Friday, October 18, 2013

Read Stuff, You Should

Happy Birthday to Erin Moran, 53.

Good stuff

1. I absolutely agree with the premise of Ezra Klein's post: Democrats should give up on the goal of raising revenues. Trickier, however, is how to do that. But he's exactly right about this.

2. The latest on 2014, from David Wasserman. Very reasonable.

3. Sarah Binder's postmortem on the shutdown deal.

4. Paul Waldman is very good on the Robert Costa phenomenon.

5. And another good one from Ross Douthat on Boehner.


  1. You and Ezra are both wrong tactically. You are in essence advocating for President Obama's pre-concession strategy from 2009 through 2011 that only results in the final outcome being even more conservative and further from what Democrats consider optimal than it would be otherwise.

    1. At this stage, I'm with JB, Ezra and Ryan Cooper at Plum Line. If taxes are off the table, then "entitlement" "reform" is off the table. This means no deal on the long term deficit. If Repubs want to talk about that, then they have to talk about taxes, full stop. And they won't. Also, if taxes are off the table, then spending cuts below the sequester are off the table. No new revenue means no short term deficit reduction through spending cuts.

      Now, as JB (and Ezra) notes, it remains to be seen what kind of deal can be made. I think the goal is essentially to rejigger sequestration cuts to better align spending to Dem priorities, possibly adding universal pre-school, while restoring some Defense funding to get Repubs on board. It's not ideal, but ideal is not on the table, and not achievable.

      Of course, I could be wrong, and the Dems may get so tired of not caving that they decide to cave again for old time's sake. ("It's our nature.") But in this case, I don't see any incentive for them to do so.

  2. I think tax hikes as in changes to the marginal rates should be off the table. But tax reform which raises some folks' taxes by eliminating loopholes should be considered. I'd offer a change of the corporate rate to 25% in exchange for closing a boatload of loopholes. We also need to do something about overseas income and the hoarding of dollars overseas. Certainly NOT a repatriation holiday, but something to encourage/force folks to bring that money back here.

    1. Oh, you're not wrong that something like this a good idea, and should probably be offered, but Republicans seem to be pretty hostile to even raising revenues through elimination of tax breaks (even though they acknowledge that such breaks are really just government spending by another name). The question, then, is how hard should we push when they say no? I think Ezra and JB are right that a refusal to increase taxes in *any* way is pretty much an inviolate religious tenant to Republicans. As such, they'll probably never agree to the sort of Grand Bargain which would be in the country's long-term interest, and we ought to be pragmatic about that fact.

      Meanwhile, since Republicans prize a lack of tax increases over anything and everything else, maybe it's better tactically to fight for something else. Like Belichick, we ought to take what they give us; play-fake when they put eight guys in the box.

  3. Ezra Klein thinks Democrats have leverage. But where? As he says, Obama has more interest in raising defense spending than the average Republican lawmaker.

    In any case, assuming that defense cuts are a liberal priority, the best way to make them permanent would be for Obama to adjust our global strategic posture to accommodate lower defense spending. Obama will fight this, but not as much as a President Hillary or almost any possible Republican President. So the opportunity is now.

    1. The Democrats' leverage is that the House GOP has already shown that it's incapable, on its own, of passing appropriations bills at sequester levels or lower.

    2. It's true, the best thing for liberals to do now would be to declare that there will be no entitlement cuts in this round, forcing the military sequester to take effect.

      And they would also have the option of taking the reverse-Norquist option: no entitlement cuts ever, forcing tax increases in the long run.

  4. The next fight is tricky because Obama wants two things that liberals either don't care about or actually want to avoid--restoring military spending cuts, and deficit reduction. If Obama was the only decision maker in the room, he might even be willing to trade entitlement cuts to undo the military sequester--the ultimate liberal defeat and conservative victory.

    For the resulting deal to not be worse from a liberal perspective than the status quo of sequestration, any restoration of military spending must be either offset by increased revenue, or simply unpaid for--with an equivalent amount of domestic discretionary spending allowed to rise without being paid for. Republicans would find the first unacceptable, Obama wouldn't like the second. If liberals are capable of blocking a deal, then there's a good chance we're stuck with the status quo (perhaps with more flexibility given to departments in determining what gets cut).


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