Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The President Should Not Have Bowed to the Hostage Takers' Demands

Yesterday, the President defended his decision to extend the Bush tax cuts for the rich. During the press conference, Obama described the Republicans as "hostage takers" holding middle class tax cuts and unemployment insurance benefits hostage. He insisted that when the hostage takers hurt someone you may have to negotiate. Since the hostage takers were hurting the American people by holding up unemployment benefits and middle class tax cuts, he purportedly had no choice but to negotiate with them.

For years, we have been told that the U.S. government does not negotiate with hostage takers or terrorists. Obama should have maintained that policy when he dealt with the GOP hostage takers.

Although I understand and appreciate the President's pragmatism, it is frustrating to see him surrender to the Right's hypocritical demands. Obama vigorously campaigned against tax cuts for the rich. But when push came to shove, he gave the Republicans their holy grail. Not only did he negotiate, he abandoned a core principle. Ideally, one should never abandon one's principles. Instead, one should stand up and fight to the bitter end in support of one's principles.

I refuse to accept the false notion that Obama had no alternative. As he acknowledged, the majority of Americans oppose extending tax cuts for the rich. Obama could have effectively used his bully pulpit and his group, Organizing for America, to rally the American people against the Bush tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.

During this time of soaring unemployment and economic uncertainty, the President and his surrogates could have drove home a populist message. He could have further exposed how the Republican Party tramples on the American masses to serve the interests of rich people and corporations. In today's political climate, I doubt that the GOP would have been able to hold up unemployment benefits and middle tax cuts for long.

During the health care debate, Senator Jim DeMint vowed to break Obama. Hopefully, this compromise did not break Obama. Sadly, this may be the beginning of Obama's path down the gloomy road of capitulation and accommodation.

It pains me to say this but this President is weak. He has no fight in him and the Republicans know it. Like school yard bullies, they are preying on his weakness. If we do not take a stand, the situation will be worst when the Republicans control the House and hold more seats in the Senate during the next session.

Despite our disappointment, we should not abandon the President. However, we must hold him accountable. We demand that he fulfill his campaign promises. Without pressure from progressives, the President will continue to succumb to pressure from the Right. Our silence and blind allegiance will not help the President or the country. It will only empower and embolden the right wing opposition. We must consider joining Senator Bernie Sanders' call to oppose this outrageous compromise.

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