The GOP’s Secret Leverage in the Fiscal Cliff Negotiations

Who actually has the leverage in negotiations over the fiscal cliff—and the extension of Bush-era income tax cuts in particular? On the surface, it might look like Democrats, who control the White House and the Senate, have the upper hand. But House Republicans may have more leverage than is immediately apparent.

Right now there are two competing theories about the fiscal cliff negotiations.  The first says that President Obama has the most leverage. His party controls the Senate, and he has to sign off on any deal. He has the bully pulpit, and he has argued extensively that the election was to a large extent about raising taxes on top earners. More importantly, the policy landscape favors raising taxes on top earners. Because the Bush-era tax rate cuts expire automatically, all President Obama actually has to do is wait. Taxes will go up automatically on everyone. At which point it should be even easier to get Republicans to agree to lower taxes on income below $250,000 a year.

That’s the basic logic underlying GOP Rep. Tom Cole’s argument that the best way for Republicans to move forward is to fold quickly, by agreeing to extend the Bush tax cuts for all but top earners. Doing so, he says, would rob Democrats of a crucial argument: that Republicans are holding up an extension of the middle class tax cuts in order to protect the rich from a tax hike. Republicans could then negotiate tax rates for top earners separately. And even if Republicans couldn’t get a deal to keep current tax rates for top earners, allowing their taxes to go up would only give Obama half a loaf: The president has asked for $1.6 trillion in new tax revenue. Letting rates rise on top earners would raise a little less than $1 trillion.

In theory, then, President Obama has it easy: If he does nothing, he’ll eventually get what he wants. So why would he sign any deal that doesn’t raise taxes on high incomes?

The answer is that he and his economic team believe he needs to sign a deal—any deal—in order to prevent an economic calamity.

Which brings us to the second theory about who really has the leverage, espoused most recently by Hudson Institute fellow and former Bush administration econ adviser Keith Hennessey. Hennessey argues that the White House believes that without a deal to avert the fiscal cliff, the U.S. will enter a new recession next year. That recession would not only be bad for the country, it would also substantially hamper President Obama’s ability to accomplish his larger policy agenda, especially on budget issues. It wouldn’t even matter much who got the blame for the recession. “President Obama’s veto threat decision is not just about fiscal policy, and it’s not just about who gets blamed for a legislative failure,” writes Hennessey. “It’s about whether the President wants to cause a recession in 2013 and hamstring his second term.” So when President Obama says he’ll veto a bill without tax increases, he’s just trying to push the GOP. But he’s not actually committed to a veto. 

Hennessey isn’t the only one who thinks that fear about the economy will trump other leverage. Bloomberg columnist Josh Barro has also argued that the Obama administration won’t risk another recession caused by the failure to make a deal. The political costs would simply be too high.

So is President Obama bluffing? We already have a pretty good clue to how the White House will act—not what the administration is saying now, but how it actually acted in 2010, the last time the Bush tax cuts were set to expire. Then, as now, doing nothing would have allowed tax rates to rise. And then, as now, the president insisted that he would not extend the Bush tax cuts for top earners. But he did anyway.

Asked at a press conference earlier this month why this time would be different, President Obama suggested that the economy was better this time around. In fact, it’s growing at the same pace. Which is to say that Obama didn’t have a very good answer, because this time isn’t all that different. And while a different outcome is possible, especially if the GOP follow's Rep. Cole's advice, it’s not the most likely scenario. 

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  • Jerry on the road||

    The Republicans should do just nothing. Nothing on taxes. Nothing on the budget. Nothing on the debt ceiling. Nothing Nothing Nothing.

  • anon||

    HAH! If only.

    There's one thing politicians are really good at; doing *something*. Even though "something" is often far far far worse than nothing

  • Rich||

    "All of life's problems can be traced to the inability of people to do nothing." -- Descartes

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Don't just do something, stand there!

  • BelowTheRim||

    +1

  • Dr. Frankenstein||

    Now I'll just go ahead and tell my son not to touch anything. I'll get just about as good a response.

  • Tim||

    It really is touching how in times of doubt people convince thenselves that the craven and feckless GOP really has a secret plan to pull all it's shit together in some surprise coup.

    Romney will hammer Obama on Libya.
    McCain is holding the heavy blows for the very end.
    Palin is a gamechanger.
    Bush is playing rope a dope.

  • Rich||

    Just wait 'til Obama legalizes MJ. *Then* you'll see some action!

  • Hyperion||

    That will be like watching a baseball game in which no one ever scores.

  • ||

    Soooo...

    ....a regular baseball game.

  • Zombie Jimbo||

    A regular game without PEDs...

  • Brett L||

    Speaking of, it looks like the steriod set are on their first ballot:

    arry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa are listed on the baseball Hall of Fame ballot for the first time, setting up an election sure to become a referendum on the Steroids Era.

  • Bobarian||

    More like one of those games where the rain stops and starts and you watch the ground crew dragging tarps on and off the field.

  • Rich||

    Obama suggested that the economy was better this time around. In fact, it’s growing at the same pace. Which is to say that Obama didn’t have a very good answer

    Au contraire, mon ami. If the economy is growing at the same pace it was before, then it must be larger, and hence better, than it was before.

    Continuing to study Obamaese ....

