1. I'm enjoying the tantrum that many liberals are throwing.
2. There is something weirdly hyperbolic about all this carrying on over extending the 35 percent top marginal income tax rate for two more years. It isn't usually something people get that angry about. If I thought that Bernie Sanders. Michael Lerner, and Keith Olbermann were serious about bringing down the short-term budget deficit, this hissy fit would make a little more sense, but even then not really. They still support the deficit-financed middle class tax cuts and payroll tax holiday. David Limbaugh argues that it is about a desire to get at the rich. I don't think that is it. A desire to see higher marginal tax rates on the rich might be a reason to oppose keeping the top marginal income tax rate at 35 percent rather than 39.9 percent but it doesn't begin to explain the current freakout. I think a lot of this is about George W. Bush. Repealing the "Bush tax cut" on the "rich" would have been a victory over Bush and one more step toward obliterating his economic legacy. I wouldn't discount this kind of pettiness. I remember a debate in 2004 where Howard Dean suggested repealing all of the Bush tax cuts. The other Democrats reminded him that some of the tax cuts were actually quite popular even among Democrats. Dean then suggested repealing all the Bush tax cuts and then re-passing some of them. This isn't even about economics. It is about pride and vengeance. Now Bush has gotten the better of them again and worst of all Obama helped Bush make fools out of liberals one more time.
3. There is also a self-promoting, self-dramatizing, and principled explanation too. As David Weigel points out, criticizing Obama in extravagant terms and threatening to support a primary challenge from the left brings more media attention to the left critique of the compromise and to to the people doing the critiquing/threatening.
4. This tax cut extension/new round of economic stimulus won't break us of course, but there is something ominous about the fact that the bipartisan deficit commission reported last week, and this week we get a bipartisan bill that will increase the deficit. I get the whole short-term weak economy vs. long-term thing entitlement crisis thing, but I don't see much reason to feel good about the long-term either.