Calling All Independents: What Do You Think About the Tax Deal?

Thursday, December 09, 2010

The View From The Middle

Here at It's A Free Country, we've had a lively debate about the deal President Obama struck with Congressional Republicans. We've heard from disaffected Democrats and gloating Republicans, but we haven't heard as much from self-identified moderates and independents.

So - independents and moderates - how you feel about the tax compromise? Who is talking to you?

And while we're at it, with both President Obama and Mayor Bloomberg making plays this week for the mantle of the reasonable, let's-get-it-done executive, tell us — how does it feels to be part of the coveted middle heading into 2012?


More in:

Comments [76]

sophia from Yonkers, NY

I agree with what the House democrats passed. The Democratic Senators should show they have some
courage and use the 51 vote constitutional option to pass a similar bill letting the tax cuts for the billionaires expire.
Since it is a budget issue, perhaps they could label it reconciliation.
Do it on Christmas eve and give the country a nice present: survival.

Dec. 12 2010 08:31 PM
Michelle from Bronx, NY

I totally agree with Bloomberg. Our congress is failing the American people. It is the picture of inefficiency and immaturity. As a teacher, should I teach my students to exert arrogance and use blackmail when confronting opposing ideas? This country is facing so many issues, and our congressmen and women are being paid for being stubborn on one issue and ignoring so many others. Where is dialogue? Where are the essential listening skills that any decision-maker should possess? We need leaders who can see beyond tomorrow, and leaders who have a holistic view of the U.S. (I believe, as an independent, that President Obama does.) How about listening to expert testimony, throwing out lobbyists, and capping campaign contributions? Maybe this will make our leaders step up and look out for our country as a whole. And then we can put innovation and education at the forefront of our national agenda.

Dec. 10 2010 08:12 PM
Amy from Manhattan

I'm another independent registered as a Democrat so I can vote in the primaries (& often vote on 3rd party lines in the gen'l. elections).

So Bloomberg is calling his conference "no labels"? He doesn't think "ideologue" is a label? And he says it's wrong to say conservative & liberal economic views are the opposite of each other minutes after describing the views of the "ideologues" on each side as exactly that.

Independents aren't all the same any more than liberals or conservatives are. I'm going to start my own movement to go beyond "liberalism," "conservatism," & all the other -isms. I'm calling it "anti-ism-ism"! Who's with me?

Dec. 10 2010 02:29 AM
Solomon Kleinsmith from Omaha, NE

Responding to some of the comments on what I said:

"But "centrist" does not imply any of these. A centrist is the person who decides where the center is, and everyone else is off base. Nothing moderate about that."

A centrist is just a place on the map. Most people on the left or right, as well as center, just think they are right. They don't think that those that disagree are necessarily stupid... those are the zealots. There are "centrist zealots" too, but most of us aren't and you pretending we are shows your bias.


"It is scary that a movement led by someone so naive as to be talking about "raiding social security" will be taken seriously. Does he think that the trust fund is a pile of cash? or sits in a checking account? No, it is invested, and the markets still regard US Treasury obligations as the risk-free investment."

I agree... we can't keep raiding social security. This trust fund is a myth.


"I think that Obama is not a centrist he is just not a fighter."

He certainly isn't a centrist, and he certainly isn't a very good fighter lately.


"Oh, please. He's another Democrat who supported Obama just 24 months ago.
I don't believe he is really in the center as it is defined outside New York, New Haven and Berkeley."

Right, because some guy from New York City has any idea what I am. Pretty standard conspiracy theory junk from wingnuts.


"Who's the Hannity of moderation? You are, Brian, you are."

I sure wish more people like Brian were on cable TV... maybe I'd actually watch it then.


"And on the "compromise", it's more of a trade than a compromise. Both sides could have both gotten smaller, edible pieces of their cakes with, say, tax cuts for people earning under a million and 70% of unemployment benefits, but instead they both get to eat their full pieces of cake while we the tax payers get to eat the crust at the bottom of the oven."

Pretty much what I think too.


Have a good one folks,

Solomon Kleinsmith
Rise of the Center

Dec. 09 2010 02:35 PM
Solomon Kleinsmith from Omaha, NE

Thanks for having me on Brian.

If you're interested in checking out my blog:

...and looking forward to visiting your fair city in a couple days.

Dec. 09 2010 02:21 PM
x-height from Brooklyn

No one called in with "the affect of the illegal war and the Bush tax cuts on our economy." Because it is as much a blunderbuss shot as "socialist" over at Fox.

Left rhetoric like that signals moderates that you would rather grind some ax rather that work on what's at hand.

