Welcome, Mr. or Ms. Progressive, to Obama's world:
He expected pushback from Republicans. He did not anticipate the resistance he is getting from Democrats.
That's E.J. Dionne on the bipartisan sniping at the president's "broadly progressive set of tax increases on special interests and higher-income Americans."
Some modification is in order, though. Obama, I'm sure, anticipated resistance from Democrats, for that's what Democrats do. Republicans erupt, Democrats bicker; and while Republicans' eruptive levels are consistently deafening, no matter the incitement or lack thereof, the guessing game comes in predicting the extent of audible Democratic bickering -- a.k.a. resistance.
In this go-around on tax increases, Obama is less likely to disappoint progressives. Since no fiscal combo this president proposes has any merciful chance of survival in the GOP House, Obama can pretty much stick to his progressive guns; while in the first half of his term, Obama had to make distasteful compromises to get things done -- on stimulus spending, on financial regulation, and especially on healthcare. But done they got, within the demanding limits of Democratic "resistance."
Which is to re-observe what should have been more obvious to the left all along: For two years, Obama compromised less with congressional Republicans than with his own party. To satisfy independents, he gave the appearance of compromising with partisan opponents, but the general mechanisms of presidential compromise ran mostly and necessarily in tune with conservative congressional Democrats.
And they're back, quivering at the mere mention of "tax increases," even on the wealthy and corporately coddled. Yep, they're back all right, and still without a spine. Dionne sympathizes with Obama: "[B]ecause key Democrats who represent very conservative states are by nature balky, assembling even a majority of Senate Democrats is always an excruciating challenge."
As it was for Obama with the stimulus package, with financial regulation, and with healthcare. In each instance, Obama was more progressively grounded than he could pragmatically reveal. Now the political restraints are off. The utter legislative hopelessness of Obama's jobs bill means Obama's progressive liberation.
So, other than noting certain self-evident circumstances, what's my point?
Only that progressives will applaud the president's newfound determination on tax hikes -- and they'll do so in open recognition of the president's newfound political circumstances. In other words, progressives will openly acknowledge the politics of political release.
If only, three years ago onward, they had been just as willing to acknowledge the politics of political restraints.