Fiscal Cliff

Republicans to Obama: How About the Bowles Plan?

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Last week saw the release of President Obama's opening offer in negotiations over the fiscal cliff. The president proposed that Republicans go along with $1.6 trillion real tax hikes, assorted mostly-fake spending cuts, $400 billion in maybe-Medicare cuts at some to-be-determined point in the future, some new stimulus spending, and a pony with a diamond-crusted saddle.* 

This afternoon Republicans came back with a counteroffer: No pony, no income tax rate hikes, but they could perhaps agree to $800 billion in new revenue to be generated by tax reform as laid out last year by Erskine Bowles, the co-chair along with Alan Simpson of the president's own deficit reduction commission.

The Bowles proposal was a modified version of the original Simpson-Bowles plan, lighter on new tax revenues and somewhat heavier on spending cuts. Here's Politico's summary of the proposal that Bowles alone made to the debt-reduction Supercommittee—not to be confused with the original  presidential debt commission—at the end of 2011:

Over the course of the next decade, the new Bowles proposal would raise $800 billion in revenue, cut $600 billion from health care programs, slash annual discretionary spending by $300 billion, save $400 billion in interest payments because of the other cuts, and reap $200 billion from changes to the way the consumer price index is calculated, he told the members of the supercommittee.

Democrats weren't exactly thrilled with the Bowles proposal last year. I doubt they'll be particularly excited about it again. But the primary purpose of the GOP's counteroffer is to illustrate their interest in negotiating. Obama's opener was basically a request to pass the White House budget plan with essentially no compromises. It wasn't a real proposal so much as a show of force made at least partially in hopes of getting Republicans to fold quickly. Today's GOP counteroffer, on the other hand, is designed to make Republicans look like they're willing to make substantive concessions in order to get to some kind of deal. 

Both opening bids are best understood as positioning statements rather than actual stabs at putting together a viable deal. They tell you as much about how the parties want to be percieved than they do about what might actually make up the substance of an eventual agreement: Obama wants to be seen as strong. Republicans want to be seen as reasonable. Whether either side actually lives up to the way they want to be percieved remains to be seen. 

*The part about the pony is not true, technically.

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  1. No, fuck you, cut spending.

    1. I was going to say that.

    2. Perhaps this needs to be said more often, as the Republicans appear to not be hearing it.

      1. You can say it all you want, and their response is “no, fuck you“.

        1. Their response is “an insistence on that wouldn’t pass the Senate, would be vetoed by the President, and, rather than the American voter rallying around us, we would be blamed for being evil and heartless and intransigent and the ones who caused the lack of budgets and hitting the debt ceiling and everything else, and lose even worse in the next election.”

          Hence their careful attempts to try to paint Obama as the intransigent one here.

    3. The GOP is a political party. The reality is that you cannot win an election in current day America without promising everyone a pony.

      We already have a party that speaks the truth on spending, and they can barely crack 1% of the vote.

  2. *This is all true except the part about the pony.

    Awwwww.

  3. Raise taxes as high as they need to be to cover 100% of spending.

    We will immediately see where the people actually stand on tax and spending issues.

    1. We’ll immediately see how many MORE “unfunded needs” there are. There can never be enough taxes to cover spending. Cause TEH CHILDRENZ. And…wimminz.

      1. I’m new here so I can’t tell if you are trolling or trying to be sarcastic.

        The government does not spend over 100% of GDP no matter how you look at it.

        1. I’m not new here, and definitely sarcastic 🙂

        2. “I’m new here so I can’t tell if you are trolling or trying to be sarcastic.

          The government does not spend over 100% of GDP no matter how you look at it.”

          No one suggested it does. Where did you pull GDP out of?

    2. Raise taxes as high as they need to be to cover 100% of spending.

      And apportion the taxes per capita. Want to spend 3.7 trillion in a country with 370 million people? That’s 10,000 dollars per family member. Get out your checkbook.

  4. raise $800 billion in revenue…slash annual discretionary spending by $300 billion

    I like how they kind of mix together years and decades of spending – so $80B annual revenue is EIGHT HUNDRED BILLION (well OK over a decade).

    And it’s cute how $300B of reduced spending (like it will ever happen) is SLASHING a….whatever the fucking Trillions budget.

    Fuckheads.

    1. It’s true.

      When they lowering the rate of spending growth, they call it a spending cut–even though they’re spending more than they were before.

