THE BLOG

Demand Obama Grow a Pair and Not Cave in to Republicans on Tax Cuts for Rich

11/12/2010 12:58 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Last weekend I wrote on The Huffington Post that Obama was already negotiating against himself and telegraphing that he was willing to break his most prominent campaign promise and "compromise" with Republicans to at least temporarily extend tax cuts for the richest 2% without getting anything in return from Republicans. See "Oops, He Did It Again: Obama Already Caving in to Republicans on Tax Cuts for the Rich".

As I warned,

"If Obama won't put up a fight on his keystone campaign promise, when will he ever put up a fight? And if he won't fight for the interests of 98% of Americans, why should they reelect him?"

On Thursday David Axelrod continued the same White House cave-in line in an interview with Howard Fineman and Sam Stein of The Huffington Post who reported that per Axelrod, "the administration is ready to accept an across-the-board, temporary continuation of steep Bush-era tax cuts, including those for the wealthiest taxpayers." The distinction between a temporary and permanent extension is pure sophistry on Axelrod's and Obama's part, since Congress can vote to change taxes at any time. Does anyone believe that if Obama and Democrats support an extension of tax cuts for the wealthy now, they will oppose extending them again in two years, right before another election?

Now the Progressive Change Campaign Committee is circulating a petition demanding that President Obama fight to keep his campaign promise to oppose tax cuts for millionaires which would add nearly a trillion in new debt over the next decade. To sign the petition, go here.

300,000 people signed a petition demanding that MSNBC reinstate Keith Olbermann. Surely hundreds of thousands more can sign a petition demanding that President Obama keep his most prominent campaign promise.

The Petition reads:

"President Obama, ARE YOU KIDDING? Democrats lost in 2010 because they caved instead of fighting on popular progressive issues. Americans strongly oppose more tax cuts for millionaires and nearly a trillion in new debt. If you don't fight on this issue, Democrats may lose even more seats in 2012 -- and possibly even the White House."

Sign the Petition here and forward it to your friends asking them to do the same.

As I wrote in a postscript to my blog last weekend,

"Obama probably lost the 2010 elections for Democrats when he started out compromising by offering too small a stimulus package, too loaded with tax cuts, in order to appease a handful of "moderate" Republicans. While several million jobs were probably saved, unemployment still lingered near 10% as the 2010 elections approached and Republicans convinced a majority of voters that the stimulus was a failure and a waste of their taxes. Obama could have, instead, proposed a big enough stimulus to have worked--in the order of $1.4 trillion--and fought like hell for it. Even if, in the end, only a smaller stimulus could garner the votes of Snowe and Specter to break a fillibuster, Obama could then have blamed high unemployment on Republicans for blocking an adequate stimulus, instead of trying to defend anemic economic growth and continued high unemployment as "progress". Moreover, Obama's backroom compromises on health care reform--deals with big Pharma to block Medicare from negotiating for lower drug prices and Americans from buying cheaper drugs from Canada, deals with for-private hospitals to kill the popular public option, abandonment of his campaign promise that there would be no mandate forcing uninsured adults to buy unaffordable private insurance--compounded the problem and indeed made DeMint's warning that HCR would be Obama's Waterloo a reality.

Just as failure to fight for an adequate stimulus package, and backroom deals on HCR with the for-profit healthcare industry, were the Waterloo of Obama's first two years, failure to fight for his promise of tax cuts for the middle class and small tax increases for the wealthy, coupled with preemptive compromise with Republicans to extend tax cuts for the top 2% without even getting anything in return, would be likely to become the Waterloo of his second two years"

In fact, there's a good chance that this cave-in would be the last straw that leads to a primary challenge to Obama, which would further weaken his chances of reelection and make a Republican takeover of the White House in 2012 more likely. Will Obama's campaign slogan transform from "Change We Can Believe In" to "Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss"?

There's a close connection between further tax cuts for the rich and the deficit commission chairmen's calls this week to cut Social Security and Medicare. The Bush tax cuts added trillions of dollars to the deficit, which inside-the-beltway pundits now want to pay for by cutting the social safety net on middle class and poor Americans. Extending tax cuts for the top 2% will add $700 billion to the deficit over the next 10 years. With exploding deficits, alarmist calls to cut Social Security and Medicare to reduce the deficit will certainly escalate. Just as Bill Clinton was the Democratic President who shredded New Deal financial regulations by signing bills abolishing the Glass-Steagall separation of commercial and investment banks and banning the regulation of derivatives, Barack Obama may well become the Democratic President who helps shred the New Deal social safety net by cutting Social Security and Medicare.

We voted for Obama, contributed to Obama, and campaigned for Obama. Let him know what his most committed constituents thing of his caving in to Republicans on his most prominent campaign promise without even putting up a fight.

Don't let Obama do it. Demand that he stiffen his spine and grow a pair. Sign the Petition here. Forward it to your friends and ask them to do the same. And express your thoughts in the comment section below.