Although the President has been roundly and loudly criticized by the Progressive left for agreeing to a two-year extension of tax cuts for the Å±ber-rich, this was probably the best deal he could have gotten under the circumstances.
In fact, the deal may be better than even he realized at the time because, in the deal-making process, he forced Republicans to reveal their real priorities, to show their true colors.
And those colors are not red, white, and blue.
They're all shades of green.
Since Barack Obama's inauguration, Republicans have harped without surcease on the expanding budget deficit and the burgeoning national debt.
Of course, those same Republicans wanted tax cuts too, without ever specifying how both ends could be achieved. In that, they were like a lot of American families who also can't figure out how to live on less or no income and still pay off their debts.
But Republicans were never really interested in trimming budget deficits or in reducing the national debt. We have known that all along. If they had been, they never would have agreed to eight years of Bush-sponsored budget deficits, two unfunded wars, multiple tax rate reductions, several tax rebates, Medicare Part D, the bank bailout, and more.
No, the Republicans' real interest was never the deficit or the debt. They said they wanted tax cuts for the rich so as to avoid over-taxing the "job creators." In truth, they wanted to make their rich friends richer, the public interest be damned.
Why? Because those same rich, now unencumbered by restrictions on corporate campaign funding, underwrite the Republicans' political campaigns. And, as they say in the south, "Ya gotta dance with the guy what brung ya."
And what were the Republicans willing to give up to gain a two-year extension of the Bush tax cuts for the rich?
They were willing to give up tax cuts for everyone making less than $250,000 a year; a 13-month extension of unemployment benefits; a 2% cut in the payroll tax for a year; extension of the Earned Income, Child, and College Tuition tax credits; and additional tax breaks for businesses including, importantly, the ability to write off start-up investments. They also agreed to the Lincoln-Kyl compromise on the estate tax.
Total value of the tax cuts for the rich: about $95 billion. Total value of the deal: about $800 billion in foregone revenue.
Think of it: Republicans were willing to give up eight times as much as they got just to ensure that their rich friends got their tax breaks.
And Republicans want anybody to think they are committed in any way to reducing the budget deficit and the national debt? Don't make me laugh: they just agreed to add $800 billion to it.
Let's be sure they own that in 2012.