Caving on taxes?

Of course he will! Jonathan Chait:

The negotiating style Obama has displayed in these instances is what poker players call “tight-weak.” A tight-strong player avoids throwing in his chips, saving them for a big hand, which he plays aggressively in hopes of a huge win. A loose-weak player plays lots of hands, bluffing frequently. Tight-weak is the worst of all worlds – when you have a weak hand, you lose, and when you have a strong hand, you fail to maximize your position.

Obama is surely going to have to accept a lot of bad policies in his negotiations with Republicans (a fact I’ve argued to some of my harder-line liberals friends in several columns). But the tax cuts are the one area where he enjoys overwhelming leverage over the Republicans. Their only threat is to block extension of tax cuts on income under $250,000, a wildly unpopular stance countless Republicans have acknowledged they could not sustain for long without courting an enormous public backlash. This is the hand where Obama needed to collect all the chips.

Instead he is allowing Republicans to whittle down the sum by essentially threatening to shoot themselves in the head. And this is the most ominous thing about it. The big meta question looming over Obama’s term is whether he has learned to grapple with Republican political hostage taking. Hostage taking is not simply aggressive or even irrational negotiating. It is the specific tactic of extracting concessions by threatening to withhold support for policies you yourself endorse, simply because your opponent cares more about the damage. Republicans agree that the debt ceiling must be lifted, but forced Obama to offer them policies he opposed because they believed he cared more about damage to the country than they did.

Their refusal to extend the middle class tax cuts is the same thing – they support the tax cuts on income under $250,000, but demand that Obama give them other tax cuts he opposes in order to pass them.

Obama claims, and seems to genuinely believe, that he won’t let Republicans jack him up over the debt ceiling again. But if Republicans could hold the middle class tax cuts hostage, they’ll try to hold the debt ceiling hostage. Indeed, they will probably discover other areas of traditionally routine policy agreement that can be turned into extortion opportunities.

Obama may think his conciliatory approach has helped avoid economic chaos. Instead, he is courting it.

Matt Yglesias does not agree with Chait. However, it’s important to remember that any revenue Obama doesn’t get in taxes will be made up in cuts to social programs.

The usual

What Digby said.

So why is the president doing this? He’s certainly not a dumb man who can’t understand what he’s doing. The only explanation is that he believes Social Security benefits should be cut, but knows that it’s politically difficult to do so he’s hiding behind this “technical improvement.” Honestly, there aren’t any other believable explanations. Social Security never had to be part of this deficit conversation because it doesn’t contribute to the deficit. It is, however, part of the Grandiose “Bargain” he’s been pushing since before he was inaugurated the first time in which he seeks to be the Democratic president who bridges all the partisan divides and takes all these difficult problems “off the table” for all time so we can finally “do big things.” The Republicans have never signed on to that vision and more and more, I’m wondering if they aren’t saving the Democrats from themselves.

Guess she wasn’t faking, huh?

Get well soon, Secretary Clinton. Can’t wait to read the apologies from the wack jobs who claimed she faked a concussion to get out of testifying about Benghazi:

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has been admitted to a New York hospital after the discovery of a blood clot stemming from the concussion she sustained earlier this month.

Clinton spokesman Philippe Reines says her doctors discovered the clot during a follow-up exam Sunday. Reines says Clinton is being treated with anti-coagulants.

Clinton was admitted to New York-Presbyterian Hospital so doctors can monitor the medication over the next 48 hours.

FBI didn’t bother to tell Occupy about death threats

And other things we’d rather not think about:

Naomi Wolf gives an excellent in-depth analysis of those newly released documents that reveal the FBI’s counterterrorism monitoring of Occupy Wall Street, and points out the assassination by sniper fire threats against OWS leaders that the FBI never bothered to inform anyone in the movement about.

Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, executive director of the PCJF points out the close partnering of banks, the New York Stock Exchange and at least one local Federal Reserve with the FBI and DHS, and calls it “police-statism,” and believes these documents are only the “tip of the iceberg.”

The Guardian:

The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, in a groundbreaking scoop that should once more shame major US media outlets (why are nonprofits now some of the only entities in America left breaking major civil liberties news?), filed this request. The document – reproduced here in an easily searchable format – shows a terrifying network of coordinated DHS, FBI, police, regional fusion center, and private-sector activity so completely merged into one another that the monstrous whole is, in fact, one entity: in some cases, bearing a single name, the Domestic Security Alliance Council. And it reveals this merged entity to have one centrally planned, locally executed mission. The documents, in short, show the cops and DHS working for and with banks to target, arrest, and politically disable peaceful American citizens.

The documents, released after long delay in the week between Christmas and New Year, show a nationwide meta-plot unfolding in city after city in an Orwellian world: six American universities are sites where campus police funneled information about students involved with OWS to the FBI, with the administrations’ knowledge (p51); banks sat down with FBI officials to pool information about OWS protesters harvested by private security; plans to crush Occupy events, planned for a month down the road, were made by the FBI – and offered to the representatives of the same organizations that the protests would target; and even threats of the assassination of OWS leaders by sniper fire – by whom? Where? – now remain redacted and undisclosed to those American citizens in danger, contrary to standard FBI practice to inform the person concerned when there is a threat against a political leader (p61)

Wolf mentions that Jason Leopold, at, has sought similar documents for more than a year, and reported that the FBI falsely asserted in response to his own FOIA requests that no documents related to its infiltration of Occupy Wall Street existed at all. So indeed, is the release strategic? Having your personal information harvested and sent to terrorism task forces and fusion centers, and the threat of an unknown entity’s “longterm” plans to shoot you could easily frighten off even the most hard-core activists among us.

Site Meter