The Democrats have bollixed up what was supposed to be a “populist” (i.e., class warfare) midterm-election ploy –the extension of the Bush tax cuts for all but the “rich” (small businesses, investors, etc.). It turns out that the recession made Americans neither more envious of the rich nor more enamored of liberal statism but instead more sensitive to the need to bolster employers, foster growth, and abstain from doing things that make the economy even weaker (like passing a mammoth tax and regulatory bill improperly labeled “health-care reform”).
As Kim Strassel explains:
The political problem Democrats have is self-created. Rather than embrace the winner of full tax relief, President Obama has chosen to draw an ideological line and to motivate his liberal base with his position against tax cuts “for the rich.” Democrats are now fearful that if they cave it will demoralize that base, and further handicap them in midterm races.
But if Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi don’t thrown in the towel on the Obama gambit, they may not be able to muster a majority for the president anyway, thereby embarrassing themselves (and him) and ensuring the defeat of any members silly enough to stick with the sinking U.S.S. Pelosi.
They might, as Strassel suggests, punt — do nothing before fleeing town. But that would look rather lame:
This option is, however, not so popular among many rank-and-file Democrats. Perhaps the only thing worse than being accused of voting for $700 billion in tax increases is being accused of doing nothing and allowing $4 trillion in tax increases, most of them on average Americans. Democrats will blame Republicans, but that will be hard to do if Democrats don’t even go through the vote motions.
The Republicans are exceptionally fortunate to have such inept opponents. If they can avoid the impulse to give away something for nothing (and in fairness to John Boehner, he’s pretty much abandoned his Sunday talk show mondo gaffe), they might not only win some political points but also drive a stake through the left, which for decades has inveighed against tax breaks for the “rich.” Finally, it seems we may all be Reagan supply siders. Conservative have every right to gloat.