  • anon||

    Note how it was a mere suggestion; the messiah can't be wrong for suggesting the sky might be green.

  • Rich||

    There are those who suggest ....

  • MoreFreedom||

    I suggest the House use it's power of the purse to cut spending. When a spending/funding bill is either blocked by the Senate or Obama's veto, then checks don't go out. While the media will try to blame Republicans, how does that jive with an Obama veto? It doesn't. Don't raise the debt ceiling, and all of a sudden, Geither needs to figure out who gets their government checks, or if they get partial payments. I'd like to see either scenario happen.

    My prediction - most Republicans are RINOs and like the spending, so they'll cave.

  • Kent Crawford||

    True, the economy is growing, sort of, at a 2% or less rate. But real inflation is now at about 6.5% and rising. And how much of that "growth" is really just government spending? Truth is, we are losing about two steps to go forward one; we are advancing to the rear. And with real unemployment and under-employment at around 22.8% [I do not subscribe to the government statistical lies] it will take a lot of real growth to have a real positive effect, growth that is not anywhere on the horizon.

  • anon||

    That’s the basic logic underlying GOP Rep. Tom Cole’s argument that the best way for Republicans to move forward is to fold quickly, by agreeing to extend the Bush tax cuts for all but top earners.

    Of course that's the logic, because the GOP has no principle to abide.

  • MoreFreedom||

    By "move forward" Cole is aiding and repeating Obama's campaign theme. Which goes to show most Republicans only support small government in words, not in practice or votes.

  • ||

    There are no strategies. There is "hold out and hope a solution presents itself magically" and there is "kick the can down the road as much as humanly possible". Which do you think every politician is going with?

  • anon||

    Epi, you're a freaking genius.

    They had to spend all that money on ROADZ and BRIDGEZ because they were running out of road to kick the can down!

    Holy fuck, will it ever end?

  • Almanian.||

    No.

    We are doooooooooomed.

  • ||

    Holy fuck, will it ever end?

    Yes...there are only so many square miles of land on the planet...

    Eventually all of it will be roads and bridges.

  • some guy||

    Then you can start building bridges over the roads and bridges. Eventually the entire world's mass will be converted into a shell of bridges held in place, by centrifugal, rather than exclusionary, forces.

  • nicole||

    That's two strategies right there, Epi. And that doesn't even count standing in front of crowds of reporters crowing about how the sky is falling while specifically planning to do nothing so you can continue to do that.

  • ||

    It amuses me no end that there are actually people who think that these politicians fucks are formulating anything other than "how can I make this go away until I retire and make a ton of money as a consultant or lobbyist?"

  • nicole||

    You just don't understand that only politicians can care about long-term issues, because they aren't beholden to shareholders. They have the luxury of putting real time, thought, and effort into these kinds of negotiations.

    Which, of course, is how we ended up with the whole sequestration fiasco to begin with.

  • ||

    I want the president to spray-paint his hair green and shoot up a crowd of movie-theater goers, then claim that this is the inevitable result of budget cuts on the local PD.

  • ||

    He's just a dog chasing cars, JJ. He wouldn't know what to do with one if he caught it.

  • Pro Libertate||

    If I were to lose my job, and one of my kids came and asked about that iPad I said I'd buy for him, the answer would be, "Sorry, we can't afford that right now." Why isn't that answer valid for government? The truth is, of course, that it is.

  • Almanian.||

    No, fuck you, cut spending!

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Can we throw in a bonus "fuck off, slaver" now and again as well?

  • ||

    Unfortunately, the answer is "no, fuck you, that's why".

  • nicole||

    Happened to catch Grover Norquist basically saying exactly that on NPR this morning. I must say, it was gratifying.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Excellent. Let me know if he calls Gingrich Newcular Titties.

  • BelowTheRim||

    +1

  • Cdr Lytton||

    "There's no reason to raise taxes. Taxes should be lower. ... The problem we have is that government spends too much"

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetw.....tax-pledge

    "if we'd had a Reagan-sized recovery instead of an Obama-sized recovery over the last 3 1/2 years there would be 11-plus [more] million Americans at work. That's a lot of damaged lives because Obama has a theory and his theory was wrong — that if the government takes people's money and spends it you magically have twice as much money. ... Obama has put his ridiculous left-wing fantasy theories of Keynesianism above the lives of 11 million families in this country. That is an extremely bad thing that he did. And at some point you have to wonder why anybody does that to the country. He's done a lot of damage. We need to undo that damage."

  • nicole||

    Yep, that was it. Looks like they don't have the transcript up yet from this morning but it's worth a quick listen just to see how little Norquist hesitates when asked, if he had to choose between the deficit, taxes, and spending, which of the three is most important.

  • ||

    If the GOP House leadership had the cojones suggested by this article, Obamacare would be repealed by now and the budget would be balanced, because ALL spending bills must originate in the House, and the Democrats loooove to spend OPM. "You want to continue funding all this stuff (insert laundry list)? You do what we say, or nothing gets funded, and all your supporters in government unions lose their jobs."

    This hasn't happened because the GOP also loooves to spend OPM (note one less "o" in "love").

  • anon||

    Bullshit, the GOP loves OPM just as much as the dems, they just want to spend it on "different" shit.

  • ||

    Let's compare budget deficits under Obama versus Bush, and spending under Obama and Bush, and see if your theory holds up.

