President Obama has been vocal
in his opposition to rolling
back the Bush-era tax cuts for families making more than $250,000. But
as his party's position in the polls continues to worsen and the economy
remains stagnant, a number of high-profile Democrats, including Senators Jim Webb
and Evan Bayh
, are breaking with the president and voicing
their support for extending the cuts. Is this a political year stunt, or
are congressional Democrats really ready to force Obama's hand?
Coming? Democrats in Congress see the moment as a chance to distance
themselves from an increasingly unpopular administration, says Reuters's Kim Dixon. It's particularly important for moderate
Democrats who must appeal to "constituencies that sometimes look more
like Republicans." Obama's plan isn't drawing much support from the
rank-and-file. "Most public displays of support [for ending the tax
cuts] have come from the Democratic leadership in the U.S. House of
Representatives," writes Dixon.
- Curious Fight The Washington
Post's Greg Sargent believes Democratic
opposition to Obama's plan is misguided. "Amid a sea of bad polling
news, here is an issue where the public is clearly on Dems' side,"
writes Sargent. Punting, Sargent believes, would just be bad politics.
"This, of all things, is not an issue where Dems should conclude in
advance -- as they often do -- that once Republicans go on the attack,
it's game over and Dems can't possibly win the argument."
Ranks Those pushing for an extension of the benefits received an
unexpected endorsement this week from Peter Orszag, Obama's former White
House budget director. "In the face of the dueling deficits, the best
approach is a compromise," Orszag wrote Wednesday in his new New York
Times column. "Extend the tax cuts for two years and then end them
altogether." At the very least, an extension would save the president
some of his political capital. "The beauty of extending the tax cuts for
only two years," Orszag noted, "is that canceling them doesn’t require
an affirmative vote."
- Impact Overstated? Time's Michael Crowley argues the
political impact of breaking with Obama on taxes will be negligible for
vulnerable Democrats. While the majority of Americans were in favor of
the original cuts in 2001, Crowley notes that was an era of "very
different budgetary and economic circumstances." Democrats trying to use
the issue for political gain in 2010 could find it has "limited impact"
with voters in November.
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