I’ve heard a lot of facile commentary about how John Boehner’s retreat marks a significant victory for Obama.
I wouldn’t say that. I’d just say it’s a foolish defeat for the Republicans. Theirs is a self-inflicted wound; Obama didn’t a lay a hand on them.
And for people to say that this was Obama finally taking a stand is sorely mistaken.
First of all, reducing payroll taxes puts at risk the funding mechanism for Social Security. And Obama could have gotten just about the same stimulus by sending people a check rather than raiding the payroll taxes.
“Providing a middle class tax cut to help spur the economy is the right policy but cutting the contributions that fund Social Security is the wrong method,” says the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. “ When Congress approved cutting $112 billion in payroll taxes from Social Security last December, it promised the American people the move would be a one year temporary stimulus for our floundering economy. . . . Here we are one year later and those promises have been forgotten.”
Secondly, it’s not like Obama got everything he wanted: He originally sought a year-long extension of the payroll tax break, but he only got two months.
What’s worse, he signed off on language requiring him to make a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline within the next 60 days. Prior to this, he’d put off making a decision probably till after the election, fortunately bowing at the last minute to environmentalists like Bill McKibben, who brought some excellent grassroots pressure to bear.
Whatever he decides on the pipeline two months from now will really show us whether he’s learned to stand up and fight or not.
But the compromise he agreed to with the Senate is nothing to crow about.
If this represents Obama’s high water mark, he’s not exactly at flood stage.
If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story "In Madison, 1,000 Singers Defy Walker’s Edict."
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