      They’re fuckheads.

      1. I’m kind of sad that I’m so far over it now that it doesn’t make my blood boil any more. I just expect and accept it.

        Sadface for me 🙁

        1. Admitted that we are powerless over spending–that our budget has become unmanageable–is the first step on the road to recovery.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/12_steps#Twelve_Steps

      2. I think your argument makes a lot of sense when you talk about the military budget. Just because we planned to spend more next year does not make a smaller increase a cut.

        But when you’re talking about things like Medicare, or Social Security, the government has already promised the entitlements to people when they grow old. The “increases” in spending are due to new people retiring and beginning to collect the money they were promised.
        Spending isn’t increasing because somebody wants it to — it was increased when the government made the policy in the first place. Reducing these benefits is rightly called a cut, even if total costs rise over the previous year.

        1. What about the people who took jobs, made investments, and started businesses based on current tax policy? Why aren’t they “entitled” to their money?

          1. I’m not using “entitlement” in a moral sense. I’m saying that the US government promised people paying into social security and medicare that they would enjoy those same benefits upon retirement. Reducing or eliminating those benefits is a “cut” because the money has already been promised.

            I guess another way of looking at this is to think of current social security expenditures as being incurred in the 60s and 70s, but delayed until now. Lowering those expenditures is still a cut.

            1. We may have made those promises, but what if the money they paid into the program does not come close to the amount of money they will get in payouts? Most people getting SS today are getting benefits very much larger than what they paid in.

              Also, Recall that FICA taxes were increased in 1986. So if they were paying in before that than they were paying a lower rate of taxes. And if we increased taxes AGAIN to pay for benefits now, then that means that younger people are going to end up paying disproportionately more relative to the benefits they will eventually get.

              nevermind the fact that younger people just going to have to pay more in taxes into the general fund to pay back the “trust fund” anyway. Either way, we’re talking relatively younger people who will be paying more in taxes to support a larger elderly population that is getting benefits disproportionate tpo what they paid into the system in the past.

            2. Please provide a link to where the US Government made such a promise. I certainly haven’t seen one and the Medicare and SS statutes certainly don’t say so. In fact, legal precedent makes it clear that they can be changed at any time.

        2. You can make the same argument for defense. Military members, civilian employees, defense contractors, etc. all have made plans around continuing levels of defense spending. If you cut defense, then some will lose jobs, contracts, benefits, etc. that they were counting on. Medicare and SS are no more “promises” than the defense budget is. The law can be changed at any time at Congress’ pleasure.

  5. “They tell you as much about how the parties want to be percieved than they do about what might actually make up the substance of an eventual agreement.”

    This posturing is just for the sake of appearance, that’s true, but I think they already have an agreement in principle.

    The deal takes this shape:

    *Higher taxes on people who make more than $250,000 a year
    *No substantial spending cuts–more spending than last year.
    *No real entitlement reform

    This posturing between them is just for the sake of perception, but the perception both sides want to project is that there are some fundamental differences between them.

    There aren’t any fundamental differences between them.

    1. Why would the GOP take that deal?

      That would be a lose/lose for them. They don’t get the lower tax rates OR the spending cuts, OR entitlement reform.

      They would be better off following my proposal. Cave on the rates for the top two brackets. Pass just the extensions for the middle class cuts. Then recess for Christmas and force the D’s to accept the sequester cuts half of the fiscal cliff.

      If the GOP is really interested in cutting spending, they can get that. Easily. They can let the spending cuts happen. And they can extend the tax cuts for the middle class.

      The only question is WHO is going to get the credit for extending the middle class tax cuts. Either side can pass a bill doing it and challange the other to veto it. Whoever does it first is going to be the winner in this game.

      1. I would like that, and I think it would put us on much sounder footing. But realize that the press would be screaming REPUBLICANS RAN US OVER THE FISCAL CLIFF AND WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!!!!!!! literally every day for months afterwards. And when the recession that is already well on the way hits, Republicans would get the blame.

      2. “That would be a lose/lose for them. They don’t get the lower tax rates OR the spending cuts, OR entitlement reform.”

        Boehner has already indicated he’s willing to raise taxes on people who make over $250,000 a year.

        John Boehner doesn’t want spending cuts. He gets more power the more money he spends. He wants to appear to be a fiscal conservative to his base–but he wants to keep spending to enhance his power. That’s a win/win for him.

