Thursday, August 11, 2011

"What Do You Mean 'Me,' Kemosabe?"

Jed Lewison of Daily Kos notes that Mitt Romney has criticized President Obama because the latter won't "sit down" and talk to ratings agencies, unlike the approach the Massachusetts governor took when Standard & Poor's upgraded the state's credit rating from AA- to AA while Romney was governor. He notes that Ben Smith calls Romney on it:

Gov. Mitt Romney lobbied the credit ratings agency Standard & Poor’s in 2004 to raise his state’s credit rating in part because Massachusetts had raised taxes during an economic downturn two years earlier.

The claim was part of a presentation to the ratings agency obtained by POLITICO under a state freedom of information law from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Administration and Finance.

Lewison notes

Now, Romney opposes any sort of revenue increase—the sort of revenue increase that would have settled any open questions about our long-term fiscal security. It's the wrong sort of flip-flop, going from a reasonable position to the extreme, simply to win conservative votes in the primary.

Romney isn't the only one to blame, however. Just imagine how much different things would be if Republicans were open to raising taxes—or if Democrats had insisted on doing so last December, when they had the chance.

Of course, if we lived in that sort of world, jobs would be the top item on Washington's agenda. Instead, we're fighting over something that's easy to fix—and won't really be a major problem until several years from now.

Point- and an extremely important one- well taken. This is precisely the wrong time to be to be obsessed with the national debt, which took on new life in the Reagan Administration, slowed appreciably as President Clinton hiked income taxes, and ballooned under the most conservative President of the post-war period, GW Bush.

But- if Democrats had insisted on doing so last December? What do you mean, "Democrats?"

Fox News, on Pearl Harbor Day, reported

President Obama and White House officials underscored the need to compromise Monday in unveiling a congressional deal to avoid the expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts at the end of the year, but some of the toughest critics of Obama's version of compromise come from within his own party.

Democrats have generally argued that the tax cuts should be extended for the middle class -- but not for the wealthiest 2 percent. Republicans have argued that the cuts should be extended for all taxpayers.

The "framework" of the deal that Obama outlined Monday evening calls for a two-year extension of the cuts in all income tax brackets. It also would extend long-term unemployment benefits through next year. The estate tax rate would be renewed, but at a lower rate than even during the Bush administration. And the Obama administration is proposing a one-year payroll tax reduction that sources say would cut the amount contributed to Social Security from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent.

Those Democrats were led by one President Barack Obama. Many individuals on liberal web sites, disgusted by the compromise and capitulation of the Administration, have commented that they are through with the Democratic Party. They have been thoroughly disappointed by the historic candidate of hope and change- and vow to take it out on the party the President represents.

That is destructive of progressive interests. These voters, finding the option to President Obama to be at best (!) Mitt Romney, will pull the lever for the incumbent. But they may not do so for candidates down the line, which might result in a Republican Senate and Republican House, rather than a split split legislative branch, as now prevails. That is a major threat, would do real damage to the country, and liberals ought to remember that our dysfunctional government, now presiding over a nation reeling at home and abroad, has been directed by President Obama and congressional Republicans.

So blame Democrats, if you must, for capitulating to Barack Obama as he capitulates to Republicans reportedly capitulating to tea party extremists. But that would be a far cry from a blanket criticism of "Democrats," which takes us down a dangerous road.

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