Monday, December 13, 2010

Man bites dog! Mark Shields rouses self from slumber, criticizes Obama's tax deal

Sleepy Mark Shields awoke from his customary state of slumber during the Political Wrap portion of the PBS Newshour of 12/10/2010 and explained reasons why many Democrats see President Obama's tax deal with the Republicans as a bad idea. This unusual event begins to occur at about 0:58 in the video.

From the transcript:

MARK SHIELDS: I think there is a choice. I think there -- the -- I think David's right that Speaker Pelosi doesn't want it to go down. But she does want it changed. And there really -- this is real in the House. This is not a pro forma...

JIM LEHRER: You mean the protests the Democrats...

MARK SHIELDS: The protest is -- is authentic. It is based on both the means by which it was done, but, more importantly, the substance of it. I just was reading, ["]between 1971 and 2001, median income of the average worker showed historically no gain. During that same 30 years, the income of the top 100th of 1 percent went up by almost 500 percent. That is why the Bush tax cuts are immoral.["] Those are words written in this autobiography by Barack Obama.

That is what he made the centerpiece of his campaign, domestically, in 2008. And so there is a sense of that, of betrayal on what is a defining issue to his presidency. And he just kind of walked away with it and with the stain and contempt toward Democrats who didn't embrace it and who had been his most steadfast supporters for the last two years, and many of whom paid for their loyalty to the president with tough, difficult votes that put their careers at risk. [my emphasis]
After his partner David "Bobo" Brooks makes a weak case for Obama's deal, then Shields actually jumps on Bobo's claim, as a bit of adrenalin seems to flow through him:

I would point out, Jim, two words that were spoken reverentially on this set in the last couple of weeks: Simpson-Bowles. We were talking about the debt.

JIM LEHRER: The deficit, the deficit.

MARK SHIELDS: The debt in the country and how important it was. And we were in a new era and we're going to deal with this.

Nine hundred billion dollars of red ink just out there, and $120 billion of it goes to the top 2 percent, at a time of the greatest income inequality in this country since 1928. David says the president cut the deal. The president cut a deal after no fight.

He did have -- not have a weak hand. He had 60 percent of the American people believed, according to a Bloomberg poll, asked specifically this week, during the fight itself as it was emerging, do you favor repeal of these taxes for the richest? Was there a fight made? That's when you come to a compromise, is after a fight.

I will tell you what the problem that Barack Obama has right now in the political world. Republicans are secretly gleeful. I haven't heard any Republicans who are condemning this, with the...

DAVID BROOKS: ... talk radio.

MARK SHIELDS: Well, talk radio. I'm talking about those who are going to cast votes on it.

But the problem is, they don't know where Barack Obama will fight. They don't know what his backbone -- and whether he does have a backbone. It's a question that is always asked about liberals: How tough is he?

And he -- at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis, when the United States and the Soviet Union stood at the bridge of the war, Dean Rusk put it -- he said, we were eyeball to eyeball with the other guy, and the other fellow blinked.

And with Barack Obama, you got the sense that he blinked the minute he walked in the room, and gave the Republicans what they wanted. ...

MARK SHIELDS: So, keeping tax rates for the very wealthiest...

JIM LEHRER: I take it you don't agree?

MARK SHIELDS: ... where they have been since 2001 -- all right? The First eight years of these tax cuts -- that is why they were there -- the country lost 600,000 jobs in the private sector. This is before the collapse.

This is before -- this is before the financial crisis. I mean, it's a myth. This is supply-side, trickle-down economics. If you really want to stimulate the economy, you don't start by giving 120 billion to the wealthiest people, who sit on it.

And, secondly, you don't pass an estate tax that gives the lowest rate, Jim, since 1931. After 11 years of Republicans in the White House and in the Congress, they finally got it down to the point where it's going to be now, under a Democratic president, where, as a consequence of this, who is going to benefit? We're going to have 39,000 families get a total windfall of $27 billion next year.

Now, is that -- that is stimulus? ... [my emphasis]
Shields and Bobo actually managed to deliver news on the interesting fact that even the START nuclear arms control treaty was part of the tax deal:

MARK SHIELDS: So, we will find out on that. I mean, if the estate tax giveaway is in there, windfall, and START doesn't come, then, boy, that is a hell of a bargain, what he's driven with him.

JIM LEHRER: Are you suggesting that is how it works?

MARK SHIELDS: I'm suggesting that this came out of nowhere. This wasn't even on the wish list, the estate tax.

JIM LEHRER: The estate tax, right.


DAVID BROOKS: Yes. And START was clearly held up as part of the tax negotiation. And, already, there are signs of crackage, if you want to use that word, that we will probably get a START treaty. [my emphasis]
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