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Sen. Webb: "I commend President Obama for his leadership" on Tax Deal

by: lowkell

Wed Dec 08, 2010 at 11:47:42 AM EST

Just received this from Sen. Webb's office. Interesting contrast with what Mark Warner and Jim Moran have said.
Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) today issued the following statement regarding the Framework Agreement on Middle Class Tax Cuts and Unemployment Insurance:

"I commend President Obama for his leadership in forging this agreement. The framework agreement for tax cuts and extended unemployment insurance shows great promise in reinvigorating our economy and putting people back to work.  The proposal is the ultimate stimulus plan. It will put more money directly into the pockets of people and small businesses, allowing that money to be quickly recycled as the economy expands. It will provide greater certainty for business and investment planning and extend several programs that effectively serve working Americans and lower-income families.  Failing to act now will result in higher taxes for almost all Americans starting on January 1st - an unacceptable result for an economy that remains fragile and in danger of further job losses.

"No one will agree with every provision in the proposed agreement.  The simple reality is that the American people, and particularly those who are out of work, cannot afford to wait while politics-as-usual blocks an effective, bipartisan plan to stimulate the economy and restore growth."

lowkell :: Sen. Webb: "I commend President Obama for his leadership" on Tax Deal
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Interesting. (0.00 / 0)
I'd have predicted that Webb would say more or less what Warner said, and vice versa. But I don't know what any of these guys stand for anymore, so what do I know?

Whoops, that's ambiguous. (4.00 / 1)
Clarifying: I would have expected Webb to give the statement that Warner in fact gave and Warner to give the statement that Webb gave.

[ Parent ]
My take (0.00 / 0)
I think Warner usually wants to do the right thing, but sometimes goes out of his way to say the wrong thing in public to make it seem like he's in an ethical dilemma so he can ultimately come out looking like a "radical centrist" (definition pending).

I think Webb doesn't really care a whole lot about domestic issues & wants to do whatever's easiest, which is why it's a constant battle for progressives to make it clear to him that it will more painful for him to do the wrong thing.

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[ Parent ]
Sometimes I wonder if Webb waits to see what Warner says so he can say the opposite. (0.00 / 0)
Yeah, what do I know too ? If Webb doesn't even know by now if he's going to run for re-election in 2012, what does he know either ? Maybe you and I know as much about what Webb thinks as he knows has he knows.

[ Parent ]
What?? Still trying to parse that last phrase (2.00 / 1)
but what about Webb would make you think that he doesn't know what he stands for in this discussion?  He's one of the few who had the guts to vote against one plan because he was supporting another last Saturday, and he got a LOT of criticism here for it by people accusing him of suddenly, inexplicably not caring for the poor and middle class anymore.  What really happened is he understood it was contradictory to be in favor of both, so he chose the one he thought was better, the one he thought would provide more stimulus to the economy with its provisions for people making more than 250K.  Warner would probably agree with him intellectually, but right now he's more about making himself look good to the base.  

[ Parent ]
(laughing) (4.00 / 1)
Warner's making himself look good to the base?  Wow, that's a first!!!  :)

[ Parent ]
(laughing out loud) (0.00 / 0)
You're right, that would be a first - and last, if it ever happened! - for Mr. "Radical Centrist". :)

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[ Parent ]
And you know all this HOW exactly? (0.00 / 0)
I communicate with his office all the time and have a completely different read on this than you do. I also have been following Webb very closely since late 2005, when I started the "Draft James Webb" movement and then worked on his campaign as his netroots coordinator.  Given all that, I'm very curious why you are so certain about Webb's motivations, what "really happened," etc.  I mean, he hasn't said any of this stuff publicly, so do you talk to Webb directly on a regular basis or something?  If so, what's he saying different than what I'm getting directly from his staff?

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[ Parent ]
Maybe you didn't pay attention to what you (0.00 / 0)
described as what his office told you when you called for an explanation.  YOU wrote that they explained that Webb didn't think the 250K was enough, whereas up to a million was.  It's pretty easy to extrapolate out from this explanation that he was looking at it in terms of stimulus and not just relief to those earning under 250K.  It's not rocket science.  I explained thoroughly WHY such a proposal would be stimulative.  You never did tell me why I was wrong, you just disagreed on the definition of middle class.  I frankly don't care about the definition, and am not sure Webb does, either.