Dec. 09 2010 11:32 AM
Left of Dem from New York

"Moderate" is a good word. It is intelligible on its own and denotes a certain kind of conduct and set of views that are, by definition, not extreme. It is not in essence political, though it implies a politics just as it implies a way of life.
.But "centrist" does not imply any of these. A centrist is the person who decides where the center is, and everyone else is off base. Nothing moderate about that.

Dec. 09 2010 11:26 AM
John M. Giannone from New York City, Sty Towm

I listened to the Bloomberg thing and had to hold my nose. This man is utterly two-faced and Biran did not call him out on it.
I am referring to the mayor coming out a few years back against the minimum wage.

I am referring to the appointment of Cathy
Black as head of the NYC Public Schools.
She is not more than the mayor's appointed thug. As her first call to arms, she declared that Last in First Fired should not be the rule. I am no a fan of firing working people, but that call is nothing more than payroll controll and destruction of pensions. Sob all you want about the sestruction of the middle class Tears don't make it!!

Second, no one, not one person, who called in today mentioned the affect of the illegal war and the Bush tax cuts on our economy. So much for moderates!

Lastly, the clarion call to control the deficit
often includes 'social security'. But social security is not a government hand-out. It is an insurance policy we American gave to ourselves. Unlike private insurances, it generates no profits; its funds are handed to its contributors. That we borrrowed from the fund and replaced cah with IOUs
id tough. What we borrowed we need to replay. Just like any other borrowing1 So stop wailing and pay up!

Try not invading other countries.

Brian you did a shoddy job keeping things on the true and narrow!

John M. Giannone

Dec. 09 2010 11:23 AM
xheight from Brooklyn

bravo Bob from NJ - enough with the valorizing dogma as "a coherent life philosophy" It's the problem I have right to lifers as much with as the right to health care.

Dec. 09 2010 11:11 AM
Al from Charleston,SC

Most of the post here in are by people out of touch with the reality of the political system. We are offered a choice between the Coke or Pepsi leadership. Both are bad for you. Both are controlled by multinational and banking self interest. Neither care about your or any citizens well being. Greed is good is their mantra.
This is what our democracy has evolved into. Unfettered Capitalism which supports further gains for the rich at the expense of the poor and middle class. We have an uninformed, apathetic, populace that believes the lie that they will some day be a millionaire, so vote now for legislation that only benefits the rich.
How stupid you are to think you have a choice.

Dec. 09 2010 11:07 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

I agree with ericf that this is not a cyclical problem but a fundamental structural problem that has to be overcome if America is to stay afloat. Energy and economics, as Obama identified early on, are the key factors, along with the aging health problem. But the latter afflicts all the major economies except India, so its a wash in being an economic disadvantage vis a vis other major economies. The structural probem comes from using twice as much energy as the average European, and perhaps 4 or 5 times as much as used by the typical Chinese. But we need scientifically and technically educated graduates to help solve the latter, and we are not producing enough of those either. WE have to restructure our economy and not merely rearrange the deck chairs on a leaky ship.

Dec. 09 2010 10:58 AM
BK from Hoboken

@ jawbone
When you claim the earned income tax credit, most families with income under $40k (with let's say 2 kids), that family would pay $5163 in federal taxes but would get $5036 for the Earned income tax credit. 47 million Americans pay no income tax. So let's not talk about tax increases for people in the brackets you mention. Fair? Doesn't seem fair to me given my tax bill this year.

Dec. 09 2010 10:56 AM
Rick from Manhattan

It is scary that a movement led by someone so naive as to be talking about "raiding social security" will be taken seriously. Does he think that the trust fund is a pile of cash? or sits in a checking account? No, it is invested, and the markets still regard US Treasury obligations as the risk-free investment. The funds could be invested in corporate bonds and get a higher return, but then they would be at the risk of the markets.

Dec. 09 2010 10:56 AM

the economy tends to be cyclical.

i am not particularly convinced that this is just another cyclical recession, but rather reflects some long term problems as well. cyclical recession plus chickens coming home to roost so to speak.

however, if this recession follows recent patterns it would seem reasonable to see improvement in the job market during the next two years. (plus some parts of the stimulus program may bear fruit during the next two years.)

the state of the economy at any given time often reflects past policy at least as much as current policy, but is not necessarily perceived that way.

my concern is that repubicans who see tax cuts as a panacea will use any improvements as validation of their views even if those improvements are due to earlier actions and the business cycle.

Dec. 09 2010 10:50 AM
jawbone from Parsippany

From article about effect on public employees from the NYTimes:

"The deal would end the Making Work Pay credit, which gave a tax reduction of up to $400 to workers with low and middle incomes. That credit will be replaced by a 2 percent decrease in the payroll tax for Social Security for people of all incomes.

But more than six million federal, state and local government employees do not pay into Social Security at all. Instead, they pay into public pension systems. So if the agreed proposal becomes law, such employees will lose the $400 credit and would not reap any benefit from the payroll tax cut.

