Political Herd: Democratic columnist

With just over a month until the midterm elections, Democrats have decided to postpone the debate over taxes until after their fate in Congress has been decided. They are scared. But they shouldn’t be.

President Obama won the election in 2008 with a clear message on taxes. Under his plan, 98 percent of all Americans would receive a tax cut and corporations that shipped jobs overseas would no longer receive tax breaks. However, now that the Bush tax cuts are set to expire, Democrats are shying away from the fundamental policy changes that they ran on in 2008.

This problem has perplexed me for quite some time. Why is it that when Democrats gain power, they are so hesitant to govern by the principles on which they campaigned? You see this across the spectrum of Democrats, from the House and Senate leadership who are agreeing to the tax cut punt, to the Blue Dogs who are attempting to placate Republicans by finding spending cuts to finance an extension of the Bush tax cuts.

This pattern is disturbing for two reasons. For one thing, the Bush tax cuts are a failed policy. For another, the broader idea of tax cuts for the upper 2 percent is an outdated economic philosophy. According to The Huffington Post and Tax.com, over the course of President Bush’s two terms, total income was $2.74 trillion less than if incomes had stayed at 2000 levels during those eight years. This fact is quite alarming. How can anyone tout this as a success? Democrats need to be using such statistics as ammunition against permanently extending the tax cuts for upper incomes and fulfill with the mandate they received to change our tax policy in 2008.

Bipartisanship has no place in this debate when the Republican argument lacks factual evidence to back up its misguided claims. The Right will try and scare us into thinking that such tax changes will affect small businesses and ruin the “trickle-down” economic theory. The truth is that few real, non-hypothetical businesses (such as Joe the Plumber’s infamous potential startup company) fall into this category, and the “trickle-down” theory has failed. We need to stop fooling ourselves into believing that securing the financial safety of the rich will somehow benefit the majority.

Republicans have attempted to appease young voters through the “Don’t Put It On Our Tab” initiative. This initiative argues that spending, such as that which is planned to fund healthcare reform, will create an unnecessary financial burden on young people’s futures. What they fail to tell young voters is that it’s the Republicans tax policy (not to mention two ongoing wars) that has left us in such a financial predicament to begin with. But of course, these facts just get in the way.

The time to turn the page on Bush tax policy has long since passed. Democrats need to realize that by postponing the debate over this issue, they are appearing weak during an election cycle when they really can’t afford it. What could possibly be a greater impetus going into November than a successful vote on taxes?