As the Senate meets today in another failed effort to do away with the idiocy of the Bush-era tax cuts, the WashPost has this story demonstrating that it will be always thus."The newly created independent political groups known as super PACs, which raised and spent millions of dollars on last month's elections, drew much of their funding from private-equity partners and others in the financial industry, according to new financial disclosure reports...."The financial disclosure reports also underscore the extent to which the flow of corporate money will be tied to political goals. Private-equity partners and hedge fund managers, for example, have a substantial stake in several issues before Congress, primarily the taxes they pay on their earnings." http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/03/AR2010120306995.htmlRemember the story of Rep. Peter DeFazio (D.-OR) and why he was attacked by the "Concerned Taxpayers of America" (let's just say truth in advertising would require "An Extremely Small Minority of Self-Interested Taxpayers"): http://www.commonwealmagazine.org/cash-cowedUPDATE: Nate Silver has a thought-provoking analysis of the political calculations going on over the tax issue, including, "...there is a variety of evidence such as from the political scientist Larry M. Bartels that Congressional policy is most responsive to the preferences of the wealthy, and not those of the middle class. Incumbent Democrats even those who stake out populist positions often receive many of their campaign contributions from wealthy Americans and from wealthy corporations. Most of them, especially in the Senate, are also quite wealthy themselves. This does not mean that Democrats will never be willing to pass a policy that helps the middle class at the expense of wealthy Americans. But such policies are not likely to win very many tie breakers when the decision is otherwise close."Whole thing worth a read: http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/12/05/the-democrats-tax-cut-dilemma/?hpUpdate 2: "Let's Not Make a Deal," Paul Krugman says no to tax-cut extensions: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/06/opinion/06krugman.html?_r=1&hp
Margaret O’Brien Steinfels is a former editor of Commonweal.