Saturday, December 11, 2010

Robert Reich on Why Obama Shouldn't Listen to Clinton re: Tax Cuts

With its emphasis on core principles, Robert Reich's analysis of why President Obama should not be touting the wisdom of former President Clinton vis-a-vis the shameful tax-cut deal seems to me right on target:

If the Democratic Party has stood for anything over the years it is to maintain and restore upward mobility for the majority of working Americans, ensure that the playing field isn't tilted in the direction of the privileged, and limit the power of the richest among us to entrench themselves and their heirs into a semi-permanent plutocracy.

Continuing the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, including a sharp cut in the estate tax, violates these core principles. Doing so in the midst of an economic emergency that demands bold measures to rescue America's vast middle and working class adds further insult. For President Obama and former President Clinton to tell America there's "no other choice" or that "this is the best we can do" -- when Democrats remain putatively in control of the House, Senate, and the presidency -- is misleading.

I admire Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. I advised the former and worked for the latter. They are good men. But they have either been outwitted by the privileged and powerful of America, or seduced by those on Wall Street and the executive suites of America into believing that the Republican nostrums are necessary, or succumbed Democratic advisors who think in terms of small-bore tactics rather than large and principled strategies.

I urge congressional Democrats to remember the larger principles -- not in order to be purist or make the perfect the enemy of the better, but to move toward an economy and a society that we believe in, that reflects the needs of the vast majority of Americans at this difficult time.

Reich, who worked for Clinton, is absolutely correct to note that some kinds of pragmatism, posturing as necessary deal-cutting to get business done when elitist purism can't do business, are sell outs.  As he notes, the core principle Mr. Obama has now sold out--one integral to what the Democratic party stands for--is standing not with economic and social elites, but with those struggling to make a go of it. 

I'll say it again: we have elected a Democratic president whom many of us expected not only to clean up the mess the Bush administration (and years of Reaganomics) have made of the country, and to break with the cynical deal-cutting, wind-testing calculating pragmatism of the Clinton period.  Instead, it seems we've elected a man who has now made the Reagan revolution complete, while pretending to stand for core Democratic principles. 

The price the whole country is going to pay for this folly for many years to come is going to be steep.

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