Monday, December 13, 2010



The richest 1% of taxpayers won a double victory in Washington. Their income tax rates will not increase and their children will inherit more money after they die. At a time when the conventional wisdom attributes Republican electoral gains to public anger about federal deficits and spending, one might wonder how the uber-rich were able to pull off this one-two punch? The answer resides in the White House. Despite campaigning against the Bush tax cuts and promising to repeal them and despite going on 60 Minutes and bemoaning how we cant afford to borrow $700 billion to pay for them, once again President Obama has given away the store in negotiations over whether to allow the tax cuts to expire at the end of the year. In return for getting Republicans to support an additional 13 months of unemployment insurance, Obama abandoned his promise to restore Clinton era tax rates for the rich and caved on the size and scope of the estate tax. At a time when Republicans led a national weeping and gnashing of teeth over the profligate Democrats and their spending and borrowing ways, Obama and Republicans have agreed to borrow to pay for the unemployment insurance extension and acknowledge the tax cut extension will reduce revenue to the treasury by hundreds of billions of dollars thus adding to the national debt. Knowing how Democrats, particularly in the House, would react to such a complete capitulation of principle, Obama didn't even consult them while negotiations were ongoing. Obama now must depend on Republican votes to pass this deal. They rolled him like a cheap cigarette.

Here are a few facts about what Obama has wrought. The richest of the rich, who for 10 years have enjoyed tax rates at their lowest levels since 1970, get at least two more years or largesse. By agreeing to a 2-year extension, Obama guarantees the Republicans can use taxes as an issue in the race in 2012. The super rich also get a deal on the estate tax which will only effect estates over $5 million now, is reduced to 35% and only applies to less than 1/10 of one percent of tax payers. This deal will also add billions to the national debt. At the same time, people who have been on unemployment for than 99 weeks (slightly more than a year and a half) don't get any additional help. The rich get 12 years of tax relief, but if you have been out of work for close to 2 years, you don’t get squat.

Do the rich need the additional income? Have they been particularly hard hit over the past 30 years by class warfare led by socialist Democrats anxious to steal their money? In 1976 the top one percent of American taxpayers took in 9% of the nation's pretax income. In 2007, the figure was over 23.5%. Their pretax income increased 10% every year while the median income for all other Americans declined and the poverty rates increased.

The President said if he didn't agree to this deal, and tax rates increased at the end of the year, the country could lose 1 million jobs. Since the Bush tax cuts were implemented, along with a guarantee of increased job growth as the rich "trickled down" on the rest of us, the US lost more than 10 million jobs and experienced the worst economic upheaval since the Depression. Cutting taxes for the rich didn't create jobs when Reagan did it nor with Bush while adding trillions to the national debt and now the President agrees to continue a ruinous policy for the sake of some bread crumbs from the tables of the rich for people out of work. (But only recently out of work)

Warren Buffett has said, "...there is a class war going on in this country and my class is winning." President Obama has run up the white flag and announced you can’t count on him to try to reverse the trend. The trend is destroying this country. The gap between the rich and the poor is at levels not seen since the Gilded Age. The middle class continues to shrink. The American dream slips away from more and more Americans, a dream where their children perform better and have more security than their parents.

I am totally perplexed by Obama. During the healthcare debate, a majority of Americans consistently supported a public option to compete with health insurance companies. He gave it away for nothing. In exit polls on Nov. 2, 60% of those polled were in favor of letting the tax cuts expire. He capitulates again. Why won’t he fight for what average gum-chewing Americans say they want? What is he afraid of? What does he stand for?

The Wall Street Journal, that bastion of progressive journalism, says this deal will increase the President's popularity with moderate and independent voters. It will show he can get along with Republicans. Of course he can get along if he folds like a house of cards every time they object. The last Democratic president to get along with Republicans supported NAFTA, gutted welfare, de-regulated the TV and radio industries costing over 50,000 jobs and leading to the rise of Hanbaugh and company, repealed Glass-Steagle and set the stage for an economic disaster of global proportions. Is that what you voted for when you voted in 2008? Did you vote for Obama so he could cooperate with Republicans or to reverse years of disastrous policies, tax cuts for the rich, unnecessary wars and naked aggression against the Constitution?

Perhaps its time to think about who should challenge the President in the 2012 primaries. Perhaps its time to admit he is not a progressive. Perhaps its time to look for someone who will represent all of us. Do you have anyone in mind?


  1. Bernie, I'm not happy with President Obama's lack of fight and I'm overall disappointed, but the last time we primaryed a Democratic president, we ended up with President Ronald Reagan (1981-1989) and President George Bush I (1989-1993). 12 years of a Republican White House.

  2. This latest cave-in by Obama and the next to no fight in the Democratic party was the last straw for me.

    I will no longer register as a Democrat and likely will never vote for the party again. Despite having voted for Democrats my entire life.