According to the most recent statistics by the House Ways and Means Committee, more than 174 million workers paid into Social Security in 2007, but about 5.7 million state and local government employees paid into other pension systems. While the federal government has been moving its work force into Social Security in recent decades, there were still 600,000 employees excluded from it in 2007.

Some tax experts say that it is unfair for a $900 billion tax cut package to give a quarter of its benefits to the top 1 percent of wage earners while forcing public sector workers, who are largely middle class, to have to pay more."

Unfair? Ya think?

But conservatives are not about fairness, so if one views Obama's actions as those of a conservative they make an unpleasant kind of sense. Too bad he didn't make it clear to the voters where he really stood politically. There were hints, but, WOW.

Note: Obama is a conservative. He's only even center right if the Republicans keep moving further and further to the right.

Dec. 09 2010 10:50 AM
Fletch from Astoria, NY

Looking from the middle, it appears that current US politics has become solely based on the competitive wins and loses where legislation is less important over the appearance of victory on the floor or the destruction of an opponent. Regardless of the countless theories as to why this has occurred, both parties simply appear to focus on the "win" so they may list their scorecard to the 365 day campaign trail. Leadership is not for lemmings, yet elected officials are acting as though that is the job description. Being apart of a one team or another solely for victory and reelection does not resolve issues, but continues the theatrical posturing that leads to reality shows, advertising on cable and (thankfully) some terrific comedy.

I was raised by a conservative and a liberal, both who changed parties or became independent over the years when their respective representatives appeared to lean overly far, no longer a voice for their needs, and following instead of leading. Making rationale, thoughtful and challenging decisions based on intelligent debate and research is the duty of elected officials. Their job is to represent all citizens, not simply those people and corporations who donate to the campaign. Politics is not all about the competition. The fundamental conversation must return to issues for all citizens bettering those on the left, right and center.

Dec. 09 2010 10:50 AM
Bob from NJ

hjs 11211 wrote; "Independents ie swing voters = those who can’t bother to take a stand, have a view, swinging with the wind, vote against someone but never took time to think up a coherent life philosophy."

Independent ie swing voters take a stand each election cycle and have views. We recognize that the world is not 'black and white' and make our decisions after 'digging' into issues while ignoring the biased rhetoric that pollutes the todays liberal and conservative media.

Dec. 09 2010 10:47 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

All talk of Right vs Left, or progressive taxation vs flat taxation, or any of that will not fix the underlying problems: ENERGY and EDUCATION. As long as $400 billion goes abroad for petroleum, and as long as our schools do not turn out well educated and technically savvy graduates, the whole political and economic discussion is just an exercise in futility. Thankfully, New York City uses less energy per capita than any other major city in the US, and that has softened the impact of the recession somewhat here.

Dec. 09 2010 10:45 AM
jawbone from Parsippany

From NYTimes article-

"... the tax benefits will flow most heavily to the highest earners, just as the original cuts did when they were passed in 2001 and 2003. At least a quarter of the tax savings will go to the wealthiest 1 percent of the population.

The tentative deal includes a two-year patch for the alternative minimum tax, a reduction in the payroll tax and a plan to reinstate the estate tax with lower rates and higher exemptions than in 2009 — all of which will offer far more savings for high earners than those in the low- or middle-income bracket.

The wealthiest Americans will also reap tax savings from the proposal’s plan to keep the cap on dividend and capital gains taxes at 15 percent, well below the highest rates on ordinary income.

And negotiators have agreed that the estimated $900 billion cost of the cuts will simply be added to the deficit — not covered by reductions in spending or increases in other taxes. That is good news for hedge fund managers and private equity investors, who appear to have withstood an effort to get them to pay more by eliminating a quirk in the tax code that allows most of their income to be taxed at just 15 percent.

In fact, the only groups likely to face a tax increase are those near the bottom of the income scale — individuals who make less than $20,000 and families with earnings below $40,000.

“It’s going to look like the rich are getting richer again,” said Anne Mathias, an analyst for MF Global Inc."

How does this differ from Bush II's tax cuts, which Obama campaigned agianst and Democrats have railed against for years?

"The proposal does not include an extension of Mr. Obama’s signature tax cut, the Making Work Pay credit, which provided a credit of up to $400 for individuals and $800 for families of low and moderate income. Instead, the plan creates a one-year reduction in Social Security payroll taxes, which are generally levied on the first $106,800 of income. For an individual earning $110,000, that provision would reduce payroll taxes by $2,136.

Although the $120 billion payroll tax reduction offers nearly twice the tax savings of the credit it replaces, it will nonetheless lead to higher tax bills for individuals with incomes below $20,000 and families that make less than $40,000. That is because their payroll tax savings are less than the $400 or $800 they will lose from the Making Work Pay credit.

