I am stunned to learn that Congressional Democrats have decided not to hold a vote before the elections on extending the tax cuts that are due to expire at the end of this year.
Let me see if I've got this straight: the Democrats in Congress are deciding not to vote to extend tax cuts for every single American voter (on annual income up to $250,000), which polls show is a broadly popular move, because they are scared that Republicans will call them names for failing to give additional tax cuts for the 2% at the very top on whatever income they make above $250,000??
That is utterly idiotic. As Chris Hayes of The Nation just said to Keith Olbermann on Countdown, this is one of those rare opportunities when what is good policy (it's the right thing to do) lines up with what is good politics (it's popular) and they both overlap with what the party stands for (ordinary citizens vs. the wealthy). It's a rare political trifecta for the Dems! As Keith O. said, this sort of thing comes along maybe once every forty years or so. The last one may have been Medicare in the early 1960's, and that has been deeply popular ever since.
If the Dems won the vote they would have done a very popular thing right before an election, over Republican opposition. In politics, that is known as a "good thing."
And even if they lost the vote, they would have established the principle that they tried to give every American a tax cut -- and that the Republicans blocked them from doing it!
It would put Republicans clearly on record as favoring the super-wealthy over all of the rest of us.
It would also highlight Republican obstructionism.
And it would highlight Republican hypocrisy over the deficit, as well, since what the Rs propose will add $700 billion directly to the deficit to fund additional tax cuts for the very wealthy (on income over their first $250k) at a time when the Rs oppose nearly everything -- even extended unemployment benefits in the midst of the worst economic crisis in our lifetimes -- with high-pitched shrieks and crocodile tears about the deficit and its effect on our grandchildren. The total cost of the tax cut extensions the Rs propose is nearly $4 trillion: way more than the cost of the stimulus, the bank bailout, the auto bailout, and health care reform combined.
And John Boehner had already let the cat out of the bag: the Rs were nervous as hell and ready to cave, if the Dems would just push the issue.
Democratic staffers may say that they needn't hold a vote because they have already "established the message," but they are either spinning or deluded. Almost no voters pay attention to what politicians and their aides spout off in D.C. about politics, and those few voters who do follow the daily partisan tug-of-war don't put much stock in it. Voters only pay attention to what politicians do, not what they say. Holding a vote would have gotten articles on the front page of every newspaper and at the top of every newscast in the country with the headlines: "Dems fight for middle-class tax cut extensions, GOP manuvers to protect the rich."
I wonder how much of this is simple Democratic spinelessness and incompetence and unreasoning fear of even saying the word "taxes," and how much is actually cynical spinning and butt-covering while acting to protect the interests of rich and well-connected members and their staffers and lobbyist buddies.
In either case, I find it deeply disappointing.
We've already got one party that looks out for the interests of the rich at the expense of all of the rest of us: the GOP.
Why bother having a second?
Man, I hope that the Congressional Democrats reconsider this decision.