An editorial in today's New York Times describes the disappointing deal this way:
"For the first time since President George W. Bush began the country's long slide into debt by cutting taxes in 2001, an agreement was reached late Monday in the Senate to raise income taxes on the rich. Nonetheless, this deal is a weak brew that remains far too generous to the rich and fails to bring in enough revenue to deal with the nation's deep need for public investments. Given that the Bush-era tax cuts expire on Jan. 1, Republicans were forced to give ground on their philosophical opposition to higher taxes, but they made it impossible to reach a farsighted agreement that truly grappled with government's role in fostering improvements to education, transportation and manufacturing."
Neither side is happy about this. The deal lowers the upper level tax cuts on the wealthy to those reporting an income greater than $400,000 per year, which is a far cry from the $250,000 ceiling the president called for. Worse, there was no agreement on raising a debt ceiling, which the president said was absolutely essential to economic reform. Without this provision, the government will run out of money -- again -- in February and the Party of No will issue its customary, tiresome demand that the Democrats cut social spending to offset the deficit.
Sadly, the President will likely agree to this madness. Why break the pattern now?
As always, Obama compromised with the Neocons on this sad little bill at a time when no compromise was necessary. As he is quick to remind us, he won the election. Resoundingly. As Dubya would've said -- "it was a thumpin." If there was ever a time when the president could've stood his ground, knowing more than 70% of the American populace was behind him; knowing that Congress' approval numbers ranked slightly below the popularity of syphilis, this was it.
So why the hasty hand-shaking with the same crew that has demonstrated repeatedly it would cut his political throat and defeat any measure he suggested given the slightest opportunity?
We may never know. What seems a guarantee, however, is more of the same disappointment over the next four years. What a wasted opportunity for real "change."