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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.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

The debt ceiling is meaningless as a method for determining the right size of government and, to the extent it is weaponized by Congress, quite dangerous. But the argument for eliminating the debt ceiling actually goes even further. Why do we call Treasury Bonds a “debt” when all our government “owes” is the currency it creates on demand? Government bonds are not actually “debt” in any normal sense of the word. We can’t even buy government bonds unless we first have government currency. If we first have to get the government’s money before we can buy its bonds, how can a bond be a source of revenue to the government? We actually have it backwards – government spending is the source of our savings, not the other way around!