The Maneater

Column: Does Obama get it?

Earlier this week, President Barack Obama came forward in support of extending the Bush-era tax cuts. While I am quite pleased at the prospect of keeping income taxes from increasing, I do find the President's latest broken promise to be even more baffling than all of his others.

His plan, a compromise with Senate Republicans, would extend Bush's income tax cuts from 2001 and 2003, cut payroll taxes to incentivize hiring, would bring back the estate tax at a lowered rate of 35 percent for all estates worth more than $5 million and would extend federal unemployment benefits yet again.

I cannot help but find myself wondering what the president could possibly be thinking. Is he catching on? Did he take a hint from the midterm elections turned Republican landslide? Is he finally getting it?

The past year has not been kind to Democrats who lost more than 60 House seats and several Senate seats. Perhaps Obama is finally getting the message that maybe Americans really do want lower taxes and less government spending. Or maybe all of his years of extensive education are finally coming back to him. Maybe he actually does have some basic understanding of economics after all.

Personally, I don't think so. I see the president's endorsement of extending the Bush-era tax cuts as a peace offering to the GOP. At this point, he must realize how totally screwed he is once the new Congressional session begins. The Republican House will control all of the money.

Not only will Obama face obstacles passing any new agenda items, but the items that have passed could potentially be starved for funding. Basically, he has to trust Republicans not to completely tank his legislative accomplishments so far.

So, in a last ditch effort to win some favor with the Republicans, Obama suddenly supports tax cuts for the rich and poor alike, throwing Democrats everywhere into crisis. How dare he insinuate that cutting taxes on wealthy employers spurs economic growth!

Nancy Pelosi and the House Democrats are pledging to stop the bill, though the White House seems confident the compromise will pass the House and Senate as is. While reaching for Republican support, Obama has lost, yet again, the support of his own party. I don't know if I've ever been happier to see the Democrats in such peril.

If this action was, as I believe, Obama's olive branch for Republicans, then I applaud him. He made a tough choice and went against his party in the better interest of the American people. Now, maybe we can start moving out of this recession that supposedly ended sometime last year.

Now that employers know their taxes will not increase and they have relief from payroll taxes, perhaps they will start hiring. Now that families know they won't owe at least $2,000 more in taxes next year, maybe they will go shopping. At last, Americans know what to expect, and can start planning for the future.

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