Centrist Dems backing away from Obama’s class-warfare strategy?

posted at 12:05 pm on September 20, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

The White House has had to deal with the embarrassment of launching a jobs initiative that was intended to paint Republicans as obstructionists — only to discover that Democrats won’t pass it, either, at least not in its current form.  It now looks like Barack Obama and his team didn’t do their homework on their plan to push higher taxes for the wealthy.  Both TPM and Politico report that “centrist” Democrats in the Senate have begun to distance themselves from Obama’s plan:

President Obama’s deficit-reduction plan–complete with tax increases on the wealthiest Americans–won high marks from his liberal base encouraged to see Obama back in fighting mode, but the plan is set to hit a brick wall in Congress — even in the Democratically controlled Senate and the bipartisan super committee.

Moderate Senate Democrats are signaling strong resistance to tax increases in the President’s deficit-reduction plan, and the early disapproval within his own party will no doubt give Republicans on the deficit super committee plenty of cover to block any and all revenue-raising aspects of Obama’s plan.

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) told reporters Monday night that he’s put off by all the talk about increasing taxes when he believes the primary and only goal of the deficit super committee should be finding cuts to hack away at the deficit.

“Tax increases have to come second to cutting,” he said. “I was just home over the weekend and that’s what [my constituents] we’re all talking about.”

TPM thinks that some of them can be wooed back into the fold, but that will be a tall order with a tough election coming up next year.  Red-state Democrats like Ben Nelson already will have big trouble with Obama at the top of the ticket and ObamaCare on their records.  If they have to add a huge tax hike on top of that, there may not be a safe seat among the 23 Democrats have to defend in 2012.  Politico also thinks some may “come around,” but their initial reaction says that Obama may be standing all alone on this proposal:

Liberals on Monday cheered President Barack Obama’s plan to hike taxes on the wealthy to cut the deficit. But the response from Democrats on the front lines of 2012 election battles? Silence. Or, at best, tepid enthusiasm.

Centrist Democrats, a dwindling breed on Capitol Hill, were quickly faced with another rough choice once Obama went public with his plans: Reject their president or back what Republicans are already calling the largest tax increase in the nation’s history.

One endangered Democrat will seek distance from Obama … literally:

The Missouri Republican Party called on Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, a top GOP target in 2012, to state whether she’d embrace Obama’s plan and questioned whether she’ll welcome the president during a visit to St. Louis on Oct. 4.

McCaskill “is still reviewing this proposal,” said an aide, and she’ll be in Washington “voting and working” on the day of Obama’s visit.

It’s not just the centrists, either.  Chuck Schumer, a reliably liberal voice in the Senate, also backed away from Obama’s tax-hike proposal last night, but more for NIMBY reasons than economic common sense:

Kramer asked our area politicians how they felt. Senators Charles Schumer of New York, Robert Menendez and Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey all support the millionaire’s tax.

Menendez, Lautenberg and Kirsten Gillibrand support eliminating some or all of the Bush tax cuts. Schumer said the $250,000 limit is unacceptable since it will hit the metropolitan area disproportionately because of the high cost of living here.

“$250,000 makes you really rich in Mississippi but it doesn’t make you rich at all in New York and there ought to be some kind of scale based on the cost of living on how much you pay,” Schumer said.

Actually, no.  There should be a sense of cost of living in state policies that ease the kind of distortion one sees in New York City, but income taxes shouldn’t be indexed to cost-of-living indicators at all.  If the $250K limit doesn’t work for Schumer’s constituents, then he should seek to change it or oppose the bill, but not tell Mississippians that those earning the same amount of taxable income as Schumer’s constituents should pay a higher federal income tax rate than New Yorkers.  Schumer’s position is hypocritical on its face, and his suggested solution would almost certainly violate Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution.

If the fallout from Obama’s deficit proposal sounds similar to the fallout from his jobs bill, it’s because the White House failed to do the kind of political grunt work necessary up front to develop a united front.  The West Wing is winging it, and in their haste to make Republicans look like extremists, they have instead exposed themselves as significantly out of touch with the American people — and their own party as well.

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So we have gridlock then? Or will Senate Democrats propose a plan of their own. Right after the house sends them something to work with.

Skandia Recluse on September 20, 2011 at 12:09 PM

All these Democrats refusing to fall in line would seem to but a chink in the Party of No campaign The Won is said to want to run on. I don’t understand why he is shifting to the Left, he doesn’t have to win a primary. Can’t he, at least once, pretend that he is the president of the entire nation?

