finally return to the modest, sane levels of taxation on higher income Americans that the immortal Bill Clinton imposed in the 199os, right? Surely, we can’t go on this way, paralyzed, right? To which my interlocutor replied, “Hey Klein, you wanna bet on that?” Actually, no.

And so, thoroughly depressed once more, I await the President’s words tonight.

By the way, Elaine Kamarck of Harvard’s Kennedy School–and the Democratic Party’s platform committee–has some important misgivings about the pre-Clinton tone of the convention.

46 comments
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iansamry
iansamry

I mean I'm all for Tax Reform that would increase the effective rates for the wealthy, but it would hardly make a dent in the deficit and is not going to be some magical cure for income inequality. France's marginal tax rates go as high as 80% and they haven't exactly solved their inequality problems.

Andy
Andy

my buddy's

half-sister earned $15068 last week. she works on the internet and moved

in a $346500 condo. All she did was get fortunate and put in action the

information uncovered on this website

http://www.LazyCash49.com

Kent
Kent

my roomate's

mom brought in $17460 a month ago. she been making cash on the computer

and moved in a $575400 house. All she did was get lucky and set to work

the steps reported on this link

http://www.LazyCash49.com

paulejb
paulejb

When exactly did "Yes, we can" become "No one could have"? Will Barry disclose that tonight?

Benevolent Lawyer
Benevolent Lawyer

PaulieeJ... The President's speech was stellar!  You said you would be arranging your sock drawer.  Hope you completed it because you will be too sad to arrange it after he gets the huge bump starting tomorrow.

paulejb
paulejb

Wonder if Barack Obama will really try to sell voters on the idea that increasing taxes by 4% on the top 2% of earners will solve all the nations problems? Will he admit that even said tax increases would not even put a slight dent in the massive deficits that he is running up.

MrObvious
MrObvious

He doesn't - the big deal included revenue increase and cuts. No one have argued that ONLY increasing tax will.

paulejb
paulejb

MrObvious,

Oh goodie! Will Barry be outlining a list of cuts in the budget that he will make in the next four years? Will they be specific?

MrObvious
MrObvious

They were in the big deal that GOP nixed. Will Mitt outline anytime soon how he will get the magic deficit reduced by the incredibe 4% GPD growth until the deficit is paid down in 2045?

paulejb
paulejb

Obama promises former KGB agent Vladimir Putin that he will be more "flexible" if re-elected. Wonder what he meant by that?

"Microphone Catches a Candid Obama"

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03... 

Wonder exactly what Obama's "flexibility" would cost this nation?

rokinsteve
rokinsteve

Chuck Norris warns of 1,000 years of Darkness if Pres. Obama is re-elected.

And the media eats it up.  Media is Sleazy?

Godzilla1960
Godzilla1960

If Mr. Romney loses this election I foresee the GOP tearing itself apart in an internal political civil war.

deconstructiva
deconstructiva

I agree. Either the old-school R's or the teavangelicals may likely leave or get kicked out for good. I'm guessing for now the tea's "win", but of course doing so ensures a long, long term minority status.

jackhammer69
jackhammer69

LOL!  No...... How do you kick someone out of a politcal party?  And what party would do that?

That's stupid.

MrObvious
MrObvious

Easy - you campaign against someone by putting all the GOP's money behind someone else.

Pnnto
Pnnto

Ask Lincoln Chaffee. Or Charlie Crist.

Ivy_B
Ivy_B

We need some discussion about what happens when we get some money into the economy. If not higher taxes, more taxes from jobs.

Hasn't anyone noticed that the austerity program didn't do so well in Europe?

deconstructiva
deconstructiva

We've noticed. Paid media types, well... Watching CNBC is interesting on this. Most analysts / pundits plus some hosts like Kudlow still parrot the R / TP cut-everything talking points. However, watch the European programs (like Worldwide Exchange) or the CNBC Europe channel if you can get it and most people there still lean conservative but recognize that the Eurozone remedies taken aren't going so well. There's a clear divide between those who think EZ will fail and those who think saving it only works with long, expensive measures.

