Yes, you read that correctly: "hard-hearted liberals".
Liberals are supposed to be kind-hearted. Even soft-hearted to the point of being soft in the head, according to some conservatives. But a number of prominent liberals were not being kind at all this week during the "fiscal cliff crisis".
They were absolutely furious that Obama was willing to cut a deal with the GOP that raised taxes on incomes above the $400,000 level instead of the $200,000 level. And they wanted a lot more tax reform than just the rate hike. In their view Obama had the GOP over a complete barrel and could have got whatever he wanted. Further, in their view, he got nothing in return for his concession on the tax hike level.
Nonsense! He never had complete mastery of the board because there was always the possibility that the GOP would decide to do the jump and then dawdle around long enough at the bottom of the cliff to rattle the markets, further depress consumer spending, and start us into another dip of recession.
Worse, however, was that the GOP had 2 million hostages and their families, perhaps as many as 4 to 6 million people. These are the folks dependent for their very survival on unemployment compensation, and their unemployment compensation was running out.
Running out now!
Obama had no way to save these people from terrible suffering except to give the GOP something in return for the extension of those unemployment benefits. So he gave them the $400,000 tax hike level. Some well-off folks will be paying less taxes so that between 2 and 6 million other folks can eat and pay their heat bills in the middle of winter.
I call that a damn good bargain.
It also kept billions of dollars flowing into the economy because nothing gets spent faster than unemployment compensation. So the deal was a twofer: help for those in dire straits and a stimulus that helps save other people's jobs.
Paul Krugman, folks at MoveOn, and some other liberals are scoffing at Obama because he did the kind and smart thing. They can't see it as smart because they think they know everything. But they don't know what politics is really like. We call it a game but it isn't. It's about people. And if you play it as a game with the idea that winning means beating the hell out of the other guy or doing only the cleverest economic thing, then you are not worthy of being in politics.
Politics means having the power to hurt or help people, to strengthen or diminish the country. It's not a game. Real people can get hurt.
In the Nixon recession of the early 1970s, Silicon Valley was caught in one of those cyclical recessions the electronics industry has been having since there were vacuum tubes. Good, educated, hard-working family men who had done everything they were supposed to - served in the military, got their education, become engineers and techs, stayed loyal to their companies - were out on the streets and could not get jobs. They were disgraced, they blamed themselves, and they were desperate. You'd see them in clown suits waving ad signs at gas stations for a few bucks an hour. One I knew lived for 2 years on canned tomato soup after his unemployment compensation ran out. Another went home after a fruitless day of job-seeking, put a plastic bag over his daughter's head and then over his and killed them both.
That's what it means to to run out of unemployment compensation. It means being hungry, cold, desperate. Obama worked as a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago. He knows what it means.
And it ain't gonna happen on his watch!
Thus he chose the people over the other stuff some liberals wanted. That's not "selling out". It's not being "soft in negotiations". It's not stupid economics. It's being a mensch.
And if you don't know what a mensch is, just keep your eyes on President Obama and he will continue to show you what a good, decent man really is, what a mensch does. He is what the pueblo Indians call "a valuable man." The value is in his importance to the community. Among the Irish, he was the clan leader, not by blood but by election as the man who would take care of the people.
He's George Bailey. Yeah, that's who he is! And we are blessed to have him in Washington taking care of the folks.
So Happy New Year, you old savings and loan! And Happy New Year, Mr. President! Have a good time in Hawaii. You've earned it, kiddo!
We'll raise Mr. Potter's taxes more next time! Yes, we can!
P.S. "Mr, Potter" is Hollywood-speak for Mitt Romney! We haven't forgotten his taxes at all!