WASHINGTON - President Obama's acceptance of a Republican plan to continue President George W. Bush's tax cuts for two more years, and a 2 percent payroll tax cut through 2011, is a complete capitulation to GOP demands that he change course.
In a total reversal of his campaign pledge that he would repeal the Bush tax cuts for wealthier taxpayers, Obama's decison would not only leave all the tax rate cuts in place through his term in office, it would cut Social Security taxes for workers at every income level, too. Republicans had pushed both tax proposals this year in their Pledge To America election agenda.
Let's be clear, this was no change of heart on his part about how to grow the economy. It was a cold, calculated, political decision to save his presidency in the face of a snail's pace economic growth rate that his advisers said was not going to get much better.
If further evidence was needed that his stimulus spending policies have failed in every respect, the minuscule 39,000 jobs created last month proved it in spades.
When you deduct the jobs produced in the health care and social services sectors, which are heavily dependent on federal funding, the private sector essentially produced no new jobs for our country's woefully underemployed workforce.
Despite wildly exaggerated forecasts that last week's labor report would show 170,000 to 200,000 net new jobs, it revealed a bleak jobs climate that pushed unemployment to 9.8 percent, and to 17 percent when discouraged workers, who dropped out of the labor force, and reluctant part timers were factored into the data.
Obama was conveniently out of the country visiting the troops in Afghanistan when the jobs bombshell hit. The White House offered no explanations for the lastest sign that it's so-called stimulus policy was creating few if any jobs. Democrats, still shell-shocked after last month's devastating election losses, were more dispirited than ever, and more unpopular than ever, according to the polls.
Obama's approval numbers suffered, too. A Gallup Poll released Monday gave Bush a slightly higher approval rating (47 percent) that was one point higher than Obama's job approval score.
The nation's unemployment rate was 4.7 percent under Bush at the end of 2007, just before the economy went into a steep nosedive in 2008 as a result of the subprime mortgage crisis.
Now, Bush's across-the-board tax cuts -- the centerpiece of his fiscal policies that kept the economy running through several crises -- are at the center of a furious debate on how to pull the country out of a still lingering recession.