It looks like Digby is as tired of Mr. Wingnuts John Avlon’s hackery on CNN as I am. As she noted Avlon and the other Villagers on the panel of John King’s show are just desperate for our political class to just get along, or in other words for the Democrats to capitulate to the demands of Republicans.
BTW, the "centrist" ex-Giuliani speechwriter John Avlon was on CNN just now, wringing his hands and arguing ad nauseam that all the American people want is for everyone to just stop the fighting. John King was very sympathetic and agreed.
Is that what all those Republicans who voted for far right Tea Party candidates want? What I heard was that want their politicians to fight as hard as possible for their agenda. Liberals want the same thing. The only constituency that seems to be upset by the fighting is the Village constituency which is obviously quite agitated to be wasting time dealing wit such silliness as unemployment insurance and social security cuts and tax breaks for millionaires. Who cares about that trivia?
There are issues worth getting passionate about, like the horror of unauthorized presidential fellatio or the horror of unauthorized leaking of documents to the press, but arguing over things that affect Real Americans is the last thing Real Americans want. Just ask the Villagers, our self-designated celebrity millionaire stand-ins. They know us better than we know ourselves.
I’m also as sick as she is about seeing unemployment extensions for the most vulnerable among us being held hostage by the Republicans in exchange for tax cuts for the rich. They’ve already let them expire. I would guess nothing less than an extension of the Bush tax cuts for two years just in time to muck up the 2012 elections will be demanded to extend those unemployment benefits. Sadly there are probably enough rotten Blue Dogs that will vote with Republicans to make sure the rich still gets theirs and that the ransom being demanded from the working class and the poor is paid.
And then we get to look forward to having this fight again just in time for the presidential elections if they give them a two year extension as a “compromise”. Good job Democrats! I’m wondering where I can get a job to give you such politically savvy advice and if it includes a pension?
Full transcript below the fold.
KING: Yes, it really happened, really happened right here in Washington, D.C. of all places, a grown-up conversation in which Democrats and Republicans acknowledged real and important philosophical differences but agreed to try -- to try to find common ground. Well, now comes the hard part. Putting today's tone to the test on some big issues from tax cuts and spending and deficits to a nuclear arms treaty and the question of whether gay Americans should be allowed to serve openly in the military.
And, of course, by sundown there were cracks in the kumbaya spirit. So count me as skeptical, but let's test this talk of a new beginning issue by issue and here to help CNN contributors Erick Erickson and John Avlon and here with me in Washington Democratic strategist Cornell Belcher, senior political analyst Gloria Borger and senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash.
Dana Bash to you first and of course not all spouses have differences, I just want to make that clear. But what's the first test out of the box? Is it tax cuts?
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, it is tax cuts. What they did today is they agreed to at least put together a small group of lawmakers and members of the administration to have negotiations on tax cuts. And I was just told that the first meeting is actually going to be 10:00 a.m. tomorrow morning, so they're going to start out of the box. And you know at first I thought, well, maybe a Republican's being put on the spot here or is this kind of kicking the can down the road and not having the president himself and the leaders make the tough decisions.
And I talked to many Democrat and Republican sources who say you know what, this is kind of the way it's supposed to work. It's OK. You get people in a room who are in power to make decisions and you do it. It is not going to be easy. Whether or not they can do it is still a big question mark because the difference is as you heard from both of them today philosophically especially on tax cuts are huge, but this is the first test.
