When I Lose, You Lose, Just Like That.

In all likelihood, The Wall Street Journal reports, Democrats will cave and extend the Bush tax cuts in full:

Separate from the formal negotiations, congressional aides from both parties have begun discussing a temporary extension of the expiring tax cuts. ... They have considered short-term extensions of a number of business and individual tax provisions that are expired or expiring, such as a popular research credit and middle-class protection from the alternative minimum tax. A likely outcome includes a one- to three-year extension of the Bush-era income tax rates and a two-year extension of the business provisions, according to aides. The package could include Democratic priorities such as extension of tax breaks that benefit the working poor, as well as further extension of unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless.

If Democrats and Republicans manage a "compromise," I really doubt that it would involve extension of unemployment benefits. At this point, Republicans have moved beyond the zero-sum game and are now playing the negative-sum game; they don't care if they win or lose, as long as Democrats lose.

The GOP temper tantrum in the Senate is a perfect example; "You won't bury the rich in taxpayer money? Fine. We'll just shut down the Senate so that no one can do anything." I agree that Obama is a terrible negotiator, but even if he weren't, would it matter? Obama offers a pay freeze in exchange for unemployment benefits, but more help for the unemployed is a political winner, so Republicans refuse. Sure, they lose a pay freeze, but since the public doesn't actually care what the minority party does -- at least when it comes time to vote -- the GOP can afford not to gain anything.

Of course, this is all made worse by Democrats' Stockholm Syndrome and slightly less-slavish devotion to the interests of rich people; not only will Democrats acquiesce to the "will of the people" whenever Republicans block something or push some ridiculous policy change, but if forced, they will almost always choose the interests of rich people. Put another way, if Republicans were holding the Senate hostage over tax breaks for poor people, who actually doubts that Democrats would sacrifice them for the rest of their agenda?

-- Jamelle Bouie

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