Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A good sign, I think

I am impressed with today’s proposed compromise announced by President Obama. The president was wise in understanding that he needed to show everyone that he has the ability to compromise because his unwillingness to do so over the previous two years is a major reason why his party lost so badly last month. He also needed to demonstrate to the American people that the next two years are not just going to consist of gridlock and partisan haggling while the economy either stagnates or gets even worse, while life inside the Beltway goes on as normal.

Today’s proposal is that in exchange for extending the so-called Bush tax cuts, which were set expire after the first of the year, across-the-board with no cut-off at any income level, for two more years, the Republicans agree to extending unemployment for another year in a tough economy. The fact that people on both sides are complaining- the conservatives for the agreement to extend unemployment and the agreement to not push for making all of these cuts permanent, and the liberals whining that there was no cut-off, even at one million dollars, as proposed by some Senate Democrats, led by Sen. Schumer- indicates that it is a good deal and goes a great distance towards moving politics beyond net loss/net gain calculations, or, stated simply, it is a good bi-partisan move. President Obama was right to criticize those in his own party who wanted a protracted political fight on this issue. Conversely, we’ll see if the Republican Tea Party denizens that now make up a vocal portion of the new Republican congressional majority, such as Utah’s Senator-elect Mike Lee, show as much common sense, not to mention statesmanship as Pres. Obama did today.

In his press conference this afternoon, the president first clearly laid out his position when he said that he agreed to “a temporary extension of the high-income tax breaks,” an issue on which he is correct to describe the Republicans as “are unwilling to budge,” in order to preserve “ additional tax cuts for the middle class that I fought for and that Republicans opposed two years ago.” Exhibiting wisdom that can only come from experience, he said “I’m as opposed to the high-end tax cuts today as I’ve been for years. In the long run, we simply can’t afford them. And when they expire in two years, I will fight to end them, just as I suspect the Republican Party may fight to end the middle-class tax cuts that I’ve championed and that they’ve opposed.”

So, by agreeing to extend the cuts for two years President Obama and the Republicans, both of whom think they have the people of their side regarding the issue of the tax cuts, make this a major issue for the 2012 elections. I am inclined to believe that the president will win this one, especially when it can be demonstrated that above a certain income level there is little or no stimulus effect and that the tax revenue is needed to help reduce our deficits, which we began to incur even during the Bush Administration. As voters and citizens I think we have to be aware that the massive deficits we are racking up come to us courtesy of six years during which the Republicans held the White House and both Houses of Congress and two years of the Democrats holding all the purse strings.

It also looks like passage of the Dream Act with at least some bi-partisan support is also in the offing. I am cautiously optimistic moving forward and perhaps crowing a little about my centrist claim that the interests of the U.S. people are best served by not having one party in total control.


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