On Monday, President Obama emerged from negotiations with Republican leaders, with an agreement to extend tax cuts passed under George W. Bush, in exchange for extended unemployment benefits and other stuff. Although Obama campaigned against such an extension, the November elections outcome caused him to compromise with the GOP.
This compromise troubles me and should trouble black voters.
President Bush and the Republican Congress passed the tax cut in 2001 with three goals in mind. The first goal was straightforward: The GOP desires to redistribute wealth upward and to pass the costs of government increasingly downward.
The second (related) goal was to further create a unified tax cut constituency. Although no one particularly likes paying taxes, for decades most Americans not only thought that it was necessary, we thought those with the ability to pay a lot, should pay more while others should pay less. While some conservatives believe taxes are necessary, most hate the idea of progressive taxation. But the only way to attack progressive taxation was to reduce taxes for everyone. By creating a large group of middle-class and working class tax-cut supporters, they can reduce support for progressive taxation.
This, by the way, is why Republicans held unemployment insurance hostage – because any attempt to restore progressive taxation threatens to break the unified tax constituency apart.
The third goal is to reduce the ability of the Democratic Party to govern for all time. Hear me out.
Members of the GOP consider themselves to be enemies of “big government.” Ignore for a second the fact that government (and debt) usually grows under the GOP. There are two ways to prevent “big government policies” from becoming embedded in government. The first is obvious – get elected to office so that you can either repeal “big government” policies, or vote in “small government” policies. The second is less obvious – vote in policies that make it exceedingly difficult for the DNC to implement the policies they are interested in implementing.
Now the tax cuts hurt black populations in, at least, two ways.