Reaction to the tax-cut deal: Rybak stands by his man

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, one of the earliest supporters of Barack Obama, took part in this Draft Obama March in January 2007.
Photo courtesy of R.T. Rybak
Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, one of the earliest supporters of Barack Obama, took part in this Draft Obama March in January 2007.

Unwavering would be the word to describe Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak’s support for President Obama in the wake of the big tax-cut compromise that has many other liberal Democrats questioning Obama’s decision, his leadership, his judgment, his intestinal fortitude and his political instincts.

Rybak, who was among the first Democrats to embrace what was then the longshot candidacy of Obama  (he was the first big-city mayor to endorse Obama, and he co-chaired the Obama campaign in Minnesota), is standing by his man.

“We sent him to Washington to get stuff done,” Rybak said this morning. “He’s done a tremendous amount already and in the face of obstinate Republicans, he’s delivering more of it this holiday season. … It’s not everything everyone wants, but it’s a heckuva lot.”

The deal confirms Rybak in his view of Obama as “a rational problem solver who’s thrown a lifeline to people who are suffering right now.”

Yes, candidate Obama said he would work to let the Bush tax cuts expire on the wealthiest, and that’s still his position. But “the core promise” on which Obama ran was to deliver help to the middle class by retaining the tax cuts for them and by adding targeted assistance for those struggling with particular problems, like paying for college, like surviving a bout of unemployment.

“His job is to deliver for people in need right now, and he did,” Rybak said, referring to the concessions that Republicans made as part of the deal. “I’m not crazy about having tax cuts for the very wealthy extended. But it was worth it” to continue to get middle-class tax relief for college tuition, payroll-tax relief that raises people’s take-home pay, and underemployment benefits.

“Sure I’d love him to stand up and have his veins popping out and yell” at the Republicans, Rybak said. “But  in the climate we’re in, we have a president who’s not gonna stoop to the level of vitriol of people who clearly don’t want to get anything done. He’s delivering, and that’s what’s important.”

Rybak also refused to second-guess the political judgment that may have been part of the deal, over which party the public would blame if all of the tax cuts had expired.

“I’m not at all interested I who gets blamed for what. … I don’t care what Mitch McConnell says. … I am so tired of having the entire discussion about what needs to take place in this country framed within the political gamesmanship and the polluted atmosphere of Washington. …

“I don’t get as distracted by blather on talk radio,” Rybak said. “I’m looking at results. Incredible progress targeted to people in the middle class.

“The Republicans chose to fight for more tax breaks for the very wealthy and everyone came away with something. The only loser was deficit reduction. That was a setback. But it’s most important right now to give people help to not slip out of the middle class. And that’s what got done.”

Comments (9)

  1. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 12/07/2010 - 12:57 pm.

    Tax cut extensions–which will “cost” the government $800 billion–are meaningless unless accompanied by a corresponding decrease in spending. This simply won’t happen, and the extra debt we go into to finance our obscene spending will merely take the form of a hidden, indirect inflation tax in place of a direct income tax, which our savvy politicians know we Americans don’t like.

    “Meet the new boss/Same as the old boss”

  2. Submitted by Shirley Gallagher on 12/07/2010 - 02:15 pm.

    President Obama compromised so the jobless Benefits would be extended for 2 million or more American’s. I think the President was care more about the middle class who worked hard and lost their jobs at no fault of their own.
    I am happy for those people, and thanks Mr President.
    The Republican’s was holding the Jobless Benefits hostage, until the Democratic made a decision on extending the Bush Tax Cuts. That what you call American Greed, they didn’t care about the jobless Benefits ending for two millions or more.

    I say to the Republican’s and Democratic’s, the money you get from Bush Tax Cuts, will not last because of the way you blackmailed the President and the Democratics who wanted to let the tax expire.

  3. Submitted by Peder DeFor on 12/07/2010 - 03:27 pm.

    I’m in full agreement with Richard Schulze.

  4. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 12/07/2010 - 05:51 pm.

    Or increase in revenue, such as by letting the tax giveaways to the rich expire.

  5. Submitted by David Willard on 12/07/2010 - 09:52 pm.

    The Dims have two months to disrupt, poison-pill and make into law what most citizens just voted against. Red Star and Dimm-Post will obey!

  6. Submitted by Peder DeFor on 12/08/2010 - 07:28 am.

    Paul, check out the first graph here: http://reason.com/archives/2010/12/05/how-to-balance-the-budget-with/singlepage
    (and read the whole article if you want). Apparently it’s pretty hard to move the incoming revenue very far from 18-19% of GDP, or at least it has been since WW2. Receipts certainly look like they’re near the bottom of the range currently but it’s the spending that is blowing the curve.

  7. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 12/08/2010 - 11:20 am.

    Peder–
    Spending has not increased in actual dollars — the recession has reduced revenue (both private and public) thus increasing spending as a proportion of the GDP.

    Gillespie and DeRugy make their statement without any real support.
    Note that on their graph the drop in revenues coincides with the BushII tax cuts; the (projected) increase in government spending as a proportion of GDP (these are not actually data) with the current Recession.

    Until 2000, tax revenues show a steady increase up to a level of 21% at the end of the Clinton prosperity years.
    Note also that during these years spending was actually decreasing as a proportion of GDP (although not in actual dollars due to the health of the economy).
    Spending as as proportion of GDP did not start to rise again until the early 2000’s.

  8. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 12/09/2010 - 01:16 am.

    “Spending as a proportion of GDP did not start to rise again until the early 2000s.”

    Exactly. At the same time the Bush administration instituted its tax cuts for the wealthy, it started fighting wars financed by debt (mostly to China) instead of progressive taxation.

    The tax cuts accounted for half of the annual budget deficits during the Bush years and spending on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan the other half. Ergo, a nearly insurmountable burden of debt to be paid off somehow. But not, if we have any fairness left in Washington, by austerity measures that force the poor and middle classes to do the paying off.

  9. Submitted by Alejandro Crespo on 01/12/2011 - 08:42 am.

    It all looks to me as another way of incresing tax revenues from the middle class. This Tax Cut will bring in an extra 2% in personal income, and since personal income is taxable by the fed. gov., uncle sam will get a generous 26% tax increase from the gold pot. The rich got an extension on their taxable, more money to keep and this tax cut will not affect them either as they will not be elegible for the tax cut. Only 60% of americans will be affected, specifically, those who make less than $106. per year.

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