  • anon||

    Hey, Obama has a republican house. Remember that part about the house controlling spending?

  • some guy||

    Bush had a Republican house for much of his time in office too. It didn't stop him from increasing the debt by 2T$ over 8 years. But deficits were ok back then because !global war on terror!

    Bush also kick-started Obama's TARP spending so O could hit the ground running.

  • John||

    No kidding. Shut the whe government down. Whose supporters will suffer more?

  • sarcasmic||

    Who will suffer? Once the vacation is over they'll all get retro pay.

  • John||

    Good point.

  • Mike M.||

    No kidding. Shut the whe government down. Whose supporters will suffer more?

    Ha! Good luck getting the republicans to ever "shut the government down" after the beatdown president Matthew Lesko Junior and the "free shit for everyone" party just put on them.

  • some guy||

    Who gets hurt worse? It's hard to say:
    Union jobs vs. defense contractors.
    Urban poor vs. Rural poor.
    "Urban" states vs. "Rural" states.
    Are we going to stop SS checks? Old white people vs. old non-white people.

    Both parties have made sure that large groups of their supporters depend on federal largesse.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    ALL spending bills must originate in the House

    So all the Senate does is wait for the House to send over a spending bill they don't intend to pass anyways and then ammend it to replace the entire contents with spending the Senate wants to vote on.

    The ironic part is that over the last two years, this was especially easy because the GOP in House kept voting on "show bills" like repealing Obama Care, budget plans that had no chance of passing, etc. Thus if you consider results rather than rhetoric, the Tea Party's chief contribution to American government has been making it easier for Senate Democrats to spend.

  • Pro Libertate||

    The Senate can't make a law all by itself. If it passes a different bill, the House has to accept the changes, too.

  • Randian||

    You are getting into stupid partisan troll territory. There is literally no ill you will not blame on Republicans.

    The House has to accept the changes the Senate gives them.

  • ||

    It's a TEAM BLUE concern troll, always has been. Ignore it.

  • MoreFreedom||

    The House doesn't have to accept any changes the Senate gives them. You're thinking of some other country.

  • Belgian||

    In case you haven't gotten it yet, Stormy, your post was ridiculous nonsense.

  • MoreFreedom||

    You're right that the GOP likes to spend OPM. But I think the GOP does have cojones, but it's reflected in the fact they say they want less government, then vote for more of it. They have the cajones to lie to the voters who vote for them.

  • Almanian.||

    I continue to hope we go flying over the "fiscal cliff" with nothing being done.

    The Twitters are all aflutter with the Team Red and Blue idiots who think "we CAN'T do nothing - it's too important! The economy will tank!"

    Bullshit. I see an initial dip as everyone responds like Pavlov's dogs and panics. Then in a month or so, as reality sets in - hey, the SS checks are still coming, the army hasn't laid down its arms and allowed Canada to enslave us - everyone figures out it's no big deal and everything returns to "normal".

    Which is exactly why I'm convinced both Teams have already come up with some plan (or will shortly) for some kind of bullshit extension of the status quo, or something close to it (no real spending cuts, but increase taxes on the infamous +$250K crowd).

    Cause the REAL fear for the TEAMS is that doing nothing exposes what frauds they and this whole ginned up "crisis" are. And they can't allow that to happen.

    Fucking assholes.

  • anon||

    I actually think the dems want to go off the "fiscal cliff."

    Think about it; raising taxes on everyone with unemployment already at what... 18%? Even with government cooked numbers, it'll be the catalyst for another recession, which of course give the government an excuse to "do something in this time of crisis!!111one"

    If I were a statist fuckwad that wanted more control over everyone, that's how I'd play it.

  • sarcasmic||

    Sequestration will not happen. Government cutting jobs or freebies is simply not an option.

  • John||

    I see your point. But I think even they realize no one is going to want to destroy the oil industry or enact cap and trade in the middle of a recession. No bucks no Buck Rodgers.

  • Rasilio||

    Yes it will lead to a technical recession because government spending is calculated as part of GDP, however the important question is whether that reduction in government spending would result in a significant net loss of jobs, something given it's tiny size is unlikely to happen.

    In otherwords it will be a recession that nobody really notices because it won't really impact anyone.

  • some guy||

    I wonder how much of sequestration could be handled just through attrition (both for programs and personnel) and "natural" "post-war" drawdown. The federal workforce, like our overseas adventures, is getting kind of old...

  • John||

    So what if we have another recession? The economy will adjust to the lower spending and higher taxes and come back better off for it.

    Here is why Obama is panicked about a recession. If the economy goes back into recession, he won't be able to give all of the regulatory goodies to the greens and the unions. A real recession would end any spirits for green unicorns or pay offs tithe unions

  • anon||

    If the economy goes back into recession, he won't be able to give all of the regulatory goodies to the greens and the unions.

    No way, it'd be the perfect catalyst for the payoff. Don't you remember the last recession?

    As a side note, I do agree that recessions are good, normal and even healthy for economies.

  • John||

    There Are 20 dem senators up for reelection. The greens will go under the bus.

  • anon||

    But how many of them are actually in danger of losing their seats?

    That's a serious question; I don't know which seats are up for election in 14.

