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International Honor Society in Social Sciences
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STUDENT SHADOW PRESIDENT UPDATE

Extending Tax Cuts Politically a Good Move

Last month, President Obama signed into law an extension of the Bush-era tax cuts. In doing so, he broke a major campaign promise: ending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. In negotiating with GOP leaders, this is what Obama had to give up in order to obtain legislation that extended unemployment benefits and tax cuts for the rest of us who are not among the nation's richest.

This act showed that the economy is by far the most vital issue today for the president. This package will help with unemployment numbers and will hopefully stimulate the economy by giving taxpayers extra money to pump into the market. The midterm elections proved just how disappointed voters were with the economy, and so breaking a major campaign pledge in order to help the economy may actually be acceptable to anyone other than die-hard progressive liberals.

In addition, many lawmakers, including some Democrats, said they simply would not support any bill which raised taxes on any American during a recession, regardless of financial class. Therefore, a bill which proposed ending tax cuts for Americans making over $250,000 appeared doomed.

The enactment of these extensions also demonstrated Obama’s ability to negotiate with the GOP, a controversial strategy yet absolute necessity in my opinion. Examples of compromise can be found throughout America’s history, and I believe that compromise is necessary for a democracy to be successful. Many thought that this bill would never get enacted after the midterm elections and the cries for less government spending. Still, Obama’s skill to organize and rally votes for this legislation became apparent in much the same way in which it did with the healthcare bill.

While Democrats are upset with Obama for not sticking to his guns, Obama achieved his primary aim: tax cuts for the lower and middle classes. Some concessions had to be made, but in the end he accomplished his goal. In today’s world of polarized politics, Obama obtained about as much as he could have hoped, which equals a victory for the president.

So ultimately, extending the tax cuts was a good move by Obama politically. It shows that he is listening to legislators on both sides of the aisle in dealing with the economy's sluggishness, and he is willing to negotiate – a talent that more politicians need, in my opinion. And in the end, he kept the tax cuts that are there to assist a majority of American taxpayers.

However, I can see why many politicians, especially tea-partiers and liberal Democrats, were upset with the legislation because of its implications for deficit budgeting. A bipartisan deficit commission recently presented its findings to Congress, and the mounting national-government debt seems to be a major issue for all those hoping to be elected. I am not one to solve one of our nation’s biggest problems, but it seems like raising taxes for the nation’s wealthiest people is a simple step in the right direction. Someday, politicians will have to deal with the deficit, but, unfortunately, last month was not that occasion.

Eric Knutson
Shadow President

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