Less than 60 days ago, President Obama gave a firm, line-in-the-sand promise about letting the Bush tax cuts expire:
President Obama stressed that his administration would draw a firm line on taxes and revenues both in the deficit- and debt-reduction debates and in the buildup to the 2012 elections.
According to multiple meeting attendees, the president reiterated on several occasions that a deal to raise the country’s debt ceiling would include revenue increases, even as Republican lawmakers insist that such a deal should be restricted to spending cuts and entitlement reforms.
"I’ve been very clear about revenues as a part of a balanced package, and I will continue to be," said Obama.
Underscoring his commitment, Obama noted taxes would be a defining area of contrast with Republicans on the campaign trail. He insisted that he would not compromise again on his position that the tax rates for the top earners be raised to pre-Bush levels.
"’Whatever we agree on, we are still going to have plenty to argue about in 2012,’" a senior administration official said, paraphrasing the president. "’I've said I’m not going to renew the tax cuts for the top two percent. We might agree on tax reform or simplification, but on the upper-income tax cuts we are just going to have to agree to disagree.’"
I think this is a fair standard against which to measure how great a capitulation whatever debt-ceiling deal emerges in the next day or so is. We already know it’s a substantial capitulation. If the deal puts the extension of those grossly unfair tax cuts back on the table — that’s total capitulation. And we know where it will lead.