By breaking with President Obama and most of the Democratic Party in publicly proclaiming support for extension of Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest people in America, Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink is taking a calculated, conservative step to the Right.
And she couldn’t be more wrong.
Just a little more time and we’ll know whether this was a plus or a minus for her in the overall statewide electoral equation. But for the time being, this is a risky move that reeks of nerviness, if not outright desperation. It looks and smells like little more than an effort to distance Sink from a president and party with poll numbers that would give any candidate pause. Any candidate willing to let poll numbers take undue precedence over good policy, that is.
Without question, Sink has disappointed and discouraged many Florida progressives who were ready and willing to offer active support. Many of those folks, the kind of people who make phone calls and knock on doors for candidates they believe in, will now sigh heavily and move forward with Sink primarily because they know that her Republican opponent, RIck Scott, is an out and out radical Right Wing extremist who must not be allowed to win the governorship. But they will not move forward with much if any enthusiasm.
There is no gray area on the policy side of things here, because the data is there for all to see. The Bush tax cuts have overwhelmingly benefited the top two percent of Americans who were already rich and did not need any additional tax cuts. The sales pitch always was and still remains rooted in the magical thinking that if you give rich folks lots of additional wealth, they will spend and share it with the rest of the economy. But it has been nine years or so since this crass shell game started, and we’ve seen no evidence of that.
And so it is just plain common sense, and the height of political politeness, to now admit that those tax cuts did not serve the greater good. The right move now would be to let them expire and generate some additional income for the U.S. Treasury, helping fund extension and expansion of tax cuts for all the working families and small businesses that really do need help so desperately.
Alex Sink, with her background in business and finance should know that as well or better than anyone. But instead of pursuing progressive public policy, she is trying to establish her “independence” from the Big Blue team in Washington.
By pandering to currently in-vogue anti-Obama conservativism, she is dampening the enthusiasm of much of the Democratic base. And without enthusiasm, there will be no big voter turnout. And without big Democratic turnout, there will be no victory for Alex Sink come November.