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The tax cut deal: Procrastination, not leadership

The first senator to state his opposition to a tax cut extension is, believe it or not, a Republican. Ohio senator George Voinovich, who is retiring after four decades in the Senate, said he would oppose any legislation that extends the so-called Bush tax cuts if it does not include an effort to also tackle reform, reports the Post's Felicia Sonmez. "As I look at my experience, I believe that if this thing goes through and we extend it, we will kick this thing down the road," Voinovich said in an interview. "It's completely irresponsible."

Whether or not you agree with Voinovich's stance--and there are few on either side of the aisle who don't think the tax cut could use some level of reform--his point that the decision essentially "kick[s] this thing down the road" is a good one. On Leadership panelist and top CEO coach Marshall Goldsmith made a similar one when he called "this latest 'realistic bipartisan compromise'" another "kick-the-can solution."

Extending the tax cuts may be the quick and easy way to "compromise," if it can be called that, in an effort to keep taxes lower amid a slow economy. But with a deadline looming for the cuts' expiration for nearly a decade, Voinovich is right: an extension is also procrastination, pure and simple. Leaving the thorniest problems for your successors to deal with may be politically expedient, but it's not leadership.

After all, Republicans who say that an extension of tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans is essential amid a tough economy can hardly say they haven't known for three years now that a recession is going on, and that it might affect the outcome of the cuts' expiration. And Democrats who've had control of both chambers of Congress for two years and chose to postpone a vote on the tax cuts to the last minute have known for nearly 10 years the deadline was looming.

Extending the tax cuts on a temporary basis, as the deal announced Monday night would do, seems to presuppose a binary decision, one that assumes that the tax cuts must either be extended, temporarily or permanently, or stopped outright. It does not take into consideration the many ways in which Congress could have acted to reform the tax law so that the tax system could more sustainably help taxpayers amid a tough economy while not killing the deficit. This despite recent proposals from a bipartisan deficit commission--many of which are controversial, to be sure--that have suggested ways to do just that.

Even more important, it simply postpones one of the trickiest problems our nation faces--how to reduce the nation's ballooning deficit--with little if any attempt to create a more lasting and sustainable solution. Both Democrats and Republicans can say there wasn't time for such deliberations with a deadline looming, but both have also known this was coming for years. Then again, carefully planning for the future, as well as tackling the toughest problems first so your successors aren't left with them, takes leadership. And that's been in woefully short supply during the tax cut debate.

Related content:

Extending the Bush tax cuts: Human nature?

The GOP's lame-duck blockade
Tom Daschle on the Majority-Minority flip

By Jena McGregor

 |  December 7, 2010; 12:04 PM ET |  Category:  Bad leadership , Change management , Crisis leadership , Economic crisis , Federal government leadership , Government leadership , Presidential leadership , Public leadership , Succession planning Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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My answer: It's Compromise born of cowardice--and wrong-headed thinking within the bubble of a small group of misguided government officials.

I _would_ prefer to "get nothing done than to compromise." What we "get done" takes us ever deeper into the whirlpool of the Styx. We must become inflexible and uncompromising about basic principles.

Mr. Obama has surrounded himself with the wrong people and listens to the wrong voices. Our "halting economic recovery" is built on a rotten foundation of supporting banks and corporations instead of people.

The "threat" of forcing each American to pay $3,000 more dollars in taxes this year by "allowing" Bush's immoral tax cuts to continue is not something Mr. Obama "protected" us from.

It is part and parcel of the wrong-headed lack of principle which he lauds as flexibility and compromise. It is not to be praised and will not be in days to come.

A principle: Don't pay ransom money to the hostage-takers. The "freedom" you thereby give to us is immediately stolen by the same rapaciousness which prompted them to take us hostage in the first place.

I think the thing that most irks me about Obama is that he allows the attacks by Beck/ Palin/ Hannity/ Limbaugh/ Dobbs/ O'Reilly/McConnell/Sessions/Boehner to go completely unanswered. And who else do we have to champion our causes? Nobody.

