Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Government by Gimmick

President Obama stopped governing last Summer, opting instead to make proposals that he knew were unacceptable to the Republicans then castigate them for not acting. Now the rest of the Democratic Party (or at least the ones in the Senate) have followed with their attempt to pass the Buffett Rule.

Keep in mind that the Buffett Rule is not about closing the deficit - it would raise a few billion per year when the deficit is over a trillion. It would not create jobs or help the economy. It might even hurt the economy. It would not close a gaping tax loophole. Only a few thousand would be affected and they are all people who invested wisely. It is not comprehensive tax reform - it would simply add a new level of complexity. It isn't about making the rich pay their fair share. The corporate earnings that translate into capitol gains are taxed at the highest rate in the world.

What the Buffett Rule aims at is the appearance of tax fairness.

What the Senate voted on isn't even that. They knew that the measure was likely to fail. They were counting on it. It would have been a disaster for them if it had passed.

The Democrats regarded the Buffett Rule as a trap for the Republicans. They wanted it to fail so that they could use it as an election issue. If they really wanted it passed they could have done so two years ago when they had a filibuster-proof majority.

We have reached the point where it is more important to the Democrats to set traps for the Republicans than to govern. The same thing is true for the budget. The White House's budget was voted down overwhelmingly. The Republicans produced their own budget. Granted it is more of a wish list than a working document but it puts them on the record for how they will handle the fiscal emergencies that face the country. The Democrats regard this as another trap and refuse to even offer this much.

What happened to the promises of post-partisanship?

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