Tax Deal Seen as Sign of New Obama-GOP Cooperation

What the compromise tells us about the president and Congress

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Now that Congress has passed the compromise on extending Bush-era tax cuts--a plan pushed by President Obama--what have we learned about the president's ability to deal with the newly strengthened Republicans? Though the wave of new Republican Congressmen will not take office until next month, the GOP has been empowered by its impending takeover of the House, threatening to cut off all legislation until a tax deal was passed. As Obama faces the new, Republican Congress, will we see more compromise and deal-making as we did with the tax cuts?

  • On Matters of Economics, Politics Take Back Seat  The New York Times' David Herszenhorn credits "the urgency felt by the administration and by lawmakers in both parties to prop up the still-struggling economy and to prevent an across-the-board tax increase that was set to occur if the rates enacted under President George W. Bush had expired, as scheduled, at the end of the month."
If the past two years have been spent ramming though Obama's ambitious and often unpopular policy agenda, whatever the cost, the past two weeks have been an exercise in salesmanship and compromise--some would say capitulation--unlike anything he's pulled off as president. ... While admitting the deal itself is profoundly flawed, Obama nonetheless achieved a moment at least of bipartisanship with Republicans, persuaded Democrats to accept diminished expectations and went a long way toward rebranding himself as Obama Classic--the circa-2008 politician at war with partisan discord.
  • GOP Sweep in November Forced Obama to Table  Commentary's Peter Wehner credits the Republican gains in the November 2010 election. "These were major substantive achievements by Republicans--and enormous substantive concessions by President Obama and his party. We have the Great Repudiation to thank for them." He is an awe of "just how much the landscape of American politics changed."
  • Obama Adopting Clinton-Style 'Triangulation'  The New York Times' Matt Bai writes that "the tax deal approved by the House late Thursday has given rise to an emotional debate among Democrats in Washington and online. Is President Obama himself a triangulator? Has he become the kind of compromiser he once disdained?" Bai thinks he has.

The term "triangulation," politically speaking, dates back to the days after President Bill Clinton lost control of Congress in 1994. Mr. Clinton sought the advice of the pollster Dick Morris, who used the term (primarily with the news media) to describe the way in which he thought Mr. Clinton might claw his way back into the public's esteem.

Think of a standing triangle with either party at the corners of its base--Democrats on the left, Republicans on the right. The president, Mr. Morris argued, should occupy the third point, in the center and well above the partisan fray.

  • GOP Responding to Voters' Call for Compromise  Outside the Beltway's Doug Mataconis reads a new poll to explain why Republicans, despite threatening brick-wall opposition, appear to be warming to compromise. "As Republicans utilize the lame duck session of Congress to give us what seems to be a preview of the way they intend to govern starting in January, a new Rasmussen poll says that most Americans want more cooperation from both sides in Washington." He concludes that "poll numbers like this suggest that Republicans ought to tread lightly in adopting an all-or-nothing strategy once they’ve taken control of the House."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.