Thursday, December 2, 2010

House Democrats pass Middle-class tax cuts while Republicans cry fowl

I wrote in my last post how Republicans in Congress were making a mistake in favoring the extension of the Bush-era tax cuts for the 2 percent of Americans who make over $200,000 ($250,000 for families) instead of extending Unemployment Benefits. Now that Republicans have succeeded in blocking that extension, leaving 2 million Americans this holiday season without those benefits by the end of the year, they are free to again focus on their highest priority: giving more money to the wealthy.

After sitting down with Republican leaders in what was called the 'Slurpee Summit,' President Obama met House Minority Leader, John Boehner, and Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell in agreement that they must work to meet 'common ground.' President Obama addressed the media after the meeting promising to work with the Republicans, conceding that perhaps he hasn't been as forthcoming in efforts to reach out and work with them in the past.
That all sounds nice and consolatory for people at home, but is the President serious? Democrats will likely reach out to Republicans in the spirit of compromise, as they have done, but as for the direction and tone of the Republican party, you can expect business as usual. The Republicans have already proclaimed that they not willing to compromise on anything.

Less then a day after that meeting, where it was agreed that both parties would work together to seek 'common ground,' Republicans have dug in their heels and announced that they will block all legislation in the lame-duck session of Congress including the START Treaty, the Dream Act, and the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

Democratic leaders in the House carried through on their plan to hold a vote Thursday on extending just the Bush-era tax cuts for the middle-class. The measure is mostly a symbolic one; the bill passed the House, but will likely die in the Senate as Democrats do not have the sixty-vote supermajority, but Democrats want it to be on record that they support tax cuts for 98 percent of working Americans, while Republicans loyalty is to the very wealthy.

John Boehner, incoming Speaker of the House, called the Democrats plan for the vote a "chicken crap" political game. Attempting to spin the vote as a sign that Democrats are playing class warfare, Boehner and other Republicans are denying their part in the war on the middle-class. Still, the vote changes nothing. The debate over the extension of the Bush-era tax cuts is far from over. The 2001 tax cuts are set to expire at the end of the year unless Congress acts to extend all or part of them.

The White House is still in negotiations with the Republican leaders who are holding the middle-class tax cuts hostage, and many Democrats are asking themselves whether President Obama intends to abandon his pledge of ending the Bush tax cuts for the rich as a good faith gesture to the Republican party in hopes that Republicans will be more open to working on items in the lame-duck session including extending unemployment benefits.

Does President Obama somehow think he can score political brownie points by working with the party that openly seeks his failure and removal from office? Instead of standing up for his own base and staying committed to his campaign pledges, is the President willing to aid and abet the Republicans in their efforts to destroy the middle-class and hand this country over to millionaires and billionaires in exchange for John Boehner’s and Mitch McConnell’s word that they will be open to compromise in the future?

President Obama, sir, it’s not worth it. Their word is worthless.

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