"Uncivil Discourse: Bush pressures Dems to fall in line for his final year."
That's how Newsweek.com teases a Richard Wolffe Web Exclusive analysis of President George W. Bush's final State of the Union address. Wolffe lamented the bitter partisanship in Washington, noting that the Bush-Pelosi-Boehner agreement on an economic stimulus plan was "the rare exception" of "respect and cooperation" that "is hard to find in the halls of Congress at the end of the Bush era."
Too bad, Wolffe gripes, that President Bush used his final State of the Union to chide Congress for failing to make tax cuts permanent (emphasis mine):
Instead of offering ground for cooperation, the president continued the pattern he set in the earliest months of his presidency: to insist on cooperation on his terms. His first substantive policy issue was taxes. He warned Democrats that they had to make his tax cuts permanent—something he could have done years ago, rather than waiting until election time to corner his opponents. "Some in Washington argue that letting tax relief expire is not a tax increase," he explained. "Try explaining that to 116 million American taxpayers who would see their taxes rise by an average of $1,800. Others have said they would personally be happy to pay higher taxes. I welcome their enthusiasm, and I am pleased to report that the IRS accepts both checks and money orders." So much for the civil and respectful tone of debate on taxes.
Of course, none of what the president said was uncivil or disrespectful. It was decidedly sharp and aimed at directing taxpayer ire and public pressure on the Democratic Congress towards the end of accomplishing permanency for the 2001 tax cuts.
But given the fears about recession that Wolffe's own magazine is engendering --see "The U.S. Economy Faces the Guillotine" -- isn't it laughable for Newsweek to worry Bush is too partisan and unyielding in pursuit of tax relief?