        He doesn’t want entitlement reform. That’s the third rail of politics! You can propose things, but that doesn’t mean he’d actually do them.

        “Then recess for Christmas and force the D’s to accept the sequester cuts half of the fiscal cliff.”

        The markets are involved. What’s good for the stock market in the short term, and what’s good for the economy over the long term–those aren’t the same thing. When the market reacts to spending cuts, both sides will cave immediately.

        Given the spending cuts in the fiscal cliff, I’d rather go over the cliff–I prefer more taxes and less spending to just more taxes. The problem is that John Boehner doesn’t want less spending. I don’t understand why you think he does.

        He was never serious about cutting spending before–but this time he really means it, why? He’s just gonna drink his paycheck, come home drunk, and beat us again. And then he’s gonna blame it all on us!

        It was easier to cut spending when he had a Republican in the White House. Why would he want to cut spending now?

  6. The Republicans could have come back with a wishlist as equally as outrageous as Obama’s, but they didn’t. And by outrageous I mean in terms of the opposite party’s view. Starting negotiations from what should be a passable plan will get no one anywhere.

    1. The sad things, from the GOP’s perspective they did.

    2. But see, the Repub wishlist would have to be heavy on the spending cuts. That’s exactly what the Dems want from them, is an equally “outrageous” list of cuts that can be demagogued.

      1. Yes, Obama has indicated that he’s ready to campaign against the GOP in 2 years. Republicans do not view this as an idle threat.

  7. Over the course of the next decade, the new Bowles proposal would raise $800 billion in revenue, cut $600 billion from health care programs, slash annual discretionary spending by $300 billion, save $400 billion in interest payments because of the other cuts, and reap $200 billion from changes to the way the consumer price index is calculated, he told the members of the supercommittee.

    So, the net effect of all this spending leaves us with:

    (does basic math)

    A deficit of $970 billion from last year. Assuming projections are correct and we only have a $900 billion deficit, sans these measures, that leaves us with a $670 billion deficit if this is implemented. So it basically cuts the deficit in half, best-case scenario, but still leaves us with over $600 billion in deficit–and that’s presuming they even collect the $80 billion a year they’re projecting to get.

    1. Changes to the CPI = cuts to Social Security COLAs.

    2. The deficit for FY 2012 is actually $1.1 Trillion.

      1. We’re now in FY13

        1. We’re now in FY13

          Yes, and I was correcting the deficit from last year, or FY 12.

      2. Debt to the Penny shows $1.27 trillion (original calculations were based on $1.2 trillion).

        That actually makes it worse, leaving a deficit of $1.04 trillion ($1.27 trillion-$230 billion in “savings”).

    3. I liked Gary Johnson’s plan better — cut spending back to 2005 levels and balance the budget in 2013.

  8. I actually think that the D’s want to go over the fiscal cliff.

    He’re the problem for the GOP. If we do go over the cliff, all of the tax cuts will expire. The D’s will then propose a bill that restores just the middle-class cuts, and attach a bunch of spending hikes to it. That will put the GOP in the position of voting against a tax cut, and make the Democrats look like the champions of the middle class.

    The GOP actually has more leverage now. They could pass JUST the middle class tax cut now, without any additional spending, and let the rest of the fiscal cliff happen.

    Fact is those tax cuts are going to be restored one way or another. The only question is: Who is going to get the credit, and what else is going to be attached to the bill?
    If the GOP takes the initiative, they could pass a bill extending those tax cuts and ensure that they don’t come attached to a bunch of patronage spending, and ensure that they get the credit for it.

    1. You’re right that the Democrats don’t really want to raise taxes on the middle class, but the Republicans don’t really want to cut spending either.

      Extending the tax cuts for the middle class is a foregone conclusion, but I don’t think anybody’s really afraid that the Republicans are about to force spending cuts on us.

      The Republicans may try to project to their base that they’re putting up a brave fight, but they don’t want to cut spending any more than the Democrats do.

      1. I suspect that you are correct.

        You can discern a lot about the true motivatons of both parties by examining their negotiating position and moves in this process, and inferring what motivates each move.

        The GOP ought to realize that there is pretty much know way it is going to avoid rate increases on the top two brackets. The D’s can get that, just by going over the cliff. The only way to get it would be to make a deal before the end of the year which doesn’t include that. And the only way to get such a deal would be to sacrifice the discretionary spending sequester cuts.

