The implications of the so-called “fiscal cliff” extend far beyond temporary market fluctuations and fiscal contraction. By securing a favorable deal, President Obama not only secures a deal that economists sanction, he also secures a strong political position for future legislative battles. In his first term, President Obama began most negotiations by making various concessions only to have the Republicans drag legislation further and further to the right, well out of the mainstream of America. It seems that President Obama has learned from his political mistakes, as evidenced by his first proposal which included transferring debt limit responsibilities to the Executive Branch and mild short-term stimulus.
If President Obama signs a deal that extends the Bush tax cuts for the top two percent, it will reinforce the idea that the president can be easily pushed into caving to GOP demands. By remaining steadfast in his dedication to fulfilling this long-running campaign promise, President Obama is forcing the GOP to make a decision. Republicans can allow taxes to go up on all Americans to protect 4 cents on the dollar for two percent of Americans, or they can reasonably extend tax cuts for those making under $250K. Public sentiment is lopsided. A new poll indicates that a mere 27 percent would blame the president if a deal was not reached, whereas more than half would blame Republicans.
At this point, the Republican Party seems more interested in securing its own demise in order to preserve ideological purity than securing its political future by appeasing the public’s desire for compromise. The result of their misplaced priorities has been a public display of division. Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) has urged other Republicans to take Obama’s deal, whereas pro-Republican special interest groups have threatened primary challenges, massive ad buys, among other things. If President Obama is able to achieve something close to his initial proposal, which represents an important balance between revenue and spending, he will have successfully tempered the fringe’s influence on the Republican Party giving him an edge in future negotiations. It will also represent a victory for the American people, who largely support President Obama’s proposal.
The Republican Party ignores the will of the people at their own peril. Ignoring the outcome of a decisive election will likely prove disastrous for a party already dealing with the reality of America’s changing demographics.
Today, I came across an article written by Fred Barnes called “Same Old Obama.” It was one of the featured articles on RealClearPolitics meaning it will likely garner quite a bit of attention. The article claims that President Obama is being partisan by touting tax rate increases for the top two percent of earners. Mr. Barnes attempts to make his point by saying:
The voters, he said, endorsed the idea, in effect giving him a mandate. The majority of voters agreed with me, Obama told reporters. “By the way, more voters agreed with me on this issue than voted for me.”
According to the exit poll, that’s not true. It found that 47 percent of voters prefer to raise taxes only on the wealthy. Obama got 51 percent of the total national vote.
While it is true that President Obama garnered 51 percent of the popular vote, Mr. Barnes is wrong about the exit poll numbers. It should be stated that Mr. Barnes does not source any of his information, but the number he mentioned matches only the CNN exit poll. Exit polling conducted by CNN found three things:
The CNN exit poll did find that 47 percent of Americans believe that tax rates should be increased for the top two percent, but it also found that 13 percent of Americans believe that tax rates should be raised for everyone. In the end, the CNN exit poll found that 60 percent of Americans want taxes to go up on the wealthy, at the very least.
It is quite clear that Republicans, Democrats, and Independents agree that taxes should go up on the top two percent. Mr. Barnes should correct his article to reflect the facts and the will of the American people.
Rachel Maddow had a great segment describing Super Tuesday exit poll results, which showed that increased voter participation among the rich pushed Mitt Romney over the edge. Maddow showed that Romney lost in every other income bracket in Ohio and Michigan.
“I’m not concerned about the very poor,” said Mitt Romney.
What a statement! These polls merely add to the pile of evidence that suggests Mitt Romney is just another rich guy looking out for the rich. If lower and middle class voters feel that Romney does not share their values, they will vote for the other guy. That’s exactly what we are seeing here. The dynamic between the 99% and 1% has never been more stark.
Let’s face it. In the end, this is an election driven by monied interests, and super-secret Super PAC money. It’s merely a playground for a guy like Romney, someone who feels entitled, that the safety net catches all of “our poor,” that “corporations are people,” and that dogs like being strapped to the roof in a kennel.
What’s going on America?
Editorializing would be a waste of time. The videos featured below speak for themselves.
A reactive Romney responds to reporter
A red-faced Romney gets physical with Rick Perry
Romney gets angry at NH town hall meeting
Romney treats Bret Baier like a child in disastrous interview
Romney & Santorum get heated
Romney likes firing people
Corporations are People!
Romney says he wants to “hang” Obama with the Misery Index
Romney campaigns on Muslim caliphate conspiracy
When Bret Baier asked Republican candidates if they would accept a deficit deal with a 10:1 ratio of spending cuts to revenues, every single candidate said they would refuse the offer. At this point, swearing off any and all tax increases, even from eliminating the most damaging and unfair loopholes, is stupid and irresponsible. Is it prudent to believe that every single Republican candidate believes that tax cuts for the wealthy (“job creators”) will create more jobs? I could not help but think that every single candidate looked immature, impractical, and unreasonable standing there with his or her hand in the air.
It’s hard to imagine the current batch of Republican candidates moving from super-conservative to general election mode. One might venture that Republican candidates are vying for the ultra-conservatives in order to win in the primaries; however, they are also generating more and more material for President Obama to use against them. Is it possible for a Republican to get outside of the party talking points for a moment, or are they all the same?
Where are all the moderate Republicans?
In another showdown between Democrats and Republicans, the country is left with a decision that met the political and ideological goals of a minority of individuals, but makes little economic sense. While it is reassuring that Americans were generally disgusted by the behavior of members of Congress, one can only be so hopeful that it was for the right reasons, at least from an economic standpoint. In the end, the debt ceiling-deficit deal does nothing to create jobs or correct the growing infrastructure deficit, and may end up hurting GDP growth and worsening unemployment.
According to John S. Irons at the Economic Policy Institute, the deal will likely reduce GDP by 0.3 percent, and cost the country 323,000 jobs. The EPI article also included GDP and jobs projections for President Obama’s payroll tax holiday, and the extended unemployment insurance package. If the payroll tax holiday and unemployment insurance provisions are not extended, the EPI estimates that GDP could shrink $241 billion (1.5 percent), along with the loss of almost two million jobs.1