By David Shuster / current.com / @DavidShuster
Whenever President Obama is infuriating Republicans and upsetting the Washington pundits, it means he is doing something right.
Progressives should be thrilled with the spine the president continues to show on the Bush-era tax cuts. The rates are set to expire at the end of this month unless Congress and the administration reach an agreement on an extension. Mr. Obama wants to continue the existing rates on 98 percent of Americans.
But Republicans refuse to pass anything that doesn't include an extension of the Bush tax rates for the wealthy. As the president has pointed out in speech after speech, doing nothing means tax rates will go up across the board and the average American family of four would see their 2013 taxes go up by more than $2,000.
For more fiscal cliff diving watch 'The Young Turks' at 7E/4P
Last week, the president not only attacked the Republican position, he encouraged Americans to join him. In a rally at the White House, he said, "I'm asking Americans all across the country to make your voice heard. Tell members of Congress what a $2,000 tax hike would mean to you; call your members of Congress, write them an email, write on their Facebook walls, tweet it at #My2K."
The pundit class was displeased.
David Gergen of CNN said the president's approach "was clearly intended to score political points with Democrats rather than entice Republicans into serious negotiations."
David Brooks of The New York Times told NPR that Obama had stuck "a thumb in eye" of Republicans and that his position was an "insult." Brooks declared himself "mystified."
Ruth Marcus of The Washington Post called the White House's opening bid "pathetic" and said, "This is not negotiating, it's chest-thumping."
Chest-thumping? A thumb in the eye? Scoring political points?
The last time I checked, President Obama won the 2012 election. Voters endorsed his call to have millionaires and billionaires pay their fair share. And the fact that Obama is playing hardball with GOP henchmen in Congress who are willing to crash the economy in order to protect the wealthy, well, that's great news.
Keep in mind, this is the same Obama who began key negotiations in his first term by compromising first with Democrats before even staking out a position with Republicans. I get that the pundit class wants high-minded negotiations conducted behind closed doors and in an environment of give and take.
But that environment hasn't existed in Washington since Obama took office. There has been nothing high-minded about the continuous, scorched-earth GOP obstructionism. The president wasted time in his first term thinking he could reason with Republican lawmakers, appeal to their better angels and satisfy the establishment.
Now the president has finally figured out that the only way he will get Congress to negotiate and compromise is after the GOP has been cornered, humiliated and hammered. Only then will the GOP begin to respect this president and realize they will pay a price for each day they defy him. If the pundits aren't happy about this legislative and political brass-knuckles approach, so be it.
Most Americans don't care what the pundits think. The only thing that really matters is what the president gets done. By standing firm and hitting hard, President Obama is making progress.
(Photo from Getty Images)
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