I was quite enthusiastic about voting for Barack Obama in 2008. Yet he continuously disappoints the liberal base of his party (and me) by being consistently unwilling to fight for what the folks who put him into office thought his core principles were. The health insurance reform bill was a model of compromise that won’t really effect any dramatic savings for most Americans. And now with the Bush tax cuts, Obama’s up to his old tricks again. As New York’s Anthony Weiner pointed out, this president seems to define the term “compromise” as “give the other side everything they want before they ask for it and hope they’ll throw you a bone.”
He announced a deal with the GOP to provide not only an extension of the Bush tax cuts for families making over $250,000 but also a cut in the estate tax from 45% to 35% and a threshold increase from $1,000,000 to $5,000,000. What did “we” get? A 13-month extension of unemployment benefits for the chronically-unemployed. A lot of Democratic lawmakers are unhappy with Obama, who has gone on the offensive, holding a press conference to cajole and berate members of his party into voting for this absurd compromise. I know Obama surely has some kind of political spine but he’s really been acting like an invertebrate since he actually got elected. He allows the GOP to control the dialogue coming out of Washington, to piss and moan about how horrible it is that we’re in a deficit and we must “rein in” government spending; all the while, they’re also bitching about not getting tax breaks for the Americans who need them the least and they’re still trying to sell us that perennial conservative Brooklyn Bridge of supply-side economics.
I don’t always agree with Bill Press, but he’s right about this: Obama is once again taking the wrong political tack. He should stand up for his principles for once and call the Republicans on their bullshit. Let them vote against tax cuts for middle-class Americans and extension of unemployment benefits for people unable to find a job in this crap economy, all for the sake of their corporate masters. And call them out on national television. Give a speech from the Oval Office in prime time–one of the perks of being POTUS is you can get the press to broadcast whatever you want to say–and name names. The GOP ran roughshod over the Democrats and Obama in the last election cycle in part because he refuses to “play politics”; well, they’re not going to take the high road now or in the future, so I think’s about damn time he rolls up his sleeves and gets dirty with the rest of them. Let the bastards justify their policies to the American people, and when their true colors are revealed, maybe we can start getting this country back on track.