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Kevin Buck: Tax policies should return to Clinton era

Posted: December 11, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: December 11, 2012 2:00 a.m.
 

The 2012 election is now in the history books, and since history is written by the winners, the reality-based community victories will be recorded in textbooks for generations to come (Texas excepted).

I find the aftermath of elections almost as interesting as the campaigns. The nomination and eventual win by President Barack Obama did not come as a surprise to Democratic political junkies. Anybody following the lamestream, “skewed” polling knew that the president was going to easily win re-election.

If you voted on Nov. 6 thinking Mitt Romney was going to be the 45th president, or if you believed the president was born in Kenya, was going to turn the United States into a socialist/communist/fascist gulag, create death panels to weed out the elderly and infirm and imprison conservatives in FEMA re-education camps — then you seriously need to re-evaluate your news sources.

Incumbents always have an edge in any election. The only dark shadow on Obama’s electoral horizon was a sluggish economy and a slower-than-ideal recovery from the greatest American economic collapse since the Great Depression.

No president had ever been re-elected with a national unemployment rate above 8 percent, but the good news for Barack Obama in this election was that the voters did not blame him for the poor economy.

Much to the chagrin of conservatives everywhere, they blamed former President George W. Bush and the Republican Party, and rightly so.

Simply put, the conservative economic agenda enacted by George W. Bush and the Republican congressional majorities in 2001 and 2003 caused an epic economic crash, the loss of millions of jobs and a record transfer of wealth from the middle class to the top 1 percent. That is also recorded history; you can look it up.

I understand that Republicans hate to hear this, but it is important for the future of the country to keep reminding Americans who crashed the economy. And it is especially important today because right now the nattering nabobs in Washington, D.C., are facing off to deal with the looming fiscal slope.

Tax increases for the wealthy, tax cuts for the middle class, spending cuts to social services, defense and domestic programs and the role of government in our lives are all on the table.

Mitt Romney campaigned on the promise to double down on the failed Bush policies, and even in the wake of his resounding defeat, the current Republican leadership is still trying to protect the wealthy at the expense of the poor and middle class.

Consider this: The top 400 wealthiest Americans hold more wealth than the bottom 200 million Americans combined. Something is seriously wrong with this picture.

American voters did not buy into the Romney/Ryan/Republican siren song to return to the top down, enrich the rich economy, yet in negotiations, only the Democrats are responding to the results of the November election.

Democrats have coalesced around the president’s fiscal policies — most importantly, a return to the Clinton-era tax rates for the top 2 percent income earners.

The Democrats have also put $400 billion in spending cuts on the table, along with a modest stimulus package targeted at repairing our crumbling infrastructure.

The Republican congressional leaders responded with Mitt Romney’s vague and specifics-free plan of tax loophole closings and $1 trillion in domestic spending cuts, gutting Medicare and Social Security and the social safety net.

Elections matter and elections have consequences. Obama and the Democrats are negotiating from a position of strength. Republicans are hamstrung by their election losses and their loyalty oath to Grover Norquist, which removes all of their negotiating power on taxes, the key to any balanced deficit reduction deal.

The election may be over, but the politicking never ends. The craven politicians in Washington created this fiscal crisis du jour and they have the power to easily end it and do the right thing for all Americans.

They will get there eventually, but only after they overcome the nihilists who would rather see the economy go down in flames than budge a single inch in negotiations with the Democrats.

Compromise is the key to successful governance, it has been the linchpin of our great democratic experiment, and it will work today if the politicians just put country first over ideology and re-election.

If they do, the nation as a whole will be the winner.

Kevin Buck is a Santa Clarita resident. “Democratic Voices” runs Tuesday and rotates among several SCV Democrats.

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