Friday, January 21, 2011

Do As I Say Not As I Do

I enjoyed listening to some of the sound bites in the health care reform bill debate over the last few days.

This main talking point of the Democrats seemed to be...

"The Republicans are wasting our time on this health care repeal when they should be focusing on the economy"

However, what were the Democrats doing for over a year?  They spent their time on the health care agenda and paid very little attention to the economy and jobs.  If the health care reform bill had not been passed on a straight party line vote this debate would not even be occurring now.

I saw the same thing in the debate leading up to the Bush tax cut vote.  In that debate, the Democrats in Congress threw in the towel on the Bush income tax cuts after President Obama reached a deal with the Republicans. However, they decided that the critical issue was the estate tax exemption that was part of the deal.  It was set at $5 million for 2011 and 2012 in the negotiated deal between the President and the Republicans.  Congressional Democrats seemed to favor an exemption amount of $3-$3.5 million.  They got their talking points out and complained about the rich not paying their "fair share".

However, the fact was that in 2010 there was no federal estate tax at all. Zero! It had been eliminated in the original Bush tax deal for 2010 and was scheduled to come back in 2011 with a $1 million exemption.   When it was passed early in the decade no one expected that Congress would let the estate tax expire without a full debate and discussion about the issue.  It was set at a zero rate to force some kind of action.

What seemed to be lost in the media reporting of this was that if the Democrats wanted to do something about the estate tax exemption they had all of 2009 and 2010 to do it.  They had massive majorities in both houses.  They did nothing.  In fact, their actions bordered on complete malfeasance.  In 2010, George Steinbrenner and a number of very wealthy Americans passed away and paid no federal estate tax.  When we have a trillion dollar deficit and your party strongly believes in redistribution of wealth, you think you could at least agree among yourselves on the amount of the estate tax exemption.

I don't want to be too tough on the Democrats because such "double-speak" seems to be common to most  politicians.  We have seen Republicans complain about Democratic earmarks, deficit spending and other issues only to find that what they do is often much different than what they say as well.

The time for talking points is over.  It is time to match actions with words.  How about this for a slogan?
Don't say it. Just do it.  I really like the last 3 words.  I might have a career ahead of me in advertising.

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