A top Senate Democrat wants Obama to break a campaign promise in order to achieve bipartisanship:
The rest of the cash will probably come from new taxes. But Democrats are deeply divided over which taxes to raise, and the issue has become a central stumbling block in the push to enact legislation by fall.
In recent days, Obama has revived a tax plan he first offered in February: limiting itemized deductions for the nation’s 3 million highest earners. Polls show that the idea is popular — it was Obama’s biggest applause line last week at an event in Wisconsin — and it would enable him to abide by a campaign pledge to pay for coverage for the uninsured with new taxes on the rich.
“He believes this is the most equitable way to do this,” said senior White House strategist David Axelrod. “It places the burden on people who can most afford it.”
But many Democrats, particularly in the Senate, have balked at the idea, saying they prefer a tax that has some hope of winning Republican support. In legislation that could be unveiled as early as this week, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) is expected to propose a new tax on the health benefits that millions of Americans currently receive tax-free through employers.
Senators are often idiots. They live in a bubble and have no sense of reality. Unlike Baucus, you may recall that during the campaign, Barack Obama repeatedly said he would not tax health benefits. That was John McCain’s idea. Obama won that debate. Max Baucus wants Obama to break his promise.
Obama’s idea to raise revenue would impact few Americans — and has wide public support. Max Baucus supports a plan that would impact most workers — because the Republicans claim to want it.
Now, if I was a Republican, I’d be laughing my ass off right now. Max Baucus is basically writing the t.v. ads for the opponents of health care reform. If he gets Obama to commit, ads will start running showing Obama saying he wouldn’t tax benefits. That’ll freak out the White House and the Democrats on the Hill. Also, if Obama breaks his campaign promise, Republicans will paint him as just another politician. That will surely damage the brand — Obama can only screw over so many constituencies before he does look like just another craven pol.
I don’t expect Max Baucus to have any strategic sense. He’s been in the Senate too long. But, doesn’t anyone in that body have a lick of political sense? For christ sakes, in 2006, there were 55 Republicans. Now, there are 40. Democrats have been winning because they promised to solve problems — like health care. The American people aren’t hoping that Baucus gets Republican votes. They want the damn problems solved.