December 3rd, 2012

There’s the fiscal cliff, and then there’s…

Here’s a good summary of the lousy position the Republicans in Congress are in vis a vis the so-called fiscal cliff.

To make a long story short: between Scylla and Charybdis.

However, I’m partial to the suggestion that Republicans in the House should pass the Simpson-Bowles recommendations and send them on to the Senate:

Simpson-Bowles is far more responsible than what President Obama is currently offering and probably far better than a slapped together grand bargain made by Obama and Speaker Boehner behind closed doors as a deadline closes in…It is also a fully formed plan with on-the-record bipartisan support and near-universal acceptance as “reasonable” and “sober” by the media and Beltway types. A lot of that is lip service from folks who felt rather certain the plan would never be seriously considered, but it still makes it hard to frame Republicans as obstinate obstructionists when they offer up the plan of none other than Mssrs. Simpson and Bowles…Rejecting it out of hand to allow liberals to continue living in debt denial might be a move so irresponsible as to make even the press notice.

Would Congressional Republicans ever have the guts for a jujitsu move like that? Dunno, but a person can hope. Because they really have few other options.

Not that Simpson-Bowles would ever go into effect. The Senate wouldn’t pass it. But it least it has the possibility of embarrassing the Democrats.

But has anyone noticed this little element of Obama’s “offer”?

To add injury to insult, the President is also demanding carte blanche in the future to raise the debt ceiling unilaterally; wresting this power from Congress, from debate or oversight. This would give this most profligate of Presidents an unlimited credit card to continue running up the national debt at his whim.

Years ago I wrote (although I can’t seem to locate it now) that if Obama were elected to a second term he would be unrestrained by any need to appeal to moderates. It turns out I was wrong—because even before his re-election, during the 2012 campaign, Obama was unrestrained by the need to appeal to moderates (as the clear-eyed Stanley Kurtz pointed out in October, before Obama’s victory).

So at this point Obama really doesn’t have to pretend to be moderate, even for a moment. Thus he can begin cementing his long-held goal of consolidating even more power unto himself—witness the proposal that he take on Congress’s role vis a vis the debt ceiling. Is it even constitutional to do so? And if it were, who has the power to stop him? Just try it, suckers, he says.

Does Obama think the Republicans will cave on this particular point and cede that power? But even if they don’t, his own audaciousness in suggesting it must excite him no end.

25 Responses to “There’s the fiscal cliff, and then there’s…”

  1. Harold Says:

    Republicans offering Simpson-Bowles unchanged is a fine political move. It even makes sense fiscally.

    However I don’t believe that anything the Republicans offer short of open capitulation on EVERYTHING Obama wants will be accepted, and maybe not even then.

    Obama wants the Bush tax rates to expire. He will get to tax everyone and blame the Republicans for this to the stupid half of the population who voted for him. He can’t lose here.

    So congressional Republicans should go for it. But only if they know that it is a propaganda move.

  2. M J R Says:

    Harold, 1:33 pm —

    Before 2010 drew to a close, the incumbent favored extending the Bush tax rates [note I’m using the word “rates”, not “cuts”; after enough years have transpired, they’re the going rates, with cuts long in the past]. And so they were extended. And the evening and the morning were the Nth day.

    But now the incumbent and his ilk are anxious to raise the rates on the wealthiest among us, even though the economy certainly has not recovered. WHY?? Oh yeah — the election’s over now.

  3. T Says:

    Where is passive-agressive when we really need it?

  4. Copper thorn Says:

    It’s helpful that you a re advocating public policy responses to fiscal cliff negotiations. It would be constructive for Republicans to propose public policy solutions to the deficit at this time.

    Simpson Bowles is supported by Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer. If Republicans signed you could get pretty far towards a bipartisan agreement. Why do you think they haven’t?

    During the election Romney and Ryan criticized the president daily for making cuts to Medicare. Now they are critical that the President is not proposing enough Medicare cuts. If there is a philosophy of public policy at stake, I can’t discern it.

    This is a great time for Republicans to propose ideas for reducing the deficit. I think it more likely they dramatize outrage and it will be too late before they realize their srategic position here is Stalingrad-bad.

