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Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Say No to the Bush Tax Cuts

I think this is a line of demarcation.  If Democrats in the House, Senate, and White House go along with any "compromise" that includes extending the Bush tax cuts to all income classes, including those over $250K, then they've sacrificed too much.  It's a baseline question -- what do you believe in?  If you combine this compromise with the President's willingness to unilaterally freeze the pay of federal workers -- out of the blue, with no context -- then progressive folks have to question why they care about who is in the White House.

Of course, some will point to sentiments like this as evidence that the president is doing the right thing -- he's triangulating! he's working the middle!  he's compromising to help the unemployed!  But the fact remains that middle class tax cuts have passed both houses; there's just not enough in the Senate to break a filibuster.  Middle-class tax cuts -- cuts limited to the middle class -- have been the backbone of every Democratic platform for the past two decades.  For a Democrat-controlled House and Senate to pass the entire Bush tax cuts as essentially their last acts while in control -- well, it boggles the mind.

If this compromise passes, I fear we'll look back on this as a point at which our future changed, and not for the better.  This is an opportunity to call for shared sacrifice on a number of different important goals: reducing government debt, putting entitlement programs on stronger footing,  saving our planet from global warming.  This compromise reeks of political expediency and short-term thinking.  I'd like to hear a counterargument -- maybe I'm wrong on this.  But I feel pretty strongly that this is a change for the worse.

Posted by Matt Bodie on December 7, 2010 at 01:29 AM in Current Affairs, Tax | Permalink


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Nancy Pelosi can win against Obama anyday.

Posted by: bhaussie | Dec 9, 2010 2:48:32 PM

And Eugene Debs for Veep. Right?

Posted by: Adam | Dec 9, 2010 12:34:38 AM

Bernie Sanders for President!

Posted by: Patrick S. O'Donnell | Dec 8, 2010 1:20:56 AM

Wow, there are lots of cranky liberal law professors out there regarding Obama's capitulation on taxes. 'Tis a pity.

It is like that scene in the original Star Wars when the Death Star destroys the planet Alderaan and Alec Guiness says he felt a disturbance in the force and "it was like a great many voices cried out in terror before being suddenly silenced."

This is even worse than the reaction to last month's election.

Posted by: anymouse | Dec 7, 2010 11:25:52 PM

I may blog on this later (don't look, Anon!), but a few more thoughts:

(1) I think this compromise may turn out to be like the Harriet Myers decision for Bush -- the point at which the base turns against him and he becomes something of a political non-entity.

(2) Is there now a Democrat that is going to run against Obama?

Posted by: Matt Bodie | Dec 7, 2010 4:34:53 PM

Just briefly -- I don't have a problem with asking federal workers to accept a pay freeze, if it's in the context of a package of other sacrifices made by a wide range of constituencies. But just announcing it on its own, at the same time you are giving a wide-ranging tax break, seems to undercut the notion of shared sacrifice.

Posted by: Matt Bodie | Dec 7, 2010 2:34:45 PM

...President's willingness to unilaterally freeze the pay of federal workers -- out of the blue, with no context -- then progressive folks have to question why they care about who is in the White House.


How about Obama saying that it will save $28 billion over 5 years? How about "shared sacrifice"? I believe that is the term you used in the third paragraph or is it just "shared sacrifice" with a federal worker exemption?

Posted by: anymouse | Dec 7, 2010 12:55:01 PM

Unfortunately, the saga of the Obama administration following the Bush and Clinton administrations reveals that the super-rich "own" our politics. The very wealthy have been almost the only beneficiaries of the last 35 years of economic growth. That did not happen magically or by the market. Active government policy and inactive government drift caused this to happen without regard to which political party was at the helm. Addressing the extreme economic inequality that is turning us into a third world country is not asking the wealthy to sacrifice anything other than a rightful share of what government policy has given them.

Posted by: Mike Zimmer | Dec 7, 2010 11:45:34 AM

I agree with Matt.

Posted by: another anon prof | Dec 7, 2010 11:06:00 AM

You know, I thought a lot about the point Anon is making before I posted this. I wrote a post about comments and Facebook recently -- Facebook has taken over a lot of this space. But I thought that a brief political point needed to be made now, before a deal is done. You're a little premature, Anon. If you want to disagree on substance, fine, but wait for at least two data points before trying to make a procedural point.

Posted by: Matt Bodie | Dec 7, 2010 10:12:37 AM

Nice post Matt.

Posted by: anonprof | Dec 7, 2010 9:43:09 AM

Administrators, please don't allow this blog to become one where contributors just post political rants. It seriously cheapens what is otherwise a great blog.

Matt, save it for your Facebook page.

Posted by: Anon | Dec 7, 2010 8:28:26 AM

The point at which our future changed has already passed. Stop, turn around and look back at where the President with the support of the Democratic Party in Congress shoved 'health care reform' through. Because THAT doesn't involve increased government spending.

The fact is that opponents of the Bush and any other tax cuts fail on the question of government budgeting by putting the cart before the horse. The absence of revenues should lead first and foremost to a reduction in spending; because that's what the government forces on one of these families being taxed.

And it boggles the mind that one can conceive of entitlement spending being put on a stronger footing by increasing taxes or that government debt might be reduced by increasing taxes. Last time I checked when a taxpayer is forced to pay back his debts or meet his financial obligations, the FIRST things that happens is that he REDUCES spending, not look for more money to feed his habit.

Posted by: Adam | Dec 7, 2010 2:05:44 AM

"This is an opportunity to call for shared sacrifice"

And by "shared sacrifice," you of course ask only the wealthy to sacrifice. That makes no sense.

If you're going to tax the hell out of the rich, at least acknowledge that they are the ones sacrificing.

Three cheers for Obama for not redistributing our way to an even worse recession.

Posted by: keith olbermann | Dec 7, 2010 1:54:01 AM

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