Courageous strategy or hollow drama?

According to an article on, Senate Republicans made a stand in an effort to focus the Senate on one issue – taxes.

“All 42 Senate Republicans signed a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, vowing to prevent a vote on “any legislative item until the Senate has acted to fund the government and we have prevented the tax increase that is currently awaiting all American taxpayers.”

As usual, I am skeptical and critical of Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY).  He is an old-school partisan who has always favored the sound-byte and rhetoric over the American people and true action.  I find it hard to believe that the Republicans believe this to be an effective strategy in getting the Democrats to cede their position.

Unquestionably, party loyalists will read this article and have predictable reactions.  Republicans will see this as a brave move and focus on the Democrats’ unwillingness to compromise.  Democrats will see this as an arrogant and petty public relations move to take advantage of the messaging and focus on Republican short-sighted stubbornness.

What result?

The American people will get ignored in favor of political posturing and an unwillingness to compromise.

The whole idea of compromising is lost on these two groups, especially when it comes to taxes.   Neither group has any intention to move an inch on this issue and Democrats will likely win because if nothing happens (which is more than a safe bet) the tax cuts expire.  Are the Republicans really interested in finding middle ground or is this move a calculated approach to begin the “blame game” when the deadline eventually passes?

Call me overly cynical, but I am a moderate.  We’ve seen this before.  I cannot read a story like this without immediately shaking my head and accepting the inevitable.  There will be lots of finger-pointing and name-calling throughout the month of December, everyone will blame each other and nothing will change.  Ultimately the deadline will pass, taxes will return to pre-Bush tax cut levels and the Republicans will smugly blame Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama while the rest of us struggle to figure out a new reality.

But please don’t misunderstand me.  I’m not angry about a tax increase.

In fact, I’m not blindly asking for the tax cuts to continue.  I’m swayed by President Obama’s argument that now is not the time to be cutting taxes and the government could use the extra $700 billion (as if that’s not the understatement of the year).

What angers me is that so much of this seems hollow.

It’s hard to believe in these “pledges” because it requires me to believe in the people making them.  I’ve been fighting that hopeless feeling for the last few years.  Obama made it go away for a while.  But it’s back.  We’re never going to get actual dialogue, substantive compromise (or progress), or a new political culture from the same people who oversaw the last 15 years of partisan bickering.

We changed out the President in 2008, but stuck him with the same faces and personalities who caused much of what we’re now dealing with.  Many people see this as a good thing, because it means political stability.  But its really not. We cannot revamp the whole government in 1 election – the Senate election cycle sees to that.  So, how else can we send a message?

The combination of President Obama’s 2008 campaign and the Tea Party movement have started to change political expectations.  Yet, much more change is needed.  It still seems like either most Americans or our Congressional leaders (one or the other) don’t understand that real change and real progress requires COMPROMISE.  Not just saying the word a few times at a press conference.

Actual willingness to accept portions of someone else’s plan in exchange for portions of your own plan.  It’s not pretty and both sides should leave the table a little unhappy.  That’s how negotiations work.

My father used to negotiate labor agreements for a manufacturing plant and the understanding was that neither side could get everything it wanted.  If both sides left unhappy, that was a practical, useful agreement.  Sounds terrible doesn’t it?

Why would any politician go on cable news and say something so negative?  We’d vote him right out of office.  That doesn’t make us feel warm, fuzzy and hopeful at all.

So, is it that we’d rather be lied to and feel good about our politicians or be told the truth at the risk of having to sacrifice some of our position?  It seems that many people want more government services and less taxes while politicians like Senator McConnell want to get everything without compromise.  Totally unrealistic on both accounts.

So, as my mother used to say, we need an attitude adjustment.  Either, as voters, we support (and trust) politicians who make tough choices that are good for the country or we continue this political charade of “pledges” and name-calling and run this country into the ground.

It truly is our call.



One response to “Courageous strategy or hollow drama?

  1. How right you are on your analysis.

    The play of the Republicans is near perfect. They can not truly run on extending the Bush-era tax cuts if they want to present a balanced budget at some point in the future.

    Likewise, they can not compromise on raising taxes because they would look weak to their constituents and the Tea Party.

    Instead they will make the best played move they can. They will let the cuts expire, blame the Democrats for “Massive tax hikes” during a recession.

    The true issue is the minority party has too much control with the ability to fillabuster and require a super majority for anything they want to play at politically. It is brilliant from the Republicans to do this and help themselves get so quickly back into favor after they were squarely to blame in the eyes of the electorate not just two years ago.

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