Saturday, December 18, 2010

Obama Signs the Tax Cut Bill


President Obama signed the tax-cut extension bill yesterday, after the Democrats in the House chose not to fight him on the estate tax provisions.

The cost of the bill is $858 billion, a tremendous irony after the endless talk about reducing the size of government in the lead-up to the 2010 elections.

For me this bill epitomizes the dysfunction of our political system.  We simply are unable to reduce benefits (Democrats) or raise taxes (Republicans), so instead we give something to everyone: increased benefits and lower taxes. It keeps the economy running on the fumes of consumption but it sure does not strike me as a responsible long-term approach.

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The House passed the bill 277 to 148 Thursday night, with 112 Democrats and 36 Republicans voting no.  Here is Peter Baker's celebratory description from today's Times:
With the stroke of a pen, President Obama on Friday enacted the largest tax cut in nearly a decade and, in the process, took a big step toward reinventing himself as a champion of compromise in a politically fractured capital. When he first struck the deal two weeks ago, a sour Mr. Obama announced it by himself, lamented his own agreement and testily denounced his Republican partners as “hostage takers” and his liberal critics as “sanctimonious.” By the time he signed it into law on Friday, little more than six weeks after an electoral debacle for him and his party, he stood with the Senate Republican leader and celebrated the package as a hallmark of cooperation.
I feel a little bit like the Grinch, complaining about tax cuts and extended unemployment benefits during the week before Christmas, but I just do not approve of continuing to run up the national credit card. Also, contrary to the current conventional wisdom, I don't think this bill helps Obama's chances for re-election in 2012: any goodwill garnered with the Republicans will dissipate rapidly, and the left-wing of the Democratic party is not going to be as motivated to support him in 2012.

492.  The repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is expected to pass prior to year-end, thank goodness.  So far, Republicans Snowe, Collins, Brown, and Murkowski have come out in favor of repeal.  Which additional Republicans will change their positions when they realize that repeal is inevitable?  I would think that Lugar and Voinovich would be inclined towards repeal.

493. Mike Shanahan announced yesterday that Donovan McNabb is officially benched (in favor of Rex Grossman!!!) for the last three games of the season. Where does this decision rank in the annals of Redskins absurdity during the Snyder era?

Happier times (not so long ago...)

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