For all the yammering about fiscal responsibility (particularly from Republicans) during the recent election, I was shocked to open the newspaper this morning and see this headline: Obama, GOP agree: Keep tax cuts for all. (Note the group that is absent from that headline– Democrats.)
So, the party that shouted about how much money was spent on the stimulus package and how irresponsible it was (given the size of the national debt) is working overtime to extend all tax cuts– at a price tag that is higher than the cost of the stimulus package.
Basically, the Republicans are using the unemployed as a bargaining chip. They know the Democrats want to extend unemployment benefits and Republicans want to extend welfare benefits to their schils at FOX News and their corporate masters, so they cold-heartedly held the unemployed hostage to strong-arm Obama into agree with their plan– to the chagrin of his party.
Here is an excerpt from the Star story.
President Obama reached agreement Monday with congressional Republicans to extend and deepen tax cuts temporarily – and extend unemployment insurance – in hopes of stirring the economy and creating jobs.
Obama pointedly refused to drag out the debate any longer over his quest to let taxes increase for wealthier Americans, bowing to the political reality that he couldn’t get the Republicans to agree to extend middle-class tax cuts or jobless benefits unless he also agreed to extend tax breaks for everyone.
In the bargain, he risked rebellion from his own party. Congressional Democrats refused to jump on board immediately, continuing to question tax cuts for the wealthy. They planned to discuss the tax deal at closed-door meetings today, and they still could kill the plan.
Obama acknowledged that many in his own party wanted him to fight rather than compromise.
President Obama, haven’t you been reading my stories on this topic? It’s fiscally irresponsible to extend all of the tax cuts. And extending all of them until 2012 is just silly. No one in the federal government wanted to make any serious decisions during the 2010 election year (It’s amazing healthcare reform and financial reform were passed!) What makes you think they will be braver in 2012?
How much you wanna bet that the standard bearers for extension of all Bush Era tax cuts– Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and John Boehner (R-OH)– plus the newly minted Tea-publican members of Congress will be preaching fiscal restraint in the spring when the Congress has to vote on lifting the debt ceiling or allowing the government to default? Consider this from There Will Be Blood by the NY Times’ Paul Krugman. [Emphasis added.]
Former Senator Alan Simpson is a Very Serious Person. He must be — after all, President Obama appointed him as co-chairman of a special commission on deficit reduction. [AKA Cat Food Commission]
So here’s what the very serious Mr. Simpson said on Friday: “I can’t wait for the blood bath in April. … When debt limit time comes, they’re going to look around and say, ‘What in the hell do we do now? We’ve got guys who will not approve the debt limit extension unless we give ’em a piece of meat, real meat,’ ” meaning spending cuts. “And boy, the blood bath will be extraordinary,” he continued.
Think of Mr. Simpson’s blood lust as one more piece of evidence that our nation is in much worse shape, much closer to a political breakdown, than most people realize.
Some explanation: There’s a legal limit to federal debt, which must be raised periodically if the government keeps running deficits; the limit will be reached again this spring. And since nobody, not even the hawkiest of deficit hawks, thinks the budget can be balanced immediately, the debt limit must be raised to avoid a government shutdown. But Republicans will probably try to blackmail the president into policy concessions by, in effect, holding the government hostage; they’ve done it before.
Now, you might think that the prospect of this kind of standoff, which might deny many Americans essential services, wreak havoc in financial markets and undermine America’s role in the world, would worry all men of good will. But no, Mr. Simpson “can’t wait.” And he’s what passes, these days, for a reasonable Republican…
Thus on the same day that Mr. Simpson rejoiced in the prospect of chaos, Ben Bernanke, the Federal Reserve chairman, appealed for help in confronting mass unemployment. He asked for “a fiscal program that combines near-term measures to enhance growth with strong, confidence-inducing steps to reduce longer-term structural deficits.”
Mr. President, don’t roll that snowball down the hill toward the Republicans because you won’t be able to stop it later. Don’t compromise.
All I can say is that when it happens, the revolution will not be televised.
UPDATE, December 7, noon: Tax Deal Opponents Shut Down White House Phones
Liberal activists angry about President Barack Obama’s concession on tax cuts for upper-income Americans crashed two phone lines at the White House and are gearing up for another onslaught of calls to Senate Democratic leaders in an eleventh-hour push to kill the deal.
Supporters of the New York-based Agenda Project shut down two phone lines for most the day Monday in White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett’s office, according to the group’s founder, Erica Payne. And even though Obama ultimately announced a bipartisan deal that extends tax cuts for the wealthy, Payne said her group, which boasts 10,000 supporters, has plans to push back every step of the way.