So says Tim Noah, here:
"Nevertheless, this is still a crappy deal, and Democrats should still reject it--or be quietly pleased if House Republicans reject it (as they're threatening to do)."
I agree that the deal is crappy for Democrats, really crappy, but the objective of Obama is only political. What's good for the country is meaningless. He's counting on the right in the House to reject the deal, doing for Obama what he cannot do by himself. It is the extremists of both the left and the right which cannot see how Obama is playing them. If the House had any brains they'd take the tax deal, but I don't think they will, unlike how under Pelosi the House progressives swallowed hard and took the Senate healthcare plan instead of opposing it. Better than anyone they know that ObamaCare is not the end game, but the next step to the single payer idea for which they originally stood.
Politically Obama needed to look like a compromiser, and appear reasonable and "balanced", to match his rhetoric played out over a long period, which is now very familiar to everyone. Later he can use the political capital gained thereby to appear like a genuine savior when he swoops in to offer a tax cut to the poor to relieve these unfortunate souls victimized by Republican "intransigence" over spending cuts. Obama has been telegraphing this for what seems like forever. This lousy deal for Democrats gives all the appearance of compromise, but it is intended rather to go to the heart of the split between the more conservative House Republican caucus and the more liberal Senate Republican caucus.
Once those two groups are split publically over a vote on a bill which will wreck the lives of millions, Obama is in the strongest position ever to appear the benefactor of "the middle class", the group he most wants out of his way in his attempt to level American society. In order to really screw them, he's got to get their complete confidence first. To do so he'll throw them a tax cut bone, which the doofusses will be very thankful for and will repay their master for with grateful support when he goes after their real enemy, the rich. You know, the Romneys and Buffetts of the world who look like the guys who fire them from their jobs.
The problem with true believers is that they are true. It blinds them to the way power shifts, which is why they never succeed.