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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Obama Concedes, Boehner Turns Him Down

Yesterday, the president offered some concessions. He offered to continue the Bush era tax rates on some of the wealthiest 2% of Americans and he offered cuts to Social Security that are unacceptable to much of his base.

He asked for no concessions from the GOP. John Boehner apparently misunderstood. Instead of offering concessions of his own in return, he rejected the package of concessions as if it were an intermediate Democratic negotiating offer!

Policy preferences matter, but reality matters more!
That's how far apart the two sides are! That's why going over the fiscal cliff is not just an option, but a necessity.

If our future depends on these two sides compromising, it looks like we are doomed. There is a no man's land miles wide considered completely unacceptable by both sides. The usual suspects are all partly to blame, but the more difficult problem is not just disagreement and obstinacy over policy preferences but a far right gone completely mad.

They are so disconnected from reality, it's not even clear that the far right would go along with getting their own way!

Remember that the fiscal cliff was created by demands of severe deficit reduction under threat of not raising the debt ceiling. Many on the far right opposed raising the debt ceiling at all! What does that even mean? In theory, it means immediately cutting the deficit to zero. But if you write up the details of various scenarios that might actually occur with a failure to raise the debt ceiling, not a single one would actually pass muster with them. The fiscal cliff is the severe deficit reduction they demanded, not something Democrats asked for. Going over the fiscal cliff will be bad for the economy, and it was never the policy preference of Democrats. Yet even as the GOP mainstream calls spending cuts on the defense side "devastating" and wring hands over the revenue increases [both components that reduce the deficit] even as it is, it still doesn't go far enough to cut the deficit to zero!

So as we still drive towards the brick wall that is the debt ceiling, the far right simultaneously demands that we accelerate towards the wall faster and not move the wall!

What's more, this demand is not just a preference to them the way not cutting Social Security is to me; failing to follow this path towards suicide is framed as an existential threat!

These nuts have the power to scuttle a compromise, and that's a huge problem. Our only hope is to force them to see reality. It's not just arrogance, pride, or anger that makes me want to rub this reality in the faces of these far right nuts. It is not just obstinacy that makes me want Democrats to go all the way.  I would be willing to compromise on a lot of policy points that my fellow progressives would not. But it has become a necessity to go over the cliff. The far right really does now represent an existential threat.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Republicans Need an Intellectual Enema

The GOP is so full of shit, it's put us all at risk. Some worry about the dangers of going over the fiscal cliff, but it may be the only thing that can save us!

The GOP has gone off the deep end. It's been a long time coming, but went into overdrive sometime around Obama's election to the presidency. They went from merely advancing an ideology, which of course sometimes entailed bending the truth, to actively refusing to recognize the most basic facts of reality. Set aside their asinine beliefs about Obama himself, the UN black helicopter conspiracy paranoia, and other fringe nonsense. They GOP mainstream nearly shut down the federal government. They forced a downgrade of US debt, and brought the economic recovery to a halt. Over what? Economic policy!

In this state of insanity, the GOP is the greatest threat to our country we have seen in a long time. A lot more people die every year in the US due to not having health insurance than from terrorist attacks. Yet, when liberals set aside their desire for a Canadian-style system and instead advanced the broad outlines of the 1990's Republican/Heritage Foundation/Gingrich/Dole/Romney health plan, how did the GOP react? Instead of arguing over minutiae as a sane person would have expected, they screamed bloody-murder government-take-over death-panels!

It's not a matter of wanting to negotiate in good faith. How does one possibly negotiate in good faith with that?

The GOP is intellectually constipated. They need an enema, and the so-called fiscal cliff might just do the trick.

As we head for fiscal triggers negotiated hastily under threats from the GOP to force much worse economic consequences, we are told that this relatively mild "cliff" must be averted or else we will sink into another recession. Perhaps so, but the alternative may be worse. The triggers were negotiated knowing that it was a bad deal all around designed to deal with a problem that Republicans insisted they cared about: the deficit. The only way a deal could be made is if both sides consider it a better deal than going over the cliff, and remember deficit reduction was the GOP plan -- they demanded this! And yet the first demands of the GOP are to eliminate the the deficit reduction by taking tax increases for the wealthy out and keeping military spending. They want to take credit for reducing the deficit, but they want Democrats to take the blame for every unpopular step required to do so and give up the most prized Democratic policy achievements of the 20th century that haven't even contributed to the deficit [after campaigning with this silly premise that Democrats were the ones trying to cut Medicare against Republican opposition, Republicans are are now demanding that Democrats explain to the American people what entitlement cuts they would put on the table when most Democrats won't even accept any as part of this deal.]

The good and bad news is that there is no reason whatsoever for Democrats to take such a deal. Going over the fiscal cliff  is a much better deal! What's worse, this absurd start point is what we are being offered by the Republican leadership that their own far-right wing has now accused of selling out to big government socialists.

Hey you! Remember when you said we should not raise the debt ceiling and we asked "what does that even mean?" and you responded "I'm not listening."  Merry Christmas, asshole!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Please Call your Republican Representative

If you're like me and you're represented by a Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives, good news! He now has some power to remove one issue from the table in these negotiations: middle class taxes.

Congressman [Quayle], please take middle class taxes off the table in the fiscal cliff negotiations. I understand that most Republicans want lower taxes on the rich and Democrats mostly disagree. The two parties also don't agree about defense spending, military contracting rules, domestic discretionary spending, research, energy, healthcare entitlements, and more. The are plenty of other chips to play with without holding 98% of American households hostage.

Please do the right thing and sign the discharge petition on H.R. 15 to keep my taxes from increasing.

Thank you.