President Obama made a Clintonian lurch to the Republican side when he agreed to extend nearly all of the Bush tax cuts. But what to make of the deal?
In the sense that Obama has exhibited a willingness to abandon the left on tax matters, this is good news for his presidency and for the US as a whole. One might think that I’d be a huge fan of the agreement.
You’d be wrong. I strongly believe — and the data back me up on this — that out-of-control spending is the main problem facing our nation. I’d rather have seen Republicans in Congress have abandoned the tax cuts in favor of serious spending restraint. Instead, Obama has successfully used the tax cuts to keep spending.
The tax deal certainly makes future spending restraint more politically-difficult as Democrats and large swaths of the population will view the Republicans as hypocrites on closing the deficit (they are, but not because of the tax cuts, they are hypocrites because they have not been serious about slashing spending). The Democrats are the really sad case here, however. As columnist Jeff Jacoby notes, the left’s extreme reaction to extension of “tax cuts for the rich” clearly illustrates their reliance on the politics of envy and their basic misunderstanding of money and property rights.
If I were in Congress, I’d hold my nose and vote for the deal, but I’d be darn sure that Congress tightened the reigns on spending and did so immediately.
Update: interesting points made counter the agreement by Charles Krauthammer who I don’t always agree with.