“It will come to a few dollars a week,” said Roberton Williams, an analyst at the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, “but it is an increase.” "

How can this happen? Think of Obama as a conservative and his actions become less seemingly irrational.

Dec. 09 2010 10:45 AM
TV from Lower Manhattan

How does a centrist raise money for a campaign. Is it only viable with uber-wealthy candidates like Mayor Bloomberg?

Dec. 09 2010 10:39 AM
Karen OT10

The conversation would be very different, and we wouldn't need to spend so much energy on label creation, if political discourse were made by people who were well-educated in U.S. and world history. Unfortunately that would require well-educated teachers and that would require a nation with a will for intelligent critical thinking in education, particulary in the humanistic field of history. On the other hand, Presidents FDR and Harry Truman had the votes to do the right thing and we had middle class America for 30 years as a result, WITHOUT an educated populace.

Dec. 09 2010 10:38 AM
MN from Queens

The guest confesses a lifetime of trying on different political belief systems, but is it fair to say that many potential joiners of this new moderate movement haven't? That, instead, many people are moderate out of chosen apathy? How do we motivate such-minded people into active political thought? How do we make a movement out of lazy citizens?

Dec. 09 2010 10:38 AM
rlewis from the bowery

@Charles from Washington Heights

For example, I believe we should have a single payer health system, people consider this a leftist view point. What would be the moderate view point?

A public option.

Dec. 09 2010 10:37 AM
Barb C. W. from Forrest Hills

Centrist and Jewish! Solomon sounds sexy enough to me.

Dec. 09 2010 10:37 AM
Jack Jackson from Central New Jersey

Ten years of tax cuts with no balancing cuts in services. This was the GOP solution under Bush. In my opinion, their noise about the deficit was just a tactic to hamstring Democratic initiatives. In the end, it makes us all the taxes go to debt service.

After Bush, the Left and Progressives considered Obama 'the Great Black Hope'. To some extent, the BHO pitched to them in order to make the distinction between McCain and himself more apparent. In reality, Barack Obama is much more conservative than the Left are comfortable with. Dennis Kucinich was the only Democratic candidate they would truly have embraced yet he was un-electable.

During the primaries, I was behind Richardson - while he lasted. Obama was an acceptable alternative.

How do you forge a centrist solution when the Right refuses to work with you. Let's call the obstructionist GOP Senate what it is. Good ol' boys (and girls) that want to keep their contributors happy.

To fix it, we need to enable public financing of elections. Full disclosure on the small amount of private funding that the law would allow.

Dec. 09 2010 10:37 AM
jawbone from Parsippany

I hate to disappoint your first caller who thinks that there will be an even and fair tax decrease. While 25% of the tax cuts will got to the top 1% of earners (what's fair about that,btw?), there will be a tax increase for individuals earning $20K and below and for families earning $40K and below.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Grinch! And he's after the poor and poorer among us.

Individuals earning $20,000 or lower, families earning $40,000 or below -- there will a tax INCREASE.

Obama said about the "compromise" that there were no tax increases for the middle class. But, of course, he didn't mention the lower class, and perhaps he sees the middle class beginning above $20K and $40K for individuals and families.

Which is kind of sad, since the median income for households, iirc, is around $40K....but that may have changed since I last did some research on that figure. Maybe Obama is right that those earners are not middle class.

But, yet another error from the president: Middle class public employees who do not contribute to SocSec but to other pensions plans will NOT get a tax decrease, but a tax increase.

Sources: NYTimes

Dec. 09 2010 10:37 AM
Mary from NYC

Who cares? Really... just vote for whomever you think best serves society and it's citizens. I predict in the future, there will be no party identification. Just vote for the individual.

Dec. 09 2010 10:36 AM
X-height from Brooklyn

wow ; ) so much for stepping away from polar views here. As one who does find MS/NBC and Fox the poles of snark and bark I was moved by Obama's deal (big checkmark for my re-vote). I pretty much opt out of talking about left or right issues here in NYC because any hint of moderation seems like siding with Conservatives. Not so. Bravo Brian simply for saying we are out here and vote. Never much happy about my choices but I note the difference of those that are govern as liberal and hold liberal views.

Dec. 09 2010 10:36 AM
Charles from Washington Heights

Could someone who considers themselves a moderate explain to me what exactly that means in a political sense.

We are talking about belief systems, how do you moderately believe anything?

For example, I believe we should have a single payer health system, people consider this a leftist view point. What would be the moderate view point?

On so many political issues either you agree with something or you don't. You have an opinion one way or another on every issue.

