A top House Republican may have been too quick to call President Obama a “carjacker” yesterday for proposing business tax cuts and infrastructure investment.

Just hours after House GOP Conference Secretary John Carter attacked the president’s Labor Day stimulus proposals the GOP had to say goodbye to the 10-point lead they had in last week’s Gallup poll of generic congressional preferences.

Gallup’s weekly tracking poll, a key predictor of voter’s actions in elections, showed Democrats and Republicans tied at 46 percent, down from the 10 point lead the GOP had only a week ago.

The change, Gallup said, was the first time in five weeks where Republicans didn’t hold a lead over Democrats. This came only a week after Gallup had called last week’s 51-41 percent Republican lead “unprecedented.”

The poll, conducted Aug. 30-Sept. 5, does not reflect gains Democrats expect to make as a result of the stepped-up campaigning they began on Labor Day.

Worried about the president’s good reception at Labor Day events, Carter attacked Obama yesterday by saying, “offering $200 billion in narrowly targeted business tax cuts and new deficit spending while yoking taxpayers with a $3.8 trillion January tax hike is like a carjacker offering taxi fare before he rides off in your car.”

Democrats were quick to point out that Republican opposition to extending business tax cuts that they have long supported was clear evidence that they are playing politics before the midterm elections.

Soon after Carter made his attack, GOP Senator Lamar Alexander reiterated his call for extension of the Bush tax cuts for the rich. “The Bush tax cuts are free, but Obama’s tax cuts cost money,” Alexander declared.

The Wonk Room’s Pat Garofalo was among scores of progressive commentators and bloggers who jumped all over Alexander’s remarks: “Sen. Lamar is saying that we have to wait and see ‘if we have money’ for $100 billion in research and development, but should be spending $830 billion on the very richest Americans without a second thought.”

Determined to win on the issue, in a Cleveland speech today, President Obama said he opposes any compromise that would extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy beyond this year.

He made the case again for his Labor Day package of $50 billion for infrastructure spending and $180 billion in expanded business tax cuts.

He also repeated again that he would offset the cost of these measures by closing several loopholes and ending several tax breaks that multinational oil, gas and other corporations now get.

Despite a wide variety of views on the specifics of the president’s proposals, progressives agreed that the president has successfully contrasted his economic vision with that of House Minority Leader John Boehner.

The president came out batting for a long term reauthorization of the federal transportation act that would steer investments toward high-speed rail and create an infrastructure bank and called for expanding and extending research tax credits. Under the president’s proposal businesses could get the tax breaks for research investments immediately. His proposed bill, although not yet approved by Congress, has a retroactivity clause that takes effect Sept. 8.

The plan, observers note, contrasts sharply with Boehner’s latest speech which contained no new formulas for rebuilding the American economy.





John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik started as labor editor of the People's World in May, 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There he served as a shop steward, as a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee, and as an activist in the union's campaign to win public support for Wal-Mart workers. In the 1970s and '80s he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York. Along with being labor editor, Wojcik is a co-editor of peoplesworld.org.