It’s the ineptitude, stupid

24 Sep

Every day there’s another news report in the NYTimes, on NPR, or some other news channel reminding us that Democratic voters are not very motivated this year. With the way the Congressional Democrats are behaving this week, it’s no wonder why.

At the end of this year, the 2001 Bush tax cuts are set to expire. (They will expire because the Republican-led Congress that passed the tax cuts used a parliamentary tool to prevent having to involve Democrats in the negotiations over the bill: put a time limit on the tax cuts, and the Dems could be ignored.) President Obama made it a campaign pledge that he would keep the tax cuts on the middle class. Implicitly, he would also let the tax cuts on the wealthiest of the wealthy–the top 1 or 2 percent–expire.

So here we are in 2010, with the Democrats facing a tough election season. Polls show overwhelming support for the President’s proposal: keep the tax cuts on couples making less than $250,000 a year (and individuals earning less than $200,000 a year), and let the other tax cuts expire. People around the country would benefit, yet the Britney Spearses, the Citibank executives, and others who have more money than sense would go back to the tax rates and levels they enjoyed under the Clinton tax cuts. It’s a sure way to tell voters that the Democrats are with them, not with the people on Wall Street.

Seems like a no brainer.

Unless you’re a Congressional Democrat. The leadership in both houses has decided that the vote on the Bush tax cuts will be delayed until after the election. Some Blue Dog Democrats (including my own Congressman, Joe Donnelly) don’t want to vote against the wealthy people before an election. So they managed to scuttle the whole deal.

This is going to backfire, of course. As one person over at Talking Points Memo put it, the Democrats have apparently decided they’d rather let the Republicans run ads saying “Democrats are going to raise everyone’s taxes” rather than ads saying “Democrats have raised taxes on the rich.”

Some bumbling idiots in the White House are pointing the finger at the GOP, accusing the often-obstructionist Republicans of obstructionism. The problem is, it won’t work this time: as a Republican pointed out yesterday, the Republicans can’t obstruct a piece of legislation that hasn’t even been brought forward yet.

At this point, I’ve had it with the Blue Dog Democrats. Some claim that the BDDs have to be BDDs in order to hang onto their seats in certain parts of the country. That’s a load of goat glop. Instead of making the case for good, sound, progressive government, they want to be able to claim they are “independent.” The fact that their “independence” means pushing policies that created this holy hellhole of an economic mess in the first place doesn’t seem to matter. “We back the Republicans’ economic plan, even though the numbers don’t add up.”

It’s all very discouraging. Barack Obama campaigned about real change, giving hope to millions of Americans. He helped get a huge Democratic majority in Congress, a bigger majority than George W. Bush ever had (and yet he still managed to get everything he wanted), and we can’t get squat done. Health care reform ends up being half baked. Sensible economic policies? A mediocre stimulus package that could have done so much more. The Democrats had the opportunity to show what they could do if given the chance, and they are blowing it. Big time.

I used to say that Republicans are very good at winning elections, but they are lousy at governing. The idea was that Democrats aren’t good at winning elections, but they can govern when in control. Today I feel like that whole concept has been shot to hell: the Democrats aren’t good at winning elections, and they are not good at governing, either. The Democratic National Committee might as well liquidate, close up shop, and let the staffers write their memoirs. At the rate we are going (and there’s virtually no time left to change things), Democrats will put themselves in the position of giving Republicans control of Congress and the White House for a long time to come.

Anyone need an American lawyer in Canada? Maybe Costa Rica?


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