Tag Archives: tax cuts

Mr. Bill: Back in Charge?

At the White House Friday, did the administration waive in a relief president from the bullpen? Sheesh. Bill Clinton came for a private meeting with Prez O — and then proceeded to hold a solo press briefing where the former prez opined on tax cuts and other matters.

And get this. Prez O left Mr. Bill alone at the lectern — while he had to dash off to attend holiday parties.

Here’s from a WaPo story, “Bill Clinton takes the White House stage, again“:

If not a transfer of power, the whole show seemed at least a temporary handoff. An embattled president, fresh off an electoral shellacking and struggling to sell a controversial tax deal to members of his own party, turned to a former president who, exactly 16 years ago, was struggling to right his own presidency after a defeat of almost similar magnitude.

President Obama had invited former president Bill Clinton to the White House for a private talk, the details of which neither man chose to describe. But their public appearance will be long remembered. The sight and sound of Clinton going solo in the White House briefing room, as Obama slipped away to a holiday party, was certainly a head-turner on a slow Friday afternoon.

After brief remarks by Obama, Clinton slid behind the lectern as if he’d never left the building. For a time it looked like he might never leave, as he fielded questions from a White House press corps eager to keep him as long as it could. He stroked his chin. He folded his arms and looked pensive. He gesticulated expansively. He was part professor and full politician enjoying the spotlight.

After a few minutes, Obama seemed to conclude that he would be better served by being out of the picture than as a bystander. “I’ve been keeping the first lady waiting for about half an hour, so I’m going to take off,” he said.

Clinton responded, “Well, I – I don’t want to make her mad. Please go.”

And with that, Clinton had the stage to himself.

Mr. Bill: He’s back. Woot.

Actually, I don’t have any problem with that. Gee, I kinda liked Bill in the White House when he was the Big Dog in the Oval Office. And as you get older, you tend to look fondly at the past as the “good old days.” Who knows. Maybe in another couple decades someone will believe that Jimmy Carter was a good president. Oops. I digress.

Anyway, Prez O certainly needs any help he can get these days.

But I’m not sure that Obama leaving for a holiday party moved the ball forward while Bill was left in charge to sell the administration’s tax cuts.

Here’s from Jon Bershad writing for Mediaite:

However, after introducing Clinton and letting him begin to talk, Obama suddenly announced that he was leaving for a Christmas party and vanished, letting Clinton talk for 25 more minutes as if it was 1996! I guess it could have been worse. Obama could have left to go play hoops.

Seriously, what was the thinking here? This has to be one of the worst PR moves in the entirety of the administration. Obviously, Clinton is probably a more popular Democratic figure right now, but they had to imagine this would hurt Obama. I mean, letting a former president explain your tax bill while you head to a Christmas party? A Christmas party?

Oh well. Just another Friday afternoon Inside the Beltway.

Wonder though if Hillary is warming up in the presidential bullpen for 2012?

Arrrgh.

Back from the Beltway: Pat-Down Anyone?

Well, I made it back to NE Ohio from a brief visit Inside the Beltway. And first full disclosure: I hate flying these days. It’s like having a colonoscopy in public without anesthesia.

But second full disclosure: the trip to DC and back wasn’t bad. And I had absolutely no problems moving through security at either Cleveland Hopkins or Reagan National. As someone who tends to look at the glass as being half empty — if containing any liquid at all — these days, that was somewhat disappointing. I was kinda looking forward to having the opportunity to complain about the experience to the thousands one or two who read these posts regularly.

And realistically, at my age, how many times do you have the opportunity to be groped in public? Sigh.

Oh well. I’m back and sort of easing my way into the weekend. So I’ll let Charles Krauthammer via his WaPo column do the heavy-lifting opining today. Like me, he can’t figure out why the Dems are so upset about the tax deal Prez O negotiated with the lame ducks in Congress. Of course, unlike me, he actually has some Inside the Beltway insights in his column, “Swingle of the year.”

Here’s an excerpt:

Barack Obama won the great tax-cut showdown of 2010 – and House Democrats don’t have a clue that he did. In the deal struck this week, the president negotiated the biggest stimulus in American history, larger than his $814 billion 2009 stimulus package. It will pump a trillion borrowed Chinese dollars into the U.S. economy over the next two years – which just happen to be the two years of the run-up to the next presidential election. This is a defeat?

And more:

Hence that news-conference attack on what the administration calls the “professional left” for its combination of sanctimony and myopia. It was Obama’s Sister Souljah moment. It had a prickly, irritated sincerity – their ideological stupidity and inability to see the “long game” really do get under Obama’s skin – but a decidedly calculated quality, too. Where, after all, does the left go? Stay home on Election Day 2012? Vote Republican?

No, says the current buzz, the left will instead challenge Obama for the Democratic nomination. Really now? For decades, African Americans have been this party’s most loyal constituency. They vote 9 to 1 Democratic through hell and high water, through impeachment and recession, through everything. After four centuries of enduring much, African Americans finally see one of their own achieve the presidency. And their own party is going to deny him a shot at his own reelection?

Not even Democrats are that stupid. The remaining question is whether they are just stupid enough to not understand – and therefore vote down – the swindle of the year just pulled off by their own president.

