Shoving the battle down the road

 
President Barack Obama arrives at the lectern to deliver remarks after the House of Representatives acted on legislation intended to avoid the "fiscal cliff" at the White House, Washington DC, 1 January 2013 The president's tone was not conciliatory - he has had it with "Kum ba yah"

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Step back from the cliff, and take in the panorama.

By all means breath a sigh of relief that America's drama-addicted politicians didn't plunge their own country and the rest of the world into uncertain, choppy economic waters.

But also survey the battlefield, and reflect that the president seems to have developed a relish for the fight.

Be in no doubt Mr Obama has won a victory and the Republicans in the House have been forced to back down, and are left fuming and divided.

One of Obama's core messages in the election was that the richest Americans must pay more in tax.

The heart of this deal was a new higher tax rate for those earning more than $400,500 as a family.

It is true he had to raise his definition of "rich" considerably - he initially wanted those earning over $250,000 to pay more.

Some on the left see this as weak and a signal to their opponents that if pushed Obama gives way.

This seems to me rather ridiculous - in negotiations there has to be give and take.

The Republicans' core message in the election was the need for drastic spending cuts. They won not a single cut. Not even a tiny, symbolic one.

Of course that battle has just been shoved two months' down the road. Perhaps then it will be their turn to win a famous victory, and so even the score card.

But the president's tone after the vote was not conciliatory. He was almost cocky. This man has had it with "Kum ba yah". He may leave that to the old pals, Biden and McConnell, in future.

He warned Republicans spending cuts couldn't be at the expense of (take a deep breath to read the whole shopping list) investment in infrastructure, investment in jobs, education, training, research or new technology.

It had to be "balanced" - code for "if our people take a hit, yours will pay more taxes".

He gave a stern warning that they were not to play games with the debt limit - America would pay the bills it had racked up.

He told them there had to be less drama. He said that all this couldn't be at the expense of plans for immigration reform, gun laws or legislation on climate change. This could be bravado. It could be dangerous over confidence.

But it does suggest a man with a mandate, with an agenda and the stomach to fight for it.

 
Mark Mardell, North America editor Article written by Mark Mardell Mark Mardell North America editor

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  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 357.

    344, 349:MagicKirin:See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Working_class for the definition of working class. We are not middle class but we work. We are not rich corporate executives. We are the working poor and economically worse off than those other groups you mention. Public workers work, they just don't all work where you can see what they are doing.

  • Comment number 356.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 355.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 354.

    348. MidwesternSue
    "radical my way or the highway Richard Mourdoch (R)."

    Didn't he have something to say about rape that appealed to the religious right? Similar to the tea party candidate in Missouri?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 353.

    330:MagicKirin:If we continue to cut the wages of working people in govt is that even govt workers will qualify for food stamps and section 8 like the rest of the working people. Until that gets fixed this economy isn't going to get better.

    332:Tinkersdamn:I don't support forcing people like me to put our social security on wall street where it will be taken away by the rich. Treasury notes, otoh

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 352.

    O bram,bram(collision) was perf candidate for Wall St to complete the Transfer of US Treasury to Corps.What Bush started selectively,Obama accomplished generally.O bram-bram gets more money from Wall St than Clinton,and that $1.2Billion Investment for re-election must be repaid with Int.Whole municipalities in US are Bankrupt,waiting lists for ex-mid class to live out of Cars in Deserted Malls.

  • Comment number 351.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 350.

    318:MagicKirin:No, the unions were destroyed by Mr. Reagan who also did what he could to make the poor poorer and the rich richer. Look at the Air Traffic Controllers Union which supported Reagan and which he then destroyed when he took office.

    319:lordBanners:Yes, Obama talks the talk but doesn't always walk the walk.This is not always a bad thing.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 349.

    ref #348 The exception, How do you explain replacing the 2nd most bipartsian Senator with a liberal ideloaugue who supports OWS or Obama an extreme liberal?
    ref #347 You of course have proof they do, I see them in action. you probaly are one of these leechs likes the public secotr union heads

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 348.

    232:sieuarlu:Other countries besides the US attract immigrants.

    265:MagicKirin:Here in IN we replaced moderate Richard Lugar (R) with moderate Joe Donnelly (D) instead of radical my way or the highway Richard Mourdoch (R).

    289:sieuarlu:The loopholes have been put there by both parties. They need to work together to fix the mess they have jointly made.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 347.

    344. MagicKirin "The majority of public workers outside of police, fire, teacher and emergency people do not work"

    You of course have done a thorough study? Or is this just based on your occasional interaction with a clerk? Or perhaps you "just know"? Or perhaps you are just a ditto head?

  • Comment number 346.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 345.

    330. MagicKirin "example I could have done Van Jones job far better and at less cost"

    What's next, you going to claim you could replace NIST and NASA scientists at lower cost? Perhaps you could explain why people such as yourself, with low rates of renumeration, are so worried about higher taxes on the rich? Or are you getting your pay as one of their lap dogs.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 344.

    ref #335
    Working class are people who work which means the middile class non union workers, and the rich sucessful corporat eheads who Obama demonized.

    The majority of public workers outside of police, fire, teacher and emergency people do not work

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 343.

    218, 220, 225:Looney Limey:Corps have been considered persons according to the law since the 19th century. SCOTUS simply followed precedent, which they do unless the precedent is proven wrong. Obama wasted a fair amount of money on his friends in green energy who went bankrupt. Yes, those of us who are poorer would be glad to take a cut to help the economy. The rich should also be willing to do so

  • Comment number 342.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 341.

    193:Scott0962:The courts will protect our rights, so don't worry.

    199, 201:Looney LImey:Those assets had value as long as the interest rates were low enough for the poor to be able to pay their mortgages. When interest rates rose they couldn't. If we had bailed them out instead of the banks the economic collapse wouldn't have happened. Lobbying is legal but we can make public what they do.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 340.

    179:Jamie:There is no way to know whether in the future the GOP will be helpful or hurtful to the people.

    190:Looney Limey:Obama isn't necessarily ahead on this problem. I don't think anyone can tackle it the way we expect to tackle it. The only thing FDR didn't try was trust busting, and I suspect that's the only thing that would really fix the problem. It won't happen.

  • Comment number 339.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 338.

    168:Looney Limey:Most of the Bush tax cuts were kept in place. That includes those of us on the bottom having a 10% rate instead of a 15% rate. Thank you Mr. Bush. When the people at the bottom get more money they spend it on things they need. When the people at the top get more money they save it. Do we need more spending or saving right now to fix the economy?

 

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