If Democrats go along with Pres. Obama's tax cut scheme it will prove they have forgotten basic economics. It's no surprise that today's Republicans can't do math either, but at least we know the deficit really doesn't matter to them, except for the fact that they suckered Obama into believeing it did.
A weak economy is not an excuse to spend money we don't have on things we don't need. I am with Stan on this tax cut deal. And Paul Krugman, for that matter. I repeat my view that the Bush era tax cuts should expire on schedule. The New York Times reports the two-year cost of this tax cut package at $900 billion. What is amazing is how little we have learned in three years.
Mark Halperin, sage of the Washington insiders, gets something very right yesterday.
The already tiresome debate about what Obama should do to launch a comeback tells only part of the story. Yes, he needs to show people what he stands for, fight for what he believes, compromise with Republicans when it's sensible, reshape his circle of advisers and focus on job growth and deficit reduction. But those are all tall orders, and they run counter to Obama's instincts, the political realities of American politics for the last generation, or both.
Even if the President somehow sloughs off that Spock-like laconic demeanor and dispatches his fired-up-and-ready-to-go persona, he isn't going to be able to change many of the dynamics that have weakened him. Republicans are emboldened by the results of the midterm elections and by their continued discipline and verve in driving the same message since Election Day (and likely well into 2011). They believe they can beat Obama for re-election and will stay on their winning path as long as it is working.
Halperin makes the argument also that the Left will be furious and "cry betrayal whenever the President cooperates with the GOP." Movement progressives have good reason to do both, because Pres. Obama has caved on his campaign marketing from Gitmo to privacy to DADT to health care to Bush tax cuts, while ceding all territory to Republicans in a message collapse that leaves Democrats no one to follow, let alone support looking at 2012.
Amidst the talk of capitulation, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) suggested that rather than extend current rates for two years in exchange for other tax-cut goodies and unemployment insurance, the party might simply let all the tax cuts expire. After all, the president could come back next Congress and build his own package of middle-class tax cuts, branded under the Obama (not Bush) name.
"There are lots of people in our caucus who do have that appetite [to let all rates expire]," said the New York Democrat.
But no place was the Democratic President's ineptitude revealed more strongly than on "Morning Joe" yesterday. I can't upload the entire 6 o'clock hour, but here's a segment with Dee Dee Myers that is illustrative of the conversation.
The situation Pres. Obama finds himself in after the midterms, understanding that he's lost states to Republicans he held in '08, doesn't come close to outlining the President's apocryphal position after his first two years in office where hope has warn out, change hasn't happened, and the only thing Democrats are left with is a weakened Obama presidency where foreign policy possibilities are crashing amidst a domestic landscape that has revealed Barack Obama won't even fight against tax cuts for the super rich, which aren't stimulative, but also symbolize everything the Democrats are against.
Ironically, the only person to blame for Democrats being in this position is Barack Obama. It's not Bush's fault. It's not the economic recession either. When you're a Democrat doubling down on tax cuts that aren't stimulative, while adding to the deficit, but also supporting economic policies that won't create one job, solve growth, or deal with the exodus of corporate cash leaving the country, all you do is make matters worse.
Harry S. Truman would have told Republicans to go pound sand.
William Jefferson Clinton would have let the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy expire, while showing Republicans who was boss by getting something for the pain to come, before coming back to the table to compromise and make a deal.
Pres. Obama allowed unemployed workers to become part of his bargain, something no American leader should ever do, especially when you also telegraph that you can be rolled.
Taylor Marsh is a political analyst and veteran national political writer out of Washington, D.C.
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