Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

President Obama takes the ‘Bush tax cuts’ and makes them his own

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The Bush tax cuts are dead. Long live the Obama tax cuts?

Even if the Obama tax cuts are retroactive, the millisecond(s) in between mean that the deficit-running, economy-collapsing Bush tax cuts are finally done and gone. And they are replaced by the deficit-running, economy-collapsing Obama tax cuts.

When Sen. Barack Obama ran for president in 2008, he ran against the Bush tax cuts. Sen. Obama had a convenient record in that he wasn’t in the Senate when the tax cuts came down. Obama ran against the tax cuts, even before the economic collapse in September.

Obama was elected with a Democratic-controlled House and Senate, though the Senate was bogged down by the insistence that bills needed 60 votes. Yet, the Bush tax cuts remained. The Obama team extended the tax cuts when they were set to expire.

In running for re-election in 2012, Obama set a threshold of keeping said tax cuts for the “middle class,” putting that at $200,000 (single filers) and $250,000 (joint filers). Even if you believed in extending some of the tax cuts, those figures were significantly higher than were necessary to protect the middle class.

In December 2012, after winning a convincing electoral victory, President Obama negotiated with himself to set a more ridiculous level of $400,000 (single filers) and $450,000 (joint filers).

So as we go into the second term of Barack Obama as president, the tax cuts will live on at least two more years if not more for 99% of the country.

And how are we getting that prosperity back?

Obama’s opponents aren’t just trying to make him look bad. They don’t want job growth; they want the legacy of Barack Obama to be ineffectual economic leader. They want to compare him to Jimmy Carter. And Obama is helping them every chance he gets.

The middle class that Obama and the Dems were trying to protect got hit with a “tax hike” in that the payroll tax cut expired. While that should disappear at some point, the cruel irony is that once you reach about $109,000, you don’t pay any more into Social Security and Medicare.

Obama should have set the threshold of the tax cuts with the payroll tax cut. Either raise the level where people contribute to Social Security and Medicare or lower the level for the new Obama tax cuts.

Obama “protecting the middle class” at $200,000 was far-fetched given that in the words of Barack Obama in May 2008, 94% of Americans make under $100,000 a year. This was before the economic crash. $400,000 is even more incredible.

Obama had the momentum on his side, and he gave away part of the store. He could have waited for a better Congress with fewer teabaggers and more Dem senators — and had a much better deal. If compromise was that important, then start low. Obama never said, “Hey let’s get rid of the Bush tax cuts entirely.”

What is it about Democratic presidents and their insatiable desire to compromise with Republicans? Those on the left grew frustrated in watching Bill Clinton would take Republican ideas and use them as his own. Obama has taken a page or two from Clinton.

When Dems wanted single-payer, Obama brought out Obamacare. When Dems wanted no Bush tax cuts, Obama kept them and has now made them his own.

The best way to help the debt is to raise tax revenues from the people who did well in the last four years and the eight years before that. The threshold of $400,000 and $450,000 fails that mission. Even if somehow the Dems get back the House in 2014 and keep the Senate, President Obama isn’t eager to get these rates back to the Clinton era, the talking point Obama pounded into our heads during the campaign.

If those rates were so great, and they were, Obama wanting an exception for approximately 96% of the country never made any sense.

President Obama has proven to be a strong leader in many cases and has shown puzzling leadership on economic issues. He almost lost the election in 2012 because of the economy. Obama’s response was to blame Bush, which was true to a point. But President Obama took one of Bush’s signature moves and made it permanent. That is failed leadership and sells short his base and those who are suffering as a result of the failed economic policies.

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