agreement between President Obama and the Republicans is the extension of the Bush tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans, an issue that brought out the worst in both political parties. Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri (left), pointed out that the Republicans have exposed themselves as full of pretense about cutting the deficit while fighting for an extension that will add billions to the national debt:
McCaskill called the Republican rhetoric of reducing the deficit “a joke,” given that they favor extending the tax cuts for upper-income Americans.
“I’m trying to figure out how anyone can keep a straight face and say they are for deficit reduction when they insist on a permanent tax cut for the wealthiest Americans, completely unpaid for,” McCaskill said. “If they think it is OK to raise taxes for the embattled middle class because they are going to pout if we don’t give more money to millionaires, it really is time for the people of America to take up pitchforks.”
It's refreshing to hear McCaskill speak so directly, unlike the rest of her party, including the president. After dithering for months about the tax cuts, the Democrats responded with timidity following the November elections–dithering and timidity being all too characteristic. How is it that the Republicans didn't show the same lack of confidence after their 2006 mid-term and 2008 presidential losses? The GOP stuck together and pursued their destructive policies. Contrast that with the Democrats:
With the economy teetering, Democrats had not brought the tax issue to the top of the legislative agenda. And by this fall, when Congressional leaders began contemplating bringing up the issue for votes, many Democrats were wary of being accused by campaign opponents of favoring a tax increase.
Some Democrats supported a temporary extension of the Bush-era tax rates at all levels, and it was quickly clear that Senate Democrats could not generate sufficient votes in favor of Mr. Obama’s plan — so the issue was put off until after the election.
The drubbing Democrats took in the elections, as Republicans won a majority in the House and picked up six seats in the Senate, further undermined the Democrats’ negotiating position. Republicans have since viewed an extension of the lower income tax rates as a foregone conclusion.