So, this is the Democrat’s idea of protecting the Middle Class in America? After a year and a half of political gamesmanship, we have a plan formulated by a Democratic-led Senate to raise tax rates on individuals making more than $400,000 a year and allow the payroll tax to jump from 4.2 percent to 6.2 percent, all while delaying sequestration 2 months and setting capital gains and dividends taxes at a lower rate than during the Clinton years. It is a Fiscal Cliff deal that neither avoids the Fiscal Cliff nor reduces the national deficit in any meaningful way. Congress found a way to kick the can down the road even when they had specifically created a scenario in which there would be no road left. And, as of now, the tragicomically unhinged Republican House is threatening to amend or straight up reject a bill that came about after the Democratic Party did everything in their power to squander all of the leverage they had built up since the election. Trying to find a winner in this wretched constellation of losers is about as a fruitless as looking for substantive commentary on an episode of Fox & Friends.
Then again, maybe there’s something the Obama Administration knows that we don’t. I mean, why would you take sweeping electoral victories and widespread public support for a plan you’ve been outlining ad nauseum for the past year and scrap it at the last minute to appease a party that’s clearly off its meds? President Obama must have promised an end to extensions of the Bush Tax Cuts for folks making over $250,000 a thousand times since he hit the campaign trail. Why cave in at the 11th hour and take a deal that no one in your party particularly likes and that makes unnecessary concessions to the GOP? Well, the answer could be one of three things: a) President Obama and the Democrats are more or less spineless and are terrible at negotiating, b) President Obama is more Center-Right than he is Center-Left and isn’t willing to go to bat for middle-income earners or, C) The President and his staff know that the House GOP is so detached from reality that they are completely incapable of compromise. The longer this national nightmare drags on, the more I find myself subscribing to that 3rd option.
In the wee hours of New Year’s Day, the Senate passed their Fiscal Cliff Deal with overwhelming bipartisan support, 89-8. Granted, none of the 89 yay votes were anything but lukewarm, but it as clearly a deal that Sen. Reid & Sen. McConnell were able to see eye to eye on and sell to their colleagues. After Speaker Boehner was unable to rally enough House GOP support his doomed on arrival Plan B for avoiding the Fiscal Cliff, it was clear that the impetus for change would have to come from The White House and the Senate—which it did, albeit a bit belatedly. As soon as the bill made it through the Senate, many pundits set their sites on the prospective sequestration reckoning in two months time, assuming that such a bipartisan bill would make it through the House with ease. But, if we learned anything from the 112th Congress, it’s that one should never underestimate the lunacy of House Republicans.
As I write this, the House GOP has convened their 2nd meeting of the day to determine whether or not to amend the Fiscal Cliff bill given to them by Senate. If I were a betting man, I would wager a hefty sum on the House GOP tacking on a bunch of entitlement cuts to the bill before sending it back to the Senate, where they would invariably vote against the House version of the bill, leading us towards whatever the hell is waiting at the bottom of the Fiscal Cliff. I say this not because I have any intricate knowledge of the House GOP’s intentions beyond what’s being bandied about on Twitter, but because their irrationality has become the only constant in Washington for the past few years. No matter what the issue is, you can always depend on the House GOP to vote in whichever direction strays the furthest from reason. A number of beltway pundits have likened this most recent Fiscal Cliff standoff to a game of chicken, in which case I would contend that the Republican Party has taped a cinder block to the gas pedal and cut their brake lines before they ever got into their car. You can’t win a game of chicken against someone like that unless you just pull off to the side of the road and let the lunatics buzz by you at 140 mph allowing them to eventually run out of road and crash. Hopefully we’ll know by tomorrow if the Republican Party found a way to stop or if they’re a flaming wreck on the side of the highway.
Categories: US Politics