Ezra Klein throws it out there, and I could see it working.

From Wash Post:

On Feb. 5, 2011, the president signed the Economic Growth and Deficit Reduction Act of 2011 into law. The legislation lifted the employer-portion of the payroll tax for a year, approved more than $50 billion in infrastructure investments, and cut the deficit. The markets cheered the move, and employers, realizing that consumers were about to have more money in their pockets and that hiring new employees had suddenly become a bargain, quickly moved to expand their labor forces. It was a coup not just for the president, but for the new speaker of the House.

Six days after the 2010 election, John Boehner and Mitch McConnell were invited to the White House to meet with President Obama. When they got there, they found Obama and Pete Rouse sitting at a table with a single piece of paper in front of them. It was a clipping of Gov. Mitch Daniels’s September op-ed proposing a conservative stimulus plan. “Congratulations on your win last week,” said the president. “You really thumped us. What do you think of this?”

Frankly, this is the type of bi-partisan legislation that makes sense…but I doubt Republicans in the House (especially the Tea Party crew) will want to work on any legislation that appears as if they’re spending money. Because let’s remember, they derided legislation to help the unemployed that was paid for by spending cuts and would have reduced the budget deficit (according to the CBO). If that’s the case, any agreement on bills like the above are doubtful.

  • Trescml

    The question is would a reduction (or elimination) of payroll tax for business actually spur hiring. Currently large corporations are making huge profits and haven’t picked up the pace of hiring because the demand isn’t there to justify hiring and they aren’t at capacity so they don’t need to buy equipment either. There may be some impact at the small business level, but demand isn’t high there either. 50 billion may provide some stimulus if properly targeted (unlike last time), but depending on number of jobs lost with the needed budget cuts, it could end up being a wash or could actually hurt.

  • Simon

    How is this bipartisan? It’s Democratic thinking, nothing more. You need to expand your horizons dramatically: The 2010 federal budget is

    $3,500,000,000,000; an unspecified cut of
    $50,000,000,000 gross barely so as dents the deficit, which is

    We didn’t send Washington the largest Republican majority since 1949 to cut the deficit by one tenth. Their job is to balance the budget, not spend more money and raise taxes. So far as I’m concerned, the opening bid is $1.42 trillion in spending cuts, starting in FY 2011; anything less is a compromise. And I’m open to a compromise, but the notion that fifty billion in spending cuts is a compromise is just laughably naive.

  • Alistair

    Something that the National media missed. Small business borrowing is now at its highest level in nearly two years and loan delinquency rates are falling, according to data released by PayNet this morning.

    The Reuters/PayNet Small Business Lending Index, which measures the volume of small business financing in the U.S., rose 16 percent in September and 15 percent in August. Small business lending activity, according to the index, is at its highest level since December 2008…

  • kranky kritter

    Simon, this would be offer by a democratic President to implement a proposal touted by a Republican and repeatedly mentioned as a useful move by more than one conservative last summer.

    No way that’s not a bipartisan move.

    Unless you’re just moving the goal line because Republicans have more seats in congress.

    Oh, wait, that’s explicitly what you’re doing.

    The notion that the budget will get balanced in one year, and that it would be awesome for all concerned, is just preposterous. Which are you going to eliminate, medicare, social security, or the dep’t of defense. Or maybe we’ll just default on all our outstanding bonds?

    This is one kind of partisan gamesmanship that I especially hate. where you take a very hard fringe position, the better to get everyone else to move to you.

    I want to balance the budget quite a bit. But not enough to ask Americans to bear the pain that doing it in one year would cause. Lucky you, You get to say that you care more about balancing the budget than I do.

  • Simon


    Unless you’re just moving the goal line because Republicans have more seats in congress. Oh, wait, that’s explicitly what you’re doing.

    When was my goal line ever “cut $50 billion” and be done? To substantiate your claim that I’ve moved the goalpost, you’d have to delineate where my goalpost was before, no?

