Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Strange Juxtaposition: Senate Passes $858B Tax 'Compromise', Government Shutdown Looms

How's that for a pregnant metaphor of everything perceived to be wrong with Washington?

There's an omnibus appropriations bill coming up, which would keep the government running for another year. If it isn't passed by Saturday, GOP Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, their side's chief negotiator of the $858B tax 'compromise' deal warned the government runs out of money this Saturday. Naturally, the 'compromising' Republicans rejected both the Democratic omnibus bill and a House continuing resolution; they want their CR passed — or else.

Senate Republicans are in a box, having passed a measure against earmarks, under pressure from the Teabaggers. Now they must defend their own earmarks and posture against the Democratic bill.

Meanwhile, back in the House the shifting sands of opposition are blowing the Republicans' way; if the rumors of Teabagger opposition are to be believed. Now that they've lost their Koch brothers and Chamber of Commerce funding, their deafening silence may actually signal the withering on the vine that typically fates faux astro-turf groups whose usefulness to their corporate masters is expended.

Republicans want President Obama to own these tax cuts so they can blame him for any veto pushbacks on  making permanent the tax cuts for the rich and the temporary Social Security-raiding payroll tax cut (a clear and present danger to Social Security). It's a cynical political calculation; but if it's worked before, what's to say it won't again. The President has made noises that he'll stand fast against Republicans on these issues, but we haven't seen it yet. Hope is a four-letter word, too.

American history professor Joseph A. Palermo articulates the view progressives take on this very political craven tax 'compromise':
"Bush's tax trap set nearly a decade ago sprung right on schedule to ensnare a Democratic president. It's slightly ironic that a President who big corporations have targeted with hundreds of millions of dollars to destroy would turn around and give them and their CEOs everything they ever wanted. Stuffing more cash into the already bulging pockets of billionaires and millionaires, after a 30-year period that has created Gilded Age levels of inequality, is unwise public policy sure to come back to bite Obama later. Yet he skips happily into the mouth of the wolf.

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