Well, sometimes those who spend too many of their days Inside the Beltway just don’t get it.

So we’ll see if the Dems in Congress go along with the Prez and vote to extend tax cuts and extend unemployment benefits.

If not, we’re all in for an aggressive pat-down come January 1.

Obama and Friends: Tax Everybody But Me

Well, I’m Inside the Beltway this week with Prez O and the lame ducks. And I expect I’m having more fun — and most likely getting more done — than they are. It appears that the Dems are upset enough about the plan to extend tax cuts and unemployment benefits that VP Joe was dispatched to the Hill for damage control.

Windbag alert at Orange.

The problem here is that the Dems did not have the balls — you listening, Sarah? — to do something before the elections — because they didn’t want to be on record voting for a tax increase for anyone, particularly with unemployment still near 10 percent and a jobless recovery is in full swing.

Here’s from Gail Collins and her NYT Op-Ed, “Falling off the Bandwagon“:

It was at that point that Obama announced a deal with the Republicans to salvage unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless and create a sort of ministimulus bill with tax cuts for everybody, including the working poor, besides the dreaded, hated giveaway to the undeserving wealthy.

“The American people are outraged!” said Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. He wanted the president to draw that line in the sand, let the unemployment benefits lapse, the tax code fall into limbo, and hold out until public opinion forced 60 votes to come around.

If you really wanted the American people to rally around no-tax-cuts-for-richies, shouldn’t we have had this conversation before the election? It’s a lot easier to send Washington a message at the polls than on a protest march in a sub-zero wind-chill factor.

No, we waited until now because the Senate leaders left the timing up to their members who were running for re-election, and the Democrats in question said they’d rather not have to go on the record.

Government in inaction. Yippee!

The reality is that nobody wants to see his taxes increased — just as nobody wants to reduce government spending on anything that is of a personal interest: Social Security and Medicare now topping my list.

And I am with people this week who don’t believe you are wealthy with an income of $250,000 a year. (Full disclosure: me neither.) A million maybe. But do you raise taxes on those people if it means possibly a tax increase for everyone else and an end to unemployment compensation for the long-term unemployed?

Since Congress didn’t act before the mid-term elections, Obama made the best compromise deal he could. And I actually believe that it will have some positive effect on the economy and jobs — unlike the stimulus package a year ago that went apparently to nonexistent shovel-ready projects. Sigh.

Here’s from a NYT article, “In Obama Tax Plan, a Boost for Job Creation“:

A year ago, President Obama and the Democrats made the mistake of assuming that an economic recovery was under way. This week’s deal to extend the Bush tax cuts shows that the White House’s top priority is avoiding the same mistake again — even if it has to upset many fellow Democrats in the process.

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.

For the White House, the deal represents a clear shift in policy focus. Mr. Obama and Democrats spent much of the last year pursuing long-term goals like a health care overhaul and financial regulation, while hoping the economic recovery would continue. But with the recovery faltering and Republicans retaking the House, the administration is turning back to short-term job creation.

And just for the record, if I ever make a million bucks in a year I will be more than willing to pay my fair share in taxes.

In the meantime, come on congressional guys and gals, I’m just a poor pensioner on a fixed income.

And don’t even think about raising my taxes.

Just sayin’.

Tax Cuts and Lame Ducks

Well, looks like the campaigns for the White House and Congress in 2012 really have started. The lame-duck members of Congress have apparently agreed to extend the Bush tax cuts for two years regardless of income. And they threw in an extension of unemployment benefits and a “tax holiday” throughout 2011 on 2 percent of Social Security payroll taxes.

Woot.

Hard to be against any of this in principle. I glanced at a chart yesterday that estimated the amount of additional taxes next year if the tax cuts weren’t extended. And gulp: I would have been forking over about $3,000 more to Uncle Sam. Hey.  I’m just a poor pensioner on a fixed income. Well, not entirely — but close. You get the picture.

But here’s the point. We’re getting a preview now of the next election campaign. People are less concerned about the government deficit than they are about the economy — and jobs. And right now I don’t see anyone — not even the formerly optimistic blowhard economists in the administration — opining that unemployment is going to be much below 9 percent anytime soon, or maybe ever.

Voters outside the beltway want to see elected officials actually do something — and have the courage of their convictions. And I know this is becoming the biggest cliche in American politics, but that is going to require some degree of bipartisanship – and civility. We’ll see.

So during a jobless economic recovery — and that’s what it is — it doesn’t make sense to impose higher taxes. And the Republicans had Prez O and the Dems over the barrel when it came time to extending the tax cuts to the so-called wealthy Americans.

If the Dems had really wanted to do something they should have done it before the elections. But maybe the reality of the Inside the Beltway crowd these days is that it takes lame ducks to get anything done. Sigh.

And speaking of which — Ohio’s senior senator — the retiring George Voinovich — said yesterday that he would vote against extending tax cuts to all Americans. From The Huffington Post:

Retiring Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) has broken ground in the Senate by becoming the first to announce that he won’t support any extension of the Bush tax cuts — for middle-class families or the wealthy — on the grounds that it fails to address serious tax reform or take any real steps toward fiscal austerity.

Spoken like a true lame duck.

George, where you been all these years?

And be careful what you wish for. You’re about to become a pensioner on a fixed income.