Of Tax Cuts, Caving, the Jobless and Liberal Anger
December 5, 2010
(ChattahBox Political News)—-The Democrats feel defeated, progressives are fuming with anger and disappointment, while the Republicans are licking their paws, like predators after a good kill. The tax cut wars continued through the weekend, with the entire Republican Caucus filibustering a Democratic measure to extend the expiring Bush tax cuts to those making less than $250,000 and another bill to raise the income threshold to $1 million. The hostage-taking Republicans led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) won’t budge until millionaires and billionaires (so-called job creators) get to keep more of their money in their pockets, despite the fact that doing so will add $700 billion to the deficit and will not create jobs, nor stimulate a weak economy. But when it comes to extending unemployment benefits, Republicans say we can’t afford it and it must be paid for by making cuts in another program. The GOP’s agenda is both hypocritical, morally reprehensible and amounts to economic criminal negligence. Moreover, despite their claim of a voter mandate, the majority of Americans disagree with Republicans. They want the Bush tax cuts to expire for the wealthy.
So, with the American public solidly behind Democrats, as well as every credible economist on the planet, combined with the failure of the Bush tax cuts to create jobs for the past eight-years, liberals are wondering how in the world the Obama administration could have lost this battle to the Republicans.
And worse, President Obama seems to be caving and surrendering Democratic principles to protect the middle class, way too easily to the Republican thugs and bullies with their scorched earth tactics intent on destroying him. The narrative of a weak President Obama caving to the GOP, has been advanced in recent days by Democratic lawmakers, progressive groups and progressive columnists, such as The New York Times’ Paul Krugman and the Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson. Krugman decried that the Obama presidency is suffering from a complete meltdown and “moral collapse.”
Unless Obama can wrestle significant middle class concessions, if any, from the GOP in return for extending all of the Bush tax cuts, he could spend the next two-years of his presidency pushing back against the meme that he is weak and spineless. And that the Republicans can just roll over him whenever they want.
Paul Krugman, a Nobel prize-wining economist has been especially critical of Obama’s inability to fight for what’s right for our country. When referencing the recent bipartisan White House summit with Republican leaders, Krugman derisively quipped, “He did not, as far as anyone knows, wear a sign on his back saying “Kick me,” although he might as well have.”
Of course we all know what happened 24-hours later. McConnell delivered a hostage letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) threatening to shut down the Senate, unless Democrats extended tax cuts for the wealthiest two-percent of Americans. Krugman, added “It’s hard to escape the impression that Republicans have taken Mr. Obama’s measure — that they’re calling his bluff in the belief that he can be counted on to fold. And it’s also hard to escape the impression that they’re right.”
Krugman wasn’t quite finished expressing his disappointment in Obama’s leadership. “Whatever is going on inside the White House, from the outside it looks like moral collapse — a complete failure of purpose and loss of direction,” added Krugman.
Eugene Robinson, expresses similar frustration with President Obama and the Democrats’ failure to lead on the tax cut fight. “By all rights, this shouldn’t be a fight at all. The Republican position is so ludicrous that it beggars belief, writes Robinson. Indeed, the audacity of demanding an unfunded $700 billion tax cut for Wall Street fat cats, while denying the “extension of unemployment benefits for millions of jobless workers. Three weeks before Christmas,” says Robinson is impossible to understand.
But despite the goals of the GOP that are “cynical, situational and ultimately bad for the country,” they certainly have a “clarity” of purpose argues Robinson.
Where is the Democrats’ clarity of purpose, and what is it exactly? The answer is, “Who knows?”
“The White House, for the umpteenth time, has approached a negotiation by signaling in advance its willingness, if pushed to the wall, to make major concessions – in this case, a temporary tax-cut extension for the rich. It doesn’t take a genius to recognize this as a flawed bargaining strategy. Voters may want more bipartisan cooperation in Washington, but I believe they also want their president to fight for the principles that got him elected,” Robinson says.
And the money quote: “Power without purpose, in fact, doesn’t get you anywhere.”
The New York Times’ Frank Rich joined the Obama is spineless narrative yesterday, by extending the hostage rhetoric to compare Obama to a beaten captive of the GOP suffering from Stockholm Syndrome.
“THOSE desperate to decipher the baffling Obama presidency could do worse than consult an article titled “Understanding Stockholm Syndrome” in the online archive of The F.B.I. Law Enforcement Bulletin. It explains that hostage takers are most successful at winning a victim’s loyalty if they temper their brutality with a bogus show of kindness. Soon enough, the hostage will start concentrating on his captors’ “good side” and develop psychological characteristics to please them — “dependency; lack of initiative; and an inability to act, decide or think,” writes Rich.
The outgoing Democratic Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, also piled on, attacking his own Party for their inability to fight the GOP’s disastrous policies.
Strickland, said “I mean, if we can’t win that argument we might as well just fold up,” he said. “These people are saying we are going to insist on tax cuts for the richest people in the country and we don’t care if they are paid for, and we don’t think it is a problem if it contributes to the deficit, but we are not going to vote to extend unemployment benefits to working people if they aren’t paid for because they contribute to the deficit. I mean, what is wrong with that? How can it be more clear?”
Meanwhile, Obama is working behind the scenes towards a “compromise” with the Republicans, that will result in a temporary extension of the tax cuts for everyone for two or three years. What he will get in return is still up in the air. Obama said he was “disappointed” that Republicans blocked efforts to extend the Bush tax cuts for just the middle class, adding we need to “resolve the impasse in the next few days.”
“So we are going to continue to work on this issue through the weekend, into early next week,” Obama said. “And I’m going to be rolling up my sleeves with the leaders in both parties in Congress. We need to get this resolved, and I’m confident we can do it.”
But many Democrats would like to see Obama pound his fists on the table instead and show strength against the Republicans, whose policies are about to lead us over a cliff.