Our Red Cross Knight is afraid to fight the real dragon and prefers to indulge in a tizzy fit against us.

Posted by: dwyerj1 | December 8, 2010 5:53 PM

This ridiculous turn of events (really, folks, how badly do hedge fund managers, top business executives and Wall Street types really need a perpetuation of a tax cut?) only seems to me a reflection of the reality of the U.S. Congress in the 21st centurt, to wit: It seems to this observer that nearly everyone who runs for Congress already have considerable assets and live quite comfortable existances. Can we really expect that they are going to have a clue about what the less moneyed electorate has to go through day to day in this economy. Two: Congress has ceased to function because the main thing the two parties are concerned with is getting elected. No sooner was this year's election over with than both parties and the myriad of pundits, would-be presidential aspirants, and the whole rest of that annoying herd, were already looking forward to the election two years hence. The entire raison d'etre for our current pack of politicians is to get elected and milk as much out of the electorate as they can manage, while doing as little to cooperate with each other as possible. They have no other real focus, in my mind. This singlemindedness leaves little or no time for actually doing something meaningful for the country as a whole, so busy are our "leaders" trying to court bucks from business and other special interests while making "the other side" look bad. Why are we so surprised that the current administration -- or indeed, any administration in the future --will be able to succeed in recrafting a prosperous and thriving country where the lot of ALL is made better? The Congressional members the administration is forced to deal with is too busy trying to make them look bad so that come the next election . . . Well, I hope you get the idea.

Posted by: nvg1 | December 8, 2010 11:41 AM

Yes, it is craven cowardice and a stubborn, deliberate mass ignorance. It is in our political leaders to the marrow of their bones. But it is a cowardice that is only reflective of the cowardice of the people who choose and who do not choose to participate in the governance of the country. It is also a measure of the people’s ignorance of the actual plight of their, our, country, and finally their inability to fashion a debate and a resolution agenda for any of the long term problems that the country has.

And that last item is the real glitch. What’s really wrong is that there is simply no mechanism for the people of the United States to enter, participate in, debate and resolve upon courses of action to achieve programmatic solution(s) to any of our national challenges, which have a problem definition, debate, strategy formulation, and strategy execution time frame that is greater than fifteen (15) months, in total.

The people are too ignorant to conceptualize and comprehend this class of problems. The people’s political leaders have no means as yet to communicate with, and through such communication educate the people, and finally the people and their politicians have not the guts to sit through the learning(s); to formulate rational judgments; to choose among solution sets of alternative strategies; and to remain steadfast in the pursuit of those strategies’, and objectives, even though they are difficult to achieve and require personal and family sacrifices of us all from start to finish in the journey to the successful outcome. It is the character of this ignorance and this weakness of, and in, the American people that is on display, in our present national plight.

Were the American people and their political leaders so ignorant of the scope and depth of the collapse of the American economy that they did not fathom that it would be more that the first half of President Obama’s term in office before the deficit and unemployment would be brought down? Hell yes they were. But it was a largely still is a willing, denying of the facts ignorance.

Were the American people’s political leaders, starting with President Obama and his administration, so cowardly and myopic in their fear of the people, that they were afraid to tell the American people the truth, about our national plight. And did the President and his Administration falsely lull the people into believing that recovery was, “just around the corner”; and would be achieved without years of sacrifice, suffering, personal and family loss, and great hardship? Hell yes, that is what the President and his administration did. And are largely still doing and saying.

The American people and their political leaders are like drunks who don’t want to be told, and don’t want to face up to their drinking as alcoholism, and as an addictive sickness, which must be treated and cured for the good of the family and their own future well being.

Posted by: rc115shepherd | December 8, 2010 10:45 AM

My answer: It's Compromise born of cowardice--and wrong-headed thinking within the bubble of a small group of misguided government officials.

I _would_ prefer to "get nothing done than to compromise." What we "get done" takes us ever deeper into the whirlpool of the Styx. We must become inflexible and uncompromising about basic principles.

