This afternoon, Markos Moulitsas wrote an offhanded comment on Daily Kos that seems completely in line with the recent upswing in progressive apoplexy. Referencing a post by Duncan Black about the president's tax cut deal, Markos wrote, "Tax cuts don't create jobs. It's really obnoxious hearing Democrats like Obama trying to make that argument."
Right off the bat, and not to go all Aaron Sorkin nitpicky on Markos, but it's President Obama. Come on. Is it seriously that difficult to type the word "president?" And while I agree with the first part, I'm not sure what Markos is talking about in the second part. The president has never once suggested that tax cuts create jobs.
In fact, he said exactly the opposite as recently as Dec. 10 on NPR. From ThinkProgress:
And in an interview on NPR this morning with Morning Edition host Steve Inkseep, President Obama reflected this point of view, agreeing that the tax cuts for the wealthy will not create "one single job":INSKEEP: Let me ask you about something that we heard from one of our listeners... The question that we got was: "Please ask him how keeping the tax rate for the richest the same as it has been for a decade creates one single job."
OBAMA: It doesn't, which is why I was opposed to it -- and I'm still opposed to it.
Here's the audio.
"It doesn't" create jobs, the president said. No gray area there. The exact opposite of what's being claimed by Markos and other progressives.
Concurrently, the president has obviously been ballyhooing his tax-cut compromise with the Republicans, while commenting that the deal will create jobs -- not the tax cuts part of the deal, specifically, but the overall deal. And he's right. If the CBO numbers indicating $1.61 in stimulus for every dollar spent on unemployment benefits are correct, then extending the benefits will create jobs as the economy grows.
What's so difficult to understand about this?
My intention here isn't to single out Markos -- or the tax-cut deal, for that matter. There's a larger and growing crisis within the progressive movement. I'm worried that certain factions of the movement are losing touch with reality.
No, this tax-cut deal isn't perfect. We're all well aware that tax cuts for the richest two percent won't create jobs, nor will they stimulate the economy. But -- and this is the case the president is making about the deal -- the only way to pass some form of economic stimulus (unemployment benefits) is to achieve a whip count that includes Republican votes.
And the only way to get Republican votes is to accept their deficit-ballooning tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans -- financed with money borrowed from China. Toss into the mix their laugh-out-loud, self-satirical contradictions about the deficit and debt "crisis" even though they're supporting the Bush tax cuts, which will add another $830 billion over the next 10 years. But the challenge is to overcome the GOP filibuster of, well, everything. Hell, they're even filibustering health care for the 9/11 heroes. These Republican 9/11 fetishists, who gladly exploit images of planes crashing into buildings along with the rubble-strewn streets of New York in campaign commercials, are filibustering health care for the heroes of that terrible event. And if they're willing to filibuster 9/11 heroes, naturally they'll filibuster unemployment benefits -- or any other form of effective stimulus for that matter.
President Obama understands this. And while the optics and his performance in trying to sell the deal have been lacking, the politics are best case, given the opposition party's carpet-bombing strategy.
Somehow, though, certain progressives don't get it. They believe the president is betraying progressive principles and deliberately sticking it to "the base."
First of all, the progressive movement is hardly the president's base. Most progressive leaders supported John Edwards during the primaries, and many were ambivalent about the president once he was nominated. The president's base is made up of mostly non-political Americans -- many of whom desperately need their unemployment benefits to continue until the jobs return.
Second, stop whining and wise up, progressives. The president isn't going to pass every last thing on your personal wish list. Just because he compromised on something that you've been frantically tweeting about doesn't mean it's time to pitch a tantrum and hurl the board game across the room -- storming off in a snit.
The volume of progressive crabbery and moping lately has been staggering -- otherwise sane progressives vowing to not vote in 2012, or to somehow conjure up a viable primary challenger to run against the president. Suffice to say, both ideas are ridiculous and ultimately self-defeating. Fun to b*tch about as a way to blow off steam, but also a great way to elect Awful Republican President X.