09 December 2010

Calling the Republicans' Bluff

Honestly, I realize there's a lot of risk to the position I and many Liberal Democrats are advocating, i.e., backing out of the Obama deal, and calling the Republicans' bluff on ending tax breaks for rich and super rich in exchange for the quite modest concessions the Obama deal wrests from them. Namely that the Party of No is perfectly willing to let unemployment benefits just expire for millions of people, at least for a while. I am less worried about the effect of increasing taxes on ordinary people, because there, I'm quite sure, the Republicans will eventually vote to cut these taxes. It's just impossible for them not to.*

But I still think it's time to say, hell, no, we're not going to accept extortion from you. A significant majority in this country doesn't want tax breaks for the rich and super-rich, so this time, it's on you. We proposed extension of tax breaks for the other 98% and extension of crucial unemployment benefits, Earned Income Tax Credits, etc., but you said no, as usual. So we're going to tell the American people the Republicans voted not to provide continuing tax relief to the middle class and low income Americans; the Republicans voted to end your unemployment benefits; the Republicans voted to end programs that put money and services in the hands of people who need it, which honest economists all say will help the economy recover and help with our debt and deficit in the long run... because they don't care about people, they only care about the wealth and power of billionaires.

I really believe they would back down and pass both of these things, but there's no use kidding ourselves, it is a gamble, and Obama might turn out to have been right, if we somehow get to that option.

If my views were to prevail, I admit, it could backfire. But I am convinced that the Republicans are pushing way too far right now, and it's time for Democrats to draw just one big line in the sand and say, no, we're not going for it. Because ultimately I believe the tide will shift and turn against the Naysayers, but if they've already achieved most of what they want before that happens, it will be all but impossible to undo
*Lawrence O'Donnell says that as someone actually involved in writing tax legislation, making tax reductions retroactive after the new year, if that were to be the outcome would be a legislative and administrative nightmare. Well, tough. That's just not a good enough reason to set a precedent of caving in on extension of huge tax cuts for the rich. 
  On whether the Republicans would eventually back a 98%-only permanent tax break, none other than Boehner himself said he'd vote for that "if there was no other option" (sic), back in September. 

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