It’s a familiar pattern — the President proposes some kind of gawdawful “grand bargain” that the Right won’t take, anyway, while lefties roll their eyes and say, “What is he thinking?” Well, this week he did it again — Paul Waldman explains —
President Obama offered a “grand bargain” yesterday, and although it wasn’t particularly grand, it was a bargain: Republicans would get a lowering of the corporate income tax rate, something they’ve wanted for a long time, and Democrats would get some new investments in infrastructure, job training, and education. Inevitably, Republicans rejected it out of hand. “It’s just a further-left version of a widely panned plan he already proposed two years ago, this time with extra goodies for tax-and-spend liberals,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. At this point, Obama could offer to close the E.P.A., eliminate all inheritance taxes, and rename our nation’s capital “Reagan, D.C.” if Republicans would also agree to give one poor child a sandwich, and they’d say no, because that would be too much big government.
Bloomberg explains it in a way that makes the bargain seem less awful, because it closes a lot of “corporate welfare” tax loopholes for corporations. Bloomberg adds:
More broadly, itâ€™s not hard to see Obamaâ€™s strategy: With its cuts in tax rates and narrowed loopholes, the plan is designed to appeal to a wide swath of corporate America, the small-business lobby and a large number of congressional Republicans who support cutting taxes and ending corporate welfare. And with its increases in public-works spending, the plan appeals to organized labor, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a large number of Democrats who support more stimulus spending.
There are those who might say that it just makes Obama look impotent to keep proposing these things only to the see GOP say, Are you kidding? I guess they have a bit of a point. But I think his only strategy by now is to put offers on the table that make the Republicans look increasingly extreme and unreasonable, so that the American people see more and more clearly what the problem is.
And not just the American people in generalâ€”in this case, corporate leaders in particular. Presumably, corporations are going to support Obamaâ€™s plan by and large; hard to see why theyâ€™d oppose something that lowers their taxes (although itâ€™s true that specific companies in specific areas will fight to retain their loopholes). Corporate leaders have had plenty of patience with Mitch McConnell. But how much patience are they going to have with a McConnell who blocks a tax cut for them?
Maybe still a lot, I donâ€™t know. But this is now the only way left to penetrate the GOPâ€™s wall of obstruction: Drive the wedge right between the congressional GOP and its usual power centers. Corporate America wants immigration reform. It wants lower tax rates, and it (or a large majority of it) will happily accept infrastructure reform as part of a package. Obama wants those same things. The Republicans are against them. Surely at some point, some corporate leader or leaders will step forward and say enough. Even that probably wonâ€™t make congressional Republicans move; they are married to the most rabid section of their base, and they are not going to budge.
Corporate America doesn’t always act rationally, however.