Four pieces of news today about the tax debate leads me to the modest conclusion that America -- or at least the capital that governs in its name -- has gone entirely, unmistakably and undeniably batshit crazy.
1. We just had an election that focused intently on the problems that come with a growing national deficit and debt. Correspondingly, almost every major poll after the election shows the majority of the country therefore doesn't want to extend Bush tax cuts on income above $250,000 a year. Nonetheless, a Democratic president who won the biggest electoral landslide in contemporary history on a promise to rescind those tax cuts -- that same president is now pushing to extend those very tax cuts, thus seriously increasing the national deficit/debt.
2. President Clinton's former chief of staff, John Podesta -- a man who, as head of the liberal Center for American Progress, zealously defends the economic record and model of President Clinton -- just issued a press release arguing for an extension of all the Bush tax cuts in order to not "abandon the millions of Americans who are struggling to keep their families afloat." In other words, President Clinton's former chief of staff is arguing that returning to President Clinton's tax rates would "abandon the millions of Americans who are struggling to keep their families afloat."
3. The Democratic Party, which for a decade rightly argued that Bush tax cuts blew a hole in our budget and didn't spur serious economic growth, is now suddenly arguing that we must extend all the Bush tax cuts to preserve the prospect of economic growth. Somehow, the party now believes spending $60 billion a year on reducing tax rates for income above $250,000 is a better way to spur economic growth than using the same money to (as just one example cited in the New York Times) make college entirely free for half of all American students.
4. Despite Democrats controlling all branches of America's federal legislative apparatus, Republicans are governing the country. As the AP reports under the headline "Republicans achieve top goal in Obama tax-cut plan," the GOP "largely dictated the terms of President Barack Obama's proposed tax-cut compromise." This, despite the fact that to stop the Bush tax cuts, all Democrats had to do was pass nothing.
As I said, mark this day down: It's the day it became undeniably clear that we've gone completely batshit crazy.