Freedom New Mexico
The most remarkable thing about President Barack Obama’s announcement that he had come to an agreement with Republicans on tax rates and unemployment compensation was the virulence with which it was met by many elements of what used to be considered the president’s “base” of unswerving support.
The president agreed with congressional Republicans to extend the current tax rates on all Americans, rather than having taxes rise Jan. 1 on all or some Americans, in exchange for extending unemployment compensation for more Americans to 99 weeks.
The agreement also contemplates a one-year, 2 percentage point reduction in the payroll tax. The estate tax will return at a 35 percent rate for those with estates worth $5 million or more ($10 million for couples), and certain targeted tax breaks in the president’s “stimulus” bill that were scheduled to expire will be extended.
From the standpoint of the ideal — markedly lower tax rates, perhaps on a flat-tax basis, and lower spending — this agreement is pretty flabby. So one can understand some consternation on the progressive side from those who believe that “the rich” should always pay higher taxes under any circumstance, and any compromise on the issue is a betrayal.
But it seems to us that, given the political correlation of forces, it was the best deal the president was likely to get, from his perspective, so it behooved him to agree to it quickly.
The president may have many shortcomings, but there has seldom been much doubt about his ability to count votes. He seems to be coming to grips with the results of the midterm election and has altered his goals and methods of reaching them accordingly, something many of his critics on the left have yet to do.
President Obama has other goals for the current lame-duck session, so handling the tax-rate issue quickly was a necessity.