Will Obama Become A Progressive On Tax Policy After The 2012 Election?

This headline, Under Obama, Taxes Are Lower Than Ever, made me wonder if President Obama has plans to be more progressive on tax policy after the 2012 election. Defenders of The Deal have argued that President Obama's motivation for agreeing to The Deal was political, which means to me concerns about getting reelected in 2012. Let's concede the point for a moment, and even pretend that that easily predictable dire consequences (slashing of government spending for the next 2 years) are a fair cost for Obama's reelection, the question for me is will Obama, even if he is willing and determined, be able to raise taxes after 2012?

Strictly speaking, if Obama wins, he will have the clear power to raise taxes - by letting the current tax cuts expire. Moreover, Obama will not be facing any more elections after 2012,so he should be able to make a non-political decision. Will he? I'd like to think yes, but I can't say I am convinced. Time will tell.

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    The Republicans in the House (5.00 / 3) (#9)
    by inclusiveheart on Tue Feb 22, 2011 at 03:17:22 PM EST
    will introduce a bill extending the cuts beyond the expiration early to mid summer 2012.  Then they will campaign on the Democrats refusal to advance the bill.  Then the Democrats will cave - like mid-October and pass the extension at which point it will be too late for the Democrats to reverse the narrative that the GOP set up going into the election.  And don't forget the payroll tax cut - that could be deeper in the next round - and even if it is not - they have already been quite clear about their intention to portray that as a tax increase if it is allowed to expire.

    So, I don't know about what Obama thinks he's going to be doing about the cuts near the expiration, but I think we've already seen the GOP's roadmap and I can't really see how Obama plays it any other way than to capitulate to their next round of demands.

    Just what I was thinking as I read the OP (5.00 / 2) (#17)
    by Buckeye on Tue Feb 22, 2011 at 03:31:48 PM EST
    Repubs will pass an extension bill early enough in 2012 and campaign on keeping the existing rates.  Obama will have to agree or he will not be reelected (unless he is running against an opponent just impossible to elect - i.e. Mama Grizzly).  Obama already conceded the argument about the relationship between taxes and economic performance to the repubs with The Deal.  It will be very hard for him to backtrack now, and explain to the American people how what was true in 2010 is not true in 2012.  If the American people think in 2012 Obama is going to "raise" taxes in 2013 and "damage" the economy that is still generating a high unemployment rate, he will not get reelected.

    Maybe he can pull something off.  But his chance to win the debate on this was in 2010.  He blew it.  All this gets harder now.


    "That guy is going to raise my (5.00 / 3) (#22)
    by inclusiveheart on Tue Feb 22, 2011 at 03:41:08 PM EST
    taxes."  Obama will be begging Boehner to send a bill to the floor so that he can sign it into law so as to avoid having to campaign against that meme.  

    If the Obama folks really cared about ending or mitigating those cuts, they would have done something about them during the first 100 days of the Administration when they could have easily made the case that rich people didn't deserve such a great advantage over the rest of the people.


    Obama can run on not extending (5.00 / 3) (#23)
    by MKS on Tue Feb 22, 2011 at 03:41:57 PM EST
    the Bush tax cuts.

    Obama ran on such a policy last time.

    Obama will lose no votes promising to raise taxes on the wealthy.  Those who say they will vote against him for that would vote against him anyway.....

    He will win or lose based on:  jobs, jobs, jobs.....


    But who will believe him? (5.00 / 2) (#30)
    by Anne on Tue Feb 22, 2011 at 03:53:18 PM EST
    And why should they believe him?

    I ask that in all seriousness.

    And for how many years can they still be the "Bush" tax cuts before Obama has to claim ownership of them?

    At this stage, I would be happy to see Obama be more progressive about anything; I would beg for something progressive if I thought it would help.

    I see Congress getting more conservative, making it harder - not easier - for Obama to be at all progressive; his need for approval from those who reject him will be stronger than ever, and just as unrequited.

    And most important of all, I think Obama has to actually believe in the progressive policies we would like to see - and I haven't seen any real indication that he does, regardless of what he says.


