Guest Post by John Cecil
It’s pretty apparent that many liberals – myself included – are disgusted with yet another capitulation on the part of the Obama administration and congressional Democratic leaders on the so-called Bush tax cuts.
To have extended the cuts for the wealthiest Americans yet again is untenable, unsustainable and unconscionable. Once again, the Republicans held hostage an issue – the extension of jobless benefits – that traditional Democrats hold dear. An issue, mind you, that would have cost a pittance when compared to the unaffordable lowered tax rates for the wealthy. (Estimates indicate that lower tax rates on the wealthy will cost the Treasury at least $700 billion over ten years). Whether or not the Democrats got what they wanted from this compromise is immaterial to me: the Republicans got what they most hold dear AND they win the battle of wills once again. The lame duck Congress will almost certainly see whatever they “accomplish” get repealed in short order – or at least neutered – so the fact that they would not stand on principle and fight is more than disappointing: it’s devastating.
The Obama era is eerily reminiscent of the early Clinton years thus far. It began as a promise to repudiate the Reagan era and soon degenerated into constant attacks on progressivism by Reagan’s ideological heirs, Big Business, and social conservatives. (These attacks were so successful, Clinton wisely triangulated on the center, trying to form a coalition in Congress with which he could govern.) Whether or not one personally judges Clinton’s presidency as a success, one cannot deny that there was an overall failure to reverse the so-called Reagan Revolution. The election of 2008 appeared to be the beginning of the end of Reaganism; it certainly looked like the American electorate had awakened from their nearly thirty-year slumber, but the forces of evil – talk radio, Fox News, Sarah Palin – all backed by tremendous amounts of money but zero intellectual heft – have returned with a vengeance to divide us, bit by bit, and pull the wool over the eyes of the average American, motivating them to vote against their own interests as well as the best interests of the nation, and scaring the hell out of those few good legislators that might remain in Washington.
I would say that Democrats have had a number of significant successes – the Health Care bill (flawed as it is), Wall Street Reform, the withdrawal from Iraq, and the auto manufacturers’ bailout are some. Nevertheless, the cowardly Senate and the eagerness Democrats – especially the President – displayed trying to work with Republicans (who intended to use a scorched-earth policy to impede all legislative progress) caused even these successes to be diluted by failure: failure to include the public option, failure to improve our crumbling infrastructure, failure to identify and prosecute those most responsible for the crash of ’08, failure to enact immigration reform and mostly, failure to stem the tide of jobs leaving these shores. All in all, a wasted majority.
Any party that is forced to caucus with Joe Lieberman is doomed to fail. Why have we had to compromise our values so frequently when the other side will not? Compromise, to them, is passing a needed bill only if everything they want is passed along with it as an amendment.
To hell with the right. To hell with compromise.