Posted by Rojas @ 11:55 pm on November 23rd 2008

It didn’t take long.

Today’s New York Times:

In light of the downturn, Mr. Obama is also said to be reconsidering a key campaign pledge: his proposal to repeal the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. According to several people familiar with the discussions, he might instead let those tax cuts expire as scheduled in 2011, effectively delaying any tax increase while he gives his stimulus plan a chance to work.

When I posted repeatedly about fiscal discipline during the campaign, I often encountered the retort that Barack Obama, despite his massive spending proposals, was going to increase the deficit less than John McCain would. The rationale for this claim was that Obama, unlike McCain, would repeal the Bush tax cuts.

I said at the time that this wouldn’t happen. My scenario was that Obama would deal away the tax cuts at the bargaining table in exchange for spending increases. I didn’t imagine that he’d toss them out the window less than a month after his election.

Funny. The economic situation hasn’t changed since the election; yet one of the fundamental keystones of Obama’s plan has. If Republicans had done such a thing, I suspect it would be called a “bait and switch”. But this is Barack Obama, so I suppose we shall have to think of something else to call it.


  1. Well, there is a difference between repealing them in 2011 and making them permanent, I think.

    But you’re right; Obama sure is throwing these things under the bus fast.

    Comment by Brad — 11/24/2008 @ 12:01 am

  2. Let’s call them epiphanies.

    Comment by James — 11/24/2008 @ 10:33 am

  3. Barack adopts reaganomics and it angers conservatives. I love this game.

    Comment by Mortexai — 11/24/2008 @ 12:02 pm

  4. I’m not angry and I doubt Rojas is either. I am, however, amused that Obama’s disciples are not a little miffed as he sheds his promises like no longer needed layers of skin. His duplicity looks promising to me.

    Comment by James — 11/24/2008 @ 12:27 pm

  5. The difference also is between rescinding them now or just waiting two years and letting them expire naturally (which they will). That is indeed a substantial walkback on Obama’s part, but there’s still plenty of daylight between that and creating as a centerpiece the campaign to make them permanent (of course, if he does indeed decide to ask Congress to re-up them, we’ll all be eating crow on that one).

    What this does mean, incidentally, that for the first three years, the only income taxing Obama will be getting into is cutting taxes. I can certainly live with that.

    What’s amusing to me is I was a supporter who felt Obama would govern as an adult in the room, and not as a dogmatic ideologue. And he appears to be doing exactly that. That should, as you say, upset the people on the left who wanted him to govern as a dogmatic ideologue, but then they have no one to blame but themselves. If they thought he was going to be a liberal lion progressive road warrior, they just haven’t been paying attention (incidentally, if I had thought that, I’d have been a lot more hesitant in my support).

    Even more wrong than them, however, were Obama’s critics, it seems to me, who argued that Obama was a massively radical Marxist in hiding who meant to massively reshape the American economy overnight into a worker’s paradise. If anybody ought to be eating crow, at least based on the last few weeks, it should be them. Seems, if anything, signs are pointing to Obama governing as a fairly mainstream center-right Democrat much more interested in pragmatism and flexibility than dogma and partisan axe-grinding. Sort of a Clinton figure, but much, much, much more competent, and without even a tenth of the psychodrama. As James said, I can certainly live with that.

    All in all, Obama does indeed seem to be flagging his purported conservative temperament, while his radical leftism is nowhere to be found.

    Comment by Brad — 11/24/2008 @ 3:36 pm

  6. Obama is reminding me of Reagan in that he seems to be a deligator, which is not a bad thing, although they tried to make a bad thing when Reagan was doing it.

    Comment by daveg — 11/24/2008 @ 9:05 pm

  7. An interesting read.

    I’ve said elsewhere that we should keep an eye on Obama’s economic team because it looks like it’s being stuffed with Larry Summers/Rubin types who were responsible for the deregulation push of the financial sector during the Clinton years.

    Rubin, himself, has ties to both citigroup and goldman sachs and is responsible for some of the CDO misjudgments which have put citigroup on the rocks:

    Their perspective on the crisis is not going to be that of the taxpayer or the average homeowner. They lend towards the big money risk takers.

    Comment by thimbles — 11/24/2008 @ 11:10 pm

  8. Oh, a Freudian slip . I typed “lend” when I meant “lein”. Oh well, maybe it stands better that way.

    Comment by thimbles — 11/24/2008 @ 11:11 pm

  9. Damnit! “lean”

    Comment by thimbles — 11/24/2008 @ 11:12 pm

  10. There’s nothing inherently wrong with “rubinesqe” economics—balanced budgets, free trade, and an eye towards deregulation where prudent. Sounds okay to me.

    But the “Rubin types” bit is overstated. Larry Summers is certainly his own man, and while Geithner was one of Rubin’s main men, he was not a guy formulated under Rubin. He came on under Bentson, I believe, and had already had a “Geithneresque” style/conceptualization in place by then. So the connection is thinner than advertised.

    Comment by Brad — 11/24/2008 @ 11:57 pm

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