Tell me what you're getting from his staff which conflicts with my explanation - which I have made clear from the get-go is my discernment of his possible motivations.  Show me something FROM his staff which indicates I'm wrong.  I don't have communication with his office, but I don't have to.  I've read his books, listened to his speeches, tried to figure out his personality, and this is my personal take on the matter.  If you think I'm wrong, and you can show me a staffer who says I'm wrong or a statement from Webb which indicates I'm wrong, then knock yourself out.  Otherwise, maybe the problem is you don't know him as well as you think you do.  I'm proceeding on the assumption that any position he takes would be relatively consistent with his populist philosophy, but that it would also be relatively pragmatic and looking more to the long term than the short, but concerned that potential short term deficiencies be addressed if possible.  Webb is primarily a strategic thinker, and he likes to have his tactics support his long term strategy, not to engage in tactics and then try to develop the strategy later on.  Everything about him suggests that he: a) likes to have A LOT of information from a variety of sources when considering a problem; b) believes in having a long-term strategic vision in resolving problems; c) is not reluctant to fight when necessary, but reluctant to to fight if it will affect his ability to achieve the strategic goal; and d) thinks brinksmanship is largely a waste of time if there are other ways of achieving at least part of what he wants in the short term while attempting to secure his strategic goal.  

The problem I have with the way many Democrats have approached this financial issue is that they've perceived it primarily as a tactical matter, one in which they should strive to look strong and "stand fast" while having no clear conception of just what they will win by doing so.  Webb is IN the Senate.  He's seen the obstinacy and obstructionism first hand and is well aware that his Republican colleagues are not suddenly going to start singing a new tune when their numbers increase in both Houses.  So I am not in the least surprised that he was pleased with Obama's actions.  He perceived it the way Obama did, as a losing proposition if Obama went to the mat on it now, but a potential winner in long term strategy.  

Maybe I'm completely wrong, but show me evidence that I am.  

[ Parent ]
You rated me a 2.0, Lowell? (0.00 / 0)
Getting kind of personal, aren't you, over my disagreements with you?  Stay classy.  Freewheeling debate and all that.

[ Parent ]
The rating was for the comment (0.00 / 0)
not for you.  

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[ Parent ]
As for being "personal" (0.00 / 0)
the only argument - if one can call it an "argument" - you seem to be making is that you really really really like Jim Webb and he can do no wrong. Last I checked, Jim was a human being, with his good points, less-than-good points, and everything in between, just like the rest of us.  Our job here is to call 'em as we see 'em and to promote our progressive values, whether that's on tax policy, the environment, DADT, whatever.  Most of us here also have been huge Webb supporters over the years and/or have followed him very closely, so it's hard to figure out what you're getting at with your comments...

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[ Parent ]
Seriously, Lowell? Come on, I've been explaining (0.00 / 0)
my positions on his actions from the start.  I've never, ever said he can do no wrong and have made it quite clear I disagree with him on a number of issues, including really important stuff such as Gitmo and the Patriot Act and offshore drilling.  Some day I'll give you the whole list.  I posited my perceptions as to an explanation for his actions on Saturday and you disagreed because you preferred to think that he was just turning on his commitment to Jacksonian populism.  I differed with you.  That's all.  You have now turned this disagreement about a politician's motivations for particular actions into a very disagreeable attack on me, personally, mostly because you still haven't come up with a decent defense of your original position.  I think you're just P.O.'d because his statement about Obama tends to support what I've been saying since Saturday.  Figuring out people and their motivations is a large part of what I do, Lowell.  If I decide to take my perceptions of a particular person and extrapolate out to what I think motivates him then that's my business and it's at least as legitimate as being upset because that person took a position I didn't like.  

[ Parent ]
Really? And here I thought such ratings (0.00 / 0)
were reserved for people who said abusive or ridiculously illogical things or perhaps engaged in personal attacks on others who happened to disagree with them.  I've reread my statement.  The words are spelled right, it's grammatically correct, it lacks abusive or charged language, and it expresses a personal opinion which is neither immoral, illegal, nor fattening.  I'd really, really like to see how many other 2.0s you've issued in recent months.  

[ Parent ]
Catz, (4.00 / 1)
I don't think this was personal on Lowell's part at all.  On the other hand, you have taken to condescension toward those of us here who have a differing opinion from you.  I remember when it was not this way.  Now you treat us as if we are on "trial," (show me the evidence") though you aren't in a courtroom here. The fact that we aren't arguing everything from a legal perspective doesn't make it illogical, unfactual, illegitimate, or wrong...  Or others (from yourself) less legitimate commentators.

I will say that your claim to be able to read people because of what you do does fall into the trap of playing the role of the lay or naive psychologist. Naive or armchair psychologists think they have a lock on human behavior when they do not.   We, even we professional psychologists, are all armchair psychologists.  We overly rely on category labels, biases, heuristics, primacy effect, like/dislike.  Within seconds we make snap judgments, which are often wrong.  We make many, many errors when interacting with and assessing people, often the same errors others make. So this is not psychology-related condescension on my part.  We are all in this together.

