That's good news for America and for Republicans. Don't get me wrong -- certainly, the package isn't perfect. And I understand the objections of some conservatives I deeply respect. But here's why it seems to me better that this go forward than be scuttled.
Keep in mind that we are still dealing with a Democrat House, Senate and President. Sure, Republicans could have held off, and tried to negotiate a better deal in January. But that approach would have had profound problems of its own.
Had that course been followed, tax rates would already have gone up come 1/1. That would have led to market trouble, pain and uncertainty for all taxpayers, and perhaps even buyer's remorse among the independents who played a decisive role with voting Republicans in.
What's more, once the tax hikes had kicked in, Republicans would have been operating on totally different political terrain. In a sense, they've had the advantage of the narrative that, unless Democrats keep rates the same for everyone, DEMS are the ones responsible for a massive tax increase.
After the rates had already gone up on 1/1, the Democrats would have already taken the political hit, and would have nothing more to lose. They've got the higher taxes on "the rich" that they've wanted. They then would have proceeded to push legislation lowering taxes on "the middle class" only. Had Republicans then refused to go along (or put forth another package with tax increases for anyone, that probably would have been filibustered in the Senate), REPUBS are the ones who would have been seen as responsible by many for the tax increases on those of more modest means -- all in the interests, the press would have insisted, of serving "the rich."
Would it have been better,as Mitt Romney argues, had the tax cuts been made permanent right now? Of course. But does anyone (not on drugs) think that Barack Obama was going to do that? Pleeease.
Soon, Republicans will control the House. Then we will see whether they are serious about cutting spending -- and they can be held responsible for what they do. But it seems to me unreasonable to fault them for making a compromise (that can be improved later, when they do have more control over the process) that prevented a figurative bullet in the head of the US economy and more pain for American taxpayers.
Oh, yeah, and one that's gotten Obama in serious trouble with his liberal base.