Democrats, Meet Mr. Hobson
Democrats don’t like President Barack Obama’s tax compromise. They’re disappointed. Some may vote against it. But the package still seems destined to pass.
“If the idea is that this is a take-it-or-leave-it deal, I think the president’s going to realize there are going to be a lot of Democrats who are going to be voting ‘no’,” House Democrat Anthony Weiner tells ABC.
The tough-talking New Yorker, one of Obama’s more ferocious critics on the tax issue, has likened the tax discussion Vice President Joe Biden had with House Democrats on Wednesday to a prison brawl.
He calls Obama “negotiator in chief” for accepting a weak-kneed deal with congressional Republicans and warns the president to pull his socks up or face the consequences: “I have to tell you something: It’s only going to get worse for the president if he allows himself to be pushed around like this,” Weiner says.
The question is which consequences are likely to matter most to Democrats at large.
The ‘no’ votes Weiner’s talking about would say ‘no’ to further tax cuts for wealthy Americans.
But House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer says that would also mean ‘no’ to middle-class tax cuts and extended unemployment benefits for the jobless, because those dang filibustering Republicans in the Senate want tax cuts for all and won’t budge an inch.
As a result, the average U.S. taxpayer would see taxes rise $3,000. Think of the economy, not to mention the next election.
“In the final analysis, the president was confronted with the reality, as we all are, of a sufficient number of Republicans … who said unless the wealthiest are given a break, then we’re not going to give a break to those who are unemployed or to those who are working Americans,” Hoyer tells MSNBC. “We don’t want to put the non-wealthy in our country at such risk, so we’ll see what we can do.”
Senator Patty Murray, who is spearheading the Democratic Party’s senatorial campaign for 2012, suggests that rich guy tax cuts will ultimately sour on middle-class families.
“We’re going to see that once again they’re going to get the short end of the stick,” she also tells MSNBC.
Then, presumably, Republicans will get their comeuppance.
Meanwhile, she says Democrats face a “Hobson’s choice” on taxes. That’s a reference to the English livery stable owner Thomas Hobson who famously offered his customers the choice between the horse in the nearest stall or none at all.
But is there still a choice to be made?
“We adamantly believe that the tax cut for the wealthiest Americans will hurt us in the long run. But we also know our economy’s struggling and families are struggling, and we’ve got to do something today to help them,” Murray says. “In order to help middle-class Americans, it may be the step we have to take reluctantly.”
That sounds very close to a done deal.
Photo Credits: Reuters/Nicholas Roberts (Weiner); Reuters/Kevin Lamarque (Obama); Reuters/Brendan McDermid (Traders); Reuters/Jonathan Ernst (Hoyer)
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