COMMENTARY | According to The Ticket, President Barack Obama will not compromise on ending the George W. Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. The cuts are set to expire Jan. 1 and have been supported by Republicans as helping fuel private sector job growth. Democrats have criticized the cuts by insisting they place a greater tax burden on the 98 percent of Americans who do not fit in the wealthiest bracket of taxpayers. Former Democratic President Bill Clinton appeared to support an extension of the cuts in an interview with CNBC.
While Clinton's break with Obama policy might sting temporarily for Democratic strategists, the victory of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in his recall election indicates that sticking to one's guns is not a bad strategy. Walker became notorious for supporting an initiative to remove collective bargaining rights from public sector unions.
In presidential campaigns, the traditional course of action has been to tack to the center after the primaries to appeal to moderates, independents and fair-weather quasi-supporters of the other side who might be contemplating a shift of allegiances. Given the sharp rhetoric this year coupled with the political survival of Walker, Obama should be aggressive with his decisions and stick to his guns.
One noteworthy problem he faces is the harsh erosion of his inspirational image of 2008, when he was a fresh-faced senator. He needs to find a way to fire up his traditional supporters, many of whom might believe he is now just another politician.
Supporting the expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts and remaining firm on that decision will encourage many liberals to recapture the inspiration of 2008 and give Obama an aura of strength and conviction he has been lacking.