David Brooks to White House: Please Obama, Don't Hurt 'Em!

A blog about business and economics.
Nov. 13 2012 9:59 AM

David Brooks to White House: Please Obama, Don't Hurt 'Em!

Speaker of the House John Boehner during a press conference in the U.S. Capitol building Nov. 9, 2012

Photograph by Allison Shelley/Getty Images.

Further evidence that John Boehner is bluffing on taxes comes from today's David Brooks column in which the conservative columnist concedes that Boehner will fold:

Obama could probably triumph in a short-term confrontation, pushing through higher tax rates on the rich that wouldn’t even produce enough revenue to cover a tenth of the deficit. But he’d sow such bitterness that it would be the last thing he’d pass for the rest of his term. The Republican House majority isn’t going to magically disappear.

The problem here is that Brooks hasn't appropriately considered his priors. It's true that if Obama forces tax hikes on the rich that the odds of comprehensive immigration reform or a meaningful carbon pricing bill are extremely low. But the odds of those things happening are extremely low one way or the other. The Republican House majority isn't going to magically disappear!

But if you go back to before the election, it was always the case that Obama's second term agenda was going to be tax hikes and implementation of his health care bill. Anything else is a bonus. The failure to get more done on immigration is a shame. The failure to get more done on climate change is a shame. Personally, those are my top two issues not health care. And the fact is that the psychological dynamics of House Republicans are hard to predict. Will they feel embittered by defeat on taxes or will they feel chastened? It's difficult to say. The only thing that's not difficult to say is that they probably won't agree to action one way or another. But Obama can win on taxes if he wants to.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.


Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

The XX Factor

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.


Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

Trending News Channel
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 11:33 AM Planned Parenthood Is About to Make It a Lot Easier to Get Birth Control
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
Brow Beat
Sept. 20 2014 3:21 PM “The More You Know (About Black People)” Uses Very Funny PSAs to Condemn Black Stereotypes
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 5:03 PM White House Chief Information Officer Will Run U.S. Ebola Response
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 20 2014 7:00 AM The Shaggy Sun
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.