    W will not be a factor in the 2012 election (5.00 / 1) (#37)
    by Buckeye on Tue Feb 22, 2011 at 04:43:01 PM EST
    Even if he should be, he will not be.  Obama's name will be on the ballot and he will have to defend his policies, and that will include The Deal.  Like Kerry's difficulties on the Iraq war (authorizing it and then trying to run against it) or Bush 41 on tax policy (read my lips to raising rates), if Obama tries to do a 180 on his own policies, he will get destroyed.  2010 was the time to either let them expire wholesale (my belief) or win the debate to raise them on the top 2%.  He failed.  Obama will extend The Deal or he will get beat.  He will extend them.

    It doesn't matter (none / 0) (#35)
    by MKS on Tue Feb 22, 2011 at 04:19:03 PM EST
    If people don't beleive him, it won't hurt him.

    Moreover, the assumption here is that Obama wins re-election.  He will run, to some extent, on letting the Bush tax cuts expire.  If he has been reelected on that basis, he will be able to implement that policy.  

    You assume he will not.  BTD says he hopes he will, since he will no longer face re-election.  Plausible.  Time will tell.


    He's had the ability to implement all (5.00 / 1) (#48)
    by Anne on Wed Feb 23, 2011 at 07:21:59 AM EST
    kinds of policies that we've wanted and which would be good for the country, but having the ability, and having a deep belief in policy, the committment to achieving the policy that most resembles your ideal - well, that's something else altogether.

    I think he lacks the belief, and hasn't been able even to fake the committment to his words by working to achieve the goals he says he has.

    He's got the politics down, but politics without policy is chaos.


    I completely agree with you Anne (none / 0) (#50)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Feb 23, 2011 at 04:11:36 PM EST
    He lacks belief in the core fundamental Democratic Party platform and principles, and he doesn't care what I as a Democrat thinks about that either.

    So what do you do if you are (5.00 / 1) (#34)
    by inclusiveheart on Tue Feb 22, 2011 at 04:13:33 PM EST
    a "pragmatist" such as Obama and you want to run on jobs?  You get that tax question off the table by extending the cuts.  That's what you do.  

    2008 was a totally different economic and political environment; and the truth is that Obama is his own worst enemy if he does plan to run on increasing taxes.  Because pretty much universally since he has been in office he has sided with the small government, low tax lobby.


    All of this was before The Deal (5.00 / 1) (#36)
    by Buckeye on Tue Feb 22, 2011 at 04:38:33 PM EST
    Obama conceded to the theories of supply side economics in the fourth quarter of 2010.  It will be very difficult for the same person to sell a different argument to the American people and have them believe it in 2012 (which was not the case in 2008).  And this assumes he really believes it is the right policy which is hard to at this point (as Anne pointed out below).

    That is a progressive viewpoint (none / 0) (#39)
    by MKS on Tue Feb 22, 2011 at 04:47:26 PM EST
    Obama can tell the middle that he tried but had to extend the tax cuts to keep from hurting the economy.  In 2012, the eocnomy is better and we need to balance the budget by also raising taxes....

    It will sell: assuming the economy is getting better.....

    Jobs will cover a multitude of sins....


    Actually, Keynesian (none / 0) (#41)
    by MKS on Tue Feb 22, 2011 at 04:52:34 PM EST
    I said here once that the ideal policy would be to extend the tax cuts for two years....but that it would not be a good result politically.

    From a Keynesian perspective, you do not take money out of the economy by raising taxes during a recession.  Standard stuff.

    But also, you don't cut spending during a recession, either.....This is where the budget cuts could kill the recovery before jobs are added.....

    Reagan implemented Keynesian polices.  He used deficit spending to goose the economy.  Just as FDR did (but not to the same degree)....


    I have to disagree with you on that (5.00 / 1) (#51)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Feb 23, 2011 at 04:23:05 PM EST
    Keynesians believe in implementing a fiscal policy that stimulates the economy, not one that risks destroying the economy or destroys the wealth of middle class savers who are making sound economic decisions and are a foundation of a healthy economy.  Not taxing the rich is now putting the worth of our currency at risk and the rich do not stimulate the economy if significant ways at time like this.  No worthwhile Keynesian would have agreed to this, several well known Keynesians have come out against the Obama taxation policy.

