Sam Stein and Howard Fineman report that the Obama administration is ready to cave on the Bush tax cuts:
President Barack Obama's top adviser suggested to The Huffington Post late Wednesday that the administration is ready to accept an across-the-board, temporary continuation of steep Bush-era tax cuts, including those for the wealthiest taxpayers.
That appears to be the only way, said David Axelrod, that middle-class taxpayers can keep their tax cuts, given the legislative and political realities facing Obama in the aftermath of last week's electoral defeat.
"We have to deal with the world as we find it," Axelrod said during an unusually candid and reflective 90-minute interview in his office, steps away from the Oval Office. "The world of what it takes to get this done."
Democrats have never been known for their strategic sense, but I'm honestly surprised at how poorly they've managed the fight over the Bush tax cuts. This should have been a very easy win; it doesn't take much to disparage tax cuts for the wealthy -- which aren't actually popular -- while proposing new, "Obama tax cuts" for the middle class. Republicans are too committed to tax cuts to oppose them for the middle-class and not bold enough to go for cuts directed solely at high-earners. Splitting the cuts and forcing a vote on both would have only been a political winner, even if the middle-class cuts failed; Democrats could both attack Republicans for their opposition to "middle-class tax relief" while enjoying the restoration of Clinton-era tax rates.
As it stands, Democrats completely dropped the ball on this, and in all likelihood, Republicans will get full extension of the Bush tax cuts, with strong odds that Congress will vote to make them permanent in a few years. Granted, Democrats aren't uniformly liberal, and some might actually want full extension of the Bush tax cuts. Still, aren't they a little tired of Republicans stealing their lunch money at every opportunity?
-- Jamelle Bouie
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