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      Progressives and the Tax Compromise

      Liberals like the New York TimesPaul Krugman wanted President Obama to call the Republican’s bluff on tax breaks for the rich. It apparently didn’t matter to Krugman that following his advice would mean everybody’s tax breaks being cancelled for New Years and the government being polarized to the breaking point – with still no possibility of the Senate terminating the Bush tax cuts.

      Into that wilderness I would not go. No amount of oratory will end those tax breaks soon. Obama was right to note that FDR’s social security plan began by covering only widows and orphans, and grew from there. He was right that the United State began with a compromise that prevented him from entering the White House through the front door. At a tactical disadvantage, he salvaged tax breaks for college tuition and small businesses while ensuring that the next debate over tax breaks for the rich will take place during the 2012 presidential election.  

      What the Democrats could do now is immediately slow down on approving the Obama-GOP tax deal until Republican intentions are fully revealed on the US-Russia nuclear arms treaty, the don’t ask-don’t tell policy, and the DREAM Act, all still pending in the lame-duck session.

      If tax breaks for the rich are the “Holy Grail” for the Republican Party, as President Obama noted, any remaining Democratic leverage will be gone once the House votes for the tax package. Holding off a few more days could further expose the Republicans as an absolutist party of NO.

      In the meantime, no one seems to be paying attention to the December White House “review” promised on Afghanistan. The yearly cost of the Afghan War is between $113 billion [White House numbers] and $192 billion [Stiglitz-Bilmes numbers]. The yearly budget cost of extending tax breaks to the rich is $70 billion, half the cost of the Afghan War.

      Last week, 61 House members issued a letter opposing any delay or deceleration in redeployment from Afghanistan. There has been no response from either the White House or the press.

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      Reader Comments (7)

      Obama sounds reasonable, Hayden sounds reasonable - but is it reasonable to enable the Republican rage-aholics? Is it reasonable to go along with their obstructionist ways?

      The only thing that would make them happy would be to get the black guy out of the White House. Playing along with them is like playing along with rattlesnakes.

      I hate using such a derogatory term for someone whom I saw as being intelligent and caring, but President Obama is starting to look like an "Uncle Tom," "(ethnic slur) an offensive and derogatory name for a Black man who is abjectly servile and deferential to Whites." - a definition from a Princeton University website.

      It is true that great hardship will ensue if taxes go up across the board, but maybe it is time people recognize who the real criminals are. It will be clear that it is the Republicans who are holding the government hostage.

      Nonetheless, if the Dems do decide to go along or capitulate, I hope they get so many concessions from the Republicans that it becomes a Phyrric victory (a victory that is offset by staggering losses) for the right (wrong) wing.

      December 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBookworm Bev

      The Democrats still control the House, the Senate and the White House. Why can't they pass a tax increase?

      Moreover, for two years they have been in the "cat bird seat," why didn't they increase taxes on the rich, over that time period. Is it because they don't think raising taxes is good economics or good politics?

      Or is it because the strategy is to say one thing, and do another?

      Unfortunately, their flat-footed progressive followers fall for it each time. (Their gullibility is only surpassed by their willingness to be on the wrong side of history on virtually every issue of importance since 1950."

      Obama simply has not learned to use his bully pulpit very well-- he does not come across as insightful, effective or attuned to voters. That has left Democrats on the outside looking in; and Repubilcans on the inside looking out.

      To capitulate now on taxes is an admission by him--that he is weak, inept and directionless--because he has no guiding principles beyond hope.

      This president was over sold, inexperienced--and simply not that good at his job.

      It's not, by the way, that he does not communicate well, as he has said. It's that he communicates bad ideas--the type that lead to landslide election losses.

      December 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBob Rowe

      The sad story here is that Obama admits that while the vast majority of American's are being exploited, oppressed and violated by a small right-wing elite, bankrolled by the super rich, he doesn't know how to turn the tide of exploitation and is surrendering yet again, in order to buy more time in a whimsical hope he can find a solution later. Then , he adds insult to injury by then lecturing Americans on why we should appreciate his leadership. I don't know who I am most offend by, rich republican scum, or the betrayal of America by Obama?

      December 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPeter McNamee

      It would not be a tax increase as everyone keeps saying. It would be a return to normal.

      First take care of the people, extend unemployment, increase social sec and medicare, re hire public sector workers, start a WPA. Then, if the R's go along, they can have their cuts for people making over a quarter of a million $ a year.

      December 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHonest Charlie

      It is rich people that pay most of the income taxes and mosts dollars across the board.

      Rich Republicans are scum, but wealthy Democrats--like Obama--are progressives. That is their wealth does not make them scum as they say they right things--even if they then go back on their word, even if they undermine the security of the United States.

      At least Bush, said what he planned to do on the tax front and kept his word. That's what you do when you have core beliefs. Obama has no core beliefs, other than opportunism, and therefore has no problem lying about taxes, heatth care, the wars.

      He does not think the voters will hold him accountable, though the Dems lossed bad in November. it just goes to show he stands for political expediency--and for a harvard man-- or any man-- he is slow to learn a lesson.

      Don't expect him to change, don't expect him to see the error of his ways, don't expect him to become forth right-- he simply lacks those character traits.

      But do expect him to face opposition in hgis own party--and for him to suffer defeat at the polls--in 2012.

      That's because Americans were ready for change; Obama lacked the political skills to deliver it.

      My prediction, Republicans gain control of the Senate and whitehouse in 2012, and retain the House. That's not the change many of you voted for, but that is where we are headed.

      Way to go, Mr. President.

      December 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHerb Andrews

      Surprised that Tom, you're support Obama on this. It's an outrage. Compromising on this establishes a precedent. Every bill that comes up the Republicans will say no, even if they agree with it. Why? Because they know they can get more, more, & more.

      For example, they agree tax cuts should be extended on all income below $250,000. But yet they all voted against it. Why? Because they know the Democrats have a heart, and will give Republicans whatever they want just to get something like unemployment.

      December 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJack

      Obama and the Congressional Democrats achieved a remarkable set of legislative initiatives during the past two years. At a time when a whirlwind of external crises whipped up the electorate: the BP oil spill, the 2008 Recession, wars in the Middle East, and an increasingly erratic North Korea, Obama and the Democrats were able to pass significant legislation. Health insurance reform (not really health care reform), and partial financial re-regulation, blocked for years by Republicans and their corporate allies, were signed into law despite arcane Senate rules giving the minority a 60-vote advantage. This is a very, very difficult environment for any president! I am hopeful at the ABC News/Washington Post poll this week in which 49 percent of Americans express confidence in the president making the right decisions for the country's future. Only 19 percent feel that way about Republican congress members.

      December 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCelia Carroll

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