Mr. Obama has surrounded himself with the wrong people and listens to the wrong voices. Our "halting economic recovery" is built on a rotten foundation of supporting banks and corporations instead of people.

The "threat" of forcing each American to pay $3,000 more dollars in taxes this year by "allowing" Bush's immoral tax cuts to continue is not something Mr. Obama "protected" us from.

It is part and parcel of the wrong-headed lack of principle which he lauds as flexibility and compromise. It is not to be praised and will not be in days to come.

A principle: Don't pay ransom money to the hostage-takers. The "freedom" you thereby give to us is immediately stolen by the same rapaciousness which prompted them to take us hostage in the first place.

I think the thing that most irks me about Obama is that he allows the attacks by Beck/ Palin/ Hannity/ Limbaugh/ Dobbs/ O'Reilly/McConnell/Sessions/Boehner to go completely unanswered. And who else do we have to champion our causes? Nobody.

Our Red Cross Knight is afraid to fight the real dragon and prefers to indulge in a tizzy fit against us.

Posted by: dwyerj1 | December 8, 2010 10:30 AM

Here we have the "evil big spending socialist" President Obama trying to lessen the deficit and the "conservative, balance the budget" Republicans and TeaBaggers wanting to line their pockets and increasing the deficit. What a bunch of liars and hypocrites.

The Republican Party only pretends to be interested in a balanced budget when it suits their purposes and helps them get elected. Clinton balanced the budget. Bush quadrupled the national debt.

Electorate - You've been suckered again!

Posted by: rash67 | December 8, 2010 10:02 AM

Biden and McConnell and their aides held secret meetings in the VPs office BEFORE the vote on the tax deal.

"Transparency" was promised by this administration but it is SOS - different day.

Posted by: Utahreb | December 8, 2010 9:57 AM

On November 2, 2010,
The American voters voted in more Republicans and Tea Partiers, thus assuring the continuance of the tax cuts. This is not Rocket Science people.

Posted by: bestowens | December 8, 2010 8:56 AM

Hopefully, at some time in the not too distant future, hypocrisy will be exposed and concilliation and/or strategy will prevail for us.

Posted by: cib2 | December 8, 2010 8:28 AM

This was cowardice. Compromise would have had the tax cuts for millionaires ($1M and up) revert to 2003 levels for a year before reverting to Clinton levels.
The lower rate would be tied to unemployment and raise a half percent for each percent the Unemployment rate dropped.
The unemployment compensation shouldn't be part of the issue. Those dollars instantly revert to spending.
The push me pull you /this way or that will destroy our standing. Finances need to be based on reality, not ideology.

Posted by: ripper368 | December 8, 2010 8:26 AM

. Here we go again, name-calling, from both parties. The Democrats in the House and Senate passes a healthcare bill where none of the politicians on both sides bothered to read the bill prior to voting yes or no. Then we have the stimulus package again for the most part no one bothers to read the bill they passed when United States is going through an economy crisis, out-of-control porkbarrel spending is okay to both Democrats and Republicans. Now when mini unemployed people who can't find jobs are being used as a political tool for both parties. This in itself is shameful, the government can spend millions of dollars for the bridge to nowhere, for the study of pig smell, or a tunnel for turtles do I need to go on? We have millions of people in United States were unemployed not because they chose to because businesses closed up and move somewheres else. While the menu and both parties attack Pres. Obama's decision of putting people first overt political parties speaks a great deal of says very little for the Republican Party and the Democratic Party. In the meantime I'm sure they're all in your home to be with their families share the holidays with in a warm comfortable home, but then the other play politics with people's lives. I didn't vote four president Obama. But I will say this if Pres. Obama continues putting people first over political parties I will vote for president Obama and the next election. When politicians deliberately uses the lives of people to strengthen their political power is enough. Neither party should be criticizing Pres. Obama when he puts people first, it is about time that we have politicians that stands up for the people and not party. President Obama had done nothing wrong however the Democrats and the Republicans who are using this time as a photo op and how they would feel if they were unemployed, not knowing if they'll have a house over there head with the children will wake in a warm and comfortable home during the holidays and winter. And you the media should be ashamed for not standing with president Obama, per once in your life the right thing for the American citizen.

