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Matthew Freeman is a Brooklyn based playwright with a BFA from Emerson College. His plays include THE DEATH OF KING ARTHUR, REASONS FOR MOVING, THE GREAT ESCAPE, THE AMERICANS, THE WHITE SWALLOW, AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR, THE MOST WONDERFUL LOVE, WHEN IS A CLOCK, GLEE CLUB, THAT OLD SOFT SHOE and BRANDYWINE DISTILLERY FIRE. He served as Assistant Producer and Senior Writer for the live webcast from Times Square on New Year's Eve 2010-2012. As a freelance writer, he has contributed to Gamespy, Premiere, Complex Magazine, Maxim Online, and MTV Magazine. His plays have been published by Playscripts, Inc., New York Theatre Experience, and Samuel French.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Obama's Stimulus Plan - Massive Tax Cuts?

Obama's proposal to help bolster the failing economy seems to come with massive tax cuts. On the surface, this seems like bad news. Bush's tax cuts were one of the many revolting misdeeds of his presidency; hearing about Obama's makes some wonder if the new boss is the same as the old boss.

I'm not some expert on tax policy. The thinking inside the Beltway seems to be that taxes are a more acceptable way to use federal dollars than direct spending on good programs. So far, that hasn't seemed to have worked out. Not all "tax cuts" are the same, though, and reading over the article, it appears as if the Obama plan is designed to overcome Republican opposition (tax cuts are like Republican catnip). It also appears that the plan leans more towards incentives for job creation and tax credits to lower-to-middle income families. Obama did promise a "net tax cut" on the middle class, so we shouldn't be shocked.

I'd prefer, and I think many of us would prefer, to see a plan that boldly lays out how the government is going to use its money to fund important new projects and initiatives, not just give backdoor incentives and tax relief. It's gotten us nowhere. Taxes as an engine of economic growth, from this layman's perspective, seem weak. They seem like a political football, more than a real solution. Which is why I'm relatively sure this is a measure taken to placate conservative opposition.

The Democratic Doctrine of Preemptive Surrender, though, continues to give me pause. If the Republicans won't vote for our ideal plan, let them actively vote against it. If they want to filibuster, let them stand up there and waste everyone's time. When did the threat of argument become a substitute for the argument itself?

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