As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Saturday, January 10, 2009

How Democracy Ought To Work

So Barack Obama put out a recovery plan. A lot of politicians and economists took issue with various parts of it. Paul Krugman thought that the urgency of Obama's language didn't match the relative weakness of the plan. Senators like Kent Conrad and John Kerry and Tom Harkin couldn't abide by the corporate tax cuts and the "trickle-down" nature of what should be a jobs program. Obama said he would listen to anyone who thought they had a better idea on the plan, and sure enough, by Saturday morning, he had agreed to some changes on the tax side.

Democratic congressional officials said that Obama aides came under pressure in closed-door talks to jettison or significantly alter a proposed tax credit for creating jobs.

Further, Democrats sought inclusion of relief for upper middle-class families hit by the alternative minimum tax. The so-called AMT was originally designed to make sure the very wealthy did not escape taxes, but it now hits many more people because of inflation, despite measures by Congress every year to prevent it from reaching tens of millions of middle-income families.

Congressional officials said aides to the president-elect had agreed to increase the $10 billion originally ticketed for energy tax breaks, although the final total remained unclear. Two officials said at least $20 billion would be reserved, but others indicated it could go higher [...]

But congressional Democrats are making it clear they want to put their own stamp on the revival plan, despite the inevitable delays. Some Obama ideas, like a $3,000 job creation tax credit, might get scrapped.

My understanding is that the job creation tax credit would just be too easily gamed. And I'm a little annoyed that the AMT fix is getting shoved in there and not along with a repeal of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. At some point you have to add revenue.

But here's the point. The leader of the party, and the nation, proposes a solution to a big and challenging problem. It's criticized. That leader, instead of arrogantly and angrily denouncing the critics and blustering forward, LISTENS and adapts.

We have no experience with this over the last several years, but it's nice, huh? It's called "leadership."

Of course, some things never change: the leader is still using polling to shape the language on the stimulus (sorry, the RECOVERY). But taking a page out of Frank Luntz' book for liberal purposes isn't going to really sadden me.

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