By N.S. Palmer
There’s a feature of Obama’s tax-cut “compromise” that, as far as I know, has gone unremarked.
Before the compromise, both the House and the Senate had voted on bills for a middle-class tax cut. It cut taxes on income up to $250,000, so most of its benefits would have gone to the middle class and upper middle class.
The House passed the middle-class tax cut, with almost all Republicans voting against it. In the Senate, all Republicans voted against the middle-class tax cut and succeeded in killing it.
So at that point, there was going to be no middle-class tax cut.
And who was to blame? Clearly, it was the Republicans: the same Republicans who wanted to give a massive, unfunded tax cut to the wealthiest 0.1 percent of Americans at the expense of everyone else. That’s why they voted against a middle-class tax cut (and everything else).
Give the Republicans credit: they danced with the one what brung ’em. They work for the super-rich and the corrupt. And they do a good job for their bosses. Just not for the American people generally.
So the Republicans, and only the Republicans, stopped a middle-class tax cut. What did Obama do?
No, he didn’t go on television and denounce the Republicans as an obstructionist minority who were blocking tax cuts for the majority of Americans. He didn’t denounce them as an obstructionist minority who were blocking ratification of the Strategic Nuclear Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with Russia, which has been endorsed by elder statesmen of both parties. He didn’t point out that they were blocking all legislation until they could get extra tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, tax cuts that would not stimulate the economy or create jobs, but would vastly increase the government’s budget deficit.
He didn’t put public pressure on the Republicans so that they would have to give up their obstructionism and do what’s right for the country.
He sat down with them and agreed to all of their demands.
Which provoked howls of outrage and betrayal from the people who had supported Obama. From Democrats who didn’t want to sell out every last thing their party ever stood for.
There’s now a tax cut proposal on the table. It’s a “compromise” that gives the Republicans everything they wanted, and even beyond that, a reduction in the estate tax. In exchange, it extends unemployment benefits for 13 months and gives a tax cut to the middle class as well as to the super-rich.
The Democrats don’t like it one bit.
So now, if the current tax cut proposal goes down in flames, guess who will get the blame?
No, not the Republicans. They like it. It caves in to all of their demands. They don’t care if the middle class gets a tax cut, as long as billionaires get a much larger tax cut.
If the tax-cut bill fails, it will be because Democrats voted against it. And it will be Democrats, not Republicans, who will get the blame for raising taxes on the middle class.
So Obama took a situation in which Republicans would get the blame for blocking middle class tax cuts, and turned it around so that Democrats would get the blame instead.
Heckuva job, Barack. Remind me not to let you do my taxes.
Update: Senate Republicans just blocked another bill, this one to provide medical aid to first-responders (police, firefighters, and medical workers) who helped during the 9/11 attacks. The Republicans won’t let anything pass the Senate until they get their extra tax cuts for the super-rich. For once, I agree with Sen. “Gutless Harry” Reid (D-NV), the Senate majority leader:
“Republicans denied adequate health care to the heroes who developed illnesses from rushing into burning buildings on 9/11,” he said. “Yet they will stop at nothing to give tax breaks to millionaires and C.E.O.’s, even though they will explode our deficit and fail to create jobs. That tells you everything you need to know about their priorities.”
Later the same day, Republicans blocked a vote on the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” rule that requires gays and lesbians in the military to keep their sexual orientation secret. Military leaders support repeal, which would allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in the armed forces. So do 70 percent of military service members and 75 percent of the American population. But Senate Republicans are holding the country hostage in order to get their way.
If Democrats fought even half as hard for the American people as Republicans fight for their plutocratic paymasters, then our country would be in great shape.