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Steve Benen began a post on the upcoming battle over tax giveaways for the wealthy with this comment:

How to lose after being dealt a good hand…. The high-profile fight of the moment is over tax policy, and by most measures, Democrats are in a reasonably good position. Republican leaders are arguing amongst themselves; polls show President Obama’s proposal to be considerably more popular  than the GOP’s; and just weeks before the midterm elections, Republicans are prepared to fight tooth and nail to hold middle-class tax cuts hostage.

It’s not a bad scenario for Democrats, right? The only way for Dems to screw this one up would be for them to start breaking ranks and siding with Republicans on the minority party’s misguided, unpopular, and irresponsible plan, and start echoing bogus GOP talking points.

Well, Mr. Benen, I’m here to tell you that our poor Missouri Democrats, at least, are unable to seize opportunity when it’s offered on a silver platter. We’ve all seen how  Robin Carnahan went all wobbly on the topic right away and surrendered before the first shot had even been fired – for all the good it’s dong her. Blunt, who seems to have no inconvenient hang-ups about honesty, has an ad currently running that trumpets the over-the-top claim that she supports the “largest tax increase in history.”  

Our current Democratic senator, Claire McCaskill, on the other hand, has been strategically silent on the topic. There are now, however, indications that she is finally crawling out of the cave where she’s been hiding in order to test which way the wind is blowing:

Sens. Claire McCaskill (D., Mo.) and Michael Bennet (D., Colo.) said their first priority was ensuring the continuation of the tax cuts for those earning less than $250,000, but both left the door open to a short-term extension of the lower rates for higher earners if it could lead to a compromise agreement with Republicans.

“I am inclined not to support [extending] the top rates, but I want to keep the door open to any possible compromises that in the long-term would be positive for our economy, and have a great impact on reducing the deficit,” McCaskill told reporters after a Senate vote Monday.

Bear in mind that this is the same deficit-obsessed McCaskill who just a few weeks ago was strutting around, pretending to be St. George confronting the budget dragon. She was firm that all new spending be offset by corresponding spending cuts.

So tell me, how could she even contemplate extending costly tax giveaways to the richest 2% of the country while opposing the less costly and potentially far more stimulative Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program because it wouldn’t be “fiscally prudent.” Just to underline the absurdity, note that TANF will add 2.5 billion dollars to one year’s spending, while the top bracket tax cuts will cost the economy 1.1 trillion dollars over a similar one year period decade.  

To date I have supposed that McCaskill has simply been pandering for political purposes, but in this case she seems not only inconsistent and wrong-headed in terms of policy, but, if you agree with Benen, politically tone-deaf, albeit in a timid sort of way. Could it be that the explosive Tea Party noise in Missouri has left her in such a state of shell-shock that she’s too dazed and confused to adequately function?