        So the fact that the GOP is attempting to negotiate such a deal pretty much means they are willing to sacrifice spending cuts in favor of tax cuts.

        Ergo, if we were to estimate where the GOP’s priorities lie:
        “Tax rates for the top two brackets” would rank higher than “lower spending on domestic programs”.

        Which not only means they aren’t serious about the deficit, it means that lower taxes for the weathy trumps the size of government.

        1. “Which not only means they aren’t serious about the deficit, it means that lower taxes for the wealthy trumps the size of government.”

          I’m actually okay with that. To my mind, the most important reason to keep spending low is so that we can keep taxes low. Economic growth is our ONLY hope.

          So long as inflation isn’t reeling its ugly head (and it’s not), I’d rather have lower taxes than a smaller deficit. (I’d rather have both, but if that isn’t one of the options, and I have to choose between lower taxes or higher deficits…)

          Problem is, there just isn’t anything about the Republican leadership in the House that makes me think they’re worried about more spending. John Boehner is the biggest spender in the House–there isn’t anybody there who wants to spend more than him. He did it back during the Bush Administration–back when the Republicans had the White House!

          Why would John Boehner suddenly become adverse to spending now?

          I think sometimes things get so hopeless that we start projecting our hopes onto whomever happens to be in charge. But there’s no reason to think John Boehner is ACTUALLY adverse to spending.

          There’s a lot of marketing going on in the background, but when you look at what Boehner has actually done on spending over the years? You can lead a horse to water, but it doesn’t make him a duck.

          1. “You can lead a horse to water, but it doesn’t make him a duck.”

            This, actually, is our best hope: fiscal conservatives in the Republican Party get so angry with Boehner after the budget deal he WILL ultimately strike that they replace John Boehner with a real fiscal conservative.

            I was calling for Boehner to lose his leadership position back when the Tea Party put him in the Speaker’s chair. John Boehner was the architect of everything the Tea Party rose up against–he’s the reason the Tea Party didn’t rise up from within the Republican Party.

            http://www.realclearpolitics.c…..ggers.html

            Why he’s still sitting in the Speaker’s chair is a mystery to me. Until we see Boehner thrown out of the Speaker’s chair, we’ll know that the the GOP doesn’t really intend to cut spending.

            1. Why he’s still sitting in the Speaker’s chair is a mystery to me.

              Well you see, the real reason he’s orange is because he’s covered with a special adhesive…

              1. That would also explain why he’s crying all the time.

          2. I’m actually okay with that. To my mind, the most important reason to keep spending low is so that we can keep taxes low. Economic growth is our ONLY hope.

            Disagree. Government action is ipso facto a constraint on liberty. The more spending there is, that means there is more regulation, more subsidizing of selected industries, more complicated IRS administration, etc. A simple tax code is cheap to administer. Simple regulations require less enforcement. An expensive government is a more active, intrusive and complex one.

            Tax rates and economic growth aren’t the be all and end-all. Growth is a by-product of a clear set of simple, minimal rules, not just a lower overall tax rate. We could have higher taxes and simpler uniform rules and it would probably be better for the economy. But the number one reason to favor it is that people would be freer. That would include the freedom to earn a living in a manner they see fit, which would be an economic benefit. But the goal should be greater liberty for it’s own sake. Which means lower spending is more important than the tax rates.

            1. The more money there is in the government’s hands, the less of it is available to fuel sustainable growth in the private sector.

              Corporate taxes and income taxes are like a slightly more efficient method of nationalizing private enterprise.

              I’m on board with the fact that the level of taxation doesn’t really mean the government gets more money, too. How much money the government gets is more a function of how much economic growth we have. But the level of taxation does affect the rate of growth.

              Our economy can suffer all sorts of tomfoolery from government interference so long as it’s continuing to grow. Take the growth away, and all those problems you’re talking about become bigger problems. They all come to the surface and become more prominent.

              Especially when the world is willing to finance our debt for so little interest (1.62% annually for ten years right now), keeping taxes low and that money working in the private sector is much more important than nationalizing that cash through taxes and paying down the deficit.

              I’m tellin’ ya! The worst effect of the debt our country is carrying right now is the implicit threat it represents to individuals and business people. We’re going to have to raise taxes, eventually, to pay down all that debt, and business people know that. They can read the writing on the wall, and it affects the investing, purchasing, and employment decisions they make.

