Befuddled by his party’s struggles to end the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, outgoing Gov. Ted Strickland of Ohio jested that the Democratic Party may as well “fold up” if it loses this battle.
“I mean, if we can’t win that argument we might as well just fold up,” Strickland told Sam Stein of the Huffington Post in an interview. “These people are saying we are going to insist on tax cuts for the richest people in the country and we don’t care if they are paid for, and we don’t think it is a problem if it contributes to the deficit, but we are not going to vote to extend unemployment benefits to working people if they aren’t paid for because they contribute to the deficit.
“I mean, what is wrong with that? How can it be more clear?” he said.
Democrats and Republicans are split on whether to extend the marginal tax cuts on individual income over $200,000 (and family income over $250,000), which were enacted by President George W. Bush and are set to expire on December 31.
The White House and most Democrats are in favor of letting them expire, but virtually all Republicans adamantly want them extended and the GOP leadership has pledged not to compromise on the issue. House Democrats intend to hold a vote on a measure Thursday, which would extend middle-class tax cuts but end the breaks for the wealthy.
Strickland’s harsh words are based on a variety of polls that show public opinion well on the side of Democrats. Surveys have regularly found that most Americans oppose an extension of the high-end tax cuts, which would affect roughly the top 2 percent of income earners in the United States.
The governor alleged that President Barack Obama, who is still seeking compromise with Republicans while getting little or nothing in return, doesn’t understand that the GOP has no intention of working with him. The president keeps getting “slapped in the face” by his Republican adversaries, the Ohio Democrat said.
The contrast in strategies was telling on Tuesday: Before a bipartisan meeting, Obama emphasized the need for compromise on tax cuts, while GOP leaders Mitch McConnell and John Boehner penned an op-ed in the Washington Post pledging not to budge on the issue.
Strickland also posited that Democrats suffer from an “intellectual elitism” that often precludes them from devising effective populist messaging that would help sell their initiatives to the public.
The Ohio governor lost his re-election battle on Nov. 2 to Republican John Kasich.