Between dealing with my mother’s passing and my pal Tim Corrimal’s recent vacation (must be nice, Tim!) we haven’t had a chance to do The Tim Corrimal Show the past two weeks. But we’re back in business with Episode 147, “Don’t Be a Sucker” – featuring Tim and me and our friend Shane-O, also known as @FunkedInDaHead on Twitter.
Much of today’s discussion centered on this fascinating movie produced by what was then known as the War Department in 1947, about the dangers of bigotry and how the Nazis used ethnic and religious hatred to divide and conquer. It’s fascinating, and I recommend watching the whole video on YouTube.
A word about one of the comments I made on the show. I’ve been a little taken aback by the depth of anger on the left over the tax compromised announced by Pres. Obama last week – the one that extends the Bush tax cuts for everyone for two years (including, much to the consternation of myself and my fellow liberals, tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans); extends certain other tax cuts that benefit lower income Americans (the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Obama administration’s tax credit for college tuition); and also extends certain unemployment insurance benefits. I agree with much of the commentary on the left to the effect that this is a lousy deal – in fact, Pres. Obama also acknowledges the deal is lousy – but I’m inclined to agree with the President that this is likely the best deal we can get right now, given the Republican minority’s stranglehold on the Senate.
At the same time, I have no problem with my fellow liberals expressing their displeasure with the deal, and I think there have been some legitimate criticisms leveled at Pres. Obama. He could have advocated more aggressively in public for the extension of middle class tax cuts only, and for extension of unemployment benefits independent of the tax issue; and he could have done a better job making the case publicly that extending tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans will add significantly to the budget deficit without creating jobs or stimulating the economy. (Although it’s worth noting that Democrats did, in fact, push a stand-alone extension of middle class tax cuts and an extension of unemployment benefits over recent weeks, and Republicans blocked both). And perhaps if the President had made the case more forcefully in the public arena, either the GOP would have recognized it had to agree to a better deal (unlikely, I think, given their unrelenting obstructionism), or, if we ended up with this deal anyway, the President could have laid the potential negative effects of the deal at the feet of the GOP, where they clearly belong. As it is, I have grave concerns about how the President will deal with the expiration of these tax cuts in 2012, in the midst of what will be a hotly contested reelection campaign.
Anyway, while I don’t like the deal and recognize its potential downside, and while I think the President could have handled it better, I’m not overly upset about it. In the end of the day, the President struck a deal on tax policy, in exchange for which he got some less than perfect but not insignificant benefits for millions of unemployed Americans who would be devastated without those benefits. Sadly, the so-called “99ers,” the ones who have been unemployed for the longest period of time in this ungodly recession, will not benefit from the deal the President negotiated; but something like two million more recently unemployed people will, and that’s not something to scoff at.
But here’s the thing: On a few occasions lately I’ve noticed that if you express anything short of unmitigated outrage over the tax deal – feelings I just don’t have; sorry – some folks on the left will call you a traitor, or worse, a “Blue Dog” (yikes!). And I suppose it’s equally true that honest liberals who express good faith disagreement with the President have also been pilloried by some of his supporters – labeled unrealistic and uncaring, people who’d rather see a Republican elected in 2012 than accept any compromise. And that’s not fair, either (nor did the President help the situation when he criticized “purists” – less of that please!) … So maybe we could all try to have more grown up discussions about these issues; because honest debate is a good thing, not a bad thing, and fair, well-reasoned disagreements, either with the President or his liberal critics, are not merely acceptable, but constructive. We’re going to disagree and debate on the left, and I’m glad for that. That’s who we are. I just don’t see why we have to savage each other whenever we disagree.
So play nice. And don’t you dare call me a Blue Dog!
© 2010 David P. von Ebers. All rights reserved.