Well, it finally happened. What was so obvious for a while now came to pass. The GOP get their blood money for the rich and the jobless are only spared because of it. So maybe I should be grateful. Maybe I should be praising Obama for getting the jobless benefits extended. But I won’t.
Jobs is the one and only thing that matters right now. Not DADT, not START, not WikiLeaks, nothing. And a two-year extension of tax cuts for the rich will do nothing to create jobs. In fact, in all likelihood, it will do just the opposite. This is another 2 years that the rich will be rewarded for taking their money, sticking it in a bank somewhere and watching all that money do nothing to stimulate the job market. Another two years of Billions, if not Trillions of dollars doing absolutely nothing when it could be helping out the middle class. But this isn’t the worst part of this deal.
Now the GOP have Obama just where they want him. He has rendered himself impotent with this decision. Ask yourself this question “What perception does this move give the electorate”? From where I sit it’s pretty simple. About a month after the Republicans and the Tea Party took back the House and made real gains in the Senate, President Obama is doing their bidding. He let them bully him into this move and they come out looking like the people who are really in charge. Perception is reality, especially in politics. And as I have written before, he looks like a man who is beaten and doesn’t know what more he can do. Meanwhile the GOP are basking in the glow of their victory and looking an awful lot like the real people running this country. Read any political blog or watch any political show and nearly all of them are saying the same thing; the GOP knew they were never going to get a permanent extension of the tax cuts. Two years suits them just fine. Because at the end of the day, this whole issue will reappear deep into the presidential election cycle of 2012 and they can use it all over again. They get to have their cake and eat it too. They get an extension of the cuts and can also use it as a boogeyman during the elections.
So what did the Democrats get out of this deal? An extension of unemployment benefits and a few other tax breaks that are significant but probably would have met with GOP approval anyway. And while I don’t mean to downplay the significance of the unemployment extension, it wasn’t a fair trade. A real compromise might have been an extension of unemployment benefits, passage of DADT plus passage of START and perhaps a few more items on the Dems agenda. Or just the passage of the unemployment benefits and a one year extension of the tax cuts for the rich. But the way this is set up plays right into the GOP’s hands and gives them a wedge issue for the Independents during the next election cycle.
My preference would have been a fight to the bitter end. And while I know Obama said it would cause too much collateral damage, sometimes that might be necessary. At some point he is going to have to draw a line in the sand and stop walking back all of the promises he made. And frankly, jobs and job related legislation needs to be where he draws that line. To my mind, he has done a shit job of explaining all this to the American people. We have the GOP yelling “Taxing the rich will kill jobs in this country”. And then we have people like Rep. Anthony Weiner telling people, on MSNBC, that every legitimate economist knows that tax cuts do nothing to stimulate the job market. The problem is that MSNBC, while it may be my news network of choice, doesn’t reach the audience that it needs to(namely independents). Obama has missed a historic opportunity. What he should have done is hold a press conference from the Oval Office and spell out, very simply, what happens when we extend these tax cuts. There are two specific things that come to my mind:
1. The federal budget is based on the ACTUAL tax rate and spending is set based on that actual tax rate. Extending the tax cuts means that we have to borrow money from foreign entities in order to make up the difference. Just because we think that spending should be reduced to make up the difference doesn’t mean that it actually happens and even if it did it would require years of negotiations to make that happen. Dems want their programs spared and the GOP would want their’s spared. So in the short-term the budget is what it is and we will have to borrow for the foreseeable future.
2. In general small business owners, who the GOP keep pointing to as a reason to extend the tax cuts, aren’t in the upper income bracket that they keep talking about. Most of those in the top 1% of the nations earners are either very rich by birth or in far too many cases, the very people who got us into this mess in the first place. It’s the Wall Street types who were packaging shitty loans and selling them to one another and then taking out insurance against their own products so no matter which way the market went, they would win. Then these same people were the very ones who came crying to the government that they needed to be bailed out because while they had been gaming the system all along, it would destroy the market if they didn’t get bailed out. So then they were bailed out with the idea being that the money the government gave them would in turn be lent to small business owners to stimulate the economy. And in fact we were nearly giving that money to these companies interest free. So what did they do? They took the money, sat on it and in most cases, used that money to go right back to making the same kinds of bets that got us into this mess in the first place. How do you think all these record bonuses are being paid for in such a shit economy? Because the money they are playing with is interest free and there have been no regulations put in place to stop an out of control derivatives market.
I really wish my President had gone on TV and made these points to America. I wish he had given America the economics lesson it so desperately needs before he caved into the GOP. If he had I can just about guarantee that the vast majority of reasonable voters out there would have said “oh yeah. That actually makes a lot of sense”. But he didn’t even try to, that is why I am so angry with this decision. America isn’t stupid. They are just uninformed and if they were given the truth from the President of the United States, from the Oval Office I can promise you, no right-minded citizen would be able to refute these ver basic facts. And Republicans would be put in a position of having to defend the indefensible. But alas, my President decided to take the easy way out. I am tired of fighting for him.
Congressmen Weiner or Grayson for President is starting to sound about right. They are at least fighters who will stand on their morals and convictions. They seem like men who will fight the righteous fight and not back down.