Pnnto
Pnnto

Some "Grand Bargain" enthusiasts aren't happy without people suffering.

Austerity *feels* like the right choice.

deconstructiva
deconstructiva

GOP = Gobs of Pain?

Pnnto
Pnnto

If only it was just the GOP pushing the "Grand Bargain", decon.

Benevolent Lawyer
Benevolent Lawyer

Gee Joe, I hope I remember not to read these types of articles from you before I listen to a message of hope.

I know that things in Congress are bad, and I blame the Democrats for not furiously responding in 2010, to the outpouring of money from the billionaire club and devils... like Rove, oops, I mean advisors like Rove. Rove started in 2008, and went full throttle in 2010, to set up the final show down for thwarting the re-election of Barack Obama by filling Congress with blowhard and inexperienced freshmen.

I wrote about this problem when the Republicans won the house and Cantor was selected to burn Bohner's heels. At that time, I was alarmed that it seemed to be a set up to ensure that nothing would get done in Congress. I was concerned about the devious misrepresentation of the ACA, and the fact that Obama was so thoroughly outspent in marketing his signature achievement, so much so that public sentiment turned against legislation we (those who cared in the legal community and elsewhere) knew was in the interest of the middle class.

One thing is sure, if Obama is re-elected, he has to pay full attention to getting back the house and filling it with centrist Democrats.  If Romney is elected, I have no hope for the future of this country. For the first time in a long time, I am truly worried about the direction of America. We could be turned over to a man who has promised to return us to the Bush years. The years of war and mismanagement. And this time, Romney has also promised a full frontal assault on the rights of women.

I hope that Romney is not elected, and loses in a landslide. And yes, it is possible no matter what the pundits say. If the country sees the Romney we knew in MA, they would also reject him as we have.             

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

Dow finished ^ 244 today.  Some Wall Streeters are definitely NOT depressed.

LiberalLies2012
LiberalLies2012

As Obama has driven the bus over the cliff already, the economy is teetering on the edge of no return.

First comes Greece, then comes Portugal, then comes Spain.  All in a row like ducks on the pond ready to be shot.

My guess, nothing done by either Obama or Romney if elected will stop the big train barreling down the tracks as we speak.  Call it, "the Runaway Train".  I think they made a movie about it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

MrObvious
MrObvious

Obama has driven righties sanity over the cliff already

True that, as you display here on a daily basis.

S_Deemer
S_Deemer

@LiberalLies2012:disqus  "My guess, nothing done by either Obama or Romney if elected will stop the big train barreling down the tracks as we speak."

Every so often, we agree on something. Which one is better able to pull a "Nixon goes to China"? Can Obama better tame spending, or can Romney convince Republicans that the Bush tax cuts were a shell game that was passed knowing full well what they would do to the deficit — hence the 2010 "expiration" to keep their numbers from being totally unbelievable? 

The Simpson-Bowles report laid out what needs to be done, with some specific recommendations, most of which were anathema to both parties.

LiberalLies2012
LiberalLies2012

Exactly

Romney has endorsed Simpson Bowles.

Obama said "NO"

MrObvious
MrObvious

He endorsed all the cuts, but not any tax revenue increases. That's not a endorsement, that's simply agreeing in the same things he'd axe while ignoring the things he doesn't like.

S_Deemer
S_Deemer

Romney's endorsement of anything should be taken with a large grain of salt.

Pnnto
Pnnto

Sorry about Willard giving up on Penn., Rod. I know you wanted it so bad.

Michigan too but I don't know how close you are to that state.

73yearoldVet
73yearoldVet

Pnnto,

Don't look now but Michigan has moved from leaning Obama to a toss up according to RCP.

Perhaps you missed some of the current polls.

Very Interesting

 

5 Toss Up or leaning Obama States Now Moving Towards Romney according to RCP.

 

Electoral College 9/5/2012

 

Obama – 221---- Toss Ups – 126 --- Romney – 191

 

Winning possible combinations

 

Obama 171

Romney 161

Tie ………32

 

Comparing changes from May 9, 2012 to Sept 5, 2012

 

………..5/9/2012…………………..9/5/2012

 

NV -- leaning Obama……………Toss Up

AZ –- Toss Up………………………..Leaning Romney

MO –Toss Up………………………..Leaning Romney

WI –- Leaning Obama……………Toss Up

MI –- Leaning Obama……………Toss Up

 

Good trend for Romney. Bad trend for Obama.

