Is He or Isn’t He? Obama Says He’s Not Caving on Tax Cuts (Video)
November 12, 2010
(ChattahBox Political News)—-After lots of bumbling and stumbling yesterday from President Obama’s messaging team, led by Senior White House adviser David Axelrod, President Obama issued his own statement, insisting he is not caving on the extension of the Bush tax cuts. “My number one priority is making sure that we make the middle-class tax cuts permanent…” said Obama while still in Seoul. Notice the word “permanent.” Yesterday, that word was missing from Axelrod’s remarks and subsequent statements issued by White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer and White House Deputy Communications Director Jen Psaki. Last week, in President Obama’s weekly address, the word permanent was used, but this week it disappeared, which is why he was accused of caving on the issue. But now it’s baaack! But for how long?
Last week in President Obama’s weekly address, he threw down the gauntlet to Republicans, by refusing to even consider making tax cuts for the wealthy permanent.
“I recognize that both parties are going to have to work together and compromise to get something done here. But I want to make my priorities clear from the start. One: middle class families need permanent tax relief. And two: I believe we can’t afford to borrow and spend another $700 billion on permanent tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires,” said Obama.
But fast forward a few days and Axelrod gives an interview to the Huffington Post, leaving open the idea of “compromising” with the GOP to extend tax cuts for all temporarily. What? What happened to Obama throwing down the gauntlet? What about that not “spend[ing] another $700 billion on permanent tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires” thing?
“We have to deal with the world as we find it,” Axelrod said during an unusually candid and reflective 90-minute interview in his office, steps away from the Oval Office. “The world of what it takes to get this done.”
“There are concerns,” he added, that Congress will continue to kick the can down the road in the future by passing temporary extensions for the wealthy time and time again. “But I don’t want to trade away security for the middle class in order to make that point.”
After a media frenzy over the “is he, or isn’t he?” caving narrative, the White House and Axelrod insisted Obama’s stance has not changed.
Now, here is what Obama says:
“My number one priority is making sure that we make the middle-class tax cuts permanent — that we give certainty to the 98 percent of Americans who are affected by those tax breaks … I continue to believe that extending, permanently, the upper-income tax cuts would be a mistake, and that we can’t afford it. And my hope is, is that somewhere in between there, we can find some sort of solution.”
OK then. Now what? Are we going to be treated to the ultimate capitulation of making tax cuts for both the rich and middle class permanent? So, then the White House can somehow claim Obama kept his promise to ordinary Americans?
As Greg Sargent of The Plum Line points out, the reason these semantic word games are being played, is because Republicans don’t want to be forced to have to extend tax cuts for the wealthy separately from middle class tax cuts. Politically, that puts the GOP in a tough spot.
“The main sticking point is that Republicans won’t allow the two categories to be extended for different durations, because that would force them to push for just an extension of the cuts for the rich later.”
The GOP knows full well Americans are not with them on this. A new CBS poll, shows that the public does not support extending tax cuts for the rich, which would add to the deficit.
Despite all of their usual blustering, the GOP is dealing from a position of weakness. So, why is the White House running away from the issue with a tail between its legs? It’s just unfathomable.
A reminder to President Obama– you still have majorities both in the House and the Senate until the end of the year. Use them for the benefit of the American people, not the super wealthy.
Are we really headed towards cutting entitlements and America’s societal safety nets to pay for $700 billion in tax cuts for the wealthiest two percent of Americans?
Yup, it seems to be the case. But let’s hope not.