Sunday, December 18, 2011

I am Still Sane

The Senate extends the payroll tax cut for two months. President Obama says: “I am very pleased.” He urges the House to pass this measure and says that he will sign it.

Now the Senate’s action amounts to an insult to the President—as indeed most of this year’s legislative activity has been. I am not even a mediocre student of American democracy, to be sure, but it seems to me that no president has been treated in this fashion by any Congress before—or got away with it. “I am very pleased” ??? What kind of nonsense is that? Up to this point I have staunchly believed that President Obama was born in Hawaii. That statement makes me wonder what planet he was born on. Either that or I have to start doubting my sanity.

Indeed this event is, as it were, a compressed little kernel of insanity. The payroll tax cut is actually a cut in Social Security program contributions (see this earlier post). That so-called tax should never have been cut in the first place. To treat Social Security contributions as a tax is to endanger the whole notion of social security as a right. The administration should never have advocated such a cut in the first place. Its belief in “stimulus”—as if you could buy public confidence with pennies on the dollar—was mistaken. At the same time Republican malevolence towards this administration is patent and amounts to contempt. Therefore President Obama’s “I am very pleased” sounds like abject servility.

The temptation is to believe that I’ve gone insane, that I’m neither seeing nor hearing right. But no. I still have my sanity.

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