It's official, and Obama has bowed to President McConnell and extended ALL of the Bush tax cuts for two years in exchange for an extension of unemployment benefits and a payroll tax cut to encourage hiring.
For a second, put away the outrage. I would like to suggest that the President has something else in mind long-term.
The tax cuts will now expire on December 31, 2012. If the world hasn't ended already, this will give the Obama campaign several strong angles from which to hurl talking points during the election.
- He will have a popular position in wanting to extend tax cuts to the middle class only, and raise taxes on the rich, who have received bailout after bailout and not given back. This will be the polar opposite of the Republican candidates position.
- If the economy is still in shambles, he can say - Look, after a decade of doing it their way, we gave it yet another try and it still failed. It's time to stop listening to these clowns. He can point out, legitimately, that he tried to do it his way and the Republicans blocked him until he did it their way again. He can make an appeal to the people to give him a mandate to throw these idiots to the wolves.
I understand that I am grasping at straws here. This is a huge defeat for this administration and, as one of the Democratic base I am extremely disappointed. As one moderate Democrat told me today, "For the first time I regret my vote for Obama. Not against McCain, but against Hillary."
Before you decide to withhold your vote in 2012, consider the Republican alternative and the ramifications thereof. But do me a favor and drop Hillary a note. Let her know a 2012 primary challenge might scare Obama enough to give him a spine and actually force him to govern like a Democrat the rest of his term.