Posted by: treason1948 | December 8, 2010 8:08 AM

This is not acceptable, not in any way! To pretend there is stimulus in maintaining a low level of consumption is ridiculous! If our government refuses to do nation building at home; then I am for a full hands on tax revolt to end all military activities everywhere; stop building military toys of destruction; close all military overseas bases; stop all foreign military aid; eliminate the Senate; fire all federal judges; cut all subsidies and corporate welfare; end all government contracts; eliminate DHS; remove all federal education programs; etc.

American business is recording record profits and not investing in America at all; well if they won't invest then seize all of those profits and invest the monies in infrastructure that will actually stimulate growth and the well being of the nation!

Posted by: CHAOTICIAN101 | December 8, 2010 7:36 AM

As you may recall, the issue of "The Deficit" rather suddenly took stage recently. I guess it had been awaiting its' turn in the wings for a while. It served as a distraction to the real issue, jobs. It did so for 15 minutes anyway. It has been put away in favor of "Taxes".
Yeah right, just keep taxes a tiny bit lower and we will all rush out and shop shop shop at Walmart! And, hey, the very rich can create even more jobs in China by opening more factories there. Thus, all is right with the world once again.? But, where are the US jobs? Some are still saying that the answer is "Education". Yes sir, if we just had more education maybe we could jump into the the latest high tech positions - oh say a year before they were outsourced anyway. After that we can sleep under one the 28% of our bridges that are unsafe. We all know it is trade policy that has devistated the American middle class. And we all know that neither party will address it. Meanwhile, we have "deficit" day, "taxes" day, etc. Go back to sleep.

Posted by: Jihm | December 8, 2010 7:31 AM

"Voodoo economics" is back!

Posted by: ohwell1 | December 8, 2010 7:01 AM

The thing is Jena that (at the risk of sounding like Mitch McConnell) the American people voted on 2 Nov for tax cuts. That's what we want. What is the Tea Party all about? What is the Republican wave all about? Tax cuts. You can stand on principle about no tax cuts for the rich, but Americans DO NOT SUPPORT TAX INCREASES. Forget the poll that says >50% of Americans oppose tax cuts for the rich. Of course. 97% of us are not in that category,so yes we will certainly vote for tax increases for someone else.

Obama understands the reality of the situation. The far left and the far right do not represent most Americans, but it is as clear as day that Americans want lower taxes along with smaller government. We are good at lowering taxes but awful at cutting back on government spending. We all want our tax breaks and entitlements. We believe Dick Cheney that deficits don't matter. Cutting government spending is like saying we will quit drinking tomorrow.

I am convinced that the only way we will agree to to cut back on government spending is through an economic catastrophe, a near total collapse like Greece. Yes, kicking the can is the easiest and safest way to govern. We elect our pols to make the safest and least imposing policies. America is all about low taxes and cheap gas.

Posted by: gfoster56 | December 8, 2010 7:00 AM

This particular can has been kicked until it was a flattened dented piece of junk, then recycled for another go. And so on.... The US is on its way to becoming a banana republic where we can't meet our domestic or foreign commitments or project our power to protect our interests and help maintain world stability... all because politicians will not allow a fact based discussion on tax policy. It is a slow motion fall begun back in the 90s and continues today with disinformation and BS substituting for leadership. 20-30 years from now we are going to be a joke. Our "leaders" are already a joke.

Posted by: raylo | December 8, 2010 6:35 AM

On thinking this thing over, it occurred to me that President Obama is giving the Republicans rope, with which to hang themselves. Perhaps we rush, to hastily, to judgment. Does anyone know if the President plays Chess? Or the ancient Chinese game Go?

C. ALEXANDER BROWN

Posted by: calexanderbrown | December 8, 2010 1:27 AM

The American people are the cowards. They vote people in who tell them that they can fight 2 wars and reduce the deficeit by not touching social security, defence or medicare while also getting tax cuts. Are you high?

