Sunday, September 26, 2010

Robert Reich: "Democrats Punt" By Delaying Vote On Bush Tax Cuts For Wealthy

According to an August 27-30 USA Today/Gallup Poll, the majority of Americans favor letting the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy expire. Democrats had the opportunity to stand against what the majority of citizens are also against. Had the Republicans filibustered, Democrats could have stated that the GOP is holding up the extension of middle class tax cuts for the sake of the rich. Leave it to the Democrats, though, to blow this potential campaign issue with their usual excessive caution:

Senate Democrats said Thursday that they would postpone a highly contentious floor fight over what to do about the expiring Bush-era tax cuts until after the November elections, a decision that spares some politically vulnerable incumbents from casting a potentially difficult vote to let taxes rise for the rich.

Democrats said they would still fight to end the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans when they return for a lame-duck session. But the delay increases the likelihood of a compromise with Republicans who have insisted that the lower rates continue for everyone, at least temporarily, given the weak economy.

It also raised a political risk for Democrats that they would be seen as wavering on one of President Obama’s signature campaign promises and abandoning a fight that could have mobilized the party’s base ahead of the elections.

Robert Reich (above) has it right in his commentary, "The Super Rich Get Richer, Everyone Else Gets Poorer, and the Democrats Punt":

The super-rich got even wealthier this year, and yet most of them are paying even fewer taxes to support the eduction, job training, and job creation of the rest of us. According to Forbes magazine’s annual survey, just released, the combined net worth of the 400 richest Americans climbed 8% this year, to $1.37 trillion. Wealth rose for 217 members of the list, while 85 saw a decline.

...The rest of America got poorer, of course. The number in poverty rose to a post-war high. The median wage continues to deteriorate. And some 20 million Americans don’t have work.

Only twice before in American history has so much been held by so few, and the gap between them and the great majority been a chasm — the late 1920s, and the era of the robber barons in the 1880s.

And yet the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, which conferred almost all their benefits on the rich, continue.

Democrats have decided to delay voting on whether to extend them for the top 2 percent of Americans or for the bottom 98 percent until after the mid-term elections.

Democrats have thereby given up a defining issue that could have enabled them to show the big story of the last three decades — the accumulation of almost all the gain from economic growth at the top — and to make a start at reversing it.

When will they ever learn?

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