    He can also run (none / 0) (#25)
    by jbindc on Tue Feb 22, 2011 at 03:44:57 PM EST
    on promising ponies to everyone too - that seemed to work last time.

    But yes, it will be about jobs.  Something that shows no signs of drastically changing between now and then.

    And don't forget - this is a relatively quiet period. The real presidential campaign starts on May 2,2011 at the Reagan Library with the first Republican presidential debate.

    It's going to be a long summer.


    No. (5.00 / 2) (#28)
    by msaroff on Tue Feb 22, 2011 at 03:50:13 PM EST
    This has been another episode of simple answers to simple questions.
    On a deeper level, I think that we need to understand that Barack Obama is a Reagan Democrat, and so is inclined to offer meager support for abortion and LGBT rights, and he is inclined to roll back regulation and slash the social safety net.

    The only thing that prevents him from doing so is the political realities of the Democratic Party.

    If he wins reelection in 2012, you will see him move to the right.


    One political reality of the (5.00 / 1) (#43)
    by inclusiveheart on Tue Feb 22, 2011 at 05:19:28 PM EST
    Democratic Party was moved out of the way - Pelosi.

    I don't think the White House wanted to lose the House by a landslide, but I kinda think that the conservatives in that crowd are glad that Pelosi isn't passing progressive bills like she was.

    Anyway, I am not convinced that the realities of the Democratic Party are hugely important to this Administration.  They're counting on someone like Sarah Palin keeping the base in check and motivated to vote; and unapologetically lurching to the right on policy.


    I agree with this (5.00 / 1) (#49)
    by MO Blue on Wed Feb 23, 2011 at 09:34:16 AM EST
    Anyway, I am not convinced that the realities of the Democratic Party are hugely important to this Administration.  They're counting on someone like Sarah Palin keeping the base in check and motivated to vote; and unapologetically lurching to the right on policy.

    Funny. (none / 0) (#54)
    by inclusiveheart on Fri Feb 25, 2011 at 02:20:18 AM EST
    I do too.  I guess because I wrote it.

    Yep. Clinton was even more conservative (none / 0) (#38)
    by Buckeye on Tue Feb 22, 2011 at 04:45:50 PM EST
    in his second four years than his first.  Clinton moved the needle on gays in the military, passed the progressive tax policy of 1993, and tried to reform health care in his first term.  His second term consisted of deregulation of wall street, welfare "reform," tax cuts on capital gains and business, etc.

    Monica (5.00 / 1) (#40)
    by CST on Tue Feb 22, 2011 at 04:51:39 PM EST
    Will President Obama become sane (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Feb 22, 2011 at 03:32:57 PM EST
    on tax policy after the 2012 election?  Other than George W Bush, what President had lower tax rates?  If President Obama never manages to tax the rich as much Nixon did will that make Nixon a progressive?

    lol (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by inclusiveheart on Tue Feb 22, 2011 at 03:51:57 PM EST
    You know, the cost calculation ought to include tax credits - all of the giveaways - not just what wasn't collected.  The stimulus was full of tax credits most of which were useless to anyone or any business who wasn't doing pretty well.

    That job tax credit, for instance, would have been great for WalMart, but not so much for the Main Street small retailer who simply didn't have the business to support an additional hire or the incoming revenue for which they would have been credited.


    Nixon (none / 0) (#24)
    by MKS on Tue Feb 22, 2011 at 03:44:04 PM EST
    was so far left....

    He instituted a wage and price freeze.  He took us off the gold standard.  He created the EPA.

    Just the times, I guess...


    But, but, but (none / 0) (#44)
    by christinep on Tue Feb 22, 2011 at 05:24:50 PM EST
    Was he not a crook?  (Agree on the context of the times...which is why labelling tendencies don't really work...cause it may come down to some itty bitty break=in thing.)

    Nixon was as conservative as the country (none / 0) (#46)
    by MKS on Tue Feb 22, 2011 at 05:57:50 PM EST
    would tolerate then....

