Countdown to the Cliff

Two posts on why what we don’t need is a compromise:

Jamelle Bouie:

What’s striking about McConnell’s rhetoric — and the calls for compromise writ large — is the extent to which they seem to operate in a vacuum. Neither McConnell, nor Boehner, nor Schultz (or similar-minded people at organizations such as Fix the Debt) have acknowledged one key fact about the current situation: That it comes just a month after a presidential election, where the incumbent won a solid victory after campaigning for a stronger safety net, tax increases on the rich and a “balanced” solution to deficit reduction.

“Both sides” don’t need to compromise. Rather, Republicans need to reconcile themselves to the fact that the public voted decisively against their policies, both in the presidential election and in congressional elections around the country, where Democrats won most open Senate seats and came away from House elections with a larger share of votes (which, due to redistricting and population movement, didn’t translate to a large gain in the chamber itself). The fiscal cliff shouldn’t be used to circumvent the clear preferences of the electorate.

Ezra Klein:

See also Michael Tomasky:

So this all falls entirely on the shoulders of McConnell and Boehner. Obama, if The New York Times scoop was right yesterday about the new terms he put on the table, has done plenty of compromising, especially for the guy who won the election. Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are behind him. So the Democrats are ready to play ball.

The only thing the Republicans are ready to play, as usual, is roulette, with the cocked gun against the country’s temple, unfortunately, and not their own. It’s worth taking a moment in this context to consider: Never have the priorities for survival and success of a major party’s Washington politicians been so utterly at odds with the priorities required for the country’s survival and success. These Washington Republicans represent the one-third of the country that hates government, despises Obama, and considers obstruction victory.

The check on that sort of behavior is blame. If Republicans are being intransigent and the American people want compromise, then, in theory, the Republicans will get blamed. And that does seem to be happening: The GOP polls terribly, and they lost the 2012 election.

But at the elite level — which encompasses everyone from CEOs to media professionals — there’s a desire to keep up good relations on both sides of the aisle. And so it’s safer, when things are going wrong, to offer an anodyne criticism that offends nobody — “both sides should come together!” — then to actually blame one side or the other. It’s a way to be angry about Washington’s failure without alienating anyone powerful. That goes doubly for commercial actors, like Starbucks, that need to sell coffee to both Republicans and Democrats.

That breaks the system. It hurts the basic mechanism of accountability, which is the public’s ability to apportion blame. If one side’s intransigence will lead to both sides getting blamed, then it makes perfect sense to be intransigent: You’ll get all the benefits and only half the blame.

The two parties are not equivalent right now. The two sides are not the same. If you want Washington to come together, you need to make it painful for those who are breaking it apart. Telling both sides to come together when it’s predominantly one side breaking the negotiations apart actually makes it easier on those who’re refusing to compromise.

14 thoughts on “Countdown to the Cliff

  1. The Republican Lucy’s, are hoping that President Charlie Obrownie wants to kick that football they’re holding, so that he can land on his @$$ and embarass himself.

    Look, Republicans, you’ve done enough damage ever since Nixon was elected. And, especially, during the mis-administration of President “Name, never to be named,” nor, ever to be seen, or heard.

    If you want to finish destroying this country you claim to love so much, may I suggest winning some elections?
    If you win, you can pretty much do what you did for 8 years, there, under “You know who.”
    Just think, more deregulation, more wars, more torture, more occupations, more big handouts to corporate family and friends, more monitoring of fellow citizens, leading to even bigger deficits, which means that YOU will have to cut any social safety net – besides, Corporate and Wingnut Welfare, of course.
    All of that can be yours, if you only win a few more elections!
    Until then, sit down, STFU, and let some adults try to mitigate the damage you’ve done.

    Oh, and here’s a hint for you: Don’t change!
    People love you!
    The Democrats only won because they cheated, right?
    It had nothing to do with the more of the public finally catching on that, while not all members of your party are racists, or misogynists, or xenophobes, and/or homophobes. But all racists, and misogynists, and xenophobes, and/or homophobes, if they’re involved in politics, are members of your party.
    So, take this economy down the sh*tter with you.
    No one will blame you.
    Not after all you’ve done!

    I still, for the life of me, can’t understand how people who knowingly risk the economic future well-being of this country, and its people, aren’t traitors, who should be standing trial for treason.
    And if they’re not treasonous traitor’s, then please explain to me, how they’re not saboteur’s?

  2. paradoctor,
    Normally, I’d agree with you.
    But there’s more than just a hint of malice in the Republicans.
    And their incompetence, is the only thing saving this nation from their being in power to act on that malice.

  3. The GOP ‘strategy’ reminds me of a famous German dictator who did not know when to retreat. The Battle of Leningrad, strategically unnecessary, cost Hitler a half-million troops and could have been avoided. Similar hardheadedness in the Battle of Rostov and in North Africa decimated the German Army. The Normandy invasion might have been repelled except Hitler was convinced Normandy was a feint.

    We can look at the no-retreat strategy of the GOP and wonder when or if they will pay the price. It’s certain that they will. This ‘military’ campaign has to be fought to defeat not conservatism, but the extremism that runs the GOP. The battle is for public opinion – votes. Actual issues, like territory in a war, may be ceded in the interest of final victory.

