Everyone is in a tizzy about what seems to be a cave by President Obama over the Bush tax issue. However, let's look at a couple of points before assuming this is a bad political move.
First, even though there are fringes on both sides, I'm going to bet that there are enough votes to get this plan approved. And, even if there aren't enough votes, there most certainly will be in January, when the GOP takes over the House.
Also, Obama is probably looking towards 2012. This plan only extends the cuts for two years, meaning that before the next election cycle, it's going to be an issue again. Since 2012 is a presidential election, and turnout in presidential races is much higher than mid-terms, with liberals, students, etc., tending to be more active, there will be a lot of building up of support for the president. Obama can use the compromise to show he tried to work with the other side, whether it was economically beneficial or not. I mean, let's be honest, the debt isn't going to get fixed whether millionaires pay 38.6%, 35%, or 0%. If revenue collections go up, the federal government is just going to squander the money on some other program. This is what the federal government does. Even under Clinton's supposed "re-inventing" government, nothing really changed.
If, however, the economy does not turn around and if all the people who are out of work are still out of work and things still aren't better - and I don't believe it will get better - the Democrats will sweep back into power, on the coattails of the Obama zombies who elected him in the first place. Obama will say, I tried to work with them, but their plans didn't work, see? Give us more time to fix things ...
After the Democrats are back in power, and they will be back in power, they can slam the door on the taxes permanently and monkey around with things for another two years, until the GOP comes back roaring again in 2014, with voters angry at what the Dems did in the previous two years.
A challenge from the left?
Some are speculating that Obama could face a challenge from his left flank ... and maybe more than one. And, he should count on this. There is money and time out there for progressive and populist Democrats to challenge him.
However, so be it. Obama is a shrewd enough pol to play a Clinton and totally use it to his benefit. He will move to the center without totally losing his focus on reconstructing American society into what he thinks it should be (and not what we all think it should be).
Ultimately, the left flank challenge will be unsuccessful. They will be 20 percent of the vote in the primaries, max, and will go nowhere. People forget that the first few Democrat primary states - Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina - are not Massachusetts, Wisconsin, or New York. They are libertarian Democrat and moderate Democrat places with, admittedly, some hard left-wingers. But not enough to oust a sitting president, the first black president. Believe that.
As well, the super left doesn't have anyone who can build coalitions around a bunch of issues in order to take Obama out either. There is no dynamic Jesse Jackson in 1984 or Jerry Brown in 1992 or Fred Harris in 1976 who can barnstorm around the country on a shoestring getting people all riled up on what could be or should be (although, I would love to cover that campaign ... how exciting!). And, even if the super left did have one of those candidates emerge, they won't be able to win the Electoral College against MILF Palin, Baptist Huckabee or maybe even Romney, the presumed-to-be three strongest GOP contenders for 2012. There are just too many red states.
The only person I can think of who might have any chance of challenging Obama successfully would be someone like Jim Hightower, a wise-cracking, southern populist who could potential mount a serious effort against Obama. But even then, how does he ultimately win the Electoral College battle with a fractured national party? I just don't see it happening. But it could get very interesting.