Saturday, December 11, 2010

"The day Obama became a Republican"

The thing to keep in mind about the political left is that they assume they're morally superior to the rest of us. We mainstream Democrats---we're known somewhat derisively as "moderates" in SF---and Republicans lack backbone, have no principles, and are too willing to engage in the supposedly corrupt practice of political compromise. That's why being a leftist---or "progressive," as they call themselves---is so appealing to the dim and the self-righteous. All you have to do is invoke the the poor, rail against the rich, or insist that peace is better than war to establish your moral superiority---in your own mind, that is.

President Obama lashed out at these folks last week when they hammered his deal with Republicans on the tax cuts, because he knew they had nothing to offer as an alternative. (The only good point the president's critics make: lowering the estate tax on top of tax cuts for the rich is a "bridge too far," as Nancy Pelosi called it.)

How was Obama going to get an extension of unemployment benefits without a deal with Republicans? His critics don't say (Ralph Stone's letter to the editor in today's Chronicle, below in italics, is a good example). All they know is he should have fought more and fought harder, even though the fight over the Bush tax cuts was essentially lost in last month's election.

And in fact the deal involves more than extending unemployment benefits; it also includes reducing payroll taxes for working people, a tax deduction on college tutition, the earned income credit, and, with the tax cuts for the rich, maintaining the tax cuts for everyone else.

To hear local progs like John Burton, Paul Hogarth and Steve Jones tell it, Obama should have just said "no" to any tax cuts for the rich, a political stance they can afford, since they don't rely on unemployment checks to support their families.

Burton, a left-wing Democrat, is so delusional he still thinks the homeless are just poor people who can't pay the rent, that the street punks cluttering up the sidewalks in the Haight are an oppressed class of abused and neglected "youth," when it's evident to those unblinkered by ideology that these young people are living in Golden Gate Park and emerging every day to panhandle for money to buy drugs and alcohol. Poor babies!

Speaking of deal-making and political reality, local progressives botched the homeless issue ten years ago when they failed to recognize that there was an opportunity to negotiate with city liberals and conservatives on a consensus approach to deal with the issue.

Instead, then-Supervisor Gavin Newsom proposed Care Not Cash in 2002 to counter the peculiar political inertia that gripped the city's political leaderhip. In response city progs immediately adopted an antagonistic stance. Care Not Cash was a war on the poor! Newsom was heartless! But Newsom understood what city progs didn't---that city voters wanted something done about the increasing squalor on their streets and in their parks. Unlike city progs, Newsom proposed actually doing something about homelessness, and, as the Chronicle reported last week, his administration has had significant success on the issue since 2004.

An important city liberal Democrat, Angela Alioto, broke with the city's left on the homeless issue, and Mayor Newsom appointed her chair of the Ten Year Planning Council on homelessness early in his first term. In a recent profile in the SF Chronicle, Alioto proudly referred to her work on the council, which has earned her enmity from the city's progressives.

Dems: Backbone?
I urge congressional Democrats to vote against the Obama compromise legislation tying Bush-era tax cuts in toto to an extension of unemployment benefits.

It is time for the Democrats to show some backbone.

Let the Republicans explain to the American public why they want to give a tax break to the rich, which will add $80 billion to the deficit in two years, while they are unwilling to extend unemployment benefits for the less fortunate.

Ralph E. Stone
San Francisco


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