              1. Our economy can suffer all sorts of tomfoolery from government interference so long as it’s continuing to grow.

                Yes, but the economic effects aren’t what is most important. What is most important is that the tomfoolery represents an unjust constraint upon the liberty of individuals, and a distortion of the market that produces perverse incentives.

                A government engaged in subsidizing selected industries through tax credits (for example) is unfairly biasing the market against some players and in favor of others, and making it’s power more important than the actions of consumers in determining who wins and who loses in the market.

                In such an environment individuals are not free. Your success is determined by how many politicians you can bribe rather than by your own initiative. And having a free society where businesses and individuals stand or fall on their own merits, rather than on the basis of government aid, will ultimately result in a better economy, because it will foster individual initiative instead of dependence on the state. Thus it really is NOT the tax rate that is important, it is literally that we need government to do LESS, and to do it in a more simple, fair, and uniform way. Simpler regulations, simpler tax code, more uniform, less arbitrary enforcement, and less overall intervention period.

                The tax rate could be higher and could be devoted entirely to paying odwn the debt, but the spending cuts have to come first.

                1. Also, I should add having a free society where businesses and individuals stand or fall on their own merits, rather than on the basis of government aid, is more desirable IN ITSELF than merely having one with overall lower tax rates.

                  When the tax code is effectively being used as a regulatory tool, lower rates don’t mean very much. You are less free with a complex tax code that has lower rates than with a simple tax code that has higher rates.

                  1. “What is most important is that the tomfoolery represents an unjust constraint upon the liberty of individuals, and a distortion of the market that produces perverse incentives.”

                    Surely you don’t mean to suggest that we would all be better off if Obama raised all tax rates to be equal.

                    The solution to only being able to hop around on one foot is not to shoot ourselves in the other foot, also.

                    If the government is getting so big that it’s eating a huge chunk of our economy–it’s eating our seed corn–then limiting how much it’s eating should be our first priority.

                    If people will only accept lower tax rates on some things rather than others, then we should take the lowest level of taxation that the voters will accept.

                    The tax on capital gains is more destructive to our economy than taxes on other things. The benefits of raising the capital gains tax so that all forms of productive activity are taxed equally does not outweigh the destructive results of discouraging investment by raising the capital gains tax.

                    1. Think of it this way. In the heyday of central planning, in China and the Soviet Union, everything was taxed pretty much the same. There were no corporate profits–the tax rate was effectively 100%. The benefits of having an equal corporate tax rate for everyone did not outweigh the downside of how much productivity and economic growth the government destroyed by taking so much of what would be the private economy and consuming it themselves.

                      So, you must admit that there’s SOME level of taxation that’s so high, that it’s worse than varied tax rates.

                      I’m here to tell you that works the same way pretty much across the board. If we eliminated the capital gains tax completely from where it is right now, the benefits would be dramatic. Every bit of government consumption hurts the private economy, and we should deprive the government of every kernel of seed corn we can.

                      But if the voters will only allow us to keep so much of one thing and another amount of the rest? Then we should save every bit we can from the government’s clutches–regardless of whether doing so favors some over others.

        2. Hazel, you are too clear-thinking and right about this. It is giving me a sad.

  9. Obama’s opener was basically a request to pass the White House budget plan with essentially no compromises.

    Has anyone one the Reason staff ever been involved in a negotiation on anything before? Of course Obama’s opener doesn’t contain compromises; it’s an opening bid, not a final agreement. The point of the opener is to define the boundaries of the disagreement; determining the compromises is what the negotiation is for.

  10. First rule of negotiating: start high to end high.

    I agree with Ken Shultz: there aren’t any fundamental differences between them. They both want to increase tax revenues, they both want to reduce spending by little to nothing amounts in meaningless areas, and they both are fully committed to a Washington-centered statist paradigm.

  11. Disagree that in negs you need to “start high” – it depends on the RELATIONSHIP. I negotiate for a living. But most of my negotiations occur with parties with whom my organization has a good relationship and some level of mutual respect. And we come in right up front with something very close to the end deal. The last national negotiation I had took a WEEK – exactly because of some behind the scenes work upfront (relationship) and playing out what each party REALLY needed. Win/win.

    Team Red/Blue? Cty of Detroit and its unions? Nope – no respect, no relationship (except bad) – therefore, these kind of games, the brinksmanship, etc. Which says to a professional negotiator, “ur doin it wrong lol!” When you see this style negotiation, it indicates failure up front.

