Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Peace In Our Time
The Rude Pundit makes a pretty good point today:
This may be one of the last chances the Democrats have to blame Bush successfully. Remember: Republicans voted to raise your taxes at the end of 2010. George W. Bush signed that into law. That's a fact. That's history. Anything that's done now is something new.
The President should call the Republicans' bluff. Say he'll veto anything that includes a tax cut for millionaires. And the Rude Pundit doesn't want to hear the bullshit about "What are you going to do about unemployment benefits?" If you make that argument, you are playing with the Republicans' loaded deck. They are the ones who tied the two together (and added in START and DADT). Make them hold up the extension of unemployment checks in order to secure tax cuts for Donald Trump. And, frankly, why should Democrats trust that Republicans would keep any word on a deal? Anyone who pretends that the GOP negotiates with honor or good will is a fucking idiot. Goddamnit, at the very least, make them have to decide whether or not to raise, check, or fold. Don't cede the pot on the deal every time.
(Note: The most pathetic thing? Even with the grand capitulation about to happen, the White House hasn't framed it right. The "Bush tax cuts" are over at the end of the month. Any tax cuts that the President signs on to ought to rightly be called the "Obama tax cuts." But even that slight bit of marketing eludes the messaging buffoons in this administration.)
Down at the Texaco my good buddies were always saying to me, "Give it up on the Bush thing. He ain't president now, Obama's president. It's Obama's economy, it's Obama's war(s), it's Obama's Gitmo. Bush is outa there." Of course they started saying that at one minute after noon on January 20, '09, when they started counting the hotdog wrappers left by the huge Inauguration crowd as being proof that these hippie liberals were uncouth and messy, just like we always told you. Limbaugh used to use the falling Dow as an instant poll on Obama's popularity amongst the voters who had the cash to actually "vote" on his policies. He did that right down to the very moment when the Dow started back up the hill. Then he was on to the next thing. But right along, all the critics were seriously put out when anyone said that Bush's various catastrophes were making it hard for Mr. Obama to make immediate headway. "Stop bringing Bush into it," they'd say. "Ain't rite."
Well, as Mr. Pundit points out, we are at a moment when an actual Bush policy is passing into history. It was Bush policy to have these tax cuts expire at the end of this year. Bush and his Republican Congress made that firm, bright decision back even before there was an Iraq War. A great many of Bush's fellow Republicans are still leading the Congressional Republican cohort. Starting in January, decisions concerning our tax policy will be Obama Administration policy (even if there's a divided Congress).
As Mr. Pundit also pointed out in his piece today, one of the lynch pins of the Health Care Reform Act was that it was to be funded in part by the revenue achieved by ending the rediculous top end tax giveaway that the Bush people had put into place--and ordered ended at the end of this year. With this compromise, Mr. Obama has removed one argument supporting the Health Care Reform Act, and at the very moment when people who have campaigned on the promise of rolling back the reforms come into Congress.
Sheesh. Is this what it felt like to watch Neville Chamberlain in operation?
Update. More than one viewer of the passing parade seems to have thought of Chamberlain. (See my comments sec. below). I'm pleased to note that I thought of it before Keith Olbermann said it last night (of course I can't attest to when the comparison entered his mind). Watching Lawrence O'Donnell's "The Last Word" last night, I thought he focused the general consternation greatly by noting that if Democrats do call the Republican hand, taxes will rise by a whopping fifty percent on the lowest tax payers, from a current tax rate of 10% up to the Clinton era rate of 15%. This is what Obama means by "hurting the hostages." The other extremely important point O'Donnell made was that it must be accepted that the Republican Party is utterly uninterested in the issue of who gets hurt at the bottom--that is, the Republicans are basically unshame-able, and will be delighted to play to their base (some of whom will of course be in that bottom bracket), arguing that Democrats "raised your taxes." Behind the Republicans in this specious argument (since if taxes go up due to the Bush tax cuts expiring, that is REPUBLICAN POLICY!) is a 24/7 media propaganda barrage devoted to asserting that it was the socialist Democrats and their Kenyan Usurper leader who "failed" to act to avert this tragedy. So, as O'Donnell I think correctly asserted--this is the lay of the land which Obama faces, and as Obama is a kind man who believes his job is to protect all the citizens, he has acted in that regard, hoping to save the "little folk" from further economic pain in various ways, for at least another year.
I certainly understand this line of reasoning. I believe the Republican strategy with regard to Mr. Obama, from the get go, has been little short of un-American, and continues to be so. The Republicans are out to make a very different America, and they are succeeding with each ratchet of the wheel, while the Democrats are a party that is significantly "sold out" to the very same interests, and otherwise shocked and aghast. The fact that the Republicans are living in a dream world--e.g., the extension of the top bracket tax cut will seriously affect the already serious deficit, which they are also claiming is the top issue to deal with--gives them the same power of argument as possessed by an intelligent lunatic in argument with his psychiatrist. Moreover, I am not the one deciding whether this collateral damage is to be accepted or not. Mr. Obama has that weight to bear, and all of us in the peanut gallery always need to keep it in mind. Talk is cheap. That all being said, it's hard to see--from here at least--just why this isn't the place for Mr. Obama and the Democrats to take a real stand. Next year, and 2012, will be worse if a stand isn't taken, in my humble opinion. This was Chamberlain's mistake. A good, kind man trying to save lives, set in motion events which led to Dunkirk, and the remarkable and successful retreat of the British Army at Dunkirk might almost be proof that some god, somewhere, really did care about the evil that Hitler was unleashing on Europe.
We should be so lucky. Or to put it another way, Obama has not rescued the hostages with his "deal." He's just gotten them some warm soup and a piece of bread.