Cindy Munford on September 20, 2011 at 12:10 PM

This regime is a caricature of lefty populist rhetoric. Not to mention very sloppy.

rbj on September 20, 2011 at 12:12 PM

I’m not so sure . . . I believe Obama is the essence of contemporary Democrats and he simply speaks many things they believe but are afraid to verbalize. That entire political Party has become a danger to the Republic.

rplat on September 20, 2011 at 12:13 PM

Why is cutting the deficit this complicated? We have to balance our budget in NC and the state told its divisions last year “cut 11%” and this year “cut another 15%”.

Of course, our state workers are not unionized and have no collective bargaining “rights” (i.e. they are slaves!!!11!1!eleventy!!1!).

Budget balanced… no 10-year plan… no super committee.

mankai on September 20, 2011 at 12:13 PM

Who knew there were so many racist Democrats?

Knucklehead on September 20, 2011 at 12:14 PM

0bama is a lame duck, clearly the internal democrat party polling shows he has no chance, and that he’ll pull the party down with him.

Democrats up for reelection will be fleeing in terror from 0bama – the bringer of electoral death.

Rebar on September 20, 2011 at 12:14 PM

That’s why Dingy Harry is in no hurry to start talking about it, right?

Drained Brain on September 20, 2011 at 12:14 PM

The Photograph of Schumer with a gun made me laugh so hard. My keyboard is beyond repair and I am stuck with a very old keyboard.

antisocial on September 20, 2011 at 12:15 PM

but will they still get their picture taken with him?

ted c on September 20, 2011 at 12:17 PM

“$250,000 makes you really rich in Mississippi but it doesn’t make you rich at all in New York and there ought to be some kind of scale based on the cost of living on how much you pay,” Schumer said.

But I thought it was worth paying more to live in the coastal paradises? Or is Schumer just saying it’s a stupidity tax?

strictnein on September 20, 2011 at 12:17 PM

A hail Marry pass, incomplete.

Count to 10 on September 20, 2011 at 12:17 PM

McCaskill “is still reviewing this proposal,” said an aide, and she’ll be in Washington “voting and working” on the day of Obama’s visit.

Run from the Champ as much as you want. But you were for all of his policies. So you go down with him.

antisocial on September 20, 2011 at 12:18 PM

The Photograph of Schumer with a gun made me laugh so hard. My keyboard is beyond repair and I am stuck with a very old keyboard.

antisocial on September 20, 2011 at 12:15 PM

That picture is really amazing. It makes me nervous every time I see it. Would you want to be standing next to that guy at the range? I know I wouldn’t.

strictnein on September 20, 2011 at 12:19 PM

keep holding that weapon like that Chucky and don’t be surprised if you end up shooting yourself in the head.

limp wrister.

ted c on September 20, 2011 at 12:19 PM

It just seems stupid to present a plan before you ensure backing from your own party. Is he really that arrogant or surrounded by fools or both?

ldbgcoleman on September 20, 2011 at 12:20 PM

Schumer would love for big cities to get a bigger break on taxes–that’s where their support base lives. It would be a huge payoff to Democrat voters.

cartooner on September 20, 2011 at 12:20 PM

That entire political Party has become a danger to the Republic.

They have been since they put their hoods on in 1865.

DeweyWins on September 20, 2011 at 12:22 PM

“Tax increases have to come second to cutting,” he said. “I was just home over the weekend and that’s what [my constituents] we’re all talking about.”

Heh. Ben just reassurring readers he can once again dine peacefully in public in Nebraska. Won’t help a bit, Bennie,..we’re waiting for ya in Nov. Got the rail greased up, the tar on low heat, and feathers safely packaged.

a capella on September 20, 2011 at 12:22 PM

I’ve always loved that pic of Schumer because it encapsulates how I feel about most strident liberals: Hypocritical fools who don’t know what they’re doing.

Bishop on September 20, 2011 at 12:23 PM

The White House has had to deal with the embarrassment of launching a jobs initiative that was intended to paint Republicans as obstructionists — only to discover that Democrats won’t pass it, either, at least not in its current form.

If Teh Won didn’t see that coming, then he’s a lot stupider than people think.

UltimateBob on September 20, 2011 at 12:24 PM

So there are 23 Dem’s up next year in the Senate?

Who is safe amongst them? Like, say, Schumer? Is he up? Or could the Republicans conceivably get over 60?

Vanceone on September 20, 2011 at 12:24 PM

Democrats holding the One hostage?

forest on September 20, 2011 at 12:25 PM

Both TPM and Politico report that “centrist” Democrats in the Senate have begun to distance themselves from Obama’s plan.

Report them to AAAaaaattttasaaaccckkk WWWaaaatttchhh?

Chip on September 20, 2011 at 12:25 PM

Team Obama is thrashing about. They don’t have a plan because they’re in ‘survival mode’ right now. Count on more “THEY ARE THE ENEMY” rhetoric to follow.

