I'm still deeply disappointed in Obama and the Democratic leadership in Congress. They had plenty of opportunities the past two years to fulfill one of Obama's central campaign promises: repeal the Bush tax cuts for the richest Americans, and keep the middle class tax cuts.
But I wrote my "Send a message to Obama: unsubscribe from OFA" post before all of the details about the deal with Republicans were released.
I haven't changed my mind about Obama being a weenie, or the desirability of telling Organizing for American to take an email hike. However, I'm finding more things to like in Obama's quasi cave-in to the Republican leadership.
As David Leonhardt says in "For Obama, Tax Deal is a Backdoor Stimulus Plan," the deal does quite a bit to improve the economy -- even though the giveaway to millionaires and billionaires makes me want to barf.
Mr. Obama effectively traded tax cuts for the affluent, which Republicans were demanding, for a second stimulus bill that seemed improbable a few weeks ago. Mr. Obama yielded to Republicans on extending the high-end Bush tax cuts and on cutting the estate tax below its scheduled level. In exchange, Republicans agreed to extend unemployment benefits, cut payroll taxes and business taxes, and extend a grab bag of tax credits for college tuition and other items.
...Initial estimates by economists suggested that the overall legislation would reduce the unemployment rate by one-half a percentage point to a full point over the next year, compared with allowing all the tax cuts to expire and passing no new stimulus. By the end of 2012, the decline could be up to 1.5 percentage points, economists said.
Hopefully the deal will be improved by disappointed Democrats in the House and Senate before it is passed. I'm coming to agree with a New York Times editorial, "Voting for an Odious Tax Deal," though. As bad as Obama's deal is, it could have been a lot worse, and needs to be accepted for a glass half full -- not rejected as a glass half empty.
Liberal Democrats are in revolt at the tax deal that President Obama struck with Republicans on Monday, and it is not hard to understand why. By temporarily extending income tax breaks for the richest Americans, and cutting estate taxes for the ultrawealthy, the deal will redistribute billions of dollars from job creation to people who do not need the money.
But the Democrats should vote for this deal, because it is the only one they are going to get. Mr. Obama made that case — strongly — on Tuesday, summoning an eloquence that is often elusive, as it was on Monday when he first announced the deal. Without this bargain, income taxes on the middle class would rise. Unemployment insurance for millions of Americans would expire. And many other important tax breaks for low- and middle-income workers — including a 2 percent payroll tax cut and college tuition credits — would not be possible.
If angry Democrats blow up the deal, they will be left vainly groping for something better in a new Congress where they will have far less influence than they have now. The middle class and the unemployed would be seriously hurt.