The truth is the American public reflects its economy: it is in debt and denial.

Posted by: Chops2 | December 8, 2010 12:50 AM

Obama is clever beyond words:

It amazes me that none of his ardent (former?) supporters can see Obama's big-picture vision. This decision is all about getting re-elected in 2012. A large tax increase on anybody right now would be a setback to an already fragile economy.
Note the time of extension of tax rates: TWO years. That allows the economy to continue its slow uphill crawl. The stock market will probably continue to celebrate, as it did today. And Obama will arrive in 2012 with no Republican able to say "It's the economy, stupid," to any effect.

And, scholars, note the parallels with the 1930s. First, a halfway recovery into 1936. Then re-election of FDR. Then a big tax increase and Great Depression, part 2.

I used to think of the Depression as one period, extending through the 1930s. It was not. Say, for example, an investor put all his money into the market in 1931. Cashing out in 1935, he had five times the money. In 1937, down the tubes again.

Look it up.

Posted by: qoph | December 7, 2010 10:22 PM

B.O. is complete liar and COWARD.

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Posted by: zhengee25 | December 7, 2010 8:24 PM

Once again both political parties just increased the deficit with no questions but political ones being asked. And if you believe that extension of the Bush tax cuts for anyone will help grow the economy, please let me know. I would like to sell you a used car.

This is another example of just politics as usual.

Posted by: TomMiller1 | December 7, 2010 7:53 PM

I gues the old saying still is true-"A plague on both your houses" except there are now three,Senate, Congress and the White House. And the tea partiers cry about raising taxes on millioares and billionaires because the blackman wanted it.

POSTED BY: MSJN1 | DECEMBER 7, 2010 2:57 PM
---------------
The bigot announces their presence again. Shut up bigot.

Posted by: LiberalBasher | December 7, 2010 6:57 PM

we're not going to be able to Tax More or Tax Cut our way out of our fiscal mess. These are mere ideological tokens for the liberal fools and the conservative retards to fight over.

None of you really wants your government to stop spending money on you. Sure, stop spending it on the other guy, in the other state, but don't touch your pork.

You democrats and you republicans keep voting in democrats and republicans, all utter failures. You keep blaming each other, I suppose it helps you to keep from blaming yourselves. But this mess is YOUR fault because you keep voting these scumbags in.

Bah, you're destroying our country when you keep voting for these parties. They're representing you, just like you want them to. You have no right to complain because you are the ones to blame.

Posted by: eezmamata | December 7, 2010 6:44 PM

Trickle down economics only work when the wealthy spend and don't hoard like they have been doing for three years now. This is the only country in the world that gives welfare to it's wealthy. Why were these tax cuts enacted in the first place?

This is a bad deal Mr. President. Sooner or probably later someone is going to have to pay back this money, unfortunately it's going to be your daughters. You and your borrow and spend cronies can't see past the end of of your noses.

Posted by: hodgensr | December 7, 2010 4:10 PM

A bad, temporary fix. Policy makers should permanently extend middle class tax cut and temporarily extend tax cut on upper class.

Raising the estate tax threshold is ok, but lowering the estate tax rate does not make sense: it is a gift to the wealthy that will not help the economy and increase the deficit.

Posted by: jpc32 | December 7, 2010 3:53 PM

PRESIDENT TRUMAN WARNED DEMOCRATS ABOUT CAPITULATING TO REPUBLICANS

"Given the choice between a Republican and someone who acts like a Republican, people will vote for the real Republican all the time."
- Harry S. Truman

President Obama supporters, Moderates and Democratic Centrist gurus, get a clue from a former president who knew how to stand up and fight for what is right and sensible -- Harry S. Truman. We have seen time and time again from Bill Clinton now President Obama HOW NOT TO RUN a White House and a Democratic Congress -- YOU DO NOT RUN TO THE CENTER!