    Shocking when we’re talking about the feds and the D, I know.

    1. I’m with Almanian. Starting high just to start high can end the negotiation right off, piss off the other side, etc.

      I would say the one thing you need to have in hand before any negotiation is an alternative to the deal on the table. If you don’t have something lined up if you walk away, you aren’t negotiating, you’re begging.

      1. What Almanian says is appropriate for parties who understand that an agreement is win/win for both and there is no public political spectacle involved.

        1. As I noted – “it depends”. If I were a politician…well, I’d kill myself. The End.

      2. You are correct, sir. BATNA – Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement. If you can’t walk away, you’re not really negotiating.

    2. Of course the “start high” is relative to your opponent in the negotiation and your relationship with them, also depends on how ready and willing they are for a deal. The point is, when you open you have to test the limits of what is reasonable (and acceptable, to you), otherwise you risk leaving a lot on the table.

      Btw, win/win is not a goal in politics – it is, by definition, an adversarial arrangement by which each is trying to extract the most from the other.

  12. “Show of force?” Really, let’s get down to brass tacks: The GOP controls the House. It can stop anything and everything for the next two years in its zeal to right our fiscal Poseidon Adventure. Sure, Obama can spin that all day as Republican obstructionism, but I think another recession and more non-recovery recoveries are more than even our idiotic electorate can stand.

    This really may be our last chance to start fixing things before real disaster hits. Maybe the GOP needs to start realizing that, because the Democrats never will.

    1. There isn’t anything about the last election that makes me think the American people are in any danger of blaming public policy for whatever economic misfortunes they suffer over the next four years.

      1. I blame Bush.

        1. We sure shouldn’t blame public policy.

          Blame the wealthy!

          Blame the corporations–the people who work for, manage, and own corporations think they’re people!

          Blame Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachman, and people who believe in legitimate rape!

          Blame the stupid hillbillies, who hate Barack Obama becasue he’s black.

          I’ve heard them blame Mormons, Mexican immigrants, Muslims…

          I’ve heard them blame business owners who pay for public education and roads and bridges with their taxes. Why do they get the blame? Because they don’t pay for public education or roads or bridges, of course!

          There’s lots of things you can blame that aren’t public policy. Public policy is BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOorrrrrrrinnng!

          1. There’s lots of things you can blame that aren’t public policy.

            I blame Bush.

            1. Or you can blame libertarians!

              The way we control the government.

              Libertarians just won’t give Obama the money he needs to solve ALL of our problems.

              Damn libertarians. If it weren’t for the Koch brothers and their control of the government, I’d be thrilled to see Barack Obama squander my hard earned tax money on stimulus, nationalizing GM on behalf of the UAW, and having the government all but take over the healthcare system.

              See? It isn’t public policy–it’s the Koch Brothers!

    2. How will the electorate respond to the next recession/non-recovery (which we will get within the year, I believe, cliff or no)?

      Last month, a majority seemed to believe that the last recession/non-recovery and our fiscal problems were due to deregulation, tax cuts, rich people, and not enough stimulus, darn it.

      The idiotic electorate is not likely to do a 180 during the next downturn, especially not with the Dems egging them on. So, if anything, if we get another bad downturn/weak recovery, I expect the electorate will demand more taxes on rich people and more (stimulus) spending. The never-let-a-good-crisis crowd will be all over it.

    3. Given that the “fiscal cliff” is already the law of the land, the GOP could pass a bill tomorrow extending the tax cuts and then walk away challenging the D’s to veto it. And let the spending cuts happen.

      Obama has promised to veto it if it doesn’t include rate increases for the top two brackets. So – simple solution. Don’t include that part. They could pass the tax cuts for the middle class, walk away, and let the rest of th fiscal cliff happen. And the Democrats couldn’t do anything about it. They already voted for it 1.5 years ago!

      The fact that they are even bothering to negotiate tells you that apparently the top two rates are more important than the spending cuts to them. They could have all of the spending cuts if they wanted them.

    4. It’s possible that the Democrats see a recession coming no matter what, and are just making sure that the Republicans get the blame.

  13. I think you’re right that the opening bids are something of insights into party desires.

    But what does that tell us about what Democrats really want?
    http://policyinterns.com/2012/…..ise-taxes/

  14. Well those guys look like they are having fun!

    http://www.IPMask.tk

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