    The calculation of inflation for Social Security might eventually reduce the benefit by 5% in real buying power, compared to the current formula. If that’s what the GOP wants – let them demand it. (Not a bi-partisan agreement. MAKE the GOP demand it as their objective.) Let them have it – in exchange for a 5% increase in tax rates for top earners. (On TOP of the Clinton rates which are a done deal).

    If the GOP wants to have the earners in the 47% pay more taxes, let’s go there – but lets repeal the deal that puts capital gains in a special category. Why is ‘earned income’ (from your sweat and skill) inferior to income from trading paper?

    How about a lower corporate tax rate? Great! But lets eliminate EVERY deduction there is for business. Whatever the company declares it’s earnings to shareholders is – that’s the number they pay taxes on. So let’s reduce the business tax rate – and let’s eliminate every last loophole in one fell swoop.

    I was taught a long time ago how an unarmed man can defeat a knife fighter. It can be done, only if you are willing to get cut. For every plausible spending cut the GOP might propose, there’s a related scam for the rich that we want to eliminate and we want to discuss. In every instance the GOP no-retreat strategy means attack the poor or elderly and the response can be a populist move to derail the gravy train and recoup revenue in exchange.

    Skip the wholesale grand bargain. Do this retail – one bargain at a time. Make the GOP declare what they want in the open. Then let the GOP have it in exchange for sinking a costly or crooked scam that the GOP doesn’t want to talk about in the open. (The no-negotiation clause in the Rx agreement costs billions. Let’s get that on the table – in the open and see how the GOP defends it when it’s the coin that democrats demand in exchange for letting the GOP screw seniors.)

    Some of you don’t like the idea of getting cut, but these injuries can be healed once the real values of radicals in the House are exposed. (Screw granny and the poor.) Getting cut is the price of winning.

  4. The problem is, the Republicans and their moneybaggers don’t need to acknowledge that Obama won the election as long as there is no consequence attached to their not acknowledging anything. They spent the past 4 years pretending that Obama didn’t win and paid almost no real price for this. They can continue indefinitely pretending that they didn’t have their asses handed to them because they’re actually not in all that bad a position. They hold the House, they hold a bunch of governorships and state legislatures, they have Fox News and the Wall Street Journal and the Club For Growth and the Chamber of Commerce and Regnery and the tea partiers. They can make out pretty good being their awful obstructionist little darlings. Large chunks of the press are going to continue to try desperately not to blame them alone. Why should they change a thing?

  5. @Doug. Absolutely. Skillful defense relies on getting ones opponent to commit to an action for which one has an effective counter, a means of absorbing the attack, and then using its energy against the attacker.To change games here, the sacrifice of a knight can be painful, but if it gets a queen. . .

  6. Hi! Working on your cat, so please send me an email so I can get delivery date/place set up. I can’t use the email link in the sidebar because I tried to disable mail on my mac so I could use my old accounts, and it won’t function.

  7. Ruh-roh, Rastro!
    On the plus side, on Press the Meat this morning, President Obama openly blames the Republicans in Congress.
    On the minus side, it looks like SS is back in the discussion.
    Don’t ask me why, since it has as much to do with the deficit, as do Australian kangaroo’s.

    Disco Dancin’ Dave’s show starts in a few minutes – and I’ll probably watch. Usually, I avoid these network Sunday Meet the Republicans bloviation fests, like the plague.

  8. Jayzoos H. Keerist, wondering what the heck he was thinking of, when he, may or may not have, made the supreme sacrifice…

    First, the Disco Dancin’ GOP-jizz-guzzler, was practically salivating when asking about SS, and will the President throw that on the Deficit Pyre of Fire?
    I though Obama would have to pretend to cry, so he could wipe some spittle off his cheek.
    And now, Brooks and Brokaw are on, saying that Obama needs to cut SS and Medicare, just to show some” good faith.”
    Ah, yes, B&B, the DC Holy Church of Good Faith Sacrifice, and God, must be appeased!
    HURRY! Throw some seniors, children, the sick, the handicapped, the poor, women, brown people, and people in nursing homes – the Gods of Low Taxes demand their own pyre’s of fire be fed.

    Ok, B&B, how about you kick your money and benefit’s back, since essentially it’s like some spare change we not-rich hope to find underneath the couch cushion, or car seat.

  9. Johnny and the Baggers will be performing tomorrow night in the Capitol rotunda with the playing of their recent rendition of Garryowen. Safety harnesses are recommended for all in attendance. Free admission for Tea Party members.

    They died with their boots on!

  10. Here’s a good one.. Old Mt. Palomar McConnell wants to drag old feeble Joe Biden into the fray. You know, the guy who’s so disorientated that he just collects dust in some back room of the White House. I’m guessing that McConnell figures that when the fiscal cliff explodes in his face it doesn’t hurt to have more high profile bodies to cast the blame on..Personally I’d be calling out the name of Jesus to save me from my folly rather than calling on Joe Biden.–politics.html

    Oh, and don’t forget… Paulie didn’t vote for sequestration..He just voted for a mechanism.

  11. BREAKING NEWS: House aides say there will not be a vote on fiscal cliff package tonight

    Brace for impact, folks…We’re going over the cliff.

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