  5. Paul in Boston Says:

    Here’s a radical idea, pass the budget of Bush’s last year. Prior to the financial crisis it was $2.5 T with a deficit of $160 B and falling. The entire deficit we have now is due to the “stimulus”, which didn’t help at all. The Republicans shouldn’t have a problem with this. The Democrats will because they won’t get their loot, er.. “it will throw grandma into the street”.

  6. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Nothing that the Republicans can presently do will avoid greater indebtedness and higher taxes but they have to do something that deflects the blame because of what attaching the blame solely to the republicans will portend.

    Just letting the country go over this relatively minor fiscal cliff (compared to the real one) is not an option for the republicans due to the predictable but less appreciated consequence.

    Yes, they’ll get all the blame and higher taxes and stimulus spending will result but perhaps the most important reason Obama wants the country to go over this fiscal cliff is because it sets up democrat gains in Congress in 2014.

    To confirm, just ask; when Republicans get the blame for the next two years, who do you think will be rewarded by the electorate?

  7. southpaw Says:

    I hope they let the tax cuts expire. My taxes will go up anyway.
    As my Despair calendar says: Much work needs to be done before we can announce our total failure to make any progress.
    I have concluded, perhaps incorrectly, the Repbulicans for the most part have themselves to blame for the position they are in. Yes the media helped a great deal, but their own stupidity, ineptitude, and inconsistent policies are also to blame. The re-education of America started years ago, and it’s only now they have started to realized what’s been happening. I’ve said it before – this is a war and they’ve fought it like a gentleman’s game of polo.
    Where were they when they had majorities in the House, Senate, and held the presidency? Building a kindler, gentler America, that’s where. Enacting paid prescription drug plans and loads of other crap that aren’t consistent with spending cuts or personal responsibility. Making sure everybody liked them.
    Boehner is a stiff, pun intended. His infinite desire to “do the right thing” is the same kind of philosophy that had he and his predecessors compromising on every issue they supposedly stood for. Now there’s no way to make a principled stand without losing. Good. Checkmate. He’s a bad negotiator, a RINO, and now there’s no way for him to “win” this. But it didn’t happen over night, and didn’t start with B.O. In Boner’s case, winning is defined as it always is for him — how to navigate this and still be sure he and his buddies get re-elected. To what end? So he can live to lose another day?
    If he gets blamed for everything, so be it. He deserves to lose, and so does Mitch McConnel and the rest of these clowns who played nice for years while the Democrats fought tooth and nail for what they wanted. I’m looking forward to another tearful speech from him when he says goodbye and thanks everyone for letting him lose for so long.
    Today I listened to Byron York and Bill “I’m-a-really-reasonable-and condescending-intellectual” Bennet. Bennet is the quintessential RINO, the person whose reasoned and measured approach to big issues knows no bounds, the grand promotor of the “respectful disagreement” approach to a campaign. AKA, a loser. Today he and Lord Byron pondered the presidential candidacy of Jeb Bush. “Yes, yes, he’s nimble and a good speaker” and “fluent in Spanish”, and has “Hispanic connections”.
    This is the brain trust of the Republican party. This is what’s important to them. Nimbleness and Hispanic connections. Another Bush….what more could we ask for? The Bennet country club is problem, not the solution. They’re just mad because their pet programs are out of favor.
    They have no future because they simply want to be a milder version of the Democrats. Who needs them when you can have a real Democrat? I wish them luck. I’m done, I can’t even listen to these guys anymore and will not support my incumbant republican who does absolutely nothing except vote with his Boehner every issue.

  8. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    ” I’m done, I can’t even listen to these guys anymore and will not support my incumbant republican who does absolutely nothing except vote with his Boehner every issue.” southpaw

    OK, have you considered what the unintended consequences of that position may entail?

    And what do you imagine them to be?

  9. parker Says:

    Although the majority of republicans have disappointed me for many decades; unfortunately they are the only game in town for those of us who are fiscal conservatives. Passing Simpson-Bowles may be a way to hand Team Obama the hot potato, but only if the House and Senate republicans present a 100% united front, and stick to a consistent message before the glare of the MSM.

