Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Resolution for Obama

From Market Watch:

When David Axelrod, chief political adviser to President-elect Barack Obama, went on "Meet the Press" last weekend, he still wasn't ready to make a commitment about leaving the Bush tax cuts on high earners in place until they expire in 2010.

As a political guru, Axelrod probably shouldn't be too specific about economic policy, but his caution on this issue is symptomatic of a troubling slowness in the Obama transition team to adapt to the changed economic realities when it comes to taxes.

The campaign is over and the economy is in much worse shape now than it was when Obama first designed his tax platform more than a year ago.

No one should be thinking of raising any taxes now by repealing tax cuts -- an alternative Axelrod said was still open. The question is more whether these tax cuts should be extended after all as another form of fiscal stimulus to flank the planned spending measures.

Axelrod, almost in the same breath as he spoke of a fiscal stimulus likely to exceed $700 billion, said we can't afford to keep these tax cuts on the wealthy. If you're planning a massive Keynesian-style fiscal stimulus that will swell the federal deficit to well over $1 trillion, why keep harping on the incremental tax revenue from these rich people?

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