It’s nice to know that the liberals are not the only politicians who know how to form a circle, and then shoot directly into the center.
Today, with a critical procedural vote on the tax deal scheduled in the Senate, some Tea Party activists and other conservatives are denouncing an agreement that gives the Republican leadership virtually everything that they might conceivably hope to win from the White House.
Not satisfied, the party’s right wing is launching an attack. According to The New York Times “a group called the Tea Party Patriots is circulating a petition accusing Republican lawmakers of cutting a bad, backroom deal with the president that violates the principles that Tea Party candidates campaigned on during the midterm elections.
“‘The Deal’ revives the death tax, an immoral 'vampire tax' that sucks the blood from the dead, ruins family businesses and double taxes savings that were accumulated over a lifetime,” the petition says. [They would like to eliminate the estate tax altogether.] "‘The Deal’ spends billions and billions of dollars that the country does not have in order to prevent a tax hike that the country voted against.’”
No surprise, Rush Limbaugh has joined the chorus: “The economic benefit here, if we do this deal, is going to be minimal,” said Limbaugh insisting that Republicans should have fought for the permanent extension of the tax cuts rather than giving in to a temporary one. “Where is the Republican vision?”
The Times also quotes Erik Erickson, the conservative blogger, writing at Redstate.com: “The deal must now die. It must now be opposed by Republicans. Released now in print, the legislation is loaded up with budget busting pork of ridiculously absurd levels.”
Meanwhile, The Hill reports that Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) has announced his opposition to the deal. Today, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), another Tea Party favorite , told Fox News, “As I understand this, I'm likely to be a ‘no.’"
Finally, according to the Washington Post, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R. Minn.), head of the House Tea Party Caucus, said the agreement "ramps up spending in a big way and ramps up the deficit." Senator-elect Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who will start his term in January, also has criticized the agreement.
Is this enough to derail the deal? I doubt it. As I write this, the Senate is preparing to give the bill the green light, paving the way to send the bill to the House Tuesday or Wednesday.
But opposition from the right might well hold up the vote in the House– which could give liberals as well as conservatives time to spell out their objections. Even if the compromise was the best deal that President Obama could get, many liberals feel that it should have been debated, so that everyone understands just how much conservatives have won. Even when you can’t win, it is important that the truth be told.
How many voters recognize exactly how expensive this deal is—and where the money is going? How many seniors realize that by cutting the Social Security tax, conservatives are laying the groundwork for 2012, when they hope to gut Social Security? How many members of the public recognize what this deal means for health care reform—and Medicare?
Finally, how many liberals have analyzed just how many additional jobs the deal will create? The tax cuts for the middle-class are not new. And unemployed households lucky enough to receive a weekly check for $300 (the average benefit) are not going to go out and buy a new car. They’ll be happy if they can pay their utility bills. That won’t create jobs.
I’ll be writing more about how the tax deal will affect health care reform later this afternoon.