None of us, not even professional psychologists has a lock on deciphering individuals by observation and many psychological assessment procedures lack sufficient validity as well.  Even applying widely accepted science can be problematic because, when research results are on average, they do not apply or work the same way for each individual.  The fact is that most psychological research is typically analyzed to produce results on average to a specified level of significance.  We only know, for example, that a result as large as any particular significant study is larger than a chance effect.  That's it.  And so such studies cannot necessarily be literally interpreted for each and every individual.

You and I have not only co-existed in the blogosphere, but have gotten along. I remember a time when I looked forward to your comments.  Nearly everyone here got along, trolls being the primary exception.  This is a heated time.  We  all have varied opinions and different takes on things.  I would like to think that we can find a way to embrace all of us under this big progressive tent.  But having said that, right now we have every right, some would say obligation, to register our strong dissent. I recognize that some of what is said may tick you off.  That is not our intention. I hope you see that.  The whole point is for there to be a space in the blogosphere for Virginia progressives to catch up on what's new and discuss the issues of the day, including sometimes our displeasure.  That displeasure is as legitimate as your lack of it.  

There are two aspects to some of our comments: 1) Our leaders are kicking the base; and 2) Our electeds are taking stands which we believe harmful.  The administration, and our two senators, among others, offer us the kind of disrespect that makes it difficult for us to continue supporting them.  A supporter can only be dissed --or worse--so often before getting pretty disillusioned.  That is nothing, however, when compared to what the lasting consequences of their actions (or lack thereof) will leave us and future generations.  What is far more important is what they do to effectively set in place policies which are way too Republican and way too focused on those who have gamed our system and destroyed middle and low-income people's lives (e.g., banks which wrongfully seize homes they didn't even have a right to take--because there was no delinquency.  In some cases the homeowners owned their homes and had no mortgage.) Many congresspersons have gotten such complaints from their constituents.  Yet these practices have not been stopped.  The practices enrich the bank execs, but destroy the middle class.  Meanwhile, these same bankers all want a tax cut, following their milking of their banks for unjust compensation and bonuses.

Republicans have had their way with us for most of the last 30 years.  Our county and our economy have been devastated by their policies.  And it makes no sense to us to continue such disastrous policies.  Though I only speak for myself, I believe many of us at BV aim to take a stand against the further erosion of our country's future.  We stand FOR progressive values.  Someone needs to. Some of our friends may be mad at us for this.  A few of mine are.  I wish that were not so, but I will accept that as the price to pay for the necessity of speaking out.  We are imperfect people and imperfect voices.  We are what we are.  But at least we try to make a difference.

There's nothing in the middle of the road except yellow stripes and dead armadillos (Jim Hightower). PS I'm on Twitter here.

[ Parent ]
Ultimate????? (4.00 / 1)
The "Ultimate stimulus plan?"  Uh, no.  Not even close.  We haven't begun reshaping America's energy grid, for instance.  We aren't bringing internet access into every American home (as we did with Rural Electric.)  Those would be proposals that would create jobs (especially in areas that don't have many options) as well as doing something that moves America forward.

I'm all for giving people, especially those at the lower ends of the economic spectrum, more money in their pockets.  I do think that as a result of this plan we can hope that the economy does not get any worse (at least in the short term).  But the idea that this is going to "create 600,000 jobs" (to quote Obama) or calling this the "ultimate stimulus plan" (to quote Webb) is simply insulting.

I can live with ideological differences (even between Democrats), but I can't stand being patronized.

Yeah, it's FAR from the "ultimate" stimulus plan (0.00 / 0)
let alone the OPTIMAL one. In fact, this is not at all how any economist worth his/her salt would design an economic stimulus plan. It's basically a complete mess.

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[ Parent ]
Actually, China Will Like It (0.00 / 0)
Instead of national infrastructure, our new debt (framed as tax cuts) will buy more foreign produced goods.

[ Parent ]
I wouldn't call it the ultimate stimulus (2.00 / 1)
but it's a darn sight better than what we would have seen if Obama had gone to the mat and battled it out with the Republicans in January.  Webb, a man whose willingness to fight when he thinks it's necessary is unquestionable, believes Obama did the right thing.  THAT should count for something with those who've been accusing Obama of cowardice and caving.  Webb's smart enough to know that sometimes you make a strategic withdrawal, strengthen your defenses, plan your offense, and come back at your enemy when you can do so without losing too many troops and under the best conditions for a win.  Too many people on the left think there's some point to be gained by having Obama go to war on an issue he will ultimately lose, if only to LOOK like he's put up a good fight.  

[ Parent ]
Catzmaw ... (0.00 / 0)
I think you're great. Lots of well thought out commentary amongst all this arm-chair quarterbacking.

Keep up the great work.. and thanks again for taking the time to write.

