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Thursday, December 02, 2010

Victory in House on Middle Class Tax Cuts Already Being Undermined by Obama

The US House voted to extend only the Bush middle class tax cuts by a margin of 234-188, with three Republicans voting for the measure (John Duncan-TN, Walter Jones-NC, Ron Paul-TX), 20 so-called Democrats voting in tandem with the supporters of millionaires and billionaires (see below) and 12 not voting at all. All three of New Mexico's congressmen -- Rep. Martin Heinrich (NM-01), Rep. Harry Teague (NM-02) Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (NM-03) -- voted yes. We salute you!

In essence, those voting no on the bill support raising taxes on 95% of Americans at a time when so many ordinary Americans are suffering in an economic climate that continues to favor Wall Street, the investor class, corporate executives and almost nobody else. If I were the President, I'd be on TV, on the radio and in the newspapers as much as humanly possible, reading off the names of Republicans who voted to raise taxes on the middle class and shaming GOP Senators who are planning to do the same or outright stymie any chance for a vote.

There will be no vote on the House side to extend the Bush tax cuts for the top income bracket. Well done. Remember, pundits galore were predicting that Speaker Nancy Pelosi would never be able to get a stand-alone bill to continue middle class tax cuts passed. They're probably crying into their Blackberry keypads right now.

White House Signals Capitulation
Unfortunately, however, the first message out of the White House was that they have already thrown in the towel on using the President's bully pulpit to get the American people motivated and active in pushing the Republicans into passing the bill on the Senate side. Instead, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs issued the statement below, indicating to the world that Obama and the Dems won't dare make a fuss in the Senate. At the very least, you'd think Obama would be champing at the bit to force Republicans to stand up to an onslaught of deserved criticism from Dems, and from Americans stirred by strong rhetoric of the kind that has been so lacking from the White House during perilous economic times. Nope:

The President continues to believe that extending middle class tax cuts is the most important thing we can do for our economy right now and he applauds the House for passing a permanent extension.  But, because Republicans have made it clear that they won’t pass a middle class extension without also extending tax cuts for the wealthy, the President has asked Director Lew and Secretary Geithner to work with Congress to find a way forward. Those discussions started just yesterday and are continuing this afternoon.  The talks are ongoing and productive, but any reports that we are near a deal in the tax cuts negotiations are inaccurate and premature.

As Jed Lewiston said in a Daily Kos diary, where he deemed Gibbs' statement a "buzzkill" (I concur):

Gibbs might as well have just said it in clearer language: "Hostage-taking works. And we can't do anything about it. Sorry for all the raised expectations."

Senate Plans
On a somewhat brighter note, TPMDC is reporting that a Democratic Senate aide indicated that Senate Democrats are planning to force a vote on the House bill just passed, as well as on a second package to let the Bush tax cuts expire above a new, $1 million tax bracket. According to TPMDC:

The move is a sign of the leadership's frustration -- though both packages will likely be filibustered by Republicans, Dems are loath to simply wait for negotiations with Republicans and the White House to end on terms they suspect will be much more favorable to the GOP than to their own party.

Pathetic, isn't it? Even our leaders in the Senate are more ready to fight for what's right than our President, who seems content to stand in the background, ignore the valuable tool of the bully pulpit and give over power to -- of all people -- Treasury Secretary Tim Geitner. Geitner, budget director Jack Lew and a "bipartisan" group of hand-picked lawmakers have been tapped by Obama to "negotiate" to find "common ground" on the matter of preserving tax cuts for those who have gotten even richer than before thanks to Bush administration policies. The others are Rep. David Camp (R-MI), Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ). I guess Obama believes this bunch should get to make the deal and to hell with the rest of our members of Congress. Not a progressive among them.

Democrats (I use the term loosely) who voted no on today's bill. I presume they believe that taxes on working people need to be hiked:

Baird (D-WA)
Boren (D-OK)
Davis (D-AL)
Dahlkemper (D-PA)
Doggett (D-TX)
Herseth Sandlin (D-SD)
Klein (D-FL)
Matheson (D-UT)
McIntyre (D-NC)
McMahon (D-NY)
McNerney (D-CA)
Minnick (D-ID)
Moore (D-WI)
Moran (D-VA)
Peterson (D-MN)
Pomeroy (D-ND)
Scott (D-VA)
Taylor (D-MS)
Thompson (D-CA)
Visclosky (D-IN)

December 2, 2010 at 04:36 PM in Economy, Populism, NM Congressional Delegation, Obama Administration, Republican Party, Right Wing, Taxes | Permalink


Well maybe it is a case of self-preservation. If they go after the billionaires and millionaires they (the senate and the President) can kiss any donations good-bye for their upcoming elections. We are owned be big business. Our legislators are owned by big business. See Michael Moore's movie" Corporate America: A love Story" Someone, and I don't know who needs to talk to Obama. We, the people are being sold out everyday.

Posted by: Stephanie DuBois | Dec 3, 2010 8:49:42 AM

Of the 20 Democrats that voted with the Republicans, nine were defeated in November.

As to progressive representation, isn't it amazing that the co-chairs of the deficit commission are very conservative Simpson and moderately conservative Bowles. It's like Obama decides to always start negotiations far to the right of the country's actual dynamics.

Posted by: Jim Hannan | Dec 3, 2010 8:53:50 AM

Obama may think he'll preserve his presidency in 2012 with this complete surrender to the right wing but I believe he just sealed the deal for a Republican president and even more D losses in Congress. We did not elect him to fall down and kiss the feet of conservatives whenever a Democratic issue comes up. His statement after the House vote is a slap in the face to the Democrats who passed it and a big love hug to Republicans.

He is making the real deal behind closed doors with Geithner heading up Obama's Wall Street team that he loves so much and laughing at D members of the House. He's shown once and for all that he's not OUR president but the president of the corporations and rich people. He has done the same secret back room dealing on everything from the health "reform" bill to the stimulus. He is a traitor to our cause not our leader.

Posted by: PROGRESSIVE Democrat | Dec 3, 2010 10:50:17 AM

Needed: Either a primary challenge or a third party or both.

Posted by: Old Dem | Dec 3, 2010 12:57:42 PM

It’s not just the taxes, it’s also the regulatory burdens. Do away with them and taxes become a moot point, for the simple fact they become unnecessary. What percentage of our taxes goes to fund these bureaucratic enforcement agencies? They need to all be trimmed, in some cases dropped all together. Any regulation worth having can better be done by the states with a minimum of federal oversight.

Posted by: Freddie | Dec 4, 2010 10:38:48 PM

Freddie needs his head examined if he believes the problems we face are due to regulation. Like what? The banking and financial interests have almost toppled the economies of nations around the world because they were deregulated.

Posted by: Sean | Dec 5, 2010 10:48:59 AM