Democrats parting company with Obama

| June 11 2012
Christopher Cook

In Divisions in Dem coalition resurface in The Hill today, Niall Stanage cites a list of fissures in a normally far more united Democratic Party, including disagreements over the Keystone XL pipeline; the wisdom of the Wisconsin recall; the attacks on Bain Capital; Obama’s failure to deliver certain left-wing priority items; and this . . .

The Democratic fissures reach into policy matters as well as political strategy.

Clinton’s TV comments suggesting he was in favor of temporarily extending the Bush tax rates for everyone were very different from the White House position — that people earning more than $250,000 per year should start paying higher taxes on Jan. 1.

Some high-profile Democrats on Capitol Hill seem to sing from the Clinton songbook, rather than echoing the White House on tax rates.

Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) last week indicated that they were undecided about extending the Bush rates for everyone. Tellingly, both senators are facing reelection challenges this year.

The issue of the expiring tax cuts is just heating up, and Obama and the Democrats are counting on this being a winning card for them to play. You know—the rich, evil, plutocrat Republicans and their massive tax cuts for rich people vs. the unicorn-riding Democrats, pulling dollar bills off of magical trees and giving them to the hard-working, long-suffering poor and middle classes.

But if vulnerable senators find themselves needing to go another direction, and if Bill Clinton goes off message too many more times, Barack Obama may find himself without a class warfare meme to surf into a second term.

 

This same issue of Democratic disunity is cited in this press release from the Office of Speaker John Boehner:

Private Sector Beware: President Obama Plans for Job-Destroying Tax Hikes in a “Second Term”

White House Targets Small Businesses, Threatens Higher Rates on All Taxpayers

Apparently President Obama really does think the private sector is “doing fine.” That’s the only way to explain the White House’s plan for massive tax hikes on job creators and families next year.

Long rumored, the White House has now acknowledged that the president is comfortable putting in place the largest tax hike in American history – $4.3 trillion over the next decade – starting next year. His willingness to raise taxes on all Americans was confirmed this morning in an article in The New Yorker, “The Second Term.” Ryan Lizza writes:

“Several White House officials I talked to made it clear that if a deal, or at least the framework for a deal, is not reached before December 31st Obama would allow all the Bush tax cuts to expire—a tactic that would achieve huge deficit reduction, but in a particularly painful and ill-conceived fashion.”

The “deal” the White House wants, of course, is to raise taxes on families and small businesses with incomes of $250,000 – a level that would hit 50 percent of small business income in America. That’s an idea that has many prominent Democrats uncomfortable. Former President Clinton and Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND), amongst others, have said all rates should be extended (before being forced to retract their comments, of course). And even Democratic Leader Pelosi has said, with the economy still teetering, we shouldn’t raise taxes on anyone making less than one million dollars per year. The president, it seems, is on an island on this issue.

Still, if the president doesn’t get exactly what he wants – a big tax hike on small businesses – he’s prepared to take it out on all American taxpayers. These Obama tax hikes would be devastating for jobs, with rates increasing for small businesses and taxpayers in every bracket – including lower and middle income families. For example, allowing the current policy to expire would mean Americans in the lowest bracket would see their income tax rate go up 50%. It means the Child Tax Credit would be cut in half. It means the Death Tax would skyrocket. It means the Alternative Minimum Tax would hit 31 million families with even higher taxes. It means higher taxes on capital gains. The Congressional Budget Office has already reported that if we don’t work to avoid this massive tax hike, the economy would likely fall back into a recession.  That’s apparently a risk the president is willing to take.

With the president fighting his own party on this issue, Republicans are united in opposition to any new tax hikes. Republicans understand that the private sector is not doing fine, and the last thing we need is a job-destroying tax hike on anyone. That’s why Republicans will vote next month to extend all current income tax rates and give American job creators confidence that they can invest and hire more workers free from a new tax burden.

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