[ Parent ]
Here's the problem (0.00 / 0)
By using hyperbolic language such as "the ultimate stimulus" Webb puts himself into a corner.  He assumed either, that someone like me is too stupid to understand what a stimulus package really is, or what it would entail, or that reasonable people might disagree as to what makes something better or worse.  Or, and the alternative is even worse -- that he thinks this IS the ultimate stimulus, in which case I've vastly overestimated his abilities (which I don't think I have.)

Words DO matter, and these were the words Webb chose to use.  In a statement, no less, that would be going out to the press.  He chose poorly.

[ Parent ]
Thanks for this post .... (4.00 / 2)
I commend Senator Webb .... and gosh he too seems to be pragmatic about getting something done.

NO one knows better then Senator Webb ... of the frustration of working through an ideologically rigid and spiteful Republican Senate. Early on he spoke about the problem of the filibuster and its misuse by the Republican minority.

There's plenty that needs to be reformed on Capitol Hill .... what's important is that Democrats take the initiative on performance (and reform) as our President has done and force the Republicans to offer workable alternatives.

Jim Webb will run for re-election if Judicial Reform has not progressed sufficiently.... but don't be surprised if he isn't tapped for Secretary of Defense.

Meanwhile .... if the blogo-sphere isn't happy with what's been going down .... then maybe its great activism can be re-focused on getting great people elected in the next go around.

That's an interesting thought - Webb would be a great SEDEF. (4.00 / 1)
My first knee-jerk reaction was wondering if Webb has suddenly become more publicly supportive of Obama in the hope of being selected as his VP running mate in 2012. But  that wouldn't make any sense because Webb by nature has to be in charge of something, and his skills would be largely wasted as VP. On the other hand, he would be an ideal replacement for Gates, having been Dep. SECDEF and SECNAV under Reagan, and knows enough about both the senior military and senior civilian Pentagon situation to be able to really make a huge difference if he were Secretary of Defense.

The next obvious question, though, is who would be selected to serve out the last year of Webb's Senatorial term. So far as I recall, Virginia does not mandate that the governor appoint a person of the same party as the departing Senator. That would put McD. in a really tough position of having to decide which of the several GOP likely candidates to favor, which would be a no-win decision for him. If he is required to appoint a Dem., I'd assume he would pick a person whose departure from his/her present elective office would do the most damage to the Democratic party, but that also might be a no-win decision.

I think the bottom line here is that it makes a lot of sense for Obama to nominate Webb for SECDEF, and his confirmation would most likely win approval from the GOP since they would have no qualification objections that they could claim and they would probably be happy to have what would amount to an open seat in 2012. The U.S. Senate, with or without Webb, isn't going to accomplish much during 2011 so Webb leaving the Senate a year early wouldn't have much impact on legislation anyway.

[ Parent ]
I'd say zero chance of that. (0.00 / 0)
No way is the White House going to hand Webb's Senate seat to the Republicans. None.

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[ Parent ]
On the contrary! (0.00 / 0)
How better to extend the hand of bipartisanship? Working across the aisle to get things done for the American people! Look forward, not backward!

David Broder would keel over with happiness.

[ Parent ]
Agree with Lowell (0.00 / 0)
This is one of those moments where it is actually a big help to have Kaine as chair of the DNC.  Even if Obama suggested it, I can see Kaine stepping in and insisting (rightly, in my opinion) that giving the Republicans an incumbency advantage going into 2012 would be a disaster for Dems in VA, and likely wouldn't do Obama's own chances in the Commonwealth any good either.

One thing I'm taking away from this week -- Obama will reliably make POLITICAL decisions (especially for his own re-election).  (But don't 99% of politicians?)

[ Parent ]
In Obama's 2008 run .... (0.00 / 0)
they REALLY wanted Webb on the ticket as VP.

He didn't want the extreme disruption that would have caused his family (extended family).

My guess is that he is really focused on reform of the judicial system and getting that done. While at this juncture it has tremendous bi-partisan support (for a Presidential Commission to study it) .... it's certainly not a done deal .... and may take 2 more years.

So as he picks his fights / issues ... I think judicial reform is where he really wants to make his mark (now that veterans issues have been addressed).

SECDEFs serve at the pleasure of the President. If Jim Webb wanted that position he could probably get it in an Obama administration ... if not in the next year ... perhaps done the road.

[ Parent ]
Guess It Is Kinda Sorta Fair To Be Harder On Webb (0.00 / 0)
Since we got him elected I can understand a certain amount of frustration with him.  But as usual Warner is the jerk.  For a VA Democrat to be supporting Obama on taxes is something we should appreciate.  People like Warner and Landrieu are posturing.

Sherrod Brown & Sanders are people I appreciate, but we're not gonna win this one.  I think we have to pick a future battlefield.


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