  • John||

    Assuming the GOP can come up with nonretarded candidates ( a big assumption I know) ten or 12 of them.

  • Brutus||

    I'm not sanguine about that. Todd Akin is sending me emails asking that I send him money to pay off his campaign debts after a 16-point drubbing at the hands of a supremely vulnerable Claire McCaskill.

    I'll get right on that, Todd.

  • Brett L||

    Florida produced... Connie Mack IV. Fuck me, I'd've been a better candidate.

  • ||

    send him money to pay off his campaign debts

    That mother fucker makes me wish there was still debtor's prison and he was bankrupt!!!!

    ...

    I should probably relax...Flake won. And he was probably the only Republican senate candidate I remotely liked.

  • Brett L||

    IDK, I know I'm being optimistic here, but even normal people must start to see that running a huge deficit hasn't shaken off the (predicted by TARP opponents) double-dip recession.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Or what? You clearly underestimate mankind's talent for self-delusion.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    "the army hasn't laid down its arms and allowed Canada to enslave us"

    Not until they get better whisky, we won't! I mean, surrender for poutine and maple syrup is tempting and all... but not enough.

  • ||

    Not until they get better whisky

    Canadian Club Select is passable for the price.

    Fuck it. They have a debt to GDP ratio of like 33%, I say we surrender.

  • Brett L||

    the army hasn't laid down its arms and allowed Canada to enslave us

    Although about this time of year, Floridians have their doubts.

  • Almanian.||

    lulz!

    Yeah, Florida is New Canada for about 1/2 the year, innit?

  • Brett L||

    I think Disney bought Canada a while back and any Canadian who doesn't visit Florida once a year for at least two days has to pay the Mousgelt.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Mausgeld - I like that.

  • Dr. Frankenstein||

    Now with stormtroopers.

  • ||

  • ||

    Brett, are you in Orlando? Do you have any tips on what to do there on a business trip, cool restaurants, bars, etc? I'll be there in a few weeks and have already done the Disney thing.

  • Brett L||

    Nope. generic brand, I think, is our resident Orlandian. My brother lived there for a while, but unless you want to go to dive bars full of tatted up white trash, he wouldn't be much help either.

  • Pro Libertate||

    We have a few.

  • ||

    White trash are best and most amusingly viewed from a safe distance, like via Tosh.0. Welp, looks like it is hotel-bar-drink-drunk time.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Dagny, if you're downtown, Sky Sixty is pretty cool. Or used to be, it's been a while since I've been there.

  • ||

    White trash are best and most amusingly viewed from a safe distance

    4chan.org

  • Lowdog||

    Fucking squirrels - this is my third attempt, so I hope you appreciate my effort, Dagny. :)

    Tako Cheena on Mills Ave has some crazy asian/taco fusion food. My gf loved it, I thought it was just ok. Not exactly my thing. Mills Ave also has a bunch of good asian joints.

    Rocco's Tacos has a great tequila selection, the food's not bad, not too expensive, djs play pop music later at night.

    Went to a club called the Roxy a few Saturdays ago and had a pretty good time, although the crowd was pretty young. Saw Diplo at Firestone Theater a few months ago.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Not really. We already are about 2/3 of the population of the entire country. They'd have to send a lot more people to make a large impression.

    Maine is another story. It's regularly occupied by squads of French-Canadians.

  • Almanian.||

    No, fuck you, cut spending.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I wish the GOP would take this up. Even a Disneyfied version would be fine, so long as the "no" and "cut spending" were retained.

  • Brutus||

    Let it burn.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Which brings us to the second theory about who really has the leverage, espoused most recently by Hudson Institute fellow and former Bush administration econ adviser Keith Hennessey.

    Ah more of that "math you do as a Republican to make yourself feel better".

    Hennessey argues that the White House believes that without a deal to avert the fiscal cliff, the U.S. will enter a new recession next year. That recession would not only be bad for the country, it would also substantially hamper President Obama’s ability to accomplish his larger policy agenda, especially on budget issues. It wouldn’t even matter much who got the blame for the recession.

    Yes, because the House's economic suicide bomber strategy worked out so well for the GOP in the 2012 elections.

  • Brutus||

    Who runs the House these days, Stormy?

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Stormy is one of our soft TEAM BLUE adherents, so expect more of the same. Not quite shrike or tony level derp, however.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    No, Stormy is just sick of Republicans talking themselves into believing they have the Democrats right where they want them, when it's obvious to anyone who's not on TEAM RED that it's the other way around.

  • Randian||

    If you're one of those people who only blames one side for the problem, you're part of the problem, not the solution.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Bingo.

  • BelowTheRim||

    +1

  • Calidissident||

    Stormy is kind of like the TEAM BLUE equivalent of John. Not as bad as Tulpa though

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Actually, Stormy is just pathologically contrary, and pretty much takes the upopular side in any argument.

  • Calidissident||

    So you are Tulpa?

  • Stormy Dragon||

    I'm an INTJ. Sitting around agreeing with each other doesn't serve any useful function; arguing about things does, as it's the only way to learn new things and to improve ideas.

  • Calidissident||

    That was a joke at Tulpa's expense.

