Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Tax Cuts and Obama

I think we are seeing the beginning of a pattern we first saw during the health care debate. The president floated a health care plan that would not completely satisfy the liberal base to see how they and the public at large would react. Progressive Democrats, to the surprise of a very few, complained, because the president did not include a public option within the health care package. They in turn, pressured the House into including a public option. Eventually, however, the Democrats in the senate buckled and the president, who did not make a serious pitch to the public via an address from the oval office, did nothing to to stop them from buckling.

We are seeing this process repeated in the debate about the possible extension of the Bush's expensive tax cuts with the senate and the president switching their roles. Senators who were elected in right of center to right-leaning states are saying the tax cuts enacted by the previous administration should be extended (at least temporarily) in their entirety. Those earning $250,000 a year or more would have their tax cuts extended as well. (I believe this concern for those living in McMansions is unwarranted, particularly when many working and middle class Americans are struggling to make their mortgage payments or finding work in a weak job climate.)

The president to date has not backed down (at least publicly) from the stance he took when he was running for the White House: we should let the tax cuts expire for those earning less than $250,000 a year while extending the tax cuts for those earning less. But unless the president forcefully defends this position and provide them with another, far more efficient means to grow our economy, the senate Democrats from these conservative states will get their wish.

Yesterday the president told us we are transitioning ourselves out of Iraq. We must, he says, move on. With all due respect to the president, we have moved on, so much so that he and more specifically his party in Congress is paying for it. As a whole, the American public is no longer paying attention to the events happening in Afghanistan and Iraq. It is far more concerned about his plans to jump start the economy, something which he has been conspicuously silent about as of late. We need to hear this president make the case for Keynesian economics. The private sector does not have the will to spend our way out of this recession so the public sector has to do it for them and for us.

The president has a unique opportunity. Our nation's infrastructure is crumbling. Roads, bridges, schools, and tunnels across the United States are in need of repair. High speed rail could provide commuters trapped in bottlenecks on the interstates and state highways with some relief. and this construction might spur new growth in the manufacturing sector as the demand for the parts needed to replace broken down bridges, schools and tunnels grows.

He should take it and make his case to the American public now, before the Democrats vote for a bill that squanders this country's future away for those who have little to fear.

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