Firedoglake’s Jane Hamsher was on MSNBC/Lawrence O’Donnell’s Last Word show Wednesday night, along with Adam Green of Progressive Change Campaign Committee. Together, they pushed the President and Democratic Congressional leaders to show real leadership in the tax cut and unemployment fights and not simply pretend to lead with meaningless votes they know they’ll lose.
In particular, Jane called out President Obama and Congressional Democrats for staging doomed kabuki votes but failing to lead a tough fight on the tax cut and unemployment issues, leaving their members exposed to another embarrassing and pointless loss, while leaving the real and very desperate needs of 15 million unemployed Americans and their families unmet.
House Speaker Pelosi and Democratic Congressional leaders have signaled they will hold a vote on Thursday on whether to extend the Bush-era tax cuts on incomes up to $250,000 for couples ($200,000 for individuals). Extending the cuts for incomes above that level would not be included in the measure.
But a simple up/down vote would allow Republicans and conservaDems and more to sabotage the effort via a procedural motion to direct the preferred measure to include extending the cuts to all higher incomes too. The conservaDems and Republicans could then combine to pass a permanent extension of all tax cuts, including an unconscionable gift of $700 billion to the richest 2 percent of Americans.
So the Democratic leadership strategy is to structure a vote that precludes this procedure, but it requires a two-thirds majority — and no one expects the Democrats can muster all of their troops plus dozens of Republicans to achieve that. In short, the argument goes, this is all kabuki, a show to mollify the base or use for campaign fodder in 2012, but doomed to fail.
So Jane is rightly calling them out. There are millions of real people hurting. We need to extend unemployment benefits for the two million people who are about to lose them. We need real jobs programs. We need to address real problems and not just engage in kabuki politics and meaningless votes that fail to accomplish anything.
The country desperately needs real leadership on the issues that matter, but we’re not getting any from Obama or anyone else.