President Obama campaigned for re-election on one central theme: those who’ve done well in America should pay more of their fair share. If you asked the lowest-information voter of 2012, s/he could probably tell you that Obama wanted to raise taxes on people making more than a quarter-million dollars a year. $250,000 was a number woven into every speech he made.

A portrait of a smiling Ezra Klein

Even Ezra Klein has turned on Obama over the fiscal cliff.

And, now, he seems to have abandoned even this benchmark as part of his ‘negotiation’ on the fiscal cliff.

Ezra Klein, loyal Administration mouthpiece, has noticed:

But after Obama won on a platform that was barely about anything aside from letting those tax cuts expire, it seemed inevitable he’d get it done. It was his due.

To the GOP’s delight, that no longer seems to be the case. In the Obama-Boehner negotiations, the White House offered to raise the threshold from $250,000 to $400,000. McConnell, in his negotiations with Harry Reid and now Joe Biden, has been trying to raise that to $500,000. It’s clear to the Republicans that they will get past the fiscal cliff with a smaller tax increase than they thought. Perhaps much smaller. Huzzah!

This negotiating-with-himself that Barack Obama specializes in has taken us to a familiar place, and Ezra Klein seems unafraid to point it out in the pixels of the Washington Post:

All this raises the tantalizing prospect for Republicans that they could end these negotiations having given up less tax revenue than they ever thought possible — less tax revenue than Boehner offered Obama, even — but still getting their entitlement cuts. Oh, and because there was never a big deal, they won’t have to agree to much stimulus, either. All in all, a pretty big win, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the White House’s baffling inability to stick to a negotiating position.

Ezra Klein could always be previously relied on to cheer the magnificence of the Emperor’s new negotiating clothes as each capitulation was paraded in front of the Punditocracy. For him to acknowledge Obama’s nakedness now may mean that Village Orthodoxy is breaking down, and our Elite Media is tiring, even before his second Inauguration, of Obama’s pretense of not doing the exact bidding of the plutocracy.

When everyone sees, and says, that a better deal is to be had post-Cliff, and the president is racing to make a deal pre-Cliff, the story that he’s working hard for middle-class taxpayers starts to wear a little thin. When Ezra Klein notices, and says so, the president may be in real trouble finding Elite Opinion to back his Deal, Grand Bargain or no.

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