This week, on the Slate Political Gabfest, John Dickerson, American political correspondent extraordinaire, argued that the Democrat's best strategy for the fall is to send the message that they want to provide unemployment benefits and let the tax breaks that rich derive from the Bush tax cuts expire.
The cleanest, clearest political winner would be if Democrats could say 'look, Republicans want to keep taxes low on the rich—families that make over $250,000—but they won't vote to extend unemployment benefits.' So, that makes them looks mean. People want unemployment benefits to be extended, and also it revs up the Democratic base. And we've said this a million times before, but it's important to repeat, this election is not about the entire country, it's not even about all voters, it's about voters in the bases of these two parties. A clean argument that says 'these Republicans want to feed the wealthy and the fat cats at the detriment of the people who are looking and looking for jobs and just can't find one—the hard working middle class Americans'—is a nice tidy argument.This is a strong message that as Dickerson argues, is clear, concise, and supported by lots of evidence. But only if Democrats have the backbone to raise wealthy American's taxes (those making more than $250,000 a year). If they don't, then the whole argument becomes muddled. By letting the tax breaks that the rich enjoy expire, Democrats can argue that they're at least somewhat serious about deficit reduction, as the plan would bring in more than $800 billion over the next ten years, and would offset the cost of extended unemployment benefits. The problem is that the party's divided, as many of the Democrats up for re-election this fall come from America's wealthiest districts.
Photo from Nancy Pelosi's Flickr stream.