Monday, December 6, 2010

They are who we thought they were! And we let 'em off the hook!

“They are who we thought they were!  And we let 'em off the hook!”

-- Dennis Green, former NFL player and coach

Dennis Green was having a mental meltdown about the Chicago Bears, but somewhere in the deep recesses of his brain, he could have been talking about Democrats and Republicans. The two major political parties in the United States continue to be a major disappointment. Liberals and conservatives make promises and assure the citizenry they won’t back down in the face of pressure – and we believe them, have hope in them. Political parties might be the ruin of the United States.

Today, President Obama announced a “deal” had been reached between Democrats and Republicans about the tax cuts set to expire in less than a month. Republicans agreed to extend unemployment benefits for an additional 13 months and in return, Democrats ceded to conservative demands that tax cuts be extended for all American citizens. Sounds like a good compromise, right? Not so fast.

Obama, Democrats and Republicans sold out. The GOP and their Tea Party friends have hounded Congress and the president for the past two years about reining in government spending. They have railed against deficit spending and consistently have called for fiscal responsibility. Republicans voted down the idea of extending tax cuts to only those making less than $250,000 annually. The rationale? Republicans argue no one’s taxes should be increased in a weak economy and the measure would not help job creation. People might believe the GOP if they used the excuse of “this isn’t fair.” Instead, Republicans try to make American citizens believe those making more than a quarter of a million dollars annually are somehow struggling. By using the tax plan proposed by Democrats, hundreds of billions of dollars would be generated in revenue that could be used to chip away at the deficit or any government expenditure.

The Republican Party traded away their bargaining chip for allowing an extension of unemployment benefits for over a year. Where is the fiscal responsibility conservatives touted for so long? The compromise they support would cause an increase in the deficit. Incidentally, Republicans have been quick to point out they are they party who responds to what the people want. If they are so keen on that idea, I wonder if they would put this measure to a vote amongst the public.

Republicans aren’t alone in their ridiculous behavior. President Obama and Democrats are equally complicit in allowing a watered-down version of what they were after. Obama stressed in his 2008 presidential campaign that taxes would only be increased on the wealthiest citizens. He even hinted at his unwillingness to relent on this issue as recently as last week.

When Obama attempted to stare down his political opponents, he blinked – and rather quickly. The president must find a way to achieve objectives without bending over backwards to accommodate Republicans. Once the Senate Republicans threatened to block any legislation until tax cuts were extended to all Americans, Obama caved. Democrats never dig in and hold their ground and the opposition exploits this weakness.

President Obama has given in and the rest of his party will follow suit. Democrats are cracking under the pressure, pleasing the people in the short term, but failing them in the long run. Senate Democratic Whip Richard Durbin (Ill.) described the arrangement as “unconscionable” and he is undoubtedly correct in his assessment.  In the end, however, both parties have stayed true to their form and Americans will pay the price for it.

They really are who we thought they were.

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