The Bluedogs lost 20 of its coalition members in midterm 2010 and a host of Moderate Democrats lost as well - Why? Because it was the economy stupid! Remember that slogan - you Democrats invented it courtesy of James Carville. Americans will vote any political party out of office when the economy is stagnant and gone to hell. It is not the Democrats fault and it certainly has nothing to do with the policies pushed forth by the Democrats - it was the methodology and failure of the White House to utilize the vast resources it had prior to coming into power.

PRESIDENT OBAMA NEGOTIATED AWAY DEMOCRAT’S 2012 CAMPAIGN PLATFORM

President Obama and the Centrist Democratic Caucus -- trust me, you will lose even big time if you further capitulate to the Republicans. Republicans have no stomach to make President Obama look good on anything - look at the START Treaty; it is Dead On Arrival - STOPPED by Republicans who will not vote for its ratification. Look at Deficit Reductions – This so-called bi-partisan agreement, which ADDS $190 BILLION to the deficit -- does nothing to reduce the deficit, a hallmark Republican mandate. Republicans will not vote for anything unless all the tax cuts, including millionaires/billionaires are included.

Democrats are the most liberal when it comes to the vast voting coalitions in the House and Senate. Now, there are more Liberals than Moderates thanks to midterm 2010. The Progressives have watched in pain as we saw the president trying to appease the Republicans and the American center to no avail. What do you have to show for it? You lost the House, you have an even more divided Senate; a White House that doesn't know how to stand up for its convictions to help the working poor become productive -- to show some real teeth legislations that goes after big oil, corporations, and bankers who openly raped our treasury out of $700 billion in taxpayers’ money;

Democrats in the Senate and the House, please, for once in your careers, stand up for the Blue Collar folks and Middle Class like Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, and Clinton (except when he went to the Center and gave loopholes to the banking industry).

If Democrats want to take the center and forget the Progressive base -- go ahead. I guarantee you the American people will vote President Obama out of office, and the rest of you Centrists-middle –of-the-road Democrats as well

Posted by: djoh1226 | December 7, 2010 3:46 PM

It's cowardice and selling out by both parties. The wealthy and the special interests are ascendant and will have their tax cuts as tribute for their abillity to buy elections. The Republicans are serious about deficit reduction only so far as it serves their election rhetoric. The Democrats who support this deal have lost their policy compass.

Posted by: cassandra9 | December 7, 2010 3:40 PM

I recall hearing Sen. Max Baucus flatly state that he would NEVER touch the tax code because it would be too difficult to revise.

Most Americans are not interested in revision.

Those with whom I have spoken would like the entire tax code deleted and completely re-written into a simpler document that would make it a piece of cake for any taxpayer to complete a form.

In the 1930s, tax forms were the size of a post card.

A reason that Sen. Baucus and Congress don't want a simpler tax system is that they are afraid that they would lose their ability to control the public. They would lose the billions they received from interest groups, NGOs, corporations, unions, and so many more who feed at the public trough.

This nation needs a complete overall of its tax system, and neither the Congress (regardless of party control) nor the "change you can believe in" Obama have the political will, courage, and basic patriotism to do it.

What a shame. What a scam.

Posted by: retiree11 | December 7, 2010 3:21 PM

There is a well written, informative book by a leading economist named Brian Wesbury called "It's Not as Bad as You Think". Pick up a copy and read it, it might just change perspectives.

Posted by: paul_anderson2 | December 7, 2010 3:19 PM

In the range of realistic possibilities this compromise is about the best that could be expected. The Federal Reserve's policies are probably much more of a problem. The bigger issue is that nobody has a realistic solution to the economic problems that are causing the loss of American jobs, the large trade deficit, and the decline of the American economy. Only the next two years will tell if any progress is made before this decision has to be revisited and the American electorate gets another chance to influence the outcome. But there is a large chance that people will not be able to build a consensus around any serious change until the next crisis forces us to do the best we can to cope with it.

Posted by: dnjake | December 7, 2010 3:07 PM

I gues the old saying still is true-"A plague on both your houses" except there are now three,Senate, Congress and the White House. And the tea partiers cry about raising taxes on millioares and billionaires because the blackman wanted it.