Dec. 09 2010 10:34 AM
Charlie from Greenpoint

I suggest practicing conversational intolerance with ideologues. Just like a I personally would politely ignore or dismiss anyone who takes any of the three Abrahamic faiths literally I would do the same with anyone who focuses on abstract ideals rather than pragmatic solutions to the problems that could take down our society, our country, and ultimately our civilization. Unfortunately, the modus operandi of the right is to completely delegitimize governance as the mechanism to solving problems we have at the national level. People who focus on labels and language rather than problem solving should be stigmatized.

Dec. 09 2010 10:34 AM
Moderate Person from NYC

I think that Obama is not a centrist he is just not a fighter.

Dec. 09 2010 10:34 AM

For a centrist party to succeed, it will need a stronger set of principles than either the Dems or Republicans, and the discipline to hold true to their values. It must embrace both fiscal and ethical considerations.

Here is the beginning of a centrist, pragmatic value system-

Dec. 09 2010 10:33 AM

re tax compromise:

before midterm election i was in favor of extending all tax cuts for ONE year and reviewing how the upper brackets work during that year. early on i would have liked to have seen provisions for the unemployed who commit to two year skills building programs (ie technical certification programs or associate degree) to receive benefits for the duration of the program plus six months.

still think one year would be more reasonable than two, but can live with two if the time is used to rethink upper brackets and corporate income tax. (i favor a general shift in responsibility from corporations to the individuals who run them.) may be too late in the cycle for the very extended umemployment benefits idea to be helpful. however, i suspect that the notion that unemployment benefits discouage recipients from woring is wrong in the vast majority of cases.

however, i see these as maintenance issues.

IMHO encouraging the overall economy to recover faster than it wouuld due to the business cycle requires addressing fundamental issues like converting surplus single family homes to other uses like multiple dwellings and encouraginng domestic manufacturing.

Dec. 09 2010 10:32 AM
antonio from independent park slope

Who is talking to me?? Senator Bernie Sanders! And basically the legislature in Vermont. There trying to do a single payer system up there.

A true independent undertakes the most logical action available. Was civil rights a left wing idea?! No.
The truth is if the republicans want to pay off some of the debt/deficit, (which they didn't seem to care about eight years ago)
raise the corporate tax rate to Reagen era and tax away the tax cuts for the rich!!!!

Dec. 09 2010 10:32 AM

Independent is not the same as a moderate. One can be a moderate democrat or a moderate republican. Independents have no view and maybe they show up on election day if the weather is nice or if they hate someone.

Dec. 09 2010 10:32 AM
Tim from Midtown

We moderates are few and far between. If one were to plot national political views on a bell curve from left to right, my hypothesis is that there would be a deep chasm in the middle (and hence no "bell" in the curve at all). We should call it, "The Valley of the Moderates". Thanks for listening to us today!

Dec. 09 2010 10:32 AM
Stuart from New York City

Mr. Bloomberg is living in a Frank Capra film – and unfortunately he is the Edward Arnold character (not the James Stewart or Gary Cooper hero). I see this world more like a Sinclair Lewis novel – warning us of false “populists.”

Dec. 09 2010 10:32 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

Oh, please. He's another Democrat who supported Obama just 24 months ago.
I don't believe he is really in the center as it is defined outside New York, New Haven and Berkeley.

Dec. 09 2010 10:31 AM
Katie from Huntington

Eileen from LI--Compromise? Where is the compromise? Obama gave it all away. A compromise might have been to extend tax cuts to all EXCEPT those making a million or more. That was not compromise, it was capitulation.

Dec. 09 2010 10:31 AM
Lee NYC from Manhattan

I'm a registered independent, so was delighted to hear some of Bloomberg's ideas.

However, the problem with deals like Obama's on tax cuts is that a halfway point between R and D proposals is not necessarily the best solution for the greater good.

If Reps said the world was flat and Dems said it was round, would agreement that we live on a sphere be the best result? People forget the Bush tax cuts were the first time in US history these were done during wartime, and make even less sense now.

Dec. 09 2010 10:29 AM
Dorothy from Manhattan

I'm a registered Independent who usually votes Democratic -- but, hey, doesn't almost everybody in NYC? I don't like the Dems but I don't like the Reps more. So maybe that makes me a moderate.

Obama (who is called a "socialist" by the right wing) has just handed the end of Social Security to the Republicans. That 2% "reduction in taxes" is a cut in FICA withholding. SS is already in trouble and this is the death knell. (And I think it's interesting that WNYC hasn't mentioned that.)

I voted for Obama reluctantly and I should have voted for the the craziest third party candidate around.

Dec. 09 2010 10:29 AM

Pretty rich (no pun intended) Bloomberg calling for centrist collaboration after stuffing a corporate non-teacher into the DOE and buying a third term.

