WASHINGTON, November 12, 2012 — President Obama had a decisive win on November 6, no doubt about that, taking 332 electoral votes (270 needed to win) to Mitt Romney’s 206 and winning 51 percent of the vote to Romney’s 48 percent. You have to go back to Presidents Reagan, Nixon and Roosevelt to find second term presidents getting 51% or more.
Plus Democrats gained seats in the Senate and the House while key Tea Party candidates were shown the door by voters. Voters had decided that when it came down to it, they preferred President Obama’s vision for moving us forward to the Republican version.
Was it a mandate? Perhaps not, but it was close to one with the voters pointing our political leaders in the direction they want the country to go, basically forward with the Obama Agenda.
The Election Gave America A Real Choice
For a majority of people, the choice was made clear in the election: for Republicans, a smaller government with an emphasis on the upper 2 percent and free enterprise as the source of solutions or for Democrats, an activist government with an emphasis on compassion and the middle class. Voters chose their federal government over a shrinking government and corporations, especially after seeing how vital Uncle Sam was during Hurricane Sandy, doing what states couldn’t do alone, much less businesses.
Plus voters have no trouble ending the tax break for the top 2 percent. Nearly six in 10, or 58 percent, say the rich don’t pay enough in taxes, according to the Pew Research Survey. Even people in upper income brackets agree.
They also understand it takes time to dig out of the Great Recession, and the as economy slowly climbs out of the sinkhole, they believe Obama has America on the right track. They trust him.
Election night it became obvious that there has been a definite shift left in America. Not liberal by any means, but moderate, leaning left. And people are fed up with a do-nothing Congress. They are tired of the hackneyed sloganeering that nowadays passes for political dialogue. Americans said they want to see compromise that leads to action.
With the country headed for the fiscal cliff by the end of the year, they don’t want a rerun of what they heard and saw from Congress in 2010 through 2012. They want something done. And soon.
On Friday, President Obama and Republican House Majority Leader John Boehner both came out and said where they stood, which at this point is nowhere near compromise, though they promised to work together to find one. Don’t hold your breath. At least not right away.
The Pen Is Always Mightier
The President said he was for working with the Republicans to avoid the cliff, and he even suggested getting a jump start on the process by immediately extending the Bush tax cuts for those making less than $250,000, which is 98 percent of Americans and 97 percent of businesses. And he waved his pen, ready to sign.
Previously the President had said he would veto any deal that came across his desk that kept the Bush tax break for the top 2 percent. Supposedly with the same pen.
Republican Majority Leader John Boehner at his press conference said, “This is an opportunity for the president to lead. This is his moment to engage the Congress and work towards a solution that can pass both chambers.”
However, if the past is prologue, then we know from the Grand Bargain that failed in 2011, when Boehner tried to get Republicans to pass it, that he is going to have a tough time convincing his Party to let the President to lead.
Boehner was judicious in what he said, giving few details on what he would accept in a deal, except to reject the suggestion of raising taxes on the top tier of tax payers.
If this becomes the sticking point, the Republicans have boxed themselves in and have endangered the nation’s fiscal health. As conservative “Weekly Standard” editor Bill Kristol said on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace:
“It won’t kill the country if we raise taxes a little bit on millionaires. I don’t really understand why Republicans don’t take Obama’s offer. The Republican Party is going to fall on its sword to defend a bunch of millionaires, half of whom voted Democratic and half of whom live in Hollywood and are hostile?”
Kristol has it exactly right. Yet House Republicans insist all of the Bush cuts should expire, not just those on the middle class. As Boehner explained, the Republican solution is “lowering rates and cleaning up the tax code,” contributing to economic growth and bringing “jobs back to America. It’ll bring more revenue.”
And it would — but not immediately. We need an influx of revenue now. Reforming the tax code could take all of next year to happen, given the rancor in Congress. True, a tax hike on the wealthy won’t solve the deficit problem, but think of it as a down payment on the problem.
Social Security and Medicare Need To Be Tamed
Democrats must also look for tough solutions to the runaway costs of Social Security and Medicare. There are several avenues to achieving that. Just for starters, stop capping the income at which we pay into Social Security. Right now it’s $106,800, but if we were to keep contributing throughout our working lives, especially millionaires and people who make their money from investments, we could begin to make a dent in the problem.
Whatever happens, it needs to happen soon. The President has already said that he knows the process will be messy and unpleasant, but he is willing to make $2.50 worth of cuts for every dollar in taxes.
Will the Republicans take Bill Kristol’s admonition to stop being wedded to tax breaks for the rich and famous, one of the reasons they lost the election in the first place, and come to the bargaining table ready to be full partners in tackling the deficit? Or will it be the same old, same old.?
The American public expects better of its Congress. It’s time for Congress to live up to those expectations before it is too late for all of us.
To contact Catherine Poe, see above. Her work appears in Ad Lib at the Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. She can also be heard on Democrats for America’s Future. She is also a contributor to broadcast, print and online media.
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