Posted by: msjn1 | December 7, 2010 2:57 PM

Shame on both Obama and the Republican leadership. There's no way America can afford another 4 trillion in debt. It's amazing how little backbone our politicians have. We should not have extended the tax cuts or continued with unemployment payments. I don't think it's wrong to ask the richest people in America to pay the same taxe rates they paid 30 years ago. By the same token while I'm sympathetic to the unemployed at some point we have to stop paying them benefits. Sorry folks but looks like you will have to take whatever jobs are available even if they pay significantly less than what you were making.

Posted by: pezbb | December 7, 2010 2:45 PM

As usual, biased media looks for a (token?) Rep to go against the main Republican line -- no new taxes.

how to reduce the nation's ballooning deficit--with little if any attempt to create a more lasting and sustainable solution.

The deficit is 100% caused by too much spending. Bush43 was somewhat unpopular among Reps for too much spending, at 4.5% unemployment. Obama shouldn't expect to be anything but more unpopular with Reps at each and every sign that he wants to increase taxes.

Where was Jena in arguing against the TARP bailouts for the rich irresponsible bankers?
Let's remember, rich people get richer by hiring workers to to jobs that benefit the rich. It's not the Dems addicted to Other People's Money that are doing much hiring.

Look at the income tax receipts and the rich already pay more than a "fair share". There is no moral basis for using gov't force to take more cash from the rich to support middle class folk who have been consuming (mass quantities like coneheads) instead of saving and taking care of themselves.

But there was also no moral basis to give the reckless / careless rich bankers the huge bailouts that the majority Dem Party (since 2006 in the House) supported, with Bush (& McCain) support, against most Reps.

The "adult conversation" is this: what gov't programs get cut how much, when.

When states & cities go bankrupt because of too much spending & promises, especially retirement promises, the fair result will be to give the retirees what they put in, not what they were promised.

Posted by: TomGrey2 | December 7, 2010 2:30 PM

The Dems have no one to blame but themselves--Republicans stick together. The Dems had a majority in both houses & couldn't pass 1 piece of legislation (other than the horrendous health care bill which doesn't have single payer option). Instead the Dems are deeply divided from each other. When Bush rolled into office he passed legilation and created 2 wars that led us to the morally & financially bankrupt country we are today. People say Obama's presidency is failing when it's Congress (both the House and Senate) that is failing the people. Instead of stepping in with Bipartisan acts and looking after people that voted them in (and are the backbone of this society--where would the USA be without middle class taxes) they are nothing more than corporate puppets (both Dems and the GOP). To make matters worst, Republicans have decided to fillibuster every piece of legislation (even ones that were once proposed by GOP members)--in order to not give Obama or any other Dem props for it. They filibuster everything. Obama should have acted like Clinton and let families on unemployment lapse from the rolls and then blame it on Republicans (which blame would be rightly deserved). It is a shame that Republicans are using unfortunate members of our society to profit people who do not need it (people earning $250K and above), the GOP wants to not give people on social security as well as federal workers a raise for two years and wants the average citizen to work until 70. Why doesn't Congress take a pay freeze or go back to 2007 pay rates as well as pass legislation to stop giving Congressional golden parachutes (health care packages and pensions)--the average citizen doesn't have these why should they....just a thought.

Posted by: NubianHues | December 7, 2010 2:22 PM

Why is the media so limited in the way they frame a question? Cowardice or compromise? Try corruption. Both parties feed at the same trough. The democrats only pretend to represent their constituency and then pretend to be weak and totally inept negotiators.

Obama is the president he always intended to be. His campaign was a sham and set a new record for phoney promises. His response to Canada on NAFTA, saying "Don't you worry about me making any changes, just ignore my campaign rhetoric" was symptomatic of every campaign promise he has made.

When people talk about Obama "not getting it" they should be taking a good look at themselves. Obama only doesn't "get it" if you are willing to believe that this otherwise very intelligent man suddenly became stupid after he was elected. He "gets" that the way to cash in is by serving the same corporate masters as the Republicans.