Dec. 09 2010 10:28 AM
Katie from Huntington, NY

Has anyone else noticed that Bloomberg sounds remarkably like Jon Stewart speaking at is Rally for Sanity?

Dec. 09 2010 10:27 AM
Peg from NY

Fiscally-conservative, Life-long Republican is an oxymoron. Ever since Reagan, the Republicans have been for borrowing and deficit spending. Sorry this type person is not a moderate, but delusional.

Dec. 09 2010 10:25 AM
Eli from Upper West Side

Currently, the politicians seem to be boasting nothing but party-first politics. This has been dangerous and detrimental to the society for the past two years, and this 'compromise' between Obama and Republicans is a sign that nothing is going to change.
This is no compromise, it is two parties taking what they can from the other. One for the democrats, one for the republicans. A compromise would mean meeting in the middle, and, apparently, neither party is willing to do that.

I have hope for the way Obama is willing to negotiate, but a compromise is a two-way street, it does not take one person. Unfortunately, I do not see more people jumping on board for fear of their dwindling political lives falling faster.

The deficit needs to be cut. Saying it does not mean the same thing as doing it, and right now, all our politicians do is talk. We need action, not backward step negotiations that lead to nothing being fixed.

Dec. 09 2010 10:25 AM
Tom G from somerset, nj

People don't seem to remember that Obama ran as a moderate. Much of his campaign was filled with statements where he declared sympathy with the leftist position (on health care, the war, etc.) but made clear that he was looking for practical, centrist solutions. I think the mistakes from the last two years came from handing over power to the left leaning congress, which in turn fed the argument that republicans made that they weren't being listened to while giving them cover to say "no" to everything.

Dec. 09 2010 10:24 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

The ONLY way the deficit can be cut is to CUT the consumption of imported oil! The US sends nearly $400 billion dollars to OPEC for oil, and there is no need to do so. And yet, this issue of energy independence is rarely, if ever, tied to our national debt issue. Rearranging the deck chairs on a sinking ship will never keep it from sinking. The hole in our hull is not only Chinese imports, but more importantly petroleum imports. And we can drill our way out either. We must shift to electric cars, natural gas, and other alternatives to imported oil. None of the fiscal, monetary, or tax policies will do a darn thing to change fix that hole in our hull.

One reason New York is doing a bit better than much of the country, is that New Yorkers use less oil and energy per capita in general.

Dec. 09 2010 10:23 AM
Eileen from LI

Mayor Bloomberg voiced what I've been feeling for quite some time. There has been very little governing going on for some time now -- it has been nothing more than team sport. I felt relief that the President compromised on the tax issue. I hope there will be more compromises, and less standoffs as the task of recovery moves forward.

Dec. 09 2010 10:23 AM
Nic from Michigan

I think people need to be educated on how a balanced budget would BENFIT EVERYONE! Can someone please fight for long-term progress please?! We are a "have it now" populace. We are all paying for the mistakes of the past.

Tax cut or no tax cut. We WILL PAY for it one way or another.

Dec. 09 2010 10:22 AM
Ed from Brooklyn

Steve from Brooklyn - I couldn't agree more! Well said.

Dec. 09 2010 10:22 AM
Barry from New York

There is less difference than similarity between the right and left. Lip service aside, each believe that it is possible to maintain spending (on its favored programs) cut taxes (except on the other guy) and still balance the budget. This is stupidity, but politicians are now punished for saying anything intelligent, and so they don't.

Dec. 09 2010 10:20 AM
Ed from Brooklyn

Independents? Yes, like the Independent Senator from Vermont. Bernie Sanders is one of the few elected officials who speaks up in the face of greed and power.

The waffling center and far right do not own the term Independent.

Dec. 09 2010 10:19 AM
rlewis from the Bowery

I'm ok with the compromise, but I would have prefered if not tax cuts or no tax cuts and continued unemployment or no unemployment. Rather, I wish it were tax cuts for all, but at half the original %. And some unemployment, but not as much as before. So that we ween the rich off of their tax cuts and ween the poor off their unemployment insurance.

Dec. 09 2010 10:19 AM
Barry Adler from New York

There is less difference than similarity between the right and left. Lip service aside, each believe that it is possible to maintain spending (on its favored programs) cut taxes (except on the other guy) and still balance the budget. This is stupidity, but politicians are now punished for saying anything intelligent, and so they don't.

Dec. 09 2010 10:19 AM
Steve from Brooklyn

I think this discussion is reinforcing the skewing of political identity in America. In Europe or Canada or South America Obama would be a centrist and a moderate. Brian's question about the media also reinforces our national confusion - MSNBC talk hosts are ultimately MODERATE, they support the Democrats who are generally MODERATE. If you want speak of a progressive, you'd have to go to Amy Goodman and Democracy Now. And to speak the truth there is no real major leftist media in this country. It's the right wing that has cast American moderates as "far left." It's a mistake to buy in to that falsehood.