    The message should be something along the lines of “President Obama created the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles Commission, but ignored their bipartisan recommendations. Its time for the President to show he is willing to be bipartisan and step away from his unreasonable demands that will increase the national debt and hamper any efforts to create jobs for the long term unemployed.”

  10. southpaw Says:

    Geoffrey –
    “have I considered the unintended consequences..?”
    I have considered them and I am willing to accept the consequences. It will either change nothing – he will be re-elected (likely outcome), or I will still have to pay more taxes, have less freedom, and be told I’m not doing my fair share. I’ve voted for him each time he’s run for election; only to have him vote for bailouts against my wishes ( I call and I write, but it’s joke) and vote with the House leadership, or whichever seemed like the safe bet. The right thing was not really the consideration.
    He’s in a safe seat, so safe that he rarely faces a primary challenge, and has even run unopposed. Which makes it even more insulting. He could vote against the go-along mentality and pay no price. But he can’t even do that.
    I never thought I would get to the point where I honestly don’t see what difference it makes. All I am hearing are recycled names, recycled ideas, and the same excuses. Every election it’s the same story. “Next time, if we have more votes, we can get things done.” Doesn’t matter. Even with majorities, they’re afraid of criticism, and unable to atriculate what they are doing and why. The first time a loudmouth democrat takes to the TV and starts calling names and pitching a fit, they run for cover. The current batch of dummies needs to go. They’ve been outsmarted and continue to get outsmarted. They were propelled to a majority on ’08 by the Tea Party; now they believe they need to marginalize them so things can get back to normal; which is making sure enough are voting with Democrats to stay out of the news, with a few voting conservative. They aren’t willing to get dirty, or call names or accuse their opponents of things that may not be true, or imply something untrue. Ugly as it is, that’s politics. They are not going to win against the current crop of democrats untill they understand what they are fighting, or until they understand propaganda and how to use it. The democrats are using propaganda to their advantage in multiplie institutions, the Republicans cannot seem to grasp this, or did not until it was too late. Democrats have not sold their party on superior ideas, they have simply painted the Republicans as rotten. If you askd a Democrat why he votes the way he does, he would not tell you he’s for welfare, or weak foreign policy, or central goverment planning, or any of the things leftwing democrats believe. He would tell you because Republicans are dirtbags, and he would have a dozen examples, all untrue.
    So besides selling their ideas, Republicans need to redfine Democrats. I don’t think they can, but most discouragingly, there is no will to do so. I think they simply want to play nice and fair, take a beating, then go back to their upper middle class homes in the burbs and retire. Why should I bother if they’re not in it to win it? What would be different if they had lost the House? We have Obama care, we have an out of control agencies: EPA, ICE, CIA, Secret Service Attorney General, State Department, 17 trillion in deficit, and a collapsing foreign policy. What’s left for Boner to screw up?

  11. Steve Says:

    I like Glenn Reynolds’ suggestion to pass Erskin-Bowles and increase taxes that will sock it hollywood and the well-to-do in blue states. Don’t negotiate, just pass the bills. Force Reid to punt. Then lay into him for the next month as a tax and spend hypocrite. Make sure to run ads nationally that put the blame on the dems. Don’t let the MSM jerks have the only voice. Show Reid as scrooge who wants to ruin everyone’s Christmas. Why is it that Boehner and the other GOP leaders struggle over playing hardball? Because they are part of the problem. I think Glenn’s parting shot to the GOP leaders is very apt: get creative or you will be replaced. The party is over.

  12. parker Says:

    “What’s left for Boner to screw up?”

    Good question. The antidote is Rand Paul. The antidote is Sarah Palin. There are people out there who are willing to hold the fascist feet to the fire. The problem is the GOP establishment that turns marshmallow before the microphones and treats the staunch ones like Sherman treated Atlanta.

  13. Geoffrey Britain Says:


    I share your frustration and agree with much of what you say, most especially with your observations. Some of your conclusions however I do not share as they ignore certain realities. And your conclusions, lead me to conclude, that you haven’t considered some important unintended consequences, as they remain unmentioned.