Posted by: sfwsa | December 7, 2010 2:13 PM

Flipp, I'm sorry you're so bitter about the state of our nation, but I can't help but notice that your posting has almost NOTHING to do with the trenchant point Jena makes.

Speaking of which: I admire Sen. Voinovich's candor about how profoundly stupid and selfish it is to extend massive tax cuts we can't afford, especially since his opposition is not a deathbed conversion. If memory serves, he was one of the few GOP senators to fight the tax cuts when George W. Bush first rammed them through back in 2001.

It is quite clear that we couldn't afford them a decade ago, and we are in even worse shape now. History will be very harsh in judging all those who back this irresponsible pickpocketing of future generations.

Posted by: DCSteve1 | December 7, 2010 2:09 PM

The Europeans roll up their sleeves and without fanfare cut the spending and get on with it. China's national motto is "yes we can do anything". They try everything new. They're prepared to fall on their face but they always jump into trying new things. By contrast America's politicians are the dumbest on the earth. Truly, mind boggling stupidity of this magnitude exists only in American politics, particularly the GOP who are against government spending, but they spent more than anybody - unfunded wars, unfunded prescription benefits, unfunded tax cuts and now more unfunded tax cuts. The deficit balloons. Soon nobody will accept US dollars and the US won't even be able to import oil. So sad that the country's politicians are so stupid.

Posted by: betterdays1 | December 7, 2010 1:58 PM

Yes we do get the government we vote for.

This country is so divided by so many factions I am not too sure it can be mended.

I have seen 85 years of politics, I helped win a war, the last war that was won.

I have seen the welfare nanny state grow beyond description. I've seen good men fight wars, I've seen good men killed because of arrogance, stupidity and cowardace from politicions.

I for one do not want the government in my life. I paid SS, it's a ponzi scheme, but now I want my money back.

My investments in capitalistic companies pay me greater dividends that SS.

I was a capitalist, I had my own business, I have worked in 26 countries and 26 States.

I hate socialsm, I have lived in socialist countries.

To oppose socialism today is heresy.

A constructive way is to return government to what the constitution requires of it and not what they think we need.

National Security the government is not protectings us.

Interstate commerce is a farce.

The government is doing token protecting us from illegals.

We are importing foriegn workers when we have high unemployment.

We are giving tax(borrowed) money to teach kenyans how to wash their testicles.

We are supporting students to go to college and not learning anything that helps the GNP.

The government endorses class envy.

It's no wonder people are mad, the government purposely is doing this.

Everything is a crisis when there isn't any.

Mad yes, Madder than hell.

Posted by: flippo10 | December 7, 2010 1:51 PM

The Intellectually Lazy Electorate have succumbed to the drumbeat of "No Taxes" and "Cut the Government Waste". Now the drummer boys have not the courage to show them that the waste is their entitled safety net and the protections a big government that provides what the free market cannot and will not provide. The Emperor has no clothes and the Emperor is the American Public who despise the educated and ignores science in exchange for simplistic solutions that cannot solve the complexity of the problem or a real discussion of the facts. The taxes will come and the entitlements will shrink and go away. How and when we deal with these two necessities and address the debt will determine how long this Great Recession will last and what this Nations status will be when it is over and possibly prevent a real class war. Morality Plays, Guns and Consumption will not get us to the other side.

Posted by: J1107 | December 7, 2010 1:32 PM

Cowardice, lack of leadership, whatever you want to call it -- we get the government we vote for (or in many cases, don't vote for at all).

Why should we expect leadership & tough decision-making from our pols when it's abundantly clear that we don't even expect it from ourselves?

Not that this really excuses the pols, but still, if voters weren't so completely swayed by sound bites, identity politics, and news that serves to confirm ones' biases, maybe we would actually hold pols accountable in some kind of real, constructive way (i.e. not pointless Tea Party "populism").

It's a sad scenario however you look at it. Wake up, America, PLEASE wake up! It's your only hope.

Posted by: MiuBot116 | December 7, 2010 1:21 PM

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