Kinda Sorta Real Time Thoughts on Meet the Press (December 19, 2010)

I was away for some time, had left my station and my presence of mind for a while, so was not able to write up the last broadcast of Meet the Press.

To that end, please find below a condensed rundown of the conversation David Gregory had with a bunch of smart people.

Vice President Joe Biden is here to tally up the Obama Administrations seemingly unlikely victories in this lame duck session of Congress.

Morning Joe Scarborough is here as is Mayor Of Newark Cory Booker is here.  No Labels founder Mark McKinnon and Andrea Mitchell make up the roundtable.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell fell, the Administration got a good deal on tax cuts, New Start is (was) about to be ratified (its passed ratification already) but the Dream Act was not passed.  Joe Biden will defend each one of these political points.

Biden has come out strong to say that the tax cuts weren’t just an extension of the Bush era tax cuts.  On top of the Obama middle-class tax cuts, there a new moratorium on payroll taxes, so that (and this is brilliant) a person making 60K will get $1,200 back in his hands.  This will feed back into the economy creating jobs, sustaining economic growth.  The compromise also extended the earned income tax credit as well as that it extended unemployment benefits for more than a year.

What about uncertainty David Gregory says, because the compromise will require a permanent fix in 2 years.  Biden is saying that businesses don’t care about the top bracket extensions, millionaires do.  (That’s brilliant–it is in fact a category mistake to think that the super-wealthy make up U.S. businesses.) But businesses do care taht the compromise extended tax breaks and incentives for businesses to invest.

If all this is true and if extending tax cuts for the wealthy wasn’t the right move, why didn’t the Administration make that move now?  Well, Biden says the GOP would not have compromised and by 2011, it will be fairly evident that we can’t afford $700 in lost revenue over 10 years.  (The move that the adminstration is counting on is to move the deficit so high that along with the estate tax, this has to fall as well.)  He is brilliant to paint a picture that the Democratic House passed only middle-class tax cuts and that the Senate could not pass it without extending it for the rich.  It was, he wants to say, the GOP that forced the extension of the cuts on the wealthiest Americans who do nothing but sit on their money.  Had the president not compromised the tax rates would have gone up on everyone, the majority of whom would have been hurting from that higher tax rate in this weak economy.

How to square increased spending with all this talk of austerity measures?  Freeze discretionary spending.  Increase spending on all those projects that are deficit and start cutting in a while, after we’re through this economic funk, on all those things like entitlement spending that will raise the long term deficit and debt.

(They talk a bunch about earmarks–nothing really falls on this whole anti-ear mark debate.  Ear marks is how legislative politics works.  Pure and simple.)

Biden defends repeal of DADT on efficiency grounds–being gay or a lesbian does not affect whether someone can speak Urdu! (Brilliant!)

On Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, Biden has said that the U.S. DOJ is interested in investigating whether he conspired with Private Manning or whomever to release this information.

On Afghanistan, he holds his own line that what we want to do is defeat al Qaeda in the border regions between Afghanistan and Pakistan.  But because of that we need to make sure that our allies in nuclear armed Pakistan remain in control and that the Taliban are rolled back in Afghanistan.

On the draw-down in Afghanistan, he said we need to look at Afghanistan in just the step-wise way we did Iraq.  We will draw down, but the level and intensity will depend on the conditions on the ground.

On al Qaeda’s operational capabilities: Biden is saying (correctly I might add) that the central locus of al Qaeda in FATA has been significantly degraded, but that related networks are sprouting up, that are engaged in smaller enterprises that could well turn out deadly. (Biden failed to extend the argument, unsurprisingly, that it is those small bore attempts that will take down chunks of U.S. policy in different parts of the world.)

His analysis of the politics and strategy of compromise and cooperation is dead on!

I won’t go into the roundtable. It’s always a fairly predictable affair. Its 11pm now and I need a drink to celebrate my own take on Christmas.

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~ by Faheem Haider on December 25, 2010.

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