Dec. 09 2010 10:19 AM
Roger Cohen from Bloomfield NJ

The short term emphasis on the deficit is misplaced because cutting it now will reduce demand in the aggregate and harm economic growth. Resistance to long-term deficit fixes in the future through hard fixes,(eg, more progressive tax rates and increased retirement age) will surely destroy the economic future and strength of the nation, maybe the world.
Obama On!

Dec. 09 2010 10:18 AM
Nj Jerry from Bergen

Republicrats, democrans... One party system; united under the banner of the plutocrats. And since citizen united they have more speech than me or you, for money is now freedom of speech. Refer to bill motets speech at BU back in October. He connected all the dots.

Dec. 09 2010 10:18 AM
Jeremy from Brooklyn, NY

Let's be realistic... if you give a rich person $1000, he/she will put it in the bank. If you give a poor person $1000, he/she will spend it. Which of those helps the economy the most? But, that said, taxes need to go up across the board because otherwise, sooner or later, we are going to hit a wall where the national debt is much too high to deal with.

Dec. 09 2010 10:17 AM
Bob from NJ

I feel that a true compromise would have been to let 1/2 of the Bush Tax Cuts to expire across the board - in other words everyone's tax cut is reduced by half, that way we all share the burden and no single group feels set upon.

Dec. 09 2010 10:17 AM
Don from Nantucket, MA

Unfortunately, the Tea Party has taken the "Independent" label hostage. I consider myself a true independent-thinking moderate. I started a newspaper in 03 called The Nantucket Independent, I voted for Bush in 04, and Obama in 08. The government's "us and them" mentality has created two polarized extremes, which I consider a shame. Generally, I have to applaud Bloomberg for at least trying to use a level of common sense.

Dec. 09 2010 10:17 AM

Independents ie swing voters = those who can’t bother to take a stand, have a view, swinging with the wind, vote against someone but never took time to think up a coherent life philosophy

Dec. 09 2010 10:16 AM
clp1935 from Manhattan/Washington Heights

Registered as a Democrat so that my vote counts in Manhattan. Consider myself a social liberal and a financial conservative.

Obama counted the votes and saw there weren't enough votes available to get what he wanted. So he negotiated while he still had a House majority.

Frankly, I think he's the President that he presented himself as being. Of course, none of them -- he, Ms. Clinton nor McCain had any real administrative experience. No real track record as running anything. We got what we bought.

Dec. 09 2010 10:15 AM
Andy B. from New York City

I am an independent. I understand how Bloomberg is very comfortable with stressing the irrelevancy of Democrat/Republic partisan warfare.

As a Wall Street guy, he understands better than most that the Money party is the only party in town, and both parties have one mission - to funnel money into Wall Street - and he is the number one cheerleader of that mission.

For example, the NY Times reported a year or so ago about a program to get retraining funds from the Federal govt. for cities. Bloomberg allocated the money SOLELY to people laid off from Wall Street.

Bloomberg was the number one supporter of the Wall Street bailouts, which after all was the greatest ( worst ?) example of bipartisanship we have seen in decades.

Dec. 09 2010 10:15 AM
Marina Harss

I'm a centrist, or a moderate, or a pragmatist, or whatever you want to call it, though with liberal tendencies and with an abhorrence the right wing. I believe I would vote for Bloomberg, and I sympathize with his intelligence and clear thinking. I also sympathize with PResident Obama's desire to obtain what he can (through compromise), and get back to work. And no, I don't think there are many voices speaking for this constituency. And yes, I am tired of being preached at from both sides.

Dec. 09 2010 10:15 AM
THOMAS BONITO from Essex Fells, NJ 07021

Thank-you President Obama for worrying so much about the middle class. I am so grateful that you extended the Bush tax cuts for everyone and for all the other stimulus programs that will add $900 billion to the national debt over the next two years. I look forward to paying down debt with my $3,000 or so in annual tax savings. I wonder if those on the high end will spend or save their tax cut windfall. I heard that Republicans would not agree to extend unemployment benefits unless you gave tax cuts to the wealthy. With 58 Democratic votes in the Senate, I can imagine how hard it would have been for you to obtain two votes from Senate Independents, especially during the holiday season. I am so glad that you increased the estate tax exemption to $5 million ($10 million per couple) and lowered the estate tax rate from 55% to 35%. Although I am not very familiar with estate taxes, I guess you believe that significantly reducing estate taxes on wealthy dead people will provide stimulus to the economy. I worry, however, about the absence of any long-term plan to bring down the deficit. Your deficit commission recommended simplifying taxes by permanently lowering the top income tax rate to 23%, much lower than the current top 35% rate that so many have fought to preserve. I want you to know that I am not angry that the deficit commission wants to reduce taxes on the wealthy, and I am fully prepared for my big tax increase in 2013 and for the draconian cuts in social programs that will be needed. Someone has to be responsible for deficit reduction. Thank-you President Obama for loving the middle class to death.