    The notion that the budget will get balanced in one year, and that it would be awesome for all concerned, is just preposterous.

    I never said it would be awesome for all concerned. Our government is too big, does too many things, and a lot of people have gotten used to that, the way a junkie is used to being high. Detox is going to hurt. But no one ever said “you should get off heroin one step at a time, don’t try to do too much at once, try to get down to five times a week, then, four,” etc.

    Which are you going to eliminate, medicare, social security, or the dep’t of defense.

    Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, HUD, HHS except the FDA and CDC, SSA, DoEd, and DOL. Total savings, based on 2010 budget: $1.615 trillion. We run that budget for five years, and every penny of surplus goes into repaying the debt; after five years, we’ll talk again about what we can afford.

    This is one kind of partisan gamesmanship that I especially hate. where you take a very hard fringe position, the better to get everyone else to move to you.

    That’s exactly the point, though, and Peggy Noonan (I think) noted it in a column earlier this year. Conservatives are sick to death of the leadership going into negotiations with our compromise, and compromising on down from there. The metaphor she used was to imagine the size of government on a scale of one to forty, and we always negotiate from 22 on up. That has to stop. It’s high time that compromise meant that the Democrats give some ground.

  • Jim Satterfield

    Nothing will happen until the Republicans have all three branches of government again. They will dig in and refuse to do anything that looks like compromise or that might give the tiniest bit of credit to any Democrat. Even if unemployment were to increase and large numbers of people had no more benefits they would not extend unemployment benefits again. I think we have a fairly good chance of either a double dip or no real recovery for years to come.

  • Chris

    I agree with Jim on this one, I don’t think the republicans want to give obama any chance of getting reelected, so any improvements in the economy or jobs that could possibly be attributed to him will be avoided.

  • kranky kritter

    I’d put the chances at 50-50 that Republicans take such a hard line.

    But they are on the meter now, and people will be watching. Suppose the President moves right and puts substantive cuts on the table, and offers to make some of the changes to healthcare reform that the GOP has suggested. imo, this a given, just as it is a given that the GOP will countersell any such offers as far too little. Americans will split the difference and assume the truth is somewhere in between. the usual partisan half-truths. Remember, few Americans trust politicians to give it to us straight

    Then suppose the GOP digs in its heels and says it’s not enough. That’s likely to please the hardcore. Right? But I seriously doubt that it will please impatient independents who would like to see pragmatic moves in the right direction. Now.

    In such an environment, the chances are better than ever for viable independent and moderate candidates.

    Possible Obama line: “The Republicans are leaving a perfectly good half loaf at the table, and going home to Americans empty-handed with a story that it’s the Democrats’ fault.”

    The brinksmanship of insisting that only a whole loaf (or most of it) will do is a high-risk, high-reward strategy. Newt Gingrich was sure it would work against Clinton, But Americans blamed Republicans for being too rigid and shutting down the government. The result was that Bill Clinton got to take most of the credit for later balancing the budget. Because Clinton positioned himself as the reasonable one, protecting regular folks from overweening partisanship.

    Gingrich BTW is a really smart guy with a colossal ego. So he and the cohort of the GOP inner circle may have convinced itself that this time some sort of similar brinksmanship scheme will work. The basis is probably that people are angrier this time, and more committed to shrinking government.

    Maybe they are right. Or maybe Americans, while quite committed to the idea in general, will prove more squeamish when faced with drastic particulars.

    Will they want an extra couple hundred billion in cuts if they directly reduce federal aid to their state, which will reduce state aids to towns. Which will force each town to choose between higher property taxes and less police,m fire, and school money. Maybe we’ll all be that brave and that willing to sacrifice now. If Republicans lead the way in making an insolvent California grovel and insist on draconian cuts and policy changes, how will that play out across California, and on TV before the nation.

    Even if you or I are basically behind the making of hard fiscal choices, we have to appreciate what a tightrope this will be to walk. Every hard move of brinksmanship by the GOP is a bet on the intestinal fortitude of Americans, on their willingness to put what’s best for the country fiscally as a whole against their personal interests, whether that means school funding, social security, still uncontrolled healthcare costs… .

