December 2nd, 2010

The Day Obama Caves On Bush-Era Tax Cuts Is The Day VDB Goes All In On A Primary

by Philip Baruth

Everyone has a unique tipping point, when it comes to dropping a once-beloved President. Here at VDB, we can see ours in the near-distance, at least a prospective tipping point: the fight over Bush-era tax cuts. And this needn’t be a long post, because the physics of betrayal don’t get any clearer. Or more painful for a former Obama delegate.

Along with every other candidate for President in 2004 and 2008, Barack Obama pledged to eliminate the Bush tax cuts, which serious economists will tell you are one of the largest single causes of the ballooning Federal deficit. The tax cuts didn’t work to stimulate job growth; they served to widen the gap between the very rich and everyone else; and they continue to fly in the face of everything for which the Democratic Party has traditionally stood.

Fortunately, the original tax cut legislation included a sunset provision, so that the tax cuts do not need to be actively eliminated. Rather, they can very easily be allowed to expire, simply by not taking up a bill to extend them.

And fortunately we have a Democratic President who could veto such a bill. Assuming one could make its way through the (still) Democratic House and Senate.

This passive approach to scotching a hated piece of legislation is very familiar to the GOP: they got rid of the ban on assault weapons merely by turning to other business as the clock ran out. No muss, no fuss.

Sure, they were warned by the Democrats and the media that there would be a price to pay for allowing assault weapons back on American streets.

And the GOP yawned, accomplished something they’d vowed for years to accomplish, and moved on, spinning the move aggressively as they went.

Which brings us back to the can’t-lose situation Obama finds himself in currently. No one, anywhere on God’s green earth, can stop those tax cuts from expiring if one man, Barack Obama, insists that they expire. And once they’ve expired, Obama can dictate exactly how much of a substitute tax cut he’d like to see put into place. Limited to income below $250,000, that is, if we’re to believe what the man has said for the past year or so.

That achievement, and the massive deficit reduction that comes with it, is his for the asking.

Not even for the asking. Obama doesn’t even have to ask. The achievement will be his unless he actively moves to reject it, in favor of a stinging loss.

And it looks as though he’s lining up to do precisely that.

If that happens, there will be only one reason: Obama does not personally want to repeal the Bush tax cuts, no matter what he promised again and again, and he has instructed his entire team to enact a months-long kabuki dance to conceal that basic fact.

And you know what? VDB isn’t interested in discerning Obama’s motivations, craven, cowardly or otherwise. Suffice it to say that if those higher-end tax cuts are extended it is a deliberate and pro-active piece of policy that Barack Obama is enacting, an achievement in his Administration’s eyes.

Which is to say that there will be nothing particularly important to distinguish this Administration from the last, on economic policy.

And since economic policy is the order of the day, in this grinding recession, then there will be nothing particularly important to distinguish Obama from George W. Bush on what concerns VDB most.

So to frame it simply enough: if and when those Bush-era tax cuts for income above $250,000 are extended, VDB begins the hunt for a viable primary challenger in 2011.


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  1. on July 31st, 2011 at 8:51 pm

    […] Yes, VDB goes there, in an interview with WAMC: seconding Bernie’s call for a Democratic primary to make Democratic concerns once again relevent to our current Democratic President. You can listen to it here. And here’s a post back from the last hostage negotiation, making amply clear where we were headed, when it looked like the Bush Tax Cuts were about to become official Democratic policy. […]