KING: So let's listen. Here's the president after the meeting. He says it was great to talk. It was great to start to build the relationship. But yes, on tax cuts, we have a disagreement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Here we disagree. I believe and the other Democrats who are in the room believe that this would add an additional $700 billion to our debt in the next 10 years. And I continue to believe that it would be unwise and unfair particularly at a time when we're contemplating deep budget cuts that require broad sacrifice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: On the floor of the United States Senate, though, one of the men in the meeting, the Republican Leader Mitch McConnell thinks differently.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: It should be what's good for the economy and for the American people. And if we leave the politics aside, if we look at the facts, the answer here is simple. No tax hikes on anybody, no tax hikes on anybody period.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: So if yes, they're going to build this new relationship of trust. Yes, they're going to meet more often, but --
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look, I think what this is probably leading to -- and Dana knows much more about this than I do -- is some kind of a temporary extension of tax cuts, which is perhaps what some Democrats could -- could sign on to. They don't want the tax cuts on the wealthy to be permanent, but they might be able to in this lame-duck session at least agree to that. And the Republicans I spoke to today said that they think that they may actually get to that point in the lame duck.
KING: So a temporary deal punted to the next presidential election? Is that leadership?
CORNELL BELCHER, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: Well no, but it is about sort of politics does come into play. And it was interesting that even in the Kumbaya sort of moment that the speaker (INAUDIBLE) speaker (INAUDIBLE) said that we have different views on government, which by the way is a political dig.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You think.
BELCHER: -- because he's basically saying we're for small government and they're for big government in his all sort of political way, but look --
KING: But he said it politely.
BELCHER: He did say -- he did say it politely. But look -- I mean look there is going to probably be some compromise on this. However, it's very interesting what the current speaker said about this. And she said I'm willing to be the lone voice on this, sort of fighting for tax -- for the middle class tax cuts because guess what? This is going to be a political issue now because -- we're going to -- on our side we're going to say you know what? We're fighting for political -- for tax cuts for working people, they're fighting for tax cuts on the rich. So the politics doesn't really stop.
KING: Let me show you more the map before we bring Erick and John in for more of the politics. I just want to show a little bit of the math here when it comes to tax cuts -- if we can get my friend here to cooperate. Well my -- there we go.
Tax cuts come up, here's what the president wants. Renew the tax cuts -- these are the Bush tax cuts passed in 2001. The president wants to renew them for individuals making $200,000 a year or less or couples making $250,000 or less. Even the president's plan would add $3 trillion to the deficit over the next 10 years.
Here's what the Republicans want, just extend all the tax cuts permanently. That would add $4 trillion to the deficit over the next 10 years, so we're not talking chump change here. This is $1 trillion; even the president's plan is $3 trillion. Erick Erickson, these negotiations will begin, as Dana notes, the first meeting is tomorrow.
The Senate will be represented by John Kyl, the number two Republican in the Senate a conservative from Arizona. And yet you tweeted this today. Get ready to get screwed on taxes. Senate GOP chooses Senator Kyl to handle negotiations. He's horrible on strategic thinking.
ERICK ERICKSON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Senator Kyl posits (ph) himself as a good strategic thinker, but I've never known him to be a good strategic thinker and that's a problem. The Senate GOP typically gets confused on tactics and strategy and sometimes outthinks themselves. They like the Democratic politicians in Washington have two favorite games, spin the bottle with K Street and kick the can with other politicians. They're going to kick the can with this policy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So you think temporary is kicking the can?
ERICKSON: I absolutely think they're going to do something temporary. We'll have this fight again in two years.
KING: John Avlon, as someone who tries to study the middle of American politics, both sides today clearly thought it was important for a tone -- for tone to come out and say, hey, we're going to try to get to know each other; hey we're going to get together more often. We're going to try to build the relationship of some level of trust. The substance is hard, but is that in and of itself an important step?
JOHN AVLON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It is an important step and it's a recognition of what the American people overwhelmingly want. There's a beltway cynicism about bipartisanship. Remember Dick Armey's famous line a decade ago where he said bipartisanship is another name for date rape. There's a fundamental distrust that is so cynical to the ears of the vast majority of the American people who expect us to elect people and then find a way to work together.
Find a way to define that common ground. And on taxes it's possible as well whether it's a temporary extension or a proposal being floated by Senator Schumer and McCaskill to raise that top rate to a million, which I think would actually achieve a genuine substantive compromise and make it much more difficult for Republicans to argue that those folks who make over $1 million a year shouldn't have slight tax increase in order to help delay some of the deficit costs. These are all negotiations, but it's exactly the right tone; it's what the American people want. And I really applaud them for both sounding like --
ERICKSON: You know John I would think it's just the opposite though. I think most Americans understand that when they hear bipartisanship they've got to bend over and get ready.
