‘principles matter, but not as much as progress’

Robert Shrum: The progressive resistance to the Obama deal on tax cuts is both unreasoning and unreasonable.

Unreasoning because the opponents, whose anger is congealing into adamantine ideology inside the Democratic Party, are pulling out a cascade of objections but offering up no practical alternative.

Unreasonable because what the president achieved – which in reality should be called an economic recovery package – is a fundamentally progressive deal.

Yes, Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, who skillfully negotiated with Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, had to concede on the top rate tax cuts – for now. Democrats can battle the issue out, and win on it, in 2012 – which is what should have happened in the midterms, and might have but for the counsel of some of the same members of Congress who are now digging in or dragging their heels against the agreement….

Now look beyond the concessions – and the tantrums of the blogpeople and electorally battered Democrats in Congress – and measure what Obama has secured in return.

Details here

For the hardest pressed, Obama won a 13-month extension of unemployment compensation for the long-term jobless. Nothing could be more regressive – or illiberal – than to sacrifice millions of workers who are out of work and out of benefits to a futile exercise in liberal posturing? …. Those who don’t have to worry about that should be cautious of trafficking in self-satisfying appeals to all-or-nothing politics. The unemployed can’t live on the porridge of ideological purity.

….Progressives can’t move forward by stamping their lame duck feet – by leaving the jobless with nowhere to turn, by letting the mainstream middle lose out, and by showing that they care so much for the unemployed that they’re willing to create many more of them.

….the president has accomplished more than any Democratic president in decades. In addition to health reform, financial reform, and college loan overhaul to benefit students not banks – in addition to the first stimulus that prevented a depression – he’s turned the Republican obsession with tax cuts for millionaires into a new engine for economic recovery.

It’s time for liberals to recall JFK’s description of what it means to be a liberal: “Our responsibility is not discharged by announcement of virtuous ends. Our responsibility is to achieve these objectives with social invention, with political skill and executive vigor.”

That’s what Barack Obama has done – again and again. In this tax debate, he didn’t triangulate; in fact, on cool reflection, it’s clear that he’s outflanked the GOP. The results, now and all across the past two years, aren’t perfect – politics never is – but the president has earned his progressive union card.

Full article here

Thanks for the link Hachikō

8 Responses to “‘principles matter, but not as much as progress’”

  1. 1 Tracy
    December 9, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    Great article. Lays it all out. Makes you wonder why the congressional democrats are so obtuse? Is it all just ego or game playing (they’re offended that the president did what they should have done).

  2. 2 Ladyhawke
    December 9, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    That’s an amazing article. It’s long past due for the Dems to get on board.

    Repost of comment at blackwaterdog blog:

    What is happening now, made me think of something President Obama said in his inauguration speech. What I remembered was something about the ground shifting. I searched the internet and found the paragraph. It’s timely and poignant.

    President Obama (January 20, 2009):

    What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them – that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works – whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account – to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day – because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

    I could not be more proud of our brilliant and charismatic leader. We are truly blessed to have him at the helm. He amazes me every day with his passion and desire to do the right thing for the American people. He’s just good inside.

    • 3 geegee
      December 9, 2010 at 4:16 pm

      “He’s just good inside”. Yes he is!

    • 4 Chi
      December 9, 2010 at 4:36 pm

      Hear, hear…

      I just listened to a 55year old unemployed man – a war veteran and construction guy breakdown on the Randi Rhodes show…
      He apologized for being a burden and causing President Obama so much grief…It was heartbreaking!
      He’s clearly very motivated and just wants to work but can’t find any work in his Charleston, S.C hometown even though there’s a huge Boeing construction project going on there – they are not hiring…

      If anyone knows of any construction opening (he’s also a painter) in the Charleston area please call the Rhandi Rhodes show at 1(866)877-2634 – They’ll arrange to get you in touch with the guy…

      • 5 majii
        December 9, 2010 at 5:57 pm

        Every one of the frustrati should be forced to listen to this clip. This man is suffering, yet he still has faith that our president has him and millions of others in mind when he makes decisions such as the one that resulted in the tax cut compromise.

      • 6 BIGFan
        December 9, 2010 at 6:24 pm

        Thanks, Chi. Very compassionate post

    • 7 BIGFan
      December 9, 2010 at 6:21 pm

      Thank you, Ladyhawke. Poignant, indeed.

  3. December 10, 2010 at 8:35 am

    This is a President of the future. He is what we need right now. He is always speaking in the terms of looking forward. In his news conference he mentioned the North Star. The people of the right now don’t get it. They don’t get brilliance. And they never will. Our President have indeed done more in 2 years than any Democratic President in history. But the left is more, more, more. I’m sick of them. I have left most of their websites, and canceled their emails to my box. This President is about positive results. And he look at facts, no guesswork. He said he would rather be a great one term President than a mediocre 2 term President. People also forget, a President is only as good as his Senate and House seats. Remember all the Democratic votes in the Senate don’t vote with the Democrats most of the time. I have said before, this President will run again, and most likely will win. But if he don’t win, he is still ok with it because he know in his heart that he have done great things for this country.

    Democrats had better hope he run again, because there is no one else to match him, on any scale in the Democratic Party. And with the Republican line up, none of them can beat him.

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