    Scott Walker reminds me of Nixon......


    Obama is Going to Win ? (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by ScottW714 on Tue Feb 22, 2011 at 04:08:43 PM EST
    Please, he is losing support by the day, myself included.  Right now he is becoming ineffectual democrat with his republican pandering, he is destined to be the next Carter, especially if oil goes crazy over the Middle East shake-up.

    I am positive the republican forces are figuring out how to exploit the Citizens SCOTUS decision.  It was new the last election, but 2012 it will be exploited to such a degree that an Obama win isn't likely.

    Two pretty powerful forces to over come.

    I understand your concerns, but... (none / 0) (#45)
    by christinep on Tue Feb 22, 2011 at 05:29:04 PM EST
    the factual thing is that President Obama has been gaining support in all polls since the December lame-duck maneuverings/achievements. (He has also been aided by closer attention to the agenda and characters of the right.)

    While obama blusters progressive (5.00 / 1) (#42)
    by pluege2 on Tue Feb 22, 2011 at 04:52:43 PM EST
    there is no evidence that he is willing or able to actually enact progressive policy.

    Please.. (5.00 / 1) (#52)
    by lentinel on Wed Feb 23, 2011 at 06:53:41 PM EST
    This is the same crapola we heard before the election in 2008.

    Obama is only sucking up to people like Lieberman and Donnie McClurkin and Rick Warren because he has to... but it will be different once he's elected...

    He's only voting for the patriot act and FISA because he wants to get elected, but it'll be different once he's in office...


    But if you get something from putting your eggs in this guy's basket, have a nice day.

    a very fair and reasoned post (none / 0) (#1)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Feb 22, 2011 at 03:06:46 PM EST
    I agree completely.

    and now for the comments.

    Yes, I agree--I was thinking along (none / 0) (#16)
    by MKS on Tue Feb 22, 2011 at 03:31:15 PM EST
    the same lines.

    In 2012 after a successful election, the economy should hopefully be better.  Or, if after budget cuts, the Republicans will be hard pressed to convincingly argue that the economy can't take such a hit.

    Obama could simply veto any and all tax cuts for the wealthy.....So what if they are raised on everyone else?--that would only take us back to the Clinton rates which were, at mimimun, not harmful to the economy.


    see charts (none / 0) (#21)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Feb 22, 2011 at 03:36:35 PM EST
    in the new thread

    Only as far (none / 0) (#2)
    by jbindc on Tue Feb 22, 2011 at 03:06:55 PM EST
    As the Republican-controlled Congress will allow him.  Of course, compared to that, he actually MIGHT look progressive.

    that seems to be (none / 0) (#3)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Feb 22, 2011 at 03:07:34 PM EST
    his idea as well.

    Which means (none / 0) (#4)
    by jbindc on Tue Feb 22, 2011 at 03:10:48 PM EST
    There will be lots of tax cuts coming to his desk.  They won't send him "progressive" tax policy -laden bills. So, he can go around saying anything he wants, but he won't get it.

    He needs no assent (none / 0) (#5)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Feb 22, 2011 at 03:11:32 PM EST
    from the Congress.

    The veto pen is all he needs.


    True (none / 0) (#6)
    by jbindc on Tue Feb 22, 2011 at 03:12:40 PM EST
    But if they get big enough margins to override, his veto will be meaningless.

    67 votes in the Senate? (none / 0) (#7)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Feb 22, 2011 at 03:14:04 PM EST
    290 in the House. Impossible.

    You assume (none / 0) (#8)
    by jbindc on Tue Feb 22, 2011 at 03:15:13 PM EST
    All the Dems (who will be up for re-election in 2014) will fall in line.  

    "Passively progressive"


    NoI assume (none / 0) (#11)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Feb 22, 2011 at 03:19:53 PM EST
    34 of 53 in the Senate and a similar percentage in the House.

    It's impossible to override the PResident's veto.


    You assume (none / 0) (#13)
    by jbindc on Tue Feb 22, 2011 at 03:21:35 PM EST
    The Dems still have 53 seats in the Senate after the election?

