Those mistakenly celebrating the passage of this awful tax deal should read Jonathan Weisman's latest in the NYT:
Just a few years ago, the tax deal pushed through Congress on Tuesday would have been a Republican fiscal fantasy, a sweeping bill that locks in virtually all of the Bush-era tax cuts, exempts almost all estates from taxation, and enshrines the former president’s credo that dividends and capital gains should be taxed equally and gently.Unfortunately, Democrats in Congress, including staunch progressives, voted for this deal. Here on the blogs we've even seen name-calling of those who have principled opposition to this tax deal.
Which is a shame. Because if the NYT can tell it like it really is, we should be able to have a meaningful discussion about what's at stake here in the netroots.
Instead of talking about the $600 billion that supporters of the tax deal claim is some fictional victory percentage (85%? 75%? 25%? 10%?) of what we "originally wanted," the public discussion, predictably, is shifting to the $4 trillion that making Bush's tax cuts permanent will add to the deficit:
The bill’s heft was confirmed on Tuesday by the Congressional Budget Office, which said the income and business tax cut extensions; new capital gains, dividend and estate tax rates; and unemployment compensation would add an estimated $4 trillion to the federal deficit compared with where the government would be if Congress did nothing to halt the tax increases and spending cuts that were triggered at the start of the year.And now Democrats, like Senator Michael Bennett, Democrat of Colorado, are following the President's lead and framing the debate in terms of "reducing the deficit" and "reducing the debt."
No one is talking about investments in needed stimulus to create good jobs. That's gone. Now the conversation is about austerity and fighting cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
(The NYT even features a glowing article about Latvia as a model of how austerity works.)
And despite Congress passing what Obama called a middle class tax cut on the campaign trail, with the sunset of the of the payroll tax holiday, the NYT now points out that 77% of Americans' tax bills will go up.
Most people will see it immediately, on their next paycheck.
As Amy Davidson writes in the New Yorker :
More outrageously, cuts to the already highly regressive payroll tax are being allowed to expire, meaning that they will rise from 4.2 per cent to 6.2 per cent. Obama didn’t even fight for them. In his statement Tuesday night, Obama described the bill as “preventing a middle-class tax hike” that could have hurt families and sent the country back into a recession; that is true, but it allowed another middle-class tax hike that could have the same effect. He also said that middle-class families “will not see their income taxes go up.” That is false, unless one goes along with the idea—and most of Washington does—that payroll taxes, which are on income and levied by the federal government, are not federal income taxes.::
Instead of cheerleading the President and Congress, grassroots Democrats should fight for our shared agenda and vision for America. That means fighting for good jobs and to eradicate poverty. That means supporting labor unions and working people against the interests of the wealthy few. It means holding Washington D.C. accountable on the environment, and standing side by side with immigrants demanding fairness.
We have a vision for this nation, and it's been expressed clearly before.
If we are fighting for that common agenda, it's less easy to fall prey to the latest press release folks in D.C. are selling.
Personally, I never thought I'd see the day that Democrats held a victory party because we locked in virtually all of the Bush-era tax cuts and working people saw their paychecks decrease at the same time.