Obama Tax Deal Provokes Liberal and Netroots Anger
The compromise forged Monday between President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans which includes a two year extension of tax cuts for the wealthy has left Democratic liberals and the progressive netroots despondent and angry.
Adam Green of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee called the deal a capitulation. "Everything President Obama has done has signaled weakness and has sent a signal to Republicans that if they block tax cuts long enough, at the end of the day he will pass whatever comes across his desk. That is not how you negotiate," Green said… Green said the main problem is that Democrats run from their own shadow whenever taxes are mentioned, even if "they're fighting for 98 percent of the American people and Republicans are clearly standing up for only the wealthiest 2 percent. That is an admirably winnable fight, so they shouldn't have put it off until after the election."
The Obama-Republican deal will also bring enormous pressure to bear on the more liberal Democratic delegation in the House, especially lame duck Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco). Pelosi has firmly opposed the extension of the tax breaks for the wealthy but now she will have to struggle to keep her caucus from staging an open revolt against the White House. Pelosi was among Democratic leaders who met with Obama on Monday to discuss the deal. Various sources cited in press reports say that Obama told the Democratic congressional leadership that he got the best deal possible.
Fierce negative reaction to the Obama-led compromise is also pouring in from the liberal and netroots constituencies that helped elect the president two years ago. Obama is now risking a “failed presidency” wrote Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor of The Nation, America’s largest and oldest progressive news weekly. Her most recent column in The Washington Post, published just hours after the deal was announced, opens with these embittered words: “Ronald Reagan famously quipped that the Democratic Party left him before he left the party. Like many progressive supporters of Barack Obama, I'm beginning to have the same feeling about this president.”
Liberal analyst Robert Kuttner, founder of The American Prospect, wrote on the eve of the tax compromise that “Barack Obama is a disaster as a crisis president” and warned that if the president doesn’t take a harder stand against the Republicans, America will be in for an “awful decade.”
The feisty liberal blog, Firedoglake.com, which has frequently criticized Obama from his left, reflected much of the disillusioned sentiment of the netroots when it featured a post late Monday night reading: “In case you didn’t know, George Bush is still the effective President of the United States.”
Despite the grumbling on Obama’s left, it is generally expected that his tax compromise package will pass both houses of congress within a few days. While some liberal Democrats might eventually vote against the White House, it is unlikely they can muster enough votes to either block or filibuster the package.
Vice-President Joe Biden is scheduled to meet with Senate Democrats in an attempt to rally support for the measure.