    And I have no problem with debate or arguments. All I'm saying is that there tends to be a Democratic bias in your takes on whatever is being discussed. I'm not saying you're a TEAM BLUE hack like Tony or Shrike, or even that you support the Democrats, I'm just noting the bias that everyone else here has noticed as well

  • Stormy Dragon||

    I criticize the Republicans more than Democrats. The problem is the assumption that because I'm criticzing Republicans that I must want them to fail and the Democrats to succeed, when it's actually closer to the opposite; I'm criticizing Republicans because I want them to do better.

  • goneGalt||

    Aha! So you are Joe Scarborough?

  • Almanian.||

    The real question is:

    "Who run Bartertown?"

  • Stormy Dragon||

    See this is more of the Republicans deluding themselves. If you total up House votes across the country, Dem candidates were far more popular than Republicans. The Republicans don't control the house because they're more popular, they won because they've gerrymandered the congressional districts to give them a structural advantage (e.g. in Pennsylvania ~60% of the congressional votes went to Democrats, yet 13 of the 18 congressional seats went to Republicans).

    And even despite this, the Republicans still lost eight seats in the House since 2010. But I'm sure the House GOP will go on telling themselves how popular they are until they lose control of it as well, at which point they'll be shocked once agian that they're delusional bubble somehow failed to reflect the real world.

  • Pro Libertate||

    The GOP controls the House. And the Supreme Court, for that matter. And it's likely they'll get the Senate when the next recession hits.

    The one problem for the Dems in continuing to allow the economy to collapse is that blaming the GOP becomes less and less effective the longer they hold the White House. That's just the way it is.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    If the GOP was half way competent, you'd be right. But then how the hell did they manage to lose seats in the Senate this year? How did they manage to lose the Presidency when facing a widely unpopular candidate in one of the worst economies in living memory? Because they aren't half way competent.

    But instead of that, just keep telling yourselv that everything is going your way and some day the GOP gonna control everything just because they're that awesome.

  • Randian||

    But instead of that, just keep telling yourselv that everything is going your way and some day the GOP gonna control everything just because they're that awesome.

    We aren't Republicans, you whinging infant.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Yes, well, I'm not pro-GOP. But someone will get the blame, and that someone will be the party in the White House. I'm surprised people didn't turn on the Democrats more this election, but even our most hardheaded will do so if the economy dips and does another non-recovery in the next two years.

  • Brutus||

    Eight...out of 435?

  • OldMexican||

    Re: Stormy Dragon,

    they won because they've gerrymandered the congressional districts to give them a structural advantage (e.g. in Pennsylvania ~60% of the congressional votes went to Democrats, yet 13 of the 18 congressional seats went to Republicans).


    Your contention is not supported by the very facts you present. No amount of gerrymandering can make a 60 percent Democratic population place 60 percent non-Democratic representatives in the House. You're confused because you likely believe that popular trends are evenly spread among districts, when in fact most Democratic support is in the bigger cities.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    They've tightened up a bit since the initial results I saw, but:

    http://www.electionreturns.sta.....fficeID=11

    Republicans got 2,691,815 votes for congress statewide
    Democrats got 2,772,308 votes for congress statewide

    So the point stands that the PA congressional delegation of 13 Republicans and 5 Democrats is more a reflection of the State GOP's redistricting abilities than of their actual popularity.

  • Randian||

    *facepalm*

  • John||

    It worked out well for house republicans. And 14 is an off year election. No birth control free shit turn out. How did voting against Obama work for the republicans in the last midterms?

  • ||

    Yes, because the House's economic suicide bomber strategy worked out so well for the GOP in the 2012 elections.

    Eliminationist rhetoric alert.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    How else do you describe statements like "Hennessey argues that the White House believes that without a deal to avert the fiscal cliff, the U.S. will enter a new recession next year. That recession would not only be bad for the country"? If you're deliberately doing something you think will be bad for the country because the other side will have to give into your demands to stop you from being crazy, you are pretty much a metaphorical suicide bomber.

  • Randian||

    I am sorry, but who's holding what hostage here again?

    Why is it that you completely buy into one side's narrative that this would be bad for the country but you completely castigate the other side's narrative that the cure is worse than the disease?

    Did the Evil Rick Santorum sneak into your room and break your brain?

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Because the other side doesn't claim to be championing my ideals, so I don't look bad when they're a bunch of screw-ups.

  • Randian||

    So, in other words, it's kosher for Democrats to claim that failure to arrive at yet-another "deal" will tank the economy, but it's not OK for Republicans to call their bluff.

    You have lost your mind.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Except Hennesy isn't saying "the fiscal cliff is a bluff! Let's call them on it!" He agrees with them that failure to arrive at a deal will tank the economy. He just wants to tank the economy because he thinks they'll get blamed for it. That's the delusion; anyone who's not delusional knows the Republicans are going to end up with the blame (you can see it in the polls). But no, they're in the bubble and have convinced themselves once again that because THEY'RE gonna blame Obama, obviously everyone else will too.

  • Randian||

    It doesn't much matter who lives in what bubble. What irks the shit out of me is that you are swallowing, completely, the idea that this would "tank" the economy.

    I have a newsflash for you: we never got out of the 2008 recession.

    anyone who's not delusional knows the Republicans are going to end up with the blame (you can see it in the polls)

    Part of that is your fault because you continue to promulgate the one-sidedness of the blame. Look in the mirror for who's idiotising the electorate.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Ah yes, the entire national opinion of the GOP would turn around if only I weren't being so mean to them in the Hit and Run comments section. =P

  • R C Dean||

    What irks the shit out of me is that you are swallowing, completely, the idea that this would "tank" the economy.

