William Galston has an article up at TNR today urging the President to embrace comprehensive tax reform as a signature issue for his re-election bid. In the event, I suggested precisely this two days after the midterm elections. I differ with Galston in his claim that this is the "only" way for Obama to survive in 2012. But, Galston is right to point out that Democrats must find a way to engage on this issue which, as we just saw, is not their strong suit.
Galston was a key mover in the formation of the Democratic Leadership Council in the wake of the 49-state landslide that earned President Ronald Reagan a second term. Many saw the effort merely as an effort to move the Democrats to the center. But, the DLC also stood for the proposition that the Democrats could not afford to simply cede any issue of public discourse. Campaign consultants and pollsters were quick to observe that a voter who went into the voting booth thinking of themselves as a taxpayer was more likely to vote Republican, and a voter who went in thinking of themselves as a worker was more likely to back the Dems.
With unemployment at almost 10 percent, even the second half of that equation is a dim prospect for Democrats. But, reclaiming the high ground on the tax issue is a way to level the ideological playing field. Galston is right and I hope the White House is listening.