By Mark Green
As half of Obama's term ends, three big questions dominate this week's show (listen below): if tax rates are at their lowest in 50 years and the concentration of income & wealth at their highest, how can more income and inheritance tax cuts be justified? should the Senate in January reject automatic filibusters as the new normal? is Palin a celebrity or a candidate?
*Is "Compromise' a four letter word? Both Mary Matalin and Joan Walsh would have voted against the Obama-GOP tax deal on the merits, Mary because the tax cuts weren't more permanent and Joan because they existed at all for the top two percent. As for a tax code that's less taxing on the richest Americans, Mary thinks that was fine since a) they created the wealth, b) Obama hasn't solved our economic crisis, c) the real issue was wasteful spending not low tax rates and c) she enjoyed Obama's shift from "Marx to Keynes to Hayek." Joan pins the tail on the elephant for our economic mess and attacked a new plutocracy that "forces us to deliver bushels to the Lords for pennies for the poor." She thinks that Obama and Democrats flinched because they, and she, cares more about helping the poor and middle class than they opposed making the rich richer.
*Has the GOP overplayed the filibuster? Numerous Senate bills with significant majorities failed because they fell short of 60 votes to end filibusters -- like the Public Option, DREAM Act, climate change, tax cuts only for middle class, perhaps aid to 9/11 first responders. Mary dismissed concerns since the GOP was just reflecting public opinion and both parties have exploited filibusters. Joan, however, laments that while LBJ as majority leader cut off one debate, Harry Reid resorted to cloture votes 84 times this year. She wants Democrats to try to weaken such a tyranny of the minority even though they might be the minority in the 113th Congress.
*Is Palin a possible president or just "ignorant"? To use the parlance of 2010, are many GOP leaders refudiating Sarah Palin because they fear that she'd be shellacked as merely America's Tweetheart in a presidential general election? Joan argues that "while she's not stupid, she is ignorant" because she doesn't know much about the world. She adds that, as a feminist who objects to when women are reduced to their sexual attributes, she finds it "gross" when Palin plays the gender card by attacking critics as being "impotent and limp" guys who "hide behind someone's skirts."
Mary discounts such criticism as "outrageous elitism" and that only after the Republican primaries of 2012 can we know if she has the right stuff. All agree that while she significantly trails Obama in match-ups (55%-33% in the Wall Street Journal poll this week), few in 1974 thought a one-term governor could win the presidency or a one-term senator could in 2008.
*Quick Takes. The women concur about Richard Holbrooke's brilliance and Larry King's legacy -- and also agree that New York City should just get over it now that it lost both LeBron to Miami and Chris Lee to Philadelphia. Finally, they spar about whether speaker-to-be John Boehner has a big heart or a big problem, for crying out loud. Mary is especially critical of Barbara Walters for saying on The View that "every time he [Boehner] talks about anything that's not 'raise taxes', he cries."
Mark Green is the creator and host of Both Sides Now, which is powered by the American Federation of Teachers.
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