Monday, December 06, 2010

Tax Cut Compromise: Sell-Out or Shrewd Politics?

President Obama was on the tube a few minutes ago announcing some of the aspects of the bipartisan deal that was struck today with the Republicans in the Senate. At stake was a renewal of unemployment benefits for 2 million Americans whose unemployment insurance was about to run out right at Christmas, and whether the rich and super-rich could continue to take home a few more hundred thousand dollars per year in tax breaks, all financed by loans made to us by the Chinese.

And the result: Bob Cratchit will have a goose and plum pudding for his family again this year, and Tiny Tim gets to hobble on his withered leg for another 13 months, and Ebeneezer Scrooge gets to sock his sovereigns in his mattress for another 2 years.

Charles Dickens had no idea of how bad it could get, did he?

Some say that Barack Obama sold out to the rich. Obama himself says he doesn’t like that part of the deal but had to deal with a congress that was going to hold starvation over the heads of millions of Americans if their rich friends didn’t get their lucre.

Others say that Barack Obama has given Republicans an edge in that should employment pick up in the coming months, Republicans will take credit, saying that it was the tax cuts to the rich that spurred the hiring.

On the other hand, if hiring doesn’t upsurge, Republicans lose the argument, don’t they? Well, they do if the long-term political memory of American voters lasts longer than 6 weeks, which it never does.

Truth to tell, it is my suspicion that the game is rigged. I have often wondered why banks are sitting on a trillion dollars without investing it, stimulating growth and jobs. I have wondered if they have withheld funds intentionally in order to keep growth in employment depressed. I wonder now whether they will open the flood gates now that this deal is struck, giving Republicans a victory whether they deserve it or not.

Still and all, there is a shrewdness to what Obama did, selling out or not. Republicans now do not have a dog in the hunt of the blame game on how Obama’s policies are destroying the economy, unless, of course, they cook up something else. They are also now responsible for the addition of hundreds of billions of dollars to the national debt because of this rich/super-rich tax break.

The main problem is perception. It always is. American political opinion based on long-term memory always works against those with thoughtful arguments and discourse based on the facts. And it is always easily swayed by those who shriek the loudest with their own manufactured facts because they don’t actually rely on long-term memory.

So what was the point of this?

I forgot.

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