In an interview with a local Chicago radio station today, Sen. Dick Durbin said that several Democratic senators are refusing to vote to raise taxes on the wealthy because they are up for reelection in 2012.
In an interview this morning Sen. Dick Durbin told WLS 890 radio,
“The oil-producing state senators don’t like eliminating or reducing the subsidy for oil companies. There are some senators who are up for election who say I’m never gonna vote for a tax increase while I’m up for election, even on the wealthiest people. So, we’re not gonna have 100% Democratic senators. That’s why it needs to be bi-partisan and I hope we can find some Republicans who will join us to make it happen.”
Because some Democrats are refusing to support the creation of 1.9 million new jobs and a tax on the rich that has a 73% approval rating, Obama’s jobs bill is sitting in the Senate still awaiting action. This is a perfect example of the political dynamic that Obama is up against. The president can’t be FDR or LBJ and just tell the Democrats in the Senate to do something. We aren’t living in the 1930s or 1960s. Senators are independent little kings who are more concerned about saving their own political hides than the president’s agenda.
Obama is doing exactly what many on the left asked for. He is telling the Senate to do something, and they are not listening. The problem isn’t one of presidential leadership. It is a lack of political courage on the part of some Democrats in the legislative branch. This exact scenario has been played out repeatedly in recent history. George W. Bush’s comprehensive immigration reform bill was killed by senators in his own party who feared that supporting the bill would hurt their reelection chances. The public option was killed by Senate Democrats who feared for their own political futures.
The fact that there are some Democrats who refuse to support increasing taxes on the wealthiest Americans despite the fact that the idea is overwhelmingly popular illuminates where the problem resides in our political system. Senators no longer depend on the president for their reelection. They raise their own money, and run their own campaigns. They don’t need the blessing of the president or the Democratic Party anymore. Corporate campaign cash and wealthy political donors have undercut a president’s power to persuade the Congress.
The next time somebody on the left grumbles about Obama’s leadership remind them that it was Senate Democrats who refused to tax the wealthy in an election year. The American people overwhelmingly support it, Obama has been traveling the country touting it, but a few Senate Democrats are going to defy the will of the people and this president and not vote to make the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share.
The activist left needs to redirect its ire away from Obama and towards those Democrats in the Senate who don’t realize that taxing the rich will help their reelection campaigns, and that beyond reelection, it’s the right thing to do.
It’s not Obama. It’s not the American people. The problem is the out of touch cowards in the Democratic caucus, who are betraying the will of the people and intentionally sacrificing the jobless by refusing to stand up and make the rich pay their fair share.