Barack Obama: President, not King

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Email from a moderate lefty friend:

We crossed the Tipping Point yesterday. Last night L told me she’s “over” Obama and thinks he’s in over his head, politically. Up until yesterday, she was a die-hard supporter/defender. I’m nearly there.

I don’t think he or his advisors have any idea how fast his supporters are fleeing. It reminds me — painfully — of Carter, circa 1979. Obama’s about one “killer rabbit” away from certain defeat by any Republican, including Palin.

Easy solution: eliminate middle class payroll taxes and/or reduce tax rate on first $250K to as close to zero as possible and tax everything north of that at 40%, including dividends and capital gains.

Apropos of last night’s post, I told him to wait until January to see what Obama is really made of. But it reminds me of something else, and I don’t remember for sure if I’ve blogged about this. That’s the problem with our modern cornucopia of communications channels. Maybe I tweeted this. Maybe I said it in a talk. Maybe I emailed about it. Or maybe I’ve already blogged it ten times and just forgotten about it. Who knows?

But anyway, here it is: Obama is a president, not a king. On taxes, for example, his position has been steady and clear all along: extend the broad tax cuts but kill the cuts aimed solely at the rich.

So why hasn’t it happened? Because of opposition from within his own party. A tax bill could have been passed by reconciliation in the Senate, but for some reason it wasn’t. It could have been passed in the House, but a combination of Blue Dogs and fainthearted centrists afraid of attack ads blocked it. And as much as we all like to pine for the days of LBJ and the “treatment,” those days are long gone. It’s genuinely not clear what kind of leverage Obama has over recalcitrant members of Congress. Not a lot, in any case.

I figure that Obama probably could have done more, but I’m not absolutely sure of that. What really happened was a failure of the Democratic caucus in Congress. That doesn’t make as juicy a target, but it’s a more accurate one. In this case, blame the party, not the president.

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We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

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