    The reality is that there are not enough principled conservatives left in America to win a Presidential election. The majority culture has changed, the left has brought America to its cultural ‘tipping point’ and the 2012 election was a referendum on which direction America would follow.

    Regardless of the essentially even split among voters, the left has realized that, with 47+% of the American public reliably dependent upon government largess and some massive but judiciously applied voter fraud in key swing states, that they now control the electoral process. They will continue that tactic in 2014 and 2016, ad infinitum. Ethical considerations will certainly not concern them as, in their calculus, all that counts is the ends sought.

    The unintended consequence is that if you forgo voting for the Boehner’s… you hand the elections to the Reid’s, Pilossi’s and Obama’s.

    Count on it, they will make us rue the day we allowed that freedom to dictate. They have just begun to fundamentally transform America; forget increased taxes, try nationalization of entire industries and complete seizure of personal assets.

    The redistribution of wealth hasn’t even begun.

  14. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    “Don’t negotiate, just pass the bills.”

    Yup, the repubs need political cover. Offer Obama something he won’t accept but that appears entirely reasonable. Pull ‘an Obama’, on Obama. Publicly agree to higher tax rates on the rich with signed, mandatory spending cuts before voting on anything.

  15. parker Says:

    “They have just begun to fundamentally transform America; forget increased taxes, try nationalization of entire industries and complete seizure of personal assets.”

    15% of 300 million is 45 million, but a mere 5 million are more than enough as 5 million represent many more millions of lead projectiles that will fill the air. They should be careful what they wish for. This is not Britain, France, Burma, or Egypt.

  16. Geoffrey Britain Says:


    These are not the days of the revolution or even the civil war, where handguns and rifles could be determinative. When fiscal collapse and/or the tyranny of the left result in nationalization and seizure of personal assets, those who think that civil unrest, of which there will be plenty, will turn into a civil war are confusing wishful thinking with reality.

    No States national guard units, much less any civilian ‘militia’ or guerilla resistance is going to be able to withstand the US military. And, even after a fiscal collapse, the Feds will occupy the legal, though certainly not the moral high ground.

    The Feds will still credibly claim Constitutional authority, the President will, with the backing of Congress (certain during widespread rioting), have the legal right to declare martial law; the only method for reducing the rioting and civil unrest that will erupt after a fiscal collapse.

    The States will have no Constitutionally legal mechanism for resisting the Feds and if the ‘red’ States refuse to comply with Federal directives, the US military will follow the directives of the President to force compliance.

    The US military will do so because they are non-political and there will exist no Constitutionally legal rationale for refusing the President’s orders.

    Absent concentration camps, non-violent political prisoners and summary execution of American citizens…the US military will not base its actions upon their evaluation of which Americans occupy the moral high ground.

    The US military will follow the guidelines of Constitutional authority until and unless they are given orders that are clear and undeniably Constitutional violations and, even then, they will hesitate to displace the current civilian authorities.

  17. J.J. formerly Jimmy J. Says:

    Steve @ December 3rd, 2012 at 8:07 pm:

    I’m with you on this. It has spending cuts and raises taxes on the rich in specific ways that would allow the Repubs to say, “We offered higher taxes.”
    This seems to be even better than walking away because then the ball would really be in Obama’s and the dems court.

    For those who haven’t read Professor Reynolds’ column, it’s here:

  18. parker Says:

    “complete seizure of personal assets”

    Even Will Smith has his doubts about this proposition. My son, my niece, and several 2nd and 3rd cousins no longer serve in the military. ASAP they left due to BHO.

    “Absent concentration camps, non-violent political prisoners and summary execution of American citizens…”

    How else will they seize personal assets? I’m not going to sign a blank check to the IRS or HLS. Are you? Will Brad Pitt or Will Smith?

  19. parker Says:

    From Breitbart:

  20. Steve Says:

    Geoffrey Britain, I doubt very much that Americans will submit to a government that takes away their property and uses the military against them. If that is the government’s response to a fiscal crisis (no matter how deep) I think people all over the country will start planning how to overthrow the government. It will be seen not only as the right but the duty of the people to overthrow the government. What will they do after overthrowing the government? They’ll establish a new one that protects their rights. Will people in the military stop them? I doubt it. The days of revolution by small arms are past. So what good are small arms? They will help deter violence.

