I’m used to fighting and arguing with right-wingers and Republican, and I have no problem with that it because its’ really not that difficult. But I spent much of yesterday arguing with fellow Democrats over President Obama’s decision to strike a compromise with Republicans on a temporary two-year extension of all the Bush-era tax cuts, including the bailout for millionaires, in exchange for a 13-month extension of unemployment insurance benefits and a one-year payroll tax reduction for all workers.
It’s a given that Democrats have a big tent with room for lots of opinions and viewpoints, so we will never agree on everything. We’re not Republicans that march in lock step. But I agree with the President on one major point: that compromise is not a bad thing.
In a news conference at the White House yesterday, Obama defended the deal, and he made the point that this country and the greatest form of government was formed from reasoned debate and a compromise. Like liberals, I would love for the president to stand up to the Republicans and their decision to fight for the richest 2 percent that already controls almost 24 percent of income in this country, but people elected the President to accomplish things and make progress, not to engage in useless political fights.
“But I'm not willing to let working families across this country become collateral damage for political warfare here in Washington,” the President said. “And I'm not willing to let our economy slip backwards just as we're pulling ourselves out of this devastating recession.”
I understand that the American people are on our side on the issues, and that they support letting the tax cuts expire for the top earners and keeping the middle class tax cuts. But, there was too much at stake for Obama not to make the deal, including millions losing their unemployment insurance that are keeping a roof over their heads at a time when the unemployment rate is near 10 percent.
I would much rather see the rich get the tax cuts for just two more years instead of getting nothing. We could have the fight and see the unemployed lose their lifeline and see the middle class get a tax hike that will stall the climb out of the Bush recession, or we get something that keeps the economy recovering, yet it increases the budget deficit. So much for the crap about Republicans being deficit hawks and caring about the deficit.
I have heard the argument that we have the majority, so we should pass what we want. The fact is Republicans will just filibuster it, and they have used that rule more than any Senate in U.S. history.
The president was sent to the White House to govern, and he has done that. He has accomplished 80 percent of what he said he would accomplish in just two short years, but many Democrats are not satisfied. Granted, some of the things are not as strong or as sweeping as we would like, like health care insurance reform, but it’s a start.
There is nothing wrong with reasoned debate leading to a workable compromise, and when things are proven to work, we expand and improve them over time. A perfect example is Social Security. It was originally intended just for widows and orphans, but it has turned out to be one of the most popular and successful government programs ever.
This is in sharp contrast to Republicans way of governing. They have said no to everything in an attempt to defeat the President, and they could care less the harm it has done or will do to the country or the economy.
That strategy worked in the last election, and the fact is people didn’t necessarily vote for Republicans in the past election, they just didn’t vote for Democrats and stayed home. They plan to continue that strategy for at least the next two years.
They are trying to run the clock out in lame duck and make sure nothing gets done. They want to make sure the President gets nothing done or accomplishes anything. They don’t care if it means a Middle East terrorist gets his hands on a loose nuclear weapon from the former Soviet Union by sitting on the START treaty on strategic offensive arms.
They are also dragging their feet on repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell” even though 70 percent of the American people support killing it, 70 percent of the military rank and file support killing it and the military leadership supports killing it. Why? Because if it doesn’t get done, they can blame Obama, and he will lose his liberal base.
We already know many Democrats don’t like the tax deal, and they plan to fight it. But it appears that even some Republicans don’t like it, even though their base, the richest 2 percent, got more money to offshore, but because it will give Obama something.
U.S. Rep. Vern Ehlers, R-Grand Rapids, told the Grand Rapids Press that “he expects some in his own Republican caucus to oppose the deal because it would allow the Democrats to claim an accomplishment in lame duck.”
That bears repeating: “Because it would allow the Democrats to claim an accomplishment in lame duck.”