GarandFan on September 20, 2011 at 12:27 PM

a capella on September 20, 2011 at 12:22 PM

Yank his toupee off on his way out. If its not that’s even better.

arnold ziffel on September 20, 2011 at 12:27 PM

Can’t he, at least once, pretend that he is the president of the entire nation?

Cindy Munford on September 20, 2011 at 12:10 PM

Thanks Cindy, I needed a good laugh today.

JusDreamin on September 20, 2011 at 12:27 PM

keep holding that weapon like that Chucky and don’t be surprised if you end up shooting yourself in the head.

limp wrister.

ted c on September 20, 2011 at 12:19 PM

“Fredo at the gun range”

BobMbx on September 20, 2011 at 12:28 PM

Cindy, he’s just showing his true colors as a left wing nut

cmsinaz on September 20, 2011 at 12:28 PM

A hail Marry pass,fumbled at the line of scrimmage incomplete.

Count to 10 on September 20, 2011 at 12:17 PM

just a little modification

NY Conservative on September 20, 2011 at 12:29 PM

Chip on September 20, 2011 at 12:25 PM

Smashing idea, old chap! I shall go forth with the idea and produce the idea forthwith! /sarc

Ryan Anthony on September 20, 2011 at 12:30 PM

There is no such thing as a “centrist dem.” There are only leftists embarrassed by what Obama has done, or leftists pissed off that Obama hasn’t done enough.

gryphon202 on September 20, 2011 at 12:30 PM

It just seems stupid to present a plan before you ensure backing from your own party. Is he really that arrogant or surrounded by fools or both?

ldbgcoleman on September 20, 2011 at 12:20 PM

Politicz izz hard!

UltimateBob on September 20, 2011 at 12:30 PM

A hail Marry pass, incomplete.

Count to 10 on September 20, 2011 at 12:17 PM

That made me laugh out loud. I remember the first time I actually played QB as a skinny little kid. All those guys rushing at me, I panic and just chuck it as far as I can in the direction I happened to be facing.

Mord on September 20, 2011 at 12:32 PM

Neither the tax proposal or the jobs proposal were meant to be effective or acceptable to the Congress. They are merely cynical ploys that our Nobel Laureate thinks will aid his re-election chances. He’s not attempting to fix anything, but his election. Very cynical.

AcidReflux on September 20, 2011 at 12:38 PM

When you’ve lost the Centrist Dems…

Khun Joe on September 20, 2011 at 12:39 PM

Fredo at the gun range”

BobMbx on September 20, 2011 at 12:28 PM

Another one from Fast and Furious?

Chip on September 20, 2011 at 12:40 PM

Just saying “So let it be written. So let it be done.” only works in the movies.

In real life people need a reason to do what you tell them to do.

“I don’t care, Obama is awesome.” is not a reason.

Lily on September 20, 2011 at 12:41 PM

Rush said in ’08, “they will over-reach and it will backfire on them” and not to count my chickens but…I feel an inner glow today!

screwauger on September 20, 2011 at 12:44 PM

Neither the tax proposal or the jobs proposal were meant to be effective or acceptable to the Congress. They are merely cynical ploys that our Nobel Laureate thinks will aid his re-election chances. He’s not attempting to fix anything, but his election. Very cynical.

AcidReflux on September 20, 2011 at 12:38 PM

Agreed. The difference this time is that Obama’s so blatantly pandering that even the MSM is struggling to cover for him. People can see through cheap populist plays, especially when the same plays are repeated several times.

All in all, it makes Obama look weak. Now we just need a candidate to stand up to him…

Outlander on September 20, 2011 at 12:52 PM

I’m sure someone has posted this before and if so sorry I haven’t read all the posts. This is in the ‘jobs bill’ and if passed the states rights will get the bus under the 11th amendment?

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/what-you%e2%80%99re-not-hearing-about-the-new-jobs-bill-it-overrides-state%e2%80%99s-rights/
L

letget on September 20, 2011 at 12:59 PM

Uhh Chuck, somewhere in that document that means little to progs,the Constitution,it states that taxes and duties shall be uniform throughout the nation. Also Chuckie, how are you going to handle the complaints from your constituents when they discover that although only their income above 250K will be taxed at the 39%,they will only receive 28% of all their deductions if they make $250,001.Not going to play too well in Park Slope, Forest Hills Gardens, and Great Neck, Chuckie.

xkaydet65 on September 20, 2011 at 1:01 PM

Obama calls Republicans “obstructionist”, but if both parties went after the rich, there would be no wealthy and no incentive for people to better their lives.

HellCat on September 20, 2011 at 1:02 PM

Outlander on September 20, 2011 at 12:52 PM

I’ve always wanted to say this:

OUTLANDEEEEER!

