What's All This Then?

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I’ve been listening to supporters and what sounds like former supporters of President Obama express their views of his tax "compromise" and I can imagine how much all of the disagreement must be music to Republican ears. They’ve not only won control of the House and made cloture virtually impossible in the Senate - but have been handed the bonus of watching members of Obama’s own party rebel against him. And Obama has only himself to blame. He made a bad deal and now he’s making it worse by trying to sell it as a "stimulus" package. Shades of Bush senior trying to sell us on the first Iraq war being about jobs!!

And if you wanted absolute proof that he’s made a bad deal, Charles Krauthammer wants us all to believe that what Obama really did was pull a fast one over the Republicans and the deal that he hammered out with them is a bigger "stimulus" package that the stimulus money already pumped into the economy!! Charles Krauthammer for Pete’s sake! As ancient philosophers were want to say in situation like this - Oy!!

I’m no economist but I see nothing in the arrangement with the Republicans that will stimulate anything other than the heightened expectations of children of the rich who’ll be getting a free pass on the first five million of their inheritance and a reduced tax on the rest. Leaving those earning a quarter million a year and up with the same tax rates they’ve enjoyed for the last ten years isn’t going to create any jobs - it hasn’t for the past ten years - nor will a 2% reduction in payroll tax. The idea being floated that employers will suddenly be persuaded to hire more workers because it will cost them fractionally less is ludicrous - as was a previous idea to offer a tax break for each new hire. The only thing that will induce small businesses to increase their payrolls is need - the need for more workers because business has picked up and they’re needed to handle it. All the so called incentives are little more than political gimmickry. The only thing that Obama can crow about is that there’ll be an extension of benefits for some of the unemployed - though not the ninety niners - and that taxes on the middle class won’t go up. But what a price he paid to wring those two concessions from the Republicans. Increasing the deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars.

The "compromise" looks like it will sail through with virtually no changes, despite initial signs of revolt from the House and the marathon effort of Bernie Sanders in the Senate. Now there’s a poll showing that close to 70% of those polled favor the deal. I don’t know what questions were asked or of whom, but I doubt that a majority were people who voted for Obama. I think he has lost the support of a great many of those people and I don’t think the President understands that or why they have lost faith in him. I could cite the things they expected of him that haven’t happened - closing Gitmo, stopping the Bush doctrine of rendition, getting rid of Don’t Ask -Don’t tell and more - but instead I’ll cite just one thing that he said while defending the deal - criticizing those who were criticizing it. "It’s the Public Option all over again", he said. Yes Mr. President, you’re right - but you don’t know in what way you’re right.
For most of us who supported healthcare reform, the key ingredient was a "Public Option" - something to compete with the insurance industry’s stranglehold on healthcare. We expected the President to fight tooth and nail to make sure that it was the major instrument of healthcare reform. Instead, he hardly gave it lip service. He gave in to the forces that he knew would fight tooth and nail to keep it out of any healthcare bill and what we ended up with was a bonus to the insurance companies - a guarantee of millions more premium paying customers - many subsidized by taxpayers. We should have known then that Obama was not the man we thought we had elected. For sure we know it now as he admits that the tax deal is the "Public Option" all over gain. As in once again he didn’t fight - showed no passion for what he said was the kind of deal he wanted. Instead, he surrendered to the Republican insistence that ALL of the Bush tax cuts be extended while claiming some kind of victory that it is only for two years and not the permanent extension that the Republicans wanted. He said the right kind of things about them - that they were hostage takers and terrorists. The problem is he said these things after he’d struck the deal which, according to Moody’s, could put the U.S. credit rating at risk.

Right now, Obama has kicked the can down the road for two years, at which time the battle by Republicans who have this crazed idea that the road to prosperity is paved with tax reductions for those who need it least, will resume - as in trying to make the temporary tax cuts permanent . He’s gambling that he’ll be the one in opposition and with the power of the veto pen. If he isn’t, the United States will need more than a president. It will need a high priced bankruptcy attorney.