They say history repeats itself, which is why I am shocked at the Republican response to the Democrats saying they'll let everyone's income taxes rise on January 1 and slash defense spending if Republicans continue to balk at raising taxes just on those making more than $250,000 a year. Didn't the Republicans "hold America hostage," as they accuse Democrats of doing, with the debt ceiling crisis just last year?
Desperate times call for desperate measures. The Democrats, finally, are being brave. They are forcing the Republicans to show the American people who their true master is: their constituents or Grover Norquist and the pledge they made to him.
"If we can't get a good deal, a balanced deal that calls on the wealthy to pay their fair share, then I will absolutely continue this debate into 2013 rather than lock in a long-term deal this year that throws middle-class families under the bus," Sen. Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington, said in a speech Monday.
[See a collection of political cartoons on the budget and deficit.]
Democrats and Republicans have been fighting over the impending expiration of the Bush tax cuts. Let's face it: Congress has been fighting along party lines since President Barack Obama was elected.
Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said, "They're ready and willing to go right off the fiscal cliff if they don't get their way ... Because they think it will make it likelier they'll get their way.”
Well if that same tactic worked with the debt crisis, why wouldn't it work now? Why is it okay for Republicans to play "chicken" but not Democrats? Why are Sen. McConnell and all of the Republicans continuing to protect America's rich when they keep citing the poor economy and the high unemployment rate? Why aren't the Republicans fighting as hard to insource jobs, close tax loop holes, or create jobs as they claimed they would if they were put into office? And wasn't McConnell himself the architect of automatic spending cuts? I guess he never thought anything automatic would actually take effect.
[See a collection of political cartoons on the Republican Party.]
The president has said all along he wants the wealthier Americans, those earning above $250,000 as a family and $200,000 a year as an individual, to pay their fair share. These cuts were enacted a decade ago; they have not resulted in job creation nor has that money been put back into America's economy. If it had, we would not be in the current economic situation. And the Democrats have the American people on their side. Polls show that the majority of voters favor increasing taxes on the wealthy. So whether this be political, fiscal or both, perhaps the move is not as risky as the right wing would have you believe.
"If middle class families start seeing more money coming out of their paychecks next year, are Republicans really going to stand up and fight for new tax cuts for the rich?" Murray said.
And in this game of chicken, the American people are waiting for the Republicans to answer that very question. They'll have to do it now on the Bush tax cuts, and they'll see if the American people liked their answer come this November.
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