    The economy sure looks like it wants to roll over anyway.

    Raising taxes will certainly hurt it, some.

    Cutting spending will automatically cut GDP by the percentage of GDP that is cut from spending, which all by itself could put us into a nominal recession.

    Even if the economy doesn't tank because we go over the cliff, the Dems will certainly blame the Repubs for the continued lack of a recovery because they wouldn't do a deal.

  • Randian||

    And I would love to hear your solution, Stormy. Really, tell the GOP what it should do.

    It's going to get the blame anyway, in part thanks to you, so I see no reason why it shouldn't just blow the damn thing up.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    The GOP could start by coming up with an actual plan, beyond just just rolling around on the floor screaming "No! No! No!" for two years. Then once they have a good plan, they can go out and try to actually convince people it's a good plan, rather than assuming everyone secretly agrees with them and that it's just a liberal media conspiracy that makes it look like they don't.

  • Randian||

    They have a plan. It's called "here's some revenue by capping deductions, now let's get to entitlement reform"

    The President is still campaigning in Pennsylvania and is planning on starting a hashtag on Twitter.

    But yeah, the Republicans are the children.

    Fuck me.

  • nicole||

    No, Randian. Fuck us all.

  • Calidissident||

    Stormy, Randian has a point. Some of your points are valid, but you cede a ton of ground to the Democrats right from the bat that the don't deserve. What exactly is the Democrats plan beyond "TAX THE RICH!" which doesn't even come close to solving the deficit problems. Yet you're not calling them out for not having a plan, or for acting like children

  • R C Dean||

    The repubs may (or may not!) have learned their lesson from the last two years, namely, that any plan they propose will (a) not pass and (b) be used to beat on them through the next election cycle.

    Exactly what incentive do they have to propose anything, at this point? Just tell the Dems to draft their damn bill already, and they'll debate and negotiate it in Congress. Make the Dems own it, whatever it is, because nothing will get signed into law that isn't Dem to the bone.

    Don't give them bipartisan cover, don't give them a stick to beat you with.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Because, to paraphrase Lombardi, leadership isn't a some of the time thing. You can't just sit around doing nothing and then when the right moment comes along expect to suddenly spring into action and expect to be successful. This is another big problem with the GOP; assuming that because we want smaller government that it doesn't matter who the people in government are. An effective do-nothing government doesn't mean literally doing nothing, it takes a lot of activity and skill to prevent activism, and you learn that skill by, frankly, getting hit with a stick a lot.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Maybe because I don't want the Dems to succeed? So I'm not really interested in whether they're doing a good job pushing their agenda or not?

  • R C Dean||

    Here's teh problem, Stormy. Between the White House, the Senate and the Dem Op media, something very close to their agenda is exactly what we are going to get.

    The game for the Repubs isn't to somehow enact a Repub agenda, because as they learned, you can't do that from the House.

    Nor is just stopping the Dem agenda an option. This is DC: something will get done, and that something will be pretty much what the Dems want.

    The Repub role, at this point, is to take whatever beatings the Dems and their Dem Op media allies dish out for the inevitable failures and fuckups. The only way to minimize that is to leave minimize their fingerprints on the deal. Its gonna happen anyway; why volunteer to be the scapegoat?

  • Stormy Dragon||

    The problem is that for 20 years now, Republicans have stopped trying to educate and convince the general public, and now wants to be suprised no one is educating about their issues or convinced by their arguments. And the problem is that now if they started doing it now, it would probably take 20 years more to get results.

    But they're not gonna even try. Just more Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter doing the superior dance with the already converted.

    Take a look a this election. Neither Ryan or Romney really tried to make the argument why cuts are necessary or how people will benefit. Just more BS about secret plans that will allow us to balance the budget without actually cutting anything. And not suprisingly people aren't convinced because it's an obvious snowjob.

  • OldMexican||

    Re: Stormy Dragon,

    Yes, because the House's economic suicide bomber strategy worked out so well for the GOP in the 2012 elections.


    I don't know if you understood the point of the very paragraph YOU quoted: It doesn't matter what the prospects are for the GOP in 2014; what Hennessey is arguing is that the Fiscal Cliff is more damaging for Obama than for anyone else, which means the House has more leverage right now when it comes to any deal than Obama.

    Obama may be puffing and huffing but that does not mean he can bring the House down. Not by the hair of my Chinny-chin-chin.

  • nicole||

    Does anyone know, or is it just so much vague bullshit it's not even real anyway, but when bitchez are always talking about the infamous $250k+ crowd, I assume they mean that in the "working family" sense, i.e., the "no you aren't a family if you're only one person" sense, so what does that mean for singles? $125k+? Or something else?

    Just trying to figure out the exact degree to which I should be demonized.

  • Brutus||

    I'm going on pure memory here, but I thought the thresholds were $200k for individuals and $250k for couples.

    It's a sliding scale of hate, but these levels will get you mentioned on MSNBC's Two Minutes Hates.

  • John||

    You are a single woman Nicole. That means you are supposed to vote based on your vagina and not worry your pretty little head about taxes and such.

