In addition to the tax cuts for the wealthy, the deal includes an extension of Unemployment Insurance benefits for the long-term unemployed as well as some tax code tweaking that benefits the middle class. However, like the Bush-era tax cuts, those seem to disproportionately benefit the wealthy (i.e. - the adjustments to the estate tax).
While the UI benefits are necessary, and middle and working-class tax relief is welcome, the disproportionate nature of the deal makes it less a "compromise" than an "abject surrender" and should be taken off the table.
Below is the open letter I wrote to the President on the subject. It turns out to be a little too long for the White House's online submission form, so it wasn't submitted to the White House verbatim. However, I will submit a brief comment with a link to this post so they can read the entire thing if they choose to (they won't so choose, but the option will be theirs.)
The letter -
Dear President Obama,
I read with great interest regarding the deal you have struck with the Republicans in Congress over a two-year extension of the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest two percent of Americans.
I understand and laud your desire to ensure continued relief for those unemployed Americans who have seen their Unemployment Insurance benefits expire, especially during the holiday season.
I further understand that a lot of effort went into the negotiations for this compromise.
And I believe that you should take the deal off the table.
Not because I’m opposed to extending UI benefits to those who need them so desperately, but because on many levels the benefit of the deal isn’t worth the price was paid for it.
The deal isn’t paid for. It both increases expenditures and reduces revenues and will necessitate more borrowing from foreign sources in order to sustain the “budget.” It effectively deepens the deficit at a time when most observers, Democratic, Republican, and non-partisan, support bringing the federal government’s fiscal situation under control.
It’s bad short-term politics. As with health care reform, Wall St. regulation reform, and so many other earlier initiatives, the Republicans staked out a position and didn’t “compromise” so much as waited for you and the Democratic leadership in the Congress to water down your positions to the point that your positions were meaningless. There is a difference between “compromise” and “surrender.” Compromise is the settlement of differences by mutual concessions; surrender is what has been going on in D.C.
It’s bad long-term politics. This deal, and the ones the preceded it, have totally dispirited the base of the Democratic Party and alienated Independent voters. In 2010, Democratic candidates all over the country were swamped in a Republican wave, due in no small part to the fact that Independent voters trended toward Republicans and low-efficacy Democrats stayed home. How bad will 2012 be if the malaise spreads to high-efficacy Democrats? In addition, by kicking the can down the road for two years, the Republicans have a ready-made talking point for the 2012 campaign.
If the election were held today, any Republican with a heartbeat would win the White House, not because everyone will vote Republican.
Most voters will just refuse to vote Democratic.
At some point, D.C. Democrats will have to start fighting for the American people. Otherwise, the American people will completely abandon them.
That time should be now. It’s time to stand up for average Americans AND for fiscal responsibility.Hardly my best writing, but that's what happens when I write while pissed off. The sad part is that I'm less pissed off at the Rs for simply doing what Republicans do (yes, they're benefitting from low expectations here) than I am at the Democrats for enabling the Rs.
Take the current deal off of the table. The Republicans will scream about it, but face facts – you could cure cancer, the common cold, and male pattern baldness and they would still find a rationale to criticize you (though the “male pattern baldness” cure might cause a few of them to hesitate).
If the Republicans want the tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% and the reduction of the estate tax on the largest estates, and they do, make them negotiate in good faith and actually “compromise.”
For example, for a one year extension of the tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% and their estates, a similar-length extension of long-term UI benefits would be in order, along with passage of START.
For a two year extension, a similar-length extension of UI benefits, START, passage of the DREAM Act, and repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
And before they get anything, make sure they hold up their end of the deal first. Two years of them demanding concessions on significant legislation and then voting against that watered-down legislation anyway has rendered them totally devoid of credibility.
They could still balk at this. In fact, they probably will – their strategy of obstruction has worked for them for two years, and they have no reason to stop following that strategy.
Until you make it stop working for them.
Mr. President, thank you for your time, and may you and your family have a joyful holiday season.