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Hypocrisy and the Anti-Tax Pledge

December 21, 2011

When Democrats attempted to increase taxes on a few billionaires, the Republicans all signed an anti-tax pledge and decided to throw a gargantuan hissy fit. They go along the whole time, condescendingly informing anybody who will listen that we can’t hurt the so-called “job creators” or the economy will hit the fan. Now that the Democrats try to lower the taxes on more than half of Americans, however, Republicans are breaking their own anti-tax pledge left and right to shoot down the Democrats’ tax cut extension, apparently for no reason other than political brinksmanship. This is not what good governance looks like.

When Obama and the Democrats wanted a one-year extension for the payroll tax cut that would be partially financed by a tax increase on the wealthy with broad public support, the House Republican Leadership steadfastly refused to cooperate with such a bill. The Democrats removed the tax increase on the wealthy, and still the Republicans hung them out to dry. The Democrats finally lowered their aim from a 1-year extension to a mere 60-day tax cut extension, a tax cut extension that would lower the taxes for some 160 million Americans, which passed the Senate 89-10. House Republican leadership has since accused both the Senate and the Democratic party of ‘kicking the can down the road,’ and claimed that it was they, the House Republican party, that wanted to do the responsible thing and extend the tax cuts for the full year. As an American, I am offended by this blatant obfuscation of the truth, at their willingness to change their story at every turn.

In a world where the public discourse is dictated by conglomerated media, a lie told enough times can quickly become widely regarded as truth. It is the responsibility of the citizenry to verify the legitimacy of the information they are given, but it is a responsibility that the citizenry has shirked for far too long. Apathy and inaction have become the status quo, but it is a status quo that is unsustainable.

There is a huge problem at the core of our political system that is actually quite easy to understand. The Democrats, with all their bombast and grand rhetoric, seldom pass any significant legislation that has not been thoroughly vetted by their campaign sponsors and fleets full of lobbyists. Meanwhile, the Republicans refuse to let Democrats pass any piece of legislation, even an extension of a tax cut that they themselves have signed pledges to support, purely on the basis that the Democrats want to pass it. The House Republican Party has become the political incarnation of bad governance. We have a governing party that actively wants the government itself to fail. The GOP would rather have a government that ignores its obligations to the American people than a government that succeeds under the leadership of Barack Obama. This is a reprehensibly irresponsible way to run the most powerful country in the world.

The saddest part of the equation is that the Republican scheme is working. The Republican Party is adhering to a political tactic that is designed to stop the government from doing what government should be doing, because they know that when the government fails to live up to it’s obligations, the people will blame Obama for it’s failures. They consistently accuse Obama of a lack of leadership while steadfastly refusing to make any concessions, regardless of how reasonable, to the Democrats’ policy plans. There is literally nothing Obama could do that the Republicans would not attack him for, purely on the basis that they want him to look bad. Meanwhile, Obama’s approval ratings continue to drop.

Tactic successful?

Don’t get me wrong, I am certainly not the Democratic Party’s biggest fan. The Democrats’ primary problem is that they apparently have a deficiency of vision, communication, and leadership. The Democrats seem to be characterized by timidity in the face of adversity, be that adversity from the Republican Party or the corporate lobbyists that are so vital in getting them reelected. In a widespread effort to contrast themselves from the Republicans, they seem to have forgotten that, once in a while, taking a principled stand on an issue can be a good thing. In a political environment where President Obama and the Democrats in general begin every single policy negotiation by trying to meet the obstinate Republicans half-way, one would think it less than surprising that they end up with the policy equivalent of the scraps at the table.

We need a government full of people who actually want the government to work for the people. Right now we have but two parties: the party of appeasement and the party of no. We have created a political environment that is inhospitable to reason and practicality, where showmanship is prized over practical value and politics are prized over policy. The American public needs to wake up and send a resounding message to our elected officials:

“No more bullshit.”

Washington Post:

PBS Coverage: (At the 8:45 mark, Utah Rep. Jason Cheffetz comes on and tries to defend the House GOP’s decision. I kind of want to punch him in the face.)


From → Democracy, Economics

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