  • anon||

    Nicely played, sir.

  • nicole||

    If women really voted based on their vaginas, they would totally care about taxes because we all know vaginas love to shop. Fucking. Love. That. Shit.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    That veejayjay isn't going to bedazzle itself for free!

  • AuH2O||

    nicole is the worst Vagina-American ever.

  • Rasilio||

    They are talking about household income in excess of $250k a year. Does not matter how many incomes are required to break that threshold or how many people in the household.

  • nicole||

    Okay, because lots of other shit like this cuts off earlier for individuals, so I was just assuming this would be like...oh, I don't know, all the other ways I get screwed.

  • ||

    ...all the other ways I get screwed.

    Do go on...

  • nicole||

    The innuendo is actually quite apropros. Check this shit out. If you are responsible and make a decent living, you get screwed in all kinds of ways. And if you're responsible about getting the other kind of screwed, you're screwed anew. I mean why the hell am I not barefoot, pregnant, and unemployed right now? Because I am not, it turns out, that smart, I guess.

  • ||

    I mean why the hell am I not barefoot, pregnant, and unemployed right now? Because I am not, it turns out, that smart, I guess.

    I say that all the time, and I'm the misogynist?!

  • nicole||

    There is no miso-[x]-ist like a miso-[self]-ist.

  • Disgusted Dem||

    Miso-[self]-ist: Is that a form of autoerotic activity involving Japanese fermented bean paste?

  • nicole||

    It could result in that, I suppose, at least if you don't like tofu.

  • Rasilio||

    In this case they want to make perminant or at least extend the tax rates created by the Bush tax cuts for all but the top rate, which kicks in at $250k in income, that rate would be allowed to rise from it's current 36% to the earlier 39% rate.

    They also want to allow the lower capital gains tax rates to expire but this one has less support even among Democrats because of the obvious impact to investment and the fact that it doesn't just impact the rich but the middle class as well.

  • Rasilio||

    Sorry, top 2 brackets I mean.

    Currently they sit at 33% and 35% kicking in at $178/$217/$198K (Single/Married/Head of Household) and $388K respectively. The plan is to let them rise back to 36% and 39.6% respectively while allowing the rest of the Bush rates to stay in place.

  • nicole||

    Thanks, Rasilio.

  • Almanian.||

    For participating in H y R, you must be demonized utterly.

    I am sorry.

  • anon||

    It's household based, so if you and your wife file jointly it's 250k, and if you file by yourself it's 250k, and if you're some kind of LLC you're fucked.

  • Killazontherun||

    Nate Silver figures there is going to be a bubble for those on the 250k and up range to fuck over the enfant terribles, who incidentally, are the very class of people responsible for dynamic shifts in economies that threaten established interest, and fuck 'em over good and hard:

    http://www.economicpolicyjourn.....ubble.html

    But one idea being floated by Congressional negotiators, as described in an article by The New York Times’s Jonathan Weisman on Thursday, is hard to defend from the standpoint of rational public policy making.

    Its arithmetic could require that the 300,000th dollar of income was taxed at a rate of about 50 percent – even while the three millionth dollar of income, or the three billionth, was taxed at a lower 35 percent rate instead.

    Warren Buffet would like that very much.

  • nicole||

    Jesus, who the fuck thinks that is a good idea?

  • Killazontherun||

    All they need to do is bring that baby down a little deeper in the pool and I'll retire to become a full time H&R quipest.

  • T||

    If this keeps up, it might make more sense for one of us to quit working.

  • SugarFree||

    The GOP’s Secret Leverage in the Fiscal Cliff Negotiations?

    John Boehner's Magical Tears, obviously.

  • Brutus||

    A clandestine photo of the Republican caucus at the negotiations:

    http://www.amazon.com/Wizard-Y.....0449031268

  • Almanian.||

    Team Red - making the French look like Attila the Hun since...at least the early 1970's.

  • Randian||

    The new version of that book is 114 bucks?

    Man, I had that paperback as a kid. Had I known.

  • Killazontherun||

    I can't even look at value sheets for mint condition comics from the 70's are anymore. It hurts way too much.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Don't forget his fabulous wardrobe.

  • Tim||

    The secret is there is no secret.

  • Almanian.||

    So you're a Mason, too?

  • SugarFree||

    Nancy Pelosi: Why do you cry?

    John Boehner: He is Obama. Chicagoan. He will not cry, so I cry for him.

  • ||

    John Boehner, I know now why you cry.

    But it is something I can never do.

  • BarryD||

    We will see a "dip".

    We will see a trillion-dollar deficit.

    We will see more printing of money (though we don't even have to actually print it any more).

    We will see all of these things, regardless of whether we pay higher tax rates. Might as well not pay higher tax rates. There's nothing good about paying higher taxes.

  • Almanian.||

    I can see for miles and miles.

  • Rasilio||

    " Letting rates rise on top earners would raise a little less than $1 trillion."

    Hey Peter, perhaps you should indicate that you are talking about 10 year budgeting here.

    Anyone who thinks an 8% increase (36% to 39%) in the top marginal tax rate is going to raise anywhere near $100 Billion a year is an idiot forget $1 Trillion. The actual number is a mere $83 billion a year according to the CBO but that is based on a flawed static analysis which assumes that no one changes their behavior in response to changes in tax burdens, the more realistic number would probably be closer to $50 billion a year.

