George Will: Fiscal Cliff Beginning of the Decline of Liberalism
I'm not sure what George Will was smoking before he made an appearance on ABC's This Week on Sunday morning, but apparently he believes that Democrats agreeing to extend tax cuts for income under $400-450K somehow marks the beginning of the decline of liberalism and now no other taxes can ever be raised. And of course in Will's world, we must go after "entitlements" because the only way to keep them was going to be to raise taxes on the middle class.
Never mind that, as Robert Reich reminded him, we did just raise taxes on the middle class with the expiration of the payroll tax holiday. I'm just wondering how many things Republicans have voted for to which he's asserted that same sense of finality? Or anyone else, for that matter? Will, like other Republicans, seems to have a little bit of trouble with that whole concept of compromising -- which, as much as people may dislike the results, is what used to be considered the normal way politics operated in Washington. Now it's become a series of hostage taking events, with Republicans continually threatening to kill the hostage if they don't get what they want.
I'm pretty sure Will has been predicting liberals' demise for quite some time now, but if his party thinks the way they're operating these days is an acceptable form of governing, and if they continue to push to destroy our social safety nets, the voters will start to wake up to the fact that we've got a problem with one of the political ideologies in this country -- and it's not liberalism.
Liberal groups in this country are the ones pushing back against austerity, against the unfairness of the unequal income distribution, pushing for a tax code that's fairer and pushing to keep our social safety nets in place. Will and his ilk are ready to throw grandma and the poor and the middle class under the bus and back over them a few times.
Transcript below the fold.
STEPHANOPOULOS: We've got to start out with this detail. I think, George, it was the first time that Congress was in on January 1st since the Korean War. And you say the deal -- and this is kind of a contrarian view -- was actually a triumph.
WILL: In this sense, I think people will look back on this deal as where liberalism passed an apogee and went into decline for the following reason. In the Bush tax rates were passed in two tranches, 2001 and 2003. In 2001, only 28 Democratic members of the House voted for them. In 2003, only 7 did. And they did it to make for only 10 years, they were to expire.
Under this deal, 172 House Democrats voted to make the Bush rates permanent for all but 0.5 percent of American taxpayers. What that means is, is that they can no longer tax the middle class. And we have here an endangered species...
REICH: He's pointing to me. I don't know why.
WILL: I'll tell you why. There are only about three liberals in the country -- and you're one -- who aren't actively hostile to arithmetic. And therefore, you know that you cannot fund a state that liberals want, the entitlement state, without taxing the middle class at least. And now you've given up that -- with the locking-in as permanent law the Bush tax rates, that's off the table.
REICH: Well, let me first...
Let me, first of all, say in a slightly more -- more nonpartisan approach, I think that the problem really with the deal is that what we needed most from an economic standpoint is, number one, a stimulus in the short term, number two, serious deficit reduction in the long term, and, number three, some stability and some certainty about the future. And we got none of this.
And that really is a major problem. We are going to be up against continuous trench warfare, and we have not dealt really at all with the deficit, the long-term deficit problem, and in the short term, we've got a huge employment issue. I mean, jobs should be the number-one issue right now in the country. It's still is -- we saw that unemployment report -- it still is a terrible jobs picture. And yet we have virtually no stimulus. In fact, you know, the Social Security taxes are going up.
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