Dec. 09 2010 10:15 AM
Robert from NYC

Stop comparing Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow with the FOX teams, they are not polar opposites as you place them. Where Olbermann and Maddow base their ideas on the truth the FOX teams actually base their ideas on fiction and wildly crazed imagination. You know that and you insist to make the polar opposite comparison. YOU ARE WRONG, Brian and YOU KNOW THAT. That's an unjust comparison, a convenience for you to make your case. Don't do that. You're better than that!

Dec. 09 2010 10:15 AM
Jeff Pappasj from Ct.

As an independent Artist and Photographer who has been under employed most of of the time , and especially in the last 2 years, I am appalled at Obama's paying the Ransom to the Republicans. I can't believe he is giving a tax break to people who make more than 1 million $
Non of this new bill will help the millions of people like myself ! I have NO INCOME !
I / We cant get ANY un employment NONE EVER
Start a WPA so we can repair our infrastructure , I can document it with photographs.

Dec. 09 2010 10:15 AM
scotty elyanow from Greenwich Village

As a moderate, I am generally ok with the compromise as I think its good for NYC since "rich people" are not those making 250k/year. I wonder why the compromise could not be eliminating the tax cuts for those making more than say 750k/year. there was no talk of that. HOWEVER, I THINK ITS A SHREWD POLITICAL MOVE FOR OBAMA AS THERE WILL BE NO WAY TO MANIPULATE THE PR OTHER THAN TO SHOW THAT REPUBLICANS IN THIS "COMPROMISE" FOUGHT FOR TAX CUTS FOR MILLIONAIRES AND BILLIONAIRES AND THAT WILL COME BACK TO BITE THEM IN 2 YEARS. Thanks Brian--have been listening to your show for 10 years and love it every day.

Dec. 09 2010 10:13 AM
Joby from Flushing, NY

The compromise is far from perfect but I'd be ok with the compromise if Obama had insisted on a Balanced Budget Ammendment that kicks in within 2 years as a precondition. That way the politicians would be forced to make the hard choices which they won't otherwise.

Dec. 09 2010 10:13 AM
Alistair from midtown

Who's the Hannity of moderation? You are, Brian, you are.

Dec. 09 2010 10:13 AM
The Truth from Becky

Split the difference my eyeball! Cancel the bush tax breaks NOW!

Dec. 09 2010 10:12 AM
Don from Smithtown

And on the "compromise", it's more of a trade than a compromise. Both sides could have both gotten smaller, edible pieces of their cakes with, say, tax cuts for people earning under a million and 70% of unemployment benefits, but instead they both get to eat their full pieces of cake while we the tax payers get to eat the crust at the bottom of the oven.

Dec. 09 2010 10:12 AM
Janet from So Plfd.

So many blue collar workers don't seem to grasp that these taxcuts are going to people who most likely already pay less tax then they do as a percentage of their total income. There has absolutely been a failure to communicate on the part of the Obama administration. Also failure to pass the CONTINUATION of this tax cut has been labeled a TAX HIKE !? The Dems are down on Obama for compromise but they did nothing but splinter when they had a majority.

Dec. 09 2010 10:11 AM
Robert from NYC

I am an independent non-party registered but god forbid this man becomes president. I can't imagine Bloomberg as president of this country. Midway thru his first term we'll find out how he destroyed much of this city and then what will we do.
I agree with him on partisan politics but that's where it ends. He's not the person to run for office. If I had to hear that voice constantly for more years I would kill myself. I'm sure he'll buy his way into this as he has done in his current post... a third term mayor.

Dec. 09 2010 10:08 AM
Don from Smithtown

At the national level, there are no Republicans who talk to me and almost no Democrats. However, if we were to end up with an Obama-Palin-Bloomberg race, it would take a great, great deal of courage to vote for Bloomberg over Obama, even though Bloomberg would represent me better despite that they're equally effective in my mind, for fear of Palin winning with 35% of the voting, claiming a mandate, and rolling back American progress.

Dec. 09 2010 10:07 AM
JT from LI

I'm starting to think that those arguing that Obama lacked the experience to be president were right. He doesn't seem to know how to get the message out to the public or how to work with political opponents.

Dec. 09 2010 10:04 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.


About It's A Free Country ®

Archive of It's A Free Country articles and posts. Visit the It's A Free Country Home Page for lots more.

Supported by

WNYC is supported by the Charles H. Revson Foundation: Because a great city needs an informed and engaged public.  Learn more at


Supported by