Among the absurdities unleashed at the President’s press conference earlier this week was a pledge that no one took seriously, and for good reason. While attempting to explain why he was surrendering to the “hostage takers” of the GOP, Barack Obama said that he hadn’t given up the fight. Obama promised that when the tax rates deal expired in two years, then he’d really fight for his position. No, seriously:
And I understand the desire for a fight. I’m sympathetic to that. I’m as opposed to the high-end tax cuts today as I’ve been for years. In the long run, we simply can’t afford them. And when they expire in two years, I will fight to end them, just as I suspect the Republican Party may fight to end the middle-class tax cuts that I’ve championed and that they’ve opposed.
There are a multitude of problems in this paragraph from Obama’s opening statement. First, if Obama’s referring to the middle-class tax rates that got extended in this deal, then he’s lying through his teeth; the GOP has never proposed raising them. They just refused to decouple those from the other tax rates, and wisely, as it turns out, because otherwise the Democrats would have cheerfully hiked taxes on the very people who need to invest to grow the economy. If Obama’s talking about his Make Work Pay tax credit, the deal actually did end that, replaced by the two-percent “holiday” from FICA. Is Obama going to demand the reinstatement of the MWP at the end of the holiday? If so, when did the GOP oppose it?
But the silliest notion is that Obama is somehow going to fight two years from now the battle he conceded this week. The GOP now has the next election positioned as a fight over tax hikes, and if the administration’s own predictions for economic growth are borne out, Obama and the Democrats will be in an even weaker position than they were in 2010. They have to defend 23 of the 33 seats in the Senate up for the next election, and will almost certainly lose the majority in the upper chamber. Even assuming Obama wins another term, how exactly will he fight to hike those rates with his party in the minority in both chambers of Congress when he couldn’t fight for it while still having the Senate — and technically the House as well during the time this deal will pass?
Theodore Roosevelt once said the key to power was to speak softly and carry a big stick. Obama’s talking trash while toting a broken stick, and it’s not impressive.
Note: Yesterday I meant to hat-tip my old friend Stephen Macklin, but forgot.
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Illustrations by Chris Muir of Day by Day. Be sure to read the adventures of Sam, Zed, Damon, and Jan every day!