Lanceman on September 20, 2011 at 1:04 PM

This isn’t about the Obama strategists not doing their homework, rather it’s the exact opposite.

The WH did their homework and figured out there’s not enough ‘centrist’ Democrats left to challenge Obama’s leadership of the Democrat party.

This class warfare attack is all about shoring up Obama’s base so no one will be able to launch a primary challenge to his left wing leadership.

It’s all about the way party politics have been running for quite some time. All one needs to do to control the party is to control the majority of leaders of that party, not the majority of voters in the entire population. This allows a few folks to control assignment of committee chairs and leadership positions, effectively controlling the party. Those who stray from the core will be quickly become powerless outcasts. It’s all about the exercise of politics, not exercise of democracy…

This happens in both parties… However, the dynamics of the GOP are much more in flux because the GOP LOSERship (RINOs) is struggling against the Tea Party types who are slowing but surely making serious challenges to the LOSERship’s hold on power. No longer can the LOSERship ignore those to their right and plod along with their go along to get along style without taking serious hits to their power.

drfredc on September 20, 2011 at 1:04 PM

I’ve always wanted to say this:

OUTLANDEEEEER!

Lanceman on September 20, 2011 at 1:04 PM

Actually, the reference is even more obscure than the movie you’re thinking about. I’ve been using this handle going on 15 years, all over the internet. In all that time, only a few people have figured it out. And no, it’s not the rom-com book.

Outlander on September 20, 2011 at 1:14 PM

That made me laugh out loud. I remember the first time I actually played QB as a skinny little kid. All those guys rushing at me, I panic and just chuck it as far as I can in the direction I happened to be facing.

Mord on September 20, 2011 at 12:32 PM

In recent times, this is called “throwing it out of bounds” and is usually considered the “smart play”. QBs get paid lots’O dough for “smart plays” like that.

Back when football was played by men, this would result in the QB receiving scorn and derision in the huddle, and then on the sidelines.

“C’mon you friggin’ p***y, run the ball!”

BobMbx on September 20, 2011 at 1:15 PM

Outlander on September 20, 2011 at 1:14 PM

Something related to Sean Connery?

BobMbx on September 20, 2011 at 1:16 PM

Outlander on September 20, 2011 at 1:14 PM

Sometimes, when I pull alongside a Mitsubishi Outlander, I say the same thing. Some look at me like I’m retarded. But Children of the Corn was dang near 30 years ago.

Lanceman on September 20, 2011 at 1:19 PM

Just as it took Dan Rather to bring down CBS, it took Øbama to bring down “progressivism”.

petefrt on September 20, 2011 at 1:20 PM

Would you want to be standing next to that guy at the range? I know I wouldn’t.
strictnein on September 20, 2011 at 12:19 PM

I wouldn’t want to be next to this guy anywhere. His idiocy will get me before the bullet will.

antisocial on September 20, 2011 at 1:27 PM

It just seems stupid to present a plan before you ensure backing from your own party. Is he really that arrogant or surrounded by fools or both?

ldbgcoleman on September 20, 2011 at 12:20 PM

Both

And don’t forget the media will somehow fail to mention the defection within his own party while replaying ad naseum Obama’s cries of Republicans favoring party over country. Will November 2012 ever get here?

in_awe on September 20, 2011 at 3:24 PM

Schumer’s position is hypocritical on its face, and his suggested solution would almost certainly violate Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution.

Not to mention the 14th amendment’s equal protection provision. How can such a long-serving congressman/senator, who has to raise his hand every 2 or 6 years and swear to uphold the Constitution, not know this?

Right. He knows it. He just has no intention of holding to that oath. In a rational society, he’d be run out of office for the mere suggestion he made here.

runawayyyy on September 20, 2011 at 4:06 PM

It now looks like Barack Obama and his team didn’t do their homework

Ed, I nominate this as the quote of the day. Heck, the quote of the One’s entire presidency for that matter.

galvestonian on September 20, 2011 at 8:52 PM

Schumer’s position is hypocritical on its face, and his suggested solution would almost certainly violate Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution.

I’m not sure if that’s the case (as bad as the idea is, I mean). All that uniformity requirement says is this: “Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States”.

But income tax isn’t impost or excise tax; it’s a separate tax, authorized under a separate clause: 16th Amendment. On a quick reading of 16th Amendment, I don’t see any requirement about whether there can be no difference between states; after all, even Schumer’s bad idea won’t be to explicitly say New Yorkers pay XX rate while Mississippians pay YY rate—it will be a state-neutral indexing based on cost of living, where effect in different states just happen to be different (the way the system already works, e.g. how Californians generally pay higher rate of federal income tax, due to higher percentage of high income earners in the cities, etc.).

novakyu on September 20, 2011 at 10:10 PM