There’s been a lot of hemming and hawing on the American left about President Obama’s deal to extend tax cuts for the rich (the Bush tax cuts) and the estate tax in exchange for tax credits for working families and 13 more months of unemployment insurance. One nice thing about it is that it has shown that the American left still has some fight — it was inspiring to see a little bit of piss and vinegar from Bernie Sanders, who became an overnight twitter celebrity for his filibuster in the Senate.
Clearly this was not the best deal for low-income Americans, but it could have been worse. The chart below from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows the breakdown of benefits. The odious provisions — the tax breaks for the rich — account for $129 billion, hardly chump change. These have to be weighed against the provisions for working families ($44 billion), a huge payroll tax reduction ($112 billion) and the unemployment insurance ($57 billion). The bulk of the bill were things that Dems and Republicans both agreed to should happen — tax cuts for the middle class (broadly defined).
I would have liked to have seen more on the table for low-income populations (which is where we get the biggest bang to the stimulus buck in any case), but I think President Obama had a point when he said that we should not make American families collateral damage in partisan politics.