  21. parker Says:


    What GB does not see is that it only takes 5% to just say no; the only question is what does it take to provoke the 5% to say no? I don’t know what is the tipping point, but there is a tipping point.

    And, for all the talk of unintended consequences, there is a very good fictional take on the unintended consequences. This is recommended reading for all who doubt that a few can confound, confuse, and defeat the lackadaisical running dog lackeys. I’ve thought about this long and hard. I will not stumble or fall if/when it comes down to the tipping point. If there is a god, I pray this calamity, should it begin, begins when I am still able to put the front sight on the head of a kevlar ninja. If it comes down to crash and burn I vow to burn before I crash. For the grandchildren.

  22. physicsguy Says:

    I came in here to let everyone know of an article over at AT, and find a very similar conversation going on here….. armed rebellion. The AT article is

    However, what really struck me was the tone and content of the comments. I am beginning to wonder how close we really are to an armed uprising. The anger is really starting to bubble over, and the effects of Jan.1 I would suspect only accelerate those feelings.

  23. Don Carlos Says:

    I urge those who think an armed uprising is A) possible and B) has even a minuscule chance of succeeding to hearken unto Geoffrey Britain’s posting at 10:16 pm above.

    It ain’t gonna happen. It is delusional to think it might. Sorry. The only basis for so doing was States’ Rights, and we lost that in 1865. We have a super-Imperial Presidency and that is that.

  24. southpaw Says:

    Geoffrey Britain:
    I appreciate your position and agree mine has consequences, but it seems we disagree on whether or not a slow retreat is better than shooting our officers in the back and running away quickly.
    I will not support a Democrat, but I will support anybody in the primary who opposes the candidate who managed the graceful retreat, eg. compromise. If we vote for a candidate to oppose certain things, and he doesn’t because it will harm his colleagues, this seems to be his colleague’s problem and not mine or his. In other words, if he’s voting with the leadership because half of them are in districts that will unload them for being conservative, I sincerely don’t understand how this helps the party, or my district.
    The candidates in the districts who are at risk will always want cover from those who aren’t; and so “moderates” move the whole body to the left. .
    I also think if we look hard enough, we will see that some of the “moderates” have their own skins to worry about, and that’s what the issue is really about. For example, Ohio has claimed more than $64 billion in defense contracts since the year 2000; this is not a point lost on Boehner. Which is my point; as long as the bacon is being brought back to your district, you’re only going to take this theatre so far. These guys are looking out for themselves first, their districts second, and the US taxpayer last. Boehner will not vote for anything that cuts off the goodies to his district or state. In other words, he’s talks about fiscal responsibility, but isn’t about to start believing it.
    I started wondering who loses if we go over the cliff? Turns out lots of states. Here’s a source that’s interesting:

    If you follow the pork, you will be able to count the votes and this will have been just another dog and pony show.
    On the fiscal cliff — I asked myself — why should Obama fight keeping the rates the same, but oppose deductions? I have to assume removing the deductions is a much bigger hit on the “rich”. Hollywood, liberal millionaires etc, many of them Obama donors don’t care about tax rates, they care about deductions. They’re way over the upper bracket now; another 3 or 4% is meaningless, because they don’t pay it. Obama knows this. But if you close the loopholes and eliminate deductions, that has the potential to hurt big money donors a great deal. Simply raising the tax rates a few percent is much harder on those who are near the $250k limit, who have no, or almost no deductions. So the idea this is all about fairness ought to be questioned — if he’s really about the rich paying their fair share, eliminate their deductions and see who comes out of the woodwork cheering. I’m betting it won’t be Hollywood or the Beyonce.
    PS – I don’t think the US military would follow the orders to take up arms against its citizens. Nor do I think we would take to the streets with our guns. I certainly wouldn’t.

  25. holmes Says:

    It’s so funny, S-B plan results in higher effective tax rates, but that doesn’t make the left tingle as much as higher nominal rates (with loopholes/deductions). It’s almost entirely about aesthetics with these people now.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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