Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Obama Is Starting To Waffle (Again)
But in the current fight with congressional Republicans, the president is holding the far better hand. He has just won an election, doesn't have to worry about another election, has a much higher favorable than the congressional Republicans, and has the support of a significant majority of Americans for two proposals he campaigned on -- raising the tax rate for those making over $250,000 a year, and not cutting benefits for Social Security or Medicare. In addition, all he had to do to keep those promises is nothing at all. That's because the tax cuts will expire at the end of this month. Then he could submit a new tax cut plan in January which would affect only those making less than $250,000 -- and the Republicans would have to let it pass or risk the ire of most voters.
In other words, there was no way for the president to lose in this current fight. But he seems to have found a way -- a way to break his campaign promises and once again wind up looking like a weak loser in the midst of Republican opposition. Instead of just remaining firm and waiting for the Republicans crumble, he has started to waffle. He has come off his original tax proposal and now is willing to only raise taxes for those making over $400,000 a year (even though this will raise significantly less money).
And even worse that that, he has caved on allowing a cut to the Social Security benefits -- by changing the way cost of living adjustments are made to those benefits. The new proposal would result in a pay raise that does not keep up with inflation, thus reducing the buying power of Social Security recipients more with each passing year. That may not seem like much to the president (and rich congress members), but it is a cut that many of the elderly living on a fixed income just can't afford.
This is a very disappointing move by the president. He will never have a stronger political position than this -- and if he can't play political hardball from a strong position like this, then he will never be able to do so. I guess our only hope is for Senate progressives to block this unnecessary compromise (surrender?).