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A few thoughts on the tax deal – Rob beat me to it, so make sure you read his post below about the payroll tax.
1. My friend Hugh Hewitt is apoplectic about the 2-year deal, but it seems to set up 2012 nicely. Vote for us to keep your taxes from rising. Vote for them and they’ll go up guaranteed: it’s baked right into the law.
2. Hearing the President get that fussy, irritated tone when he describes the things he had to swallow to get on board, and all the good things he did tax-wise, reminds you how ungracious he is towards his opposition. If you were the smartest guy in the room and had to go along with ignorant boob-skulled bitterclingers, you’d be annoyed too, I suppose.
3. Extending unemployment benefits may be a bad idea in the macro sense – it discourages people from seeking jobs, and encourages the acceptance of the long-term dole culture. True enough. You still see stories like 10,000 people turning out to apply for 1,000 jobs, though, so I’m not sure everyone who wants to work has been turned into Jim Royle. But politics is also about perception, and cutting off unemployment benefits while trying to keep tax cuts for the top earners makes for disastrous public narratives. Forget Scrooge: they’d all look like Mr. Potter in “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
Yes, I know: this is how they’ll be portrayed anyway. That’s what the left thinks. Let them. Their case is less impressive when the moderate middle looks at the last deal, and sees A) the GOP didn’t go full Grinch, and B) they got the President to admit that raising taxes costs jobs. Whether he believes it or not isn’t relevant; I think if he said today that raising taxes costs jobs, and lowering them tomorrow costs jobs, he’d be praised by Frank Rich as one of those Fitzgeraldian first-rate intellects capable of keeping two opposed ideas in his head simultaneously. In the end he came off as the guy who had to be pressured not to raise taxes – and who seemed quite annoyed by the entire affair. I’ll take that.