Obama Question MarkThe Wall Street Journal is reporting that Biden is negotiating with McConnell. First the bad news, and then the worse news. Biden asked for income taxes to rise on incomes over $250,000. McConnell countered: $550,000. Biden shot back: $450,000. Where do you think that ends? A half-million, right?

But that is only the bad news. The worse news is that, as we expect from this administration, the price for caving on the president's demands is the president is also caving on raising the estate tax!

And the la-hand of the Freeeeee!
And the hoooome, of thhhhhe, braaaave!


At least I don't feel so alone. Jonathan Chait (yes, the guy I was just complaining about) has written one of his best articles in a long time, Why Is Obama Caving on Taxes? He explains that Obama has run these Fiscal Cliff negotiations in such a way as to destroy his second term. By showing that he has no backbone, he is setting up one or more debt ceiling fights. And as Chait notes, "Indeed, [the Republicans] will probably discover other areas of traditionally routine policy agreement that can be turned into extortion opportunities."

He provides what I think is an excellent analogy with poker:

The negotiating style Obama has displayed in these instances is what poker players call "tight-weak." A tight-strong player avoids throwing in his chips, saving them for a big hand, which he plays aggressively in hopes of a huge win. A loose-weak player plays lots of hands, bluffing frequently. Tight-weak is the worst of all worlds—when you have a weak hand, you lose, and when you have a strong hand, you fail to maximize your position.

Similarly, Krugman is unhappy. But he seems unable to believe that Obama can really be this bad:

Is it really possible that Obama still doesn't understand that every time he does this—especially if it comes just a few days after stern statements about how he won't give [in]—it just reinforces the Republican belief that he can always be bullied into submission? If he cuts a bad deal on the fiscal cliff today, he more or less guarantees that just a few weeks from now Republicans will go all out on using the debt ceiling to extract more concessions.

As I've written about a lot around here, this is the easy fight. This is the slam dunk. If Obama can't get a good deal with this hand, he's hopeless.

Obama is hopeless.