Like everyone else, I am waiting to see what comes of the negotiations among Obama, Dems and the PTR. As usual, these talks are in secret. Both parties and the President tell us that what they want is what we the people want and need. Nevertheless, none -- none! -- of them seem to be interested in letting us know exactly what they are negotiating for or against. Actually, of the three parties, only the PTR (formerly the GOP) has given us much insight as to their position: No New Taxes -- not even any old taxes (which were removed or lapsed). Since their position, as I've stated many times, is beneath contempt, I won't go into it again.
But what is Obama willing to give away? I am very nervous about this, since he seems to be buying into the right-wing rhetoric that only debt is standing in the way of boom, and that cutting will lead to jobs and prosperity. This makes very little sense, given the amount of cash that private industry is sitting on (waiting for demand), and given that the cuts and proposed cuts and imagined cuts have been causing the loss of many jobs in the public sector. These are very important and productive jobs: teachers, firefighters, police, infrastructure, regulation and inspection. Only the cynical right-wing policy of demeaning everything having to do with government has enabled many to overlook not only this disastrous loss of employment but also the fact that the important work these people would have done is not getting done, or getting done much more slowly and incompletely.
During the Great Depression, Roosevelt briefly and disastrously accepted this idea that trying to balance the budget and cut deficits would help the economy -- a Republican idea from the time when Republicans actually believed in balanced budgets (unlike the modern ones who, in every recent Republican administration, were more than willing to accept monstrous deficits in order to fight wars or help their wealthy patrons). This strategy simply made things worse, and for the same reasons that trying it again will make things worse.
In fact, large majorities of the American public have been making it clear in poll after poll that they favor taxing the wealthy more and cutting important -- and job-creating/preserving programs -- less. This is exactly the opposite of what the PTR claims, but they go on and on in their fantasy-land of tax cuts. (To be fair, some Democrats including, apparently, Obama, seem willing to buy into this as well.)
I hope that I am wrong, but I can see Obama mousetrapping his party by selling out once more to the intransigent Republicans. This would put his party in a bad position, since he is constantly projecting the image of himself as "above the fray" -- willing to make compromises of any and all sorts to save the (economic) Republic. If his own party subsequently demurs -- i.e. actually follows what seems to be the will of the people -- then the Dems could end up replacing the Republicans, in the eyes of the electorate, as the obstructionist ones. Bill Clinton followed the same course -- refusing to work for his party or embrace its ideals fully -- and was rewarded with a second term, but at the expense of the loss of Congress -- the same Republican Congress that went on to impeach him.
We don't know what's going to happen until these closed-door, backroom deals (Do they still smoke cigars?) have been made. I am in the dark, as we all are, but I'm plenty nervous.