THE BLOG
11/05/2014 04:46 pm ET Updated Jan 05, 2015

Obama, Please Don't Do It -- No Bad Deals With Republicans on Corporate Tax Cuts and Free Trade

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As predictably as clockwork, the pundit class is telling President Obama that to create a presidential "legacy" he needs to find bipartisan agreement with the Republican Congress on issues like free trade and cutting the corporate tax rate to "prove" Washington can govern.

And as predictably as clockwork, Obama embraced this agenda in his first post-election press conference, highlighting free trade and overhauling the corporate tax code "as areas of possible agreement with the Republican majority."

Wrong! Nothing could do more to sabotage a future progressive Democratic revival than a pro-corporate, anti-populist Kumbaya moment. Is this the "legacy" Obama will leave Democrats for the next election -- that corporate Democrats joined hands with corporate Republicans in a "bipartisan" deal to cut corporate taxes and further undermine American manufacturing?

This is would be nothing more than a disastrous replay of Obama's strategy after the 2010 midterms. After Republicans took control of the House, the same pundits told Obama that, in the middle of a recession, he should embrace Simpson-Bowles and work with Republicans to cut the deficit. Obama followed their advice. The result was the disastrous political summer of 2011 in which Obama fruitlessly tried to negotiate a deficit-cutting deal with John Boehner and ended up instead with the idiotic sequester which resulted in a decline the growth rate of the GDP (and a decline in Obama's popularity ratings).

Middle-class wages continued to stagnate, which played no small role in the disgust against government which helped fuel the 2014 Republican victory.

If Obama doesn't want his legacy to be a conservative Republican successor as president in 2016, he should vigorously resist this path of pro-corporate "bipartisan" consensus.

He should use his executive authority to reform immigration, fight climate change, limit the role of money in politics, and limit the invasion of privacy by the national security state.

Obama has a choice -- he can continue to follow the advice of the corporate pundit class. Or he can use what powers he has left to create a progressive legacy. Given Obama's history to date, I'd bet on the former, but pray for the latter.