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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Democrats cave to pressure on tax cuts

Democrats have reluctantly allowed for a two-year extension of tax cuts for the richest 2 percent of the nation as long as unemployment benefits are extended in tandem, to which Republicans have gladly “”acquiesced.””

Calling this a compromise would be inaccurate because, as usual, the Democrats were the only ones making concessions.

Republicans didn’t “”accede to Democratic demands”” to extend unemployment benefits, which is the story being peddled by the media. With an unemployment rate of nearly 10 percent, Republicans had no choice but to extend unemployment benefits. The only reason they obstructed efforts to extend them earlier is because it would allow them to use the issue as a bargaining chip in future negotiations with the White House. Incoming Speaker of the House John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had no problem holding unemployed Americans hostage in order to get what they wanted.

But not only were the Democrats oblivious to the Republican Party’s duplicity; they failed to use favorable public opinion to make their case. A recent CBS poll indicates that a combined 67 percent of Americans oppose tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent, a decisive majority.

The Democrats had the political clout to ensure the tax cuts were allowed to expire and had they fought for it, they would have succeeded.

This latest capitulation from Congress and the White House has enraged the “”professional left,”” and rightfully so. Cenk Uyger, host of the popular syndicated radio talk show “”The Young Turks,”” lambasted the Democrats for allowing themselves to be emasculated by Republicans once again. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which was strongly opposed to any negotiations with Republicans on tax policy, released a scathing web ad calling on the president to remember his 2008 promise to repeal the tax cuts for the wealthy.

If current tax rates remain in place for another two years, “”coincidentally”” coinciding with the remainder of Obama’s term, it will not only prove politically damaging but could send this country spiraling into an economic depression. Tax cuts for high-income earners are unjustifiable in the middle of an economic recession. Any economist will tell you this. An analysis of tax policy and its effect on overall economic conditions for the past 30 years proves tax cuts for the wealthy do not spur economic growth.

In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan’s massive tax cut for the rich not only tripled the federal deficit but led to a precipitous increase in income inequality. Reaganomics may have strengthened the job market in the short term, but it did so on the backs of middle class workers and at the expense of a balanced budget.

On the other hand, the Clinton tax hikes of 1993, which fell exclusively on the upper class, ushered in the longest sustained period of economic growth in this nation’s history. Annual income for middle class Americans increased by more than $6,700 and there was a budget surplus of $230 billion by the end of Clinton’s second term.

Under the Bush administration, these gains were reversed. The Bush tax cuts of 2003 brought with them the worst economic recession since the Great Depression. The federal deficit ballooned to a staggering $482 billion and the number of Americans living in poverty increased by 21.04 percent.

If three decades worth of empirical evidence and the support of 67 percent of the American people isn’t enough to empower the Democratic Party to take a stand against tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent, what will?

The impotence of this Democratic-led Congress is absolutely sickening. The party’s weak national leadership and its reluctance to draw a line in the sand will be the nail in its coffin in 2012. If Democrats cannot make a case for something as fundamental as progressive taxation, they are doomed.

— Nyles Kendall is a political science junior. He can be reached at

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