Given the current economic situation -- a very slow recovery from a long, deep recession -- most Americans are financially strapped. And those who have lost their jobs are in crisis mode.
Now is not the time for the federal government to rescind a tax break for the middle class (benefitting an average family about $3,000 a year) nor should unemployment benefits be cut off for those still searching for jobs.
Wages for many have not gone up for a year or two. People are struggling. Most middle-class Americans couldn't easily absorb a $3,000 hit to the family budget.
Those who have been out of work for an extended period of time need those unemployment benefits as a bridge to pay the mortgage and put food on the table until they can find work. The Great Recession has gone on longer than the experts had anticipated and, therefore, it's prudent to continue the unemployment benefits.
President Obama has taken this very position.
But getting Congress to agree isn't easy. Congress is in flux. The Democrats now control the House and Senate but in January Republicans will take control of the House while Democrats will retain their Senate majority by a slim margin.
Obama, a Democrat from Chicago who served in the Senate, understands Republicans -- who favor keeping the tax break for the wealthy intact -- are now in a position to make demands. The GOP makes a good point in that raising taxes on anybody at this juncture puts the economy at risk.
The president wisely agreed to negotiate with GOP leaders in an effort to seek a compromise that will, in the long run, serve the nation.
We believe he did it. The deal would keep the tax break for the middle class and wealthy for two years and also extend unemployment benefits.
But some Democrats are outraged Obama has compromised and are blasting him for veering from his progressive goals.
Nonsense. Obama has simply taken a page from the Clinton playbook and taken a pragmatic approach.
Senior Obama adviser David Axelrod said the president had no choice but to accede to Republican demands.
"We're not going to play Russian roulette with the lives of the American people, with all the millions of people that are going to lose their unemployment insurance right now without this bill going forward," Axelrod said on ABC's "Good Morning America."
It would be "borderline immoral" to allow taxes to go up in the midst of an economic slump, he added on NBC's "Today" show.
We did not favor these tax cuts when they were originally approved because of the impact on the growing national debt.
Circumstances have changed. In the short term, the tax breaks and the extended unemployment benefits are critical for individual Americans and economic recovery.