Obama puts politics above the economy
From The New York Times:
President Obama on Wednesday will make clear that he opposes any compromise that would extend the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy beyond this year, officials said, adding a populist twist to an election-season economic package that is otherwise designed to entice support from big businesses and their Republican allies.
Mr. Obama’s opposition to allowing the high-end tax cuts to remain in place for even another year or two would be the signal many Congressional Democrats have been awaiting as they prepare for a showdown with Republicans on the issue and ends speculation that the White House might be open to an extension. Democrats say only the president can rally wavering lawmakers who, amid the party’s weakened poll numbers, feel increasingly vulnerable to Republican attacks if they let the top rates lapse at the end of this year as scheduled.
But the problem is that raising taxes in a recession is considered by all objective thinkers to be folly. In fact, the President said so himself as I reminded you recently:
Normally you don’t raise taxes in a recession, which is why we haven’t and why we’ve instead cut taxes. So I guess what I’d say to Scott is—his economics are right. You don’t raise taxes in a recession. We haven’t raised taxes in a recession.”
But they are going to raise them in a recession now. “Scott”, by the way, was a person who submitted a question at an Obama townhall through MSNBC’s Chuck Todd. Obama admitted that it was the wrong thing to do in a recession. And folks, we’re still in a recessionary period whether or not the spin artists with the administration prefer “recovery summer” (another flop) or not.
The NYT goes on:
It is not clear that Mr. Obama can prevail given his own diminished popularity, the tepid economic recovery and the divisions within his party. But by proposing to extend the rates for the 98 percent of households with income below $250,000 for couples and $200,000 for individuals — and insisting that federal income tax rates in 2011 go back to their pre-2001 levels for income above those cutoffs — he intends to cast the issue as a choice between supporting the middle class or giving breaks to the wealthy.
Of course, he’s presenting a false choice. There’s a third choice – keep the tax cuts for all and cut spending. But, you can’t stir up class warfare and spend more money unless you demonize the rich and claim you’ll be spending their money for the benefit of the “middle class”.
Any American that falls for the sort of populist class envy nonsense is most likely fine with the government we have and any silver pieces they can siphon off as a result.
That said, the NYT’s first sentence in that paragraph says a lot. Does Obama have the heft to carry this off. We all know the GOP will be the whipping boy for any failure, but unless every Democrat in both chambers of Congress stand up and vote for it, it will be a difficult thing to sell to a skeptical electorate who’ve heard all this nonsense before.
Politically, however, the president is, in effect, daring Republicans to oppose the plan, in that way proving Democrats’ contention that they will block even their own ideas to deny Mr. Obama any victories. And by proposing business tax breaks that, according to nonpartisan analyses, would do more to stimulate the economy than extending the Bush tax rates for the wealthy, Mr. Obama hopes to buttress Democrats’ opposition to extending those rates.
Let him dare the Republicans. If they’re smart (and that’s always debatable) they’ll use the President’s own words against him. That would be their most effective tool. And that would also put Democrats in marginal districts on notice that if they vote not to extend the cuts, they’re doing what their President once admitted was a terrible idea in bad economic times. And, they should understand, they can count on hearing that repeated in ads in their districts along with how they voted.