BY: Anthony L. Hall
I’m on sick leave. I’m getting sicker watching far-left Democrats "Jimmy Carterize" President Obama over the compromise he struck with Republicans to effectively extend Bush-era tax cuts for the rich in exchange for extending unemployment benefits for the poor. They seem even more determined now than far-right Republicans are to see Obama’s presidency fail.
I understand why they are so beside themselves. This was probably the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back when it comes to Obama reneging on campaign promises that far-left Democrats thought they could believe in.
I know and accept that the key to Obama’s appeal as a transformative politician was his pragmatism. In an October 2006 commentary entitled "Run Obama Run," I was also mindful that the bane of his presidency would be left-wing ideologues who would mistake his pragmatism for weakness.
I wasn’t surprised when he began governing just like George W. Bush regarding "war-on-terror" tactics that routinely condemned during the presidential campaign. Given this, it is hardly surprising that Obama is now reneging on his promise to end the Bush tax cuts that have favored millionaires and billionaires. It is the only pragmatic thing to do under the circumstances.
There’s scant evidence to support Republican assertions that these tax cuts will stimulate jobs. (All they stimulated during the Bush administration were huge deficits and high unemployment.) But nothing demonstrates how ignorant, hysterical, and misguided left-wing Democrats’ rage is quite like their fulminating about Obama not fighting hard enough against the Bush tax cuts; i.e., arguing that "he caved."
Obama spent the entire summer and fall decrying these cuts and warning about what dire consequences would befall the country if Republicans had their way. Still, Republicans gave Democrats a "shellacking" in midterm elections. Now they will have their way. That’s democracy.
I’ll quote some of what Obama proffered during last week’s press conference:
"...(O)n the Republican side, this is their holy grail, these tax cuts for the wealthy. This is – seems to be their central economic doctrine...(U)nless we had 60 votes in the Senate at any given time, it would be very hard for us to move this forward…
"...I felt that the middle-class tax cuts were being held hostage to the high-end tax cuts. I think it’s tempting not to negotiate with hostage-takers, unless the hostage gets harmed...the hostage was the American people and I was not willing to see them get harmed...I’m focused on making sure that tens of millions of hardworking Americans are not seeing their paychecks shrink on January 1st just because the folks here in Washington are busy trying to score political points…And in exchange for a temporary extension of the high-income tax breaks – a policy that I opposed but that Republicans are unwilling to budge on – this agreement preserves additional tax cuts for the middle class that I fought for and that Republicans opposed two years ago…
"...This is the public option debate all over again. So I pass a signature piece of legislation where we finally get health care for all Americans, something that Democrats had been fighting for a hundred years, but because there was a provision in there that they didn’t get that would have affected maybe a couple of million people, even though we got health insurance for 30 million people and the potential for lower premiums for 100 million people, that somehow that was a sign of weakness and compromise...(I)n order to get stuff done, we’re going to compromise…
"Take a tally. Look at what I promised during the campaign. There’s not a single thing that I’ve said that I would do that I have not either done or tried to do. And if I haven’t gotten it done yet, I’m still trying to do it…"
Enough said about the substance of this matter. Unfortunately, far-left Democrats seem more interested in Obama’s style in dealings with Republicans than in what substance he derives from those dealings.
"To thine own self be true," Obama. Far-left Democrats will come to their senses soon enough.
Anthony L. Hall is a Bahamian native with an international law practice in Washington, D.C. Read his columns and daily weblog at www.theipinionsjournal.com