Editorial: President’s attempts at compromise are not being reciprocated

Editorial Board

As President Barack Obama attempts to forge a deal on extension of the Bush tax cuts, we feel frustration both at the lack of serious compromise struck by the deal, and at the willingness of Republicans to forego serious governance in favor of obstructionism, showing a lack of concern for serious solutions or bi-partisan effort in any context at all.

Obama’s compromise would extend all tax cuts an additional two years, present a lower estate tax than the one that would otherwise be put in place Jan. 1, continue some stimulus package tax cuts to low and middle-income families, and add an extension of long-term unemployment benefits. Much of the urgency on getting the tax plan passed is based on a Republican promise to filibuster any legislation in the Senate during the lame duck session until all tax cuts are extended. This filibuster particularly affects the New START treaty on nuclear arms reduction and the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” supported by the president, democrats in Congress, the secretary of defense and a large majority of military personnel.

That issues of national security and human rights are now considered leverage in a political game to increase the deficit by furthering tax cuts to millionaires is as sickening as it is irresponsible.

Republican desires to shrink government seem to only be surpassed by their willingness to make it inoperable. To use the driving metaphor so often evoked in the 2010 campaign, “if they aren’t currently driving the car, they’ll gladly yank the steering wheel toward the ditch.” The ditch is certainly where Congress finds itself now; unable to agree or pass anything.

The lack of true compromise gained by Obama is frustrating, as is his inability to articulate the wide opposition to furthering tax cuts to those with the money to pay taxes when deficits are so large. Obama seems to give in far too easily.

While continued long-term unemployment benefits are no doubt a positive gain, they are not a serious compromise or even show of good faith on the part of Republicans. If handing out more than $250,000 to the upper-end taxpayers is responsible government while providing benefits to the long-term unemployed is too much burden, then let them get up and say it themselves.

Congress’ current trend of only being operable when it benefits presidential aspirations cannot continue. The only compromise that should be sought from Republicans is to be willing to make the government work while a Democrat sits in the white house. Surely a Congress that routinely has low double-digit approval ratings could benefit from cooperation between branches.

Obama should work harder to get cooperation from Congress and to make his case to the people and to Republicans. He must stand firm with those ideas that he strongly supports and believes will help end our economic downturn. Republicans though, must come to the table with a serious desire to work in the interests of their nation. If their obstructionism is going to continue for the next two years in a country with serious unemployment, economic instability, international unrest and the ongoing threat of climate change, they may find themselves unhappy with the country they inherit when they get the executive branch back.

But hey, at least some millionaire will be able to have four houses instead of three.