Bernie Sanders valiantly and prolifically on Friday spoke to the American people and for the American people about a set of values that I firmly vow are my values as well. The Democratic caucus in the house last week stood up for the middle class and the working poor and against continuing to give the wealthy even more money in the form of tax cut extensions. I agree entirely with them on principle, albeit with less profanity.
Yet this week it is also my wish that both houses of Congress pass the tax compromise and get it done before the end of the week.
One of the biggest mistakes that President Obama has made in his first two years as our President was beginning with the assumption that our problems were so severe that both sides of the table would come together and get things done because it is in the best interest of our nation. After all that is what they were sent to Washington to do.
It did not take long for him to realize that this would not be the case. Republicans were far more interested in regaining power than furthering progress within our nation. They were far more interested in votes than jobs. Republicans were far more interested in their wealthy campaign donors than the middle class.
The Republicans would soon discover that they were very good at something. They were good at stopping legislation. They were good at stopping progress. As good as they were at this, they were just as skilled at the art of the con. They beautifully managed to persuade a sizeable percentage of the people that they were for them. The Republican’s would protect them from the great evil of liberal ideology. Working class people and unemployed people would somehow be persuaded that they should vote for the very people who have been trying to destroy Social Security and Medicare for generations. This is the American way they were told. Anyway this is the "real" American way. People were casting votes for politicians whose primary agenda is to destroy their security. Amazing, yet true.
When polling is done on just the issues, we find that the American people agree with the vast majority of Liberal ideas. Two years ago we were wondering if the Republican’s would survive. Two years later we know that the answer is yes. A group of skilled politicians many no sense of morals or honor have skillfully controlled the narrative, the story and the 2010 elections.
Meanwhile few of us left-leaning citizens did little more than shake our heads in disbelief at the coverage of the Tea Party while sitting on the couch. This is not good enough. While Republican’s could say listen to our people, they are angry and upset over what is going on, liberals could say little but, "did you see that story on Rachel last night?"
The loss of independents in the 2010 election had absolutely nothing to do with the policies presented by the current administration. The loss was due to the perception that Washington is still broken. The loss was due to the fact that the process was and is ugly.
The definition of compromise was turned into doing only what both sides agree on. Which quite frankly, is not a hell of a lot? Effective compromise should involve both sides giving up something to get what they want.
Anyone who thinks that stalling this compromise and leaving it subject to months of debate and bickering on the house floor is good for our Country is delusional. How many will suffer? How much would this hurt our economy? Do we really want to find out?
To me the greatest part of this compromise was that it buys us a considerable amount of time. We do not have to turn around in three months and fight for another extension on unemployment benefits. We can concentrate on other things. If we squander the time but do not address infrastructure investments, making Social Security more secure, or bringing our troops home from Iraq, then yes it will be the worse for us.
Moderate Republican’s in Congress have stated that ratification of the New Start Treaty, repeal of DADT and the Dream Act are non-starters until a tax compromise is reached. I for one want to address those issues before the New Year when we will have to deal with a Republican controlled house and a weakened Senate. I fear we are running out of time.
One member of Congress whose compassion, and in most instances, whose judgment I respect immensely is Anthony Weiner. He has recently attempted to malign the President by calling him the Negotiator-in-Chief. He claims that this is not his job. The hell it isn’t.
The President dispatched his people to negotiate with both Democrats and Republican’s to craft a compromise. They got it done in short order. There are parts Democrats do not like and there are parts Republicans do not like. The most impressive part with this was that it got done at all.
Democrats when arguing for a second stimulus in the last few months have stated that the deficit really does not matter unless we get the economy going. Now the Democrats are saying the very same things that Republicans were saying. We cannot afford to pass this debt onto our grandchildren. Meanwhile they are staunchly in favor of other more stimulative programs which also greatly add to our deficit. At least, by all appearances, both sides are being a bit disingenuous.
The environment is different now. The President realizes this. It was not good for the Democrats before when dealing with Republican wannabes Ben Nelson, Joe Lieberman, and Blanche Lincoln. Do you think it will be easier with John Boehner in charge and an empowered Mitch McConnell?
Now we are hearing that Obama is a turncoat. Obama is really a Reagan republican. Obama is a failure. Yet we do not ask why Harry Reid does not pass only the middle class tax extension via the budget reconciliation process. This is the way the original tax cuts were passed under Bush with Vice-President Dick Cheney casting the deciding vote since it was tied at 50-50. He could do this. Yet he does not. We fail to ask why Nancy Pelosi mystifyingly "punted" the vote on tax cuts for the middle class tax extension until the lame duck session
For the next two years we will have to suck it up. Pass legislation we do not like in order to pass legislation we do like. Doing nothing is not an option. Stalemate is not an option. We must allow our President to work with the other side.
We can make the best decisions based upon realities or we can wither on the vine due to our ideologies. We can pat ourselves on the back for sticking to our guns or we can lick our wounds for weakening the economy.
Passing an extension of tax cuts for the rich is a bitter pill to swallow but one that I believe we should.
Whatever we decide we should be very careful. Independents are watching and 2012 is not that far away.