President Obama’s Christmas Victory

Even though the bill contains the obnoxious extension of the Bush tax cuts for the very wealthy, given the choice he faced, the president did the right thing.

[Black Star News Editorial]

The Republicans almost blocked the initial $787 billion stimulus package two years ago; and then blamed President Barack Obama when unemployment climbed to and settled at 9.5%.

“I hope he fails,” as Rush Limbaugh, once put it, of the president. The Republicans had found what they believed to be a winning formula back to The White House. Block everything–then blame the nation’s failures and woes on President Obama.

The Republicans scored major gains in the Midterm elections, winning control of the House of Representatives and additional seats in the Senate.

To what extent were these gains attributable to the policy of “no”? To what extent were the gains explained by the fact that millions of Democratic Party voters just didn’t show up at the polls. This is a pattern that always bedevils the incumbent party during Midterms.

In fact, there were almost the equal amount of fewer voters in the 2010 Midterms –relative to the general election two years earlier– as was the case in the 2006 Midterms when George W. Bush and the Republicans suffered massive losses.

There are signs that some Republican leaders are beginning to see the writing on the wall; that obstructionism can only take you so far.

A recent Wall Street Journal/NBC Poll finds that almost 60% of those surveyed support the tax compromise hammered between The White House and Congress. The poll found that 63% of Democrats support more legislative compromises, going forward, while 47% of Republicans also want to see more compromise. An equal proportion, 47% of Republicans, oppose compromise.

Only 36% of Democrats surveyed believe their party gave up too much; while 20% of Republicans felt the same way about their party. President Obama’s position, standing up to detractors from within his own party such as Rep. Anthony Weiner –who is so brave that he turned and bolted rather than compete against Michael Bloomberg in New York’s mayoral race– has been vindicated.

This afternoon, President Obama signed the $858 billion tax bill into law. Even though the bill contains the obnoxious extension of the Bush tax cuts for the very wealthy, given the choice he faced, the president did the right thing.

The Republicans had held negotiations hostage, refusing to extend unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless. Benefits will now be extended for one and one-half years; checks will arrive in the mail during Christmas. Millions of unemployed would have been left to their own means had the Anthony Weiners of the world been running the show.

Additionally, the payroll tax cuts will put more money into the hands of consumers, and provide a lift to the economy, since consumption accounts for 70% of U.S. economic activity. Businesses also gain from incentives, including immediate 100% writeoffs for depreciation, including for equipment.

It’s a sad state of affairs when stimulus money can only be introduced in a roundabout way.

Ironically, the extreme elements in the Republican party oppose the tax bill because they believe economic recovery would actually boost Obama’s re-election prospects. Then there are those such as Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin, both presumptive presidential candidates, who think it goes against their party’s mantra of fiscal restraint. This is something hard to fathom given the spending binge under President Bush, which caused the record deficits.

Sober Republicans –and it’s not clear whether these outnumber the extremists– will realize that they have to work with The White House over the next two years even as some of them start positioning for the 2012 presidential race. At the end of the day, the election will be decided by the so-called independents; this group will be turned off by the Republicans’ obstructionism. What’s more, each party’s base will show up in 2012, meaning the Republicans would not win by default as they did during the Midterms.

There are serious issues that need to be tackled, including immigration reform. With the passage of the tax bill President Obama has proven that he can lead, even when the choices are very unpopular. He has put to the rest the canard that he is not “tough enough.”

“Speaking Truth To Empower.”

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