By Brigitte L. Nacos
George W. Bush insisted on and got hefty tax cuts for the
wealthy and for corporations early on in his presidency and--in spite of huge costs for the right and wrong responses to the 9/11 catastrophe--, these
tax cuts prevailed, were never repealed..
This tax policy contributed to an unprecedented budget deficit that the incoming president will have to deal with. For Barack Obama to push now for $300 billion or so in tax cuts for the benefit of the middle class--and for certain businesses--without repealing at the same time the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy is as imprudent as Bush’s earlier policies.
When I voted for Senator Obama I did so with the understanding that he would
roll back the tax advantages for the rich and for fat corporations that
they got thanks to George W. and shift those funds to middle and lower class
Americans. Unless the reports I read and hear are wrong, this is not what the
incoming president has now put on the table--those with the highest incomes will not return to tax rates before Bush lowered them.
The idea that the current economic crisis must delay the Obama agenda and force the president-elect to side with Republican tax cut ideologues is disconcerting--particularly, because last summer’s hasty tax rebates for the middle class did nothing to stimulate the economy and did not prevent or slow the economic disaster we are experiencing now. Just as the Wall Street bail out did not work as Washington hoped. Instead, these moves widened the federal deficit significantly.
Why, then, should we expect that Mr. Obama’s current tax cut
initiative, if enacted, would fare better?
The Congress—Democrats and Republicans—must reject tax
cuts without repealing the earlier gifts to the rich and rather fatten those parts of the president-elect’s stimulus
package that would allow massive public funding for repairing and expanding America's long neglected infrastructure (i.e., schools, hospitals, bridges, public
transportation systems, electric power grids) and support green projects. This would put a large number of
people to work within a reasonable time-frame and strengthen America’s economic
muscle in the long run.
As candidate, the now president-elect promised change. Further tax-cuts without rolling back the earlier ones would be more of the old stuff.
Now, it is time for Mr. Obama to show that, yes, he can--do it differently and better in Washington!