    Or are you assuming something in a lame duck session?  (And of course, assuming an Obama victory).


    only assuming (none / 0) (#14)
    by CST on Tue Feb 22, 2011 at 03:22:20 PM EST
    34 safe Dem seats.  That's all you need.  I'd say that's a fairly safe assumption.

    Makie it 45 if it makes you feel better (none / 0) (#15)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Feb 22, 2011 at 03:24:46 PM EST
    LEt me put it this way, I will bet you 50 real dollars that no Obama veto will ever be overriden.

    I'll do one better--I'll bet 50 unreal dollars (none / 0) (#18)
    by MKS on Tue Feb 22, 2011 at 03:32:29 PM EST
    I'll take the unreal dollars bet (none / 0) (#20)
    by jbindc on Tue Feb 22, 2011 at 03:34:35 PM EST
    50 real dollars in this economy (and the one sure to be around in 2012)?  Are you crazy??

    Dems (none / 0) (#12)
    by CST on Tue Feb 22, 2011 at 03:21:19 PM EST
    may or may not "fall in line" to vote for bills to pass.

    But I am fairly confident they will "fall in line" in terms of not over-riding a presidential veto.

    Time will tell I guess, but those are two very different metrics.


    Somehow I don't think (none / 0) (#10)
    by jimakaPPJ on Tue Feb 22, 2011 at 03:18:00 PM EST
    this is something to be proud of. From the link in the post.

    The AP reports that since President Obama took office, pretty much everyone has been paying fewer federal taxes.

    And for the third straight year, American families and businesses will pay less in federal taxes than they did under former President George W. Bush, thanks to a weak economy and a growing number of tax breaks for the wealthy and poor alike.

    I guess those tax breaks are for those who can buy a $60,000 Government Motors car.

    Lowering the tax burden on Americans (none / 0) (#53)
    by Harry Saxon on Thu Feb 24, 2011 at 07:29:07 AM EST
    isn't something to be proud of?

    I suppose you're disappointed that he didn't act like an 'extremist Democrat' and raise taxes on all the poor folks who make over 250,000$/year.


    The Obama Stratergy 2012 (none / 0) (#26)
    by Saul on Tue Feb 22, 2011 at 03:45:33 PM EST
    As I posted after he made the deal I said he did it for political reasons.  If he had vetoed it then with the new house and the blue dog democrats against him it would have passed but the credit would have gone to the republicans.  IMO even if Obama had vetoed it under the new house I believe his vetoed could have been over written and Obama knew it.  

    His strategy is do everything right in order to get reelected then after the election he owes no one anything since he can't run again then he will try to unleash his progressive agenda.  One only hopes that he still has the senate though.  

    Overall though the economy is the critical factor. If it gets worse he won't get reelected.

    So, he's just lying in wait (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by jbindc on Tue Feb 22, 2011 at 03:47:11 PM EST
    for all to be revealed after November of 2012? After that, we will see his true progressive colors?

    Martin Short doing his Doug Henning impersonation (none / 0) (#31)
    by Dadler on Tue Feb 22, 2011 at 03:55:40 PM EST
    "Everything's possible in the world of magic!"

    I was thinking mor eof (none / 0) (#32)
    by jbindc on Tue Feb 22, 2011 at 04:04:09 PM EST
    The Wizard of  OZ - "Do not look at the man behind the curtain!"

    Hmm (none / 0) (#47)
    by lilburro on Tue Feb 22, 2011 at 06:44:27 PM EST
    I think it would depend on a number of things.  One, will the economy actually be that much better?  I doubt it.  I don't think unemployment will come down significantly - 8% is optimistic.  Inasmuch as it has come down, the GOP will argue the tax cuts to the rich helped.  They will also surely come up with some BS to try to ram a bill through.  What got the bill through in Dec. was the extension of unemployment benefits and not wanting Obama to seem like Bad Santa; I'm sure they can come up with something similar this time.  My guess is in late 2012 the GOP will want to pass a permanent extension; Obama will want to sign something to make it temporary again; the GOP will say no.  Where does that leave Obama on the campaign trail?  I don't know.