  • Brett L||

    OT: On the lighter side, I can say that I've found someone whose dick is a better dowsing rod for crazy than mine.

    A former TV weatherman who testified 12 days ago in a Miami federal courtroom that Latvian “Bar Girls” swindled him out of $43,000 on Miami Beach was back in the spotlight Tuesday over suggestive photos and tweets sent from his Twitter account.

    John Bolaris, who was suspended from his job as a weather anchor for Fox affiliate WTXF in Philadelphia last year amid his allegations that as a tourist in South Florida in 2010 he was drugged and robbed, apparently was asleep Sunday when his fiancée Erica Smitheman drunkenly took over his Twitter account and promised to send out nude photos of herself, the New York Daily News is reporting.

  • Randian||

    Check this shit - this guy is dumb dumb dumb:

    One of the B-girls, Marina Turcina, called him later that Sunday to say she and her friend wanted to return his sunglasses. She also said she hoped he liked the painting, and left her cell phone number to call her.

    Bolaris said he met the girls again at the Delano and got his sunglasses from them. When he suggested they go back to the Fontainebleau to fetch the painting, they tricked him into returning to the Caviar Bar for a second night, he testified. They racked up an additional $16,000 on his AMEX card.
  • some guy||

    One does not simply get "tricked" into returning to a Caviar Bar. The fact that "Caviar" is in the name is a pretty good indicator that shit is going to be expensive.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    It amuses me no end that there are actually people who think that these politicians fucks are formulating anything other than "how can I make this go away until I retire and make a ton of money as a consultant or lobbyist?"

    It "amuses" me to see the hopeful upturned faces of the masses of people who actually expect some sort of "solution" from politicians, whose sole demonstrable skill is to get the yokels to vote for them.

  • Pro Libertate||

    And that "skill" is a very shallow one, given the fix in the system.

  • Hyperion||

    They don't have solutions, they have problems for which their proposed solutions create different problems for which they create more solutions which create... it's just problems all the way down.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    The single most terrifying thing (to the politicians and Very Important Thinker class)is the very real likelihood that the overwhelming majority of Americans will awaken the morning after we plummet off the fiscal cliff and discover nothing of any real significance in their daily lives has changed.

  • ||

    Perhaps if Congressmen were limited to one term, they'd be more apt to make hard calls?

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Perhaps if Congressmen were limited to one term, they'd be more apt to make hard calls?

    I doubt it, but that doesn't mean I would be in any way unhappy with a one term limit.

    One of my pet theories involves Congressmen being randomly assigned a district to represent, rather than the one which elected them. If the pork were divorced from the electorate, they could conceivably take a more nationally-oriented approach to programs.

    But it probably would fall apart in short order.

  • R C Dean||

    The answer is that he and his economic team believe he needs to sign a deal—any deal—in order to prevent an economic calamity.

    I wouldn't assume they are all that eager to avoid an economic meltdown, especially one that they can (and will) blame on Republicans.

    This is a crowd weaned on "The worse, the better" and "Never let a good crisis go to waste." A sharp recession would give them a lot of room to do more of what they want to do. And they know it.

  • Brett L||

    Nah, someone hit it on the head upthread. If the country "goes over the cliff" and it doesn't change anyone's life that much, then they're really fucked.

  • R C Dean||

    Only if they get blamed. And I'm thinking they are pretty sure (with good reason) that they can lay the blame on the intransigent Repubs. Why not? They've blamed them, successfully, for everything else.

  • 16th amendment||

    We need to let tax cuts for those making under 250k expire, like the child tax credit, American opportunity credit, etc. These tax cuts lead to the situation of 47% of the country not paying any taxes.

  • AWLinNC||

    This author is living in dreamland. President Obama has an election win at his back, as opposed to 2010. He will not cave. But Repubs don't want to be blamed for everyone's taxes going up, so they will cave.

  • Robert Jordan||

    It could not possibly matter less.

    Some points to consider:

    1. The United States is the world economy. When we fail, everyone else, even if they don't "deserve" it, is screwed.

    2. Gargantuan spending cuts are needed to avoid collapse (not the "fiscal cliff" - the complete failure of the government). It won't happen next year, but it is coming - and not for a future generation, either. If you're reading this, it's gonna be in your lifetime.

    3. Even if the Republicans held the White House and both houses of congress, there would be zero chance of the necessary cuts taking place. Republican claims of difference and opposition to the DNC are mostly theatrical. Both parties are incestuous.

    4. Nobody is even capable of bailing us out.

    So, this fascination in the press with the fiscal cliff is much ado about what the listing of the Titanic will do the dessert course in the main dining room. Who the ---- cares? The ship is ----ing sinking and the water is a little nippy. Those are our problems - not the fiscal cliff.

  • b52apl||

    I would like to suggest a refinement to Mr. Cole's strategy. When the House brings up the Senate "Tax the Rich" bill for a vote, all the Republicans should vote "Present." That way the tax increase passes with no Republican votes. Also, in all of the news conferences, press releases and talk show interviews, Republicans should say that Obama was holding the middle class hostage, so the bill had to pass. However, the GOP still thinks it's a terrible idea which will make a recession more likely. Then the whole thing falls on Obama.

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