What, with all these wonderful times ahead of us and I still find a way to be a grinch? We have the usual stalemate in Congress between the Republican controlled House and a Democrat controlled Senate and White House. Neither side likes the other’s deal but both sides speak desperately about avoiding the so-called fiscal cliff.
House Republican leaders on Monday made a counteroffer to President Obama in the “fiscal cliff” negotiations that would cut $2.2 trillion from the deficit with a combination of spending cuts, entitlement reforms and $800 billion in new tax revenue.
Republican officials said their 10-year plan contained more deficit reduction than the offer the White House presented last week while standing firm against Obama’s demand to increase tax rates on the wealthy.
The White House quickly panned the offer, saying it contained “nothing new” and did not “meet the test of balance.”
At this point it is getting hard to figure what “meets the test balance.” It was President Obama that commissioned the bipartisan Bowles-Simpson, then rejected their plan because of the cuts it suggested to government spending. But somehow defense cuts and tax increases are a better alternative?
Here’s a secret, we are going over the cliff. The pedal has been screwed to the floor. There will be no deal because no one wants a deal. Let me explain.
If we go over the so-called fiscal cliff four things will happen.
- The Bush tax cuts will expire
- Clinton era tax rates will be adopted
- Automatic defense cuts kick in
- Some human service programs will be cut
Presumably all of these combined will work at reducing the deficit so the country can start paying down its debt. “Presumably” being a very key word.
These are all the things Democrats want (minus the fourth point). The Republicans can’t give them these things without putting up a fight. They have to if they do not wish to face an army of primary challengers during the next midterm election. So they make an offer, then a counteroffer but neither side will come to an agreement. In fact, for an agreement to work it will have to look a lot like the four points mentioned. So it is a wonderful dilemma for both parties.
One side can save face with its constituents “by fighting fiercely ” and the other side gets exactly what it wants, while blaming the program cuts on Republicans. The Democrats see this as 3 to 1. They’ll take it.
The GOP can cave without caving. The president can say he tried without ever trying.