December 8, 2010 by Skip Belt
The tax deal worked out between the Republican leadership and the Obama administration is being decried by the liberal Democrats in congress as a sellout or cave in to the Republicans who want to give undeserving tax breaks to the very wealthy. All this is true, but what is the alternative?
The alternative we face is Democrats could deny the Republicans their pound of flesh and fight the good fight and gain a symbolic victory on the backs of the middle class and the most vulnerable and the unemployed. This is reality; not just a possibility. Now is the time to get real; not political theater.
The recent votes in the Senate show that the Republicans remain steadfastly opposed to these tax breaks for just the middle class and they along with a significant number of Democratic senators are willing to let all the current tax rates expire for all levels of income as well as the tax breaks for small business and the lower payroll taxes and the tax credits for student tuition, and the extension of unemployment insurance payments. Without 60 votes in the Senate nothing can be accomplished. If we continue this class warfare until next year when the Republicans control the House and have even more power and ultra-conservative agendas in the Senate we will have even smaller options.
If this stalemate continues and the economy fails to improve significantly who will win and who will lose both in the short term and the long term? Most economists think that if the Democrats do not make this deal the general economy might go into the tank or at least grow at a very anemic rate. If economy continues to go south, I would predict that the Democrats would continue to suffer and we could be facing a Republican administration and the loss of both houses of congress in 2012.
The way forward for Democrats who are realists is to make the best deal we can that will help the middle class and has the best chance to grow the economy. As the economy improves the American people will see that the Democrats are seeking solutions not just slogans or symbolism. If we take this issue of continued tax cuts for the rich off the table for a temporary time, and we unite behind our president rather trying to punish or weaken him because he does not seek continued self-destructive stalemate, we will have a chance to address the major issues facing our country and the list is long. In the 2012 elections we will make tax hikes for the rich a major issue as part of needed efforts to reduce the deficit and national debt.
In the new congress we anticipate the Republicans will try to advance a radical agenda in the House and they will continue to obstruct needed policy changes in the Senate. The Democratic Party has the better argument on all issues because it values public policy on what is fair and beneficial to the majority of Americans rather than special interests and the more affluent. This message is hard to hear when America is crawling out of a severe recession and has chronic high unemployment. As the economy improves the political winds will favor the Democrats, and it will be the Republicans turn to be punished in the 2012 elections. This is why we must get real now and do what is most beneficial and possible for America in this polarized political climate.