Clive Crook writes:
Pity US centrists: no ideas, few fans and no label: In the end the lame-duck session of the 111th US Congress belied its mocking designation and got a lot done. It passed the grand tax compromise. It ratified the new strategic arms reduction treaty with Russia. It repealed “don’t ask, don’t tell”, so gays in the armed forces will no longer have to lie about their sexual orientation.
Notable achievements, all. Grounds, even, for optimism about what the next Congress might do? Probably not.
The thing to note about all of these important votes is that – curiously – and despite the contention they aroused on Capitol Hill, they were all quite popular with the American public, as well as being good decisions on their merits. They should never have been controversial in the first place.
It is a tribute to the obduracy of the Washington political class that they ever were, and indeed that all three initiatives might easily have failed...
The piece of the "grand tax compromise" that the Republicans demanded--the extension of the 2001 shift of the tax burden off of the income tranche above $250K a year and onto future generations--is neither popular with the American people nor a good decision: we need to raise taxes and the only valid argument for not raising a particular tax now is if those on whom it will fall have a high marginal propensity to consume.
That aside, Crook is right in the first three paragraphs I quote: the rest of it was all popular, all good decisions, and all should have been uncontroversial.
But it is in the last sentence I quote that Crook completely loses touch with reality and goes spiraling off into the gamma quadrant.
That all three initiatives might easily have failed and that they were "controversial" is not due to the "obduracy" of something that is "the Washington political class."
That all three initiatives might easily have failed and that they were "controversial" is due to the decision by the united Republican senatorial caucus that their highest priority was to block everything--especially if it was sensible and popular--so that Obama's presidency would be a failure.
It would be nice if journalists called things by their right names.
Why oh why can't we have a better press corps?