    Right or wrong policywise, it’s a ballsy bet if the really GOP chooses to make it. If they do, they’ll be the ones forced to endure an endless parade of TV anecdotes about the people being hurt, and the phones ringing off the hook with constituents telling them that while they agree with the policy of across the board cuts, their particular sacred cow really does need full funding, because they’ve already cut to the bone.

    It has been comparatively easy for the GOP to talk tough at the national level. It is going to be MUCH harder to act tough with the whole country watching. They currently lack national figures who match the state-level brilliance of say Chris Christie. Boehner is maybe serviceable, though he is mean-looking when he frowns, which is often. Mitch O’Connell is IMO a train wreck.

    And that may be the GOP’s biggest problem. They have succeeded in making this about Obama from the get-go. And now that he has no choice but to go into the ring, the GOP is without a viable champion. Lacking familiarity with the collection of lights of the GOP, I think Chris Christie would be the obvious choice. He’s combative, but he seems to get angry at the right times, and so comes across as genuine, not a phony measuring every political concern while speaking.

    But he’s pretty busy right now. He would have to successfully reform NJ and its budget in a way that seems fair and puts that state on a sustainable path. That would allow him to criticize other states for timidity, setting the stage for a 2012 run.

  • Chris

    Simon, is your last name Koch?

    …just wondering.

  • Simon

    Jim says:

    They will dig in and refuse to do anything that looks like compromise….

    And they would be foolish to do otherwise. While there are polls showing that the electorate wants compromise and less partisan bickering, if you were to engage with one of the respondents, you would quickly discover that their understanding of these terms cabins their response. The man on the street wants more “compromise” (meaning that his side should give way on issues that don’t matter to him, and the other side should give way on those that do) and less “partisan bickering” (meaning his side insisting on an issue about which he cares none, or the other side insisting against an issue about which he cares much). The Republican party was punished in 2006 for compromising with the liberal agenda; it would be foolish to make the same mistake again.

    The man on the street is an expert in this kind of self-deception; that, and doublethink also. He wants low taxes and a balanced budget, yet recoils from the kind of spending cuts necessary to accomplish this. I’m sure that Christ doesn’t think of himself as a proponent of huge government deficits, but he allies himself with them by dismissing the kind of action necessary to do anything about it. One sometimes suspects that some conservatives think that the budget could be balanced by abolishing the NEA and CPB, and that some liberals think it could be done by raising taxes and trimming the pentagon’s sails. Neither position is compatible with even a passing familiarity with the federal budget.

  • Simon

    Heh. Obviously I meant “Chris” not “Christ” in my comment above. There‘s a freudian slip if there ever was one!

  • Chris

    “The Republican party was punished in 2006 for compromising with the liberal agenda; it would be foolish to make the same mistake again.”

    You are completely delusional.

  • Simon

    Not in the slightest. What cost the Republicans control of Congress in 2006? Increasing spending, expanding the welfare state, and a Wilsonian foreign policy. People can disagree in good faith about whether those things are good or bad, either in general or in their specific application (Medicare pt. D, Iraq, etc.), but it’s beyond serious dispute that on a general level, they belong to the liberal agenda. The Bush administration combined the worst of Wilsonian interventionism in foreign policy with the worst of Johnson-era welfareism at home and interventionism abroad.

  • Chris

    There was no compromising with a liberal agenda just because all of the republicans in congress aren’t really fiscal conservatives. It’s just that the party moved away from that principle.

    Simply put they crashed the bus they were driving.

  • kranky kritter

    Well Simon, I for would one would call Christ a liberal. In a big recession, WWJD? I think he’d deficit-spend to help the unfortunate. I am pretty sure Jesus never had to balance a budget.

    Sorry, I could not resist this.

  • Chris

    It’s pretty obvious that jesus was liberal for his time.