 

http://www.realclearpolitics.c...

Pnnto
Pnnto

3x (why did you have to change your name? Disqus related?) you may know more about Michigan than the pros.

"Mitt Romney's conservative allies are bypassing Michigan with their advertising while stepping up efforts in other battleground states — suggesting campaign strategists don't believe his road to the White House leads through his native state."

From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/art...

pollardty
pollardty

Elect Romney or congress will off the economy.  

It almost fits on a bumper sticker.

MrObvious
MrObvious

It's unfortunate if something would happen to the country if you don't elect Romney.

pollardty
pollardty

It's the price we must pay to keep our "betters" content.

shepherdwong
shepherdwong

 "Nice country you got there. It'd be a shame if something happened to it."

HudsonValleyTim
HudsonValleyTim

I'm not too hopeful that the tea-party will suffer any serious losses this fall.  I live in a congressional district where a tea-party wingnut (Nan Hayworth) booted a liberal democrat, and I don't even know who is running against her.  Seriously...she might be unopposed for lack of publicity out of the opposing camp...and this is liberal New York that we're talking about!

That said, at some point, somebody needs to get pragmatic.  Who blinks first...Boehner or his problem children?

shepherdwong
shepherdwong

"It’s All About John Boehner."

It's a good bet but still an opinion, not a fact. The American people could always come to their senses and return The House to the Democrats.

Otherwise, I agree that a President Romney will be in a better position to make a deal on taxes and the budget. I also agree that he won't buck the Teatards if they mange to elect him. What that means is that Senate Democrats, whether they still control the Senate or not (especially if not), will have to have the stones to turn Republican obstruction tactics back on them to prevent the disaster that a Romney/Boehner budget would present to the country.

Paul Dirks
Paul Dirks

One of the problems with this entire debate for as long as its been raging is the question of 'where do you draw the baseline? Bush's tax cuts were designed to expire. The reason they were designed to expire was because it was well known that they would balloon deficits and that was the only way they could get passed the paygo rules that were in place. 

So when you talk about raising taxes, are you talking about current rates or current law? Confusion on this point has been a powerful weapon. It's almost tempting to suggest that we should let ALL the tax cut's expire and then reopen the negotiations over what a sensible tax policy would entail.

robbert5
robbert5

The reason they were set to expire is that Bush couldn't get the bill through the senate and reconciliation was needed.  Bills through reconciliation have a 10 year limit.

filmnoia
filmnoia

Much will depend on what kind of Congress is elected. One thing that is sure is that Tea Party Joe Walsh is going down to Duckworth. Willard will never butt heads with a GOP controlled Congress. He has shown in every way imaginable that he is a capitulator and coward. Obama's re-election will probably secure the first woman Prez in 2016, with a voting demographic even more diverse. Hillary might even win Texas with Castro on the ticket.

chupkar
chupkar

You guys have to give up the Hillary dream. I just don't think she wants it anymore.

filmnoia
filmnoia

She doesn't want it anymore? Based on what? I've never been that much of a Hillary supporter. I'm more in sympathy with the democratic wing than the corp wing of the party.  I'm not  that enamored of conventional wisdom, but it does right now seem to be that this is what's motivated Bill to go all out for Obama. It would make a easier road for her to be running for an empty seat than running against an incumbent.

chupkar
chupkar

I just think she wants to do other things. And I honestly thing being POTUS would be a step sideways, at the very least than SoS. You just don't get to DO as much. Maybe I am wrong. Maybe she is stepping down to rev up for a run. Not impossible, but I just don't get that impression.

Pnnto
Pnnto

"And I have it on good authority, from one of the smartest senior politicians in the Democratic Party, that the odds-on bet is that they’ll kick the can down the road."

If the "Grand Bargin" is a steaming pile I'd prefer kicking the can. A bargin for bargin's sake isn't much of a, um, bargin.