AVLON: No, Erick, what are you talking about, man?
ERICKSON: Well every time Republicans and Democrats compromise on something, they compromise in favor of bigger government. They rarely ever compromise in favor of getting rid of government. That's the problem we're going to have with this Deficit Commission report coming out, as well.
BELCHER: But really quickly, John, as the guy who actually earns a living from politics doing consulting, let me take up for politics for a second because this is actually really important stuff. There is a worthwhile fight to have, to sort of -- for Democrats to say, you know what? Too much has been going to the rich; I want to fight for the middle class. And on the same side of the Republicans, you know there's a fight worth having, not partisans --
BELCHER: -- but that's a fight -- that's a fight worth having on those issues, so politics isn't all bad. There is some --
KING: No politics is good. Politics is good. I'm a big fan of politics. I make my living off politics too on a different side than you do. I think it's great. I do think it would be nice if they would trust each other to have some relationship -- disagreeably, I guess.
KING: Maybe that's too much to ask --
BASH: They are going to have more meetings and they are (INAUDIBLE) potentially go to Camp David.
KING: Camp David, yee-haw --
BASH: No, I know exactly. It sounds like -- it sounds like (INAUDIBLE) big deal, but the fact of the matter is it is a big deal for these people who do not, as you said very aptly have any relationship.
KING: And so here's the question, if the leaders agree to at least have a more polite and civil relationship, which I think all Americans could be in favor of. We'll see what the substance is if people can disagree about that. But maybe they can do it agreeably, that would be one thing. How far down does the responsibility for bipartisanship go and I ask in the context of this.
Joe Barton, many of you remember here at home. He is the ranking Republican of the House Energy Committee. I'm getting the name of the committee wrong. He's the one who said that -- essentially apologized to BP for what was happening during the oil spill. He is campaigning to be chairman of that committee.
He faces some opposition. I want to show you the last slide from a slide show he sent around to his colleagues where he said Speaker Boehner is our Dwight Eisenhower in the battle against the Obama administration. Majority Leader Cantor is our Omar Bradley. I want to be George Patton. Put anything in my scope and I will shoot it. Using militaristic terms, it's an interesting campaign argument, but if we're going to have this new let's try to get along and disagree agreeably, that's not that --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's the problem.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no desperation.
ERICKSON: You know Joe Barton is not going to become chairman of the House, Energy, and Commerce Committee. They're not going to give him that waiver particularly after making such a big stink over him not being the chairman when they got back because of the BP comment. It's going to be Fred Upton or someone else, probably not even Upton.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.
ERICKSON: It's not going to be Barton.
AVLON: Because it would be a dumb decision on the BP side alone. But the point is, is that we've actually become desensitized. This language about the war against the Obama administration and in this case, you know obviously, it's a little unhelpful that Barton by identifying Republican leaders as U.S. Army generals de facto makes the Democrats Nazi Germany. But look that is a part of the tone of the problem (INAUDIBLE) stop bipartisanship, a deep cynicism, a hostility and anger, an identity, a tendency to demonize people that disagree with us and that's what we need to overcome.
BORGER: But he's appealing to people in his own party, you know.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
BORGER: There are 34 new House Republicans who have never held elective office before. And they got elected by hating Democrats, hating deficits, hating Obama, a lot of them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How about -- how about opposing --
BORGER: I think that he was trying to appeal to those people in the Republican caucus.
BELCHER: Real quickly, but the incoming speaker --
BELCHER: But the incoming speaker has got the tiger by the tail here on this because at one time, unlike Mitch McConnell in the Senate who by the way doesn't actually have to pass anything, he can continue to play politics, the Republicans are now in charge of the House, they actually have to pass something. They actually do have to reach across and compromise.