I hate working on the holidays.
Cliff Hanger: Obama’s Last Stand and the Republican Strategy of Fanaticism
Wednesday, December 26, 2012
President Obama is cutting his Christmas holiday short, returning to Washington for a last attempt at avoiding the fiscal cliff.
House Speaker John Boehner’s failure to persuade rank-and-file House Republicans to raise taxes even on millionaires fits the fanatic’s strategy exactly. Boehner can now credibly claim he has no choice in the matter – Republican fanatics in the House have tied his hands and manacled his feet – so the only way to avoid going over the cliff is for Obama and the Democrats to make more concessions.
Obama could decide going over the cliff isn’t so bad after all – as long as he and congressional Democrats introduce legislation early in the 2013 that gives a tax cut to the middle class retroactively to January 1st (extending the Bush tax cut to the first $250,000 of income) and restores most spending – and Republicans feel compelled to go along.
But with Boehner’s hands tied and the fanatics in charge, this gambit becomes far riskier. What if we go over the cliff and House Republicans continue to hold out against any tax increases on the rich while demanding major cuts in Medicare and Social Security?
The real problem with this gambit is it doesn’t change the game. Even down the road, Boehner’s hands will still be tied and the fanatics will remain in charge – which will give Republicans the stronger position in negotiations leading to a “grand bargain.” Compromise would have to be almost entirely on the Democrats’ side.
That’s why I’d recommend going over the cliff and forcing the Republicans’ hand. It’s a risky strategy but it would at least expose the Republican tactic and put public pressure squarely on rank-and-file Republicans, where it belongs.
The fanatics in the GOP have to be held accountable or they’ll continue to hold the nation hostage to their extremism. Even if it takes until the 2014 midterms to loosen their hold, the cost is worth it.
To The Phones
No cuts to Social Security.
Gaius Publius @ Americablog offers this helpful digest-
What are we protecting?
We’re protecting three social insurance programs. These are:
■ Social Security
What are we protecting them from? Anything that:
■ Reduces benefits
■ Turns the program from insurance to welfare (which only the “deserving” have access to)
How are these programs being threatened?
As near as I can tell, these are the threats. Note to foxes – this is the hands-off list. Each of these seven items is a benefit cut:
1. Raising the retirement age
2. Chained CPI instead of current COLA
3. Means-testing benefits
4. Raising the eligibility age
5. Increasing Part B premiums
6. Increasing “cost-sharing”
7. Shifting costs to the states by any means, such as “federal blended rate,” etc.