President Obama’s potential willingness to extend the Bush tax cuts for all income brackets is not playing well on the Left. This is a feature, not a bug. It’s nevertheless interesting to look at how the Left sees the situation.
The first thing you have to understand about modern liberalism is that it clings tenaciously to its myths, which it uses as shields against reality. Their current security blanket is woven from the belief that Democrats only got killed in the 2010 midterm elections because they’re not liberal enough. From Paul Krugman’s musings that our measly trillion-dollar “stimulus” plan was only a quarter of the true price for entering Utopia, to Jane Hamsher musing on FireDogLake that Obama adviser David Axelrod’s right-wing tendencies make it a stroke of luck the Democrats didn’t lose “100 seats,” and Boston University law professor Cornelius Hurley telling Politico that independents were actually frustrated with Obama’s lack of liberal “conviction,” this is the new meme for explaining the biggest electoral earthquake in seventy years. Any further suggestion of Obama moving to the right is sure to provoke outrage.
The second indispensable myth of liberalism is the belief that various sectors of the economy are not connected to each other in any way. The Evil Rich live in remote island fortresses, where they spend their days counting piles of money and abusing their servants. (Membership in The Evil Rich, by the way, begins at $250k annual income, which would require some very aggressive shopping for discount island fortresses, even in today’s depressed real estate market.)
This belief explains why liberals think they can engineer robust economic growth with some tax relief for the Sainted Middle Class, which makes up to $249,999.99 per year, while still soaking The Evil Rich. Reuters quotes the President from South Korea today, saying “My number-one priority is making sure that we make the middle-class tax cuts permanent, that we give certainty to the 98 percent of Americans who are affected by those tax breaks.” The other two percent have no particular rights to their property, which can be confiscated without any negative effect on the overall economy. No one else will be affected in the slightest if their tax rates soar. Of course, when the fuel tank of tax-and-spend liberalism runs dry again, membership in The Evil Rich will suddenly become much easier – perhaps $200k per year will be enough.
Dan Amira of New York Magazine calls Obama a “pragmatist” who is bound to disappoint his supporters by refusing to defend his “original position” of “permanent cuts for people making less than $200,000, no extension for those making more.” (Aha! The requirements for joining The Evil Rich are already coming down!) Over at the Daily Kos, Jed Lewison calls those who refuse to support only tax relief for The Sainted Middle Class “hostage takers,” and says the President’s surrender to them “reeks of weakness.”
Some liberals are asking why the Democrats don’t use the lame-duck session of Congress to shove through more of their agenda. Nancy Pelosi has been talking about ramming an amnesty bill for illegal aliens down America’s throat, which would hopefully swell the ranks of Democrat voters, but the Left wants more. Economist Mark Thomas, and Steve Benen at Washington Monthly, are among those who wonder why the Democrats don’t propose a bill that only extends tax relief for the Sainted Middle Class, and dare the Republicans to veto it, thus becoming the hated enemies of middle-class tax relief. Even temporary extension of top-bracket tax cuts is seen by many liberals as a humbling defeat.
Of course, there is also the ironclad conviction that all money properly belongs to the State, and tax cuts are a gift. The State cannot “afford” to be handing out big tax cuts for fat cats, when it has so many important duties to fulfill for The Sainted Middle Class, such as peppering roads with signs that tell them how well the stimulus plan is working. Liberals find this view very comforting, since ordinary people cannot be trusted with their freedom, much less The Evil Rich. Only the parliament of MegaMinds in the Democrat caucus can wisely spend America’s money. White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer put it this way: “We believe we need to extend the middle class tax cuts, we cannot afford to borrow 700 billion to pay for extending the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.”
It will be interesting to see how well this reasoning goes over with the middle class when membership in The Evil Rich drops to $150k per year. Meanwhile, the belief that economic prosperity can be achieved in concert with crushing taxes on the economic sector that generates investment capital, and owns the small businesses that drive employment, is a dangerous fantasy that has already done far too much damage to Americans. It’s about time it started doing serious damage to the Democrat Party.