President should stand his ground
The looming fiscal cliff, the automatic tax restoration and safety-net and defense program cuts that will ensue barring a deal between President Obama and the Republican Tea Party congressional opposition, ought not to come as a surprise to anyone paying attention. Its seeds were sown ten years ago when Congress approved former president George W. Bush’s giveaway tax cut, a blank check to fight two unfunded wars, and deregulated the banking/finance industry.
The remonstrating one hears new from the RTP about eliminating the deficit and paying down the debt is a relatively new-found religious dogma. Prior to that in the 2000 election the debate between Bush and Al Gore centered on what to do with the budget surplus. Bush won the argument and the rest is history.
The uber-wealthy have been on a free ride since, appropriating more and more of the nation’s wealth with no beneficial side effects for the rest of us. The middle and working classes, on the other hand, have languished and for many backslid in the era of Bush tax cuts.
During the campaign, Obama stated that this is a “make or break moment for the middle class.” It still is. Nothing since has changed.
The American electorate, obviously more than the 47 percent Mitt Romney disparaged, resoundingly affirmed Obama’s perspective, handing him a decisive victory.
So in 2012 the American electorate voted to reject the path set for them in 2000.
To date, Obama is sticking to his guns on the issue about the tax level for the uber-wealth needing to return to the level they were during the prosperous Bill Clinton years.
Perhaps he should begin his bargaining position to have them return to the level they were—91 percent—during the happy days of Republican Dwight Eisenhower’s administration. Then, while we might’ve been ducking and covering in anticipation of a nuclear holocaust, at least the economy was humming right along.
Notably, that period also marked the high-water mark of unionization, but I digress.
What it’s coming down to is that we—the American taxpayers—need to pay the piper. Even though the vast majority—98 percent—have not lived high off the hog for the past ten years, in fact for the last 30 since the rise of Reaganomics, we will be forced to ante up to pay for the excesses of those that have because of the need to reach a compromise with the rightwing sycophants who are more concerned about protecting the Romneys of the world’s feathered nests than making sure the far-less fortunate have a fair shake at making a sustainable living.
That stinks, but all is not lost. Obama should immediately propose a massive public works funding proposal to upgrade and overhaul our very much collapsing infrastructure on the scale of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal programs that, ironically built the Red Rocks amphitheater where thousands of the RTP faithful on a pleasant late October evening celebrated a might too early the return to their Promised Land in anticipation of Romney’s election.
My hope is that a new Obama, a thick-skinned Obama sans rose-colored glasses no longer crooning kumbaya tunes to his RTP adversaries has emerged and is taking control. This is no time for 50-50 compromise. Appeasement never works, and the RTP in its newest incarnation has no inclination to move to sanity despite a few noted defections among its ranks, such as Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) and Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA).
The ideologues and cranks are still in charge, so the president needs to say, “Here’s the deal: We return to the Clinton-era tax rates for those making more than $250,000, cut defense spending surgically, make needed changes to make Medicare and Medicaid solvent, reform the tax code so the Cayman Island expatriates pay their fair share along with corporations who profit by sending American jobs to China and other slave-labor lands, AND invest a trillion dollars–$1,000,000,000,000—in public works/infrastructure rebuilding OR we hold hands and take that leap off the fiscal cliff.”
That might be his starting position in terms of specifics, but in terms of willingness to go where most every economist seems to be saying would cause major economic disruption, Obama needs to call the congressional RTP’s bluff. That’s the mandate he received on November 6th.