How Obama Got The Tax Cut Deal

by Jonathan Chait | December 6, 2010

It appears that President Obama got more out of Republicans, in return for extending all the Bush tax cuts, than I expected he would. Of course he also gave up more, agreeing to an extension of a low estate tax rate, which is apparently crucial as an incentive for rich people to, uh, die.

Why were Republicans so flexible? They are willing to deal away a lot if they're getting tax cuts for the rich. President Clinton got Republicans to establish a Childrens' Health Insurance Program in 1997 in return for a capital gains tax cut. Now Obama got a fair amount of stimulus in return for upper-bracket tax cuts. Unfortunately, it tends to be terrible policy. But it's the party's core policy goal, and if you help them attain it they can be surprisingly reasonable.

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