Friday, December 21, 2012

The Fiscal Cliff of Insanity

3 minutes of metaphor, courtesy of The Princess Bride:

Yep, what's happening in Washington is inconceivable:
President Barack Obama says he'll press ahead with Congress to prevent across-the-board tax increases set to strike taxpayers Jan. 1 after House GOP leaders unexpectedly put off a vote on legislation calling for higher rates on million-dollar earners was abruptly scrapped Thursday evening.
Read that sentence and see if you can make sense of it. It doesn't track, but it's chock full of useful adverbs. It's all happening "unexpectedly" and "abruptly." Maybe this video will help:

Not surprisingly, John Boehner is coming in for a lot of criticism for how he's handling the negotiations. That's understandable, since it's a pretty good trick to be essentially negotiating with yourself and losing at it. This is the dynamic at play:

Boehner: Okay, we'll give in on taxes for people making a million dollars in income
Harry Reid: Don't bother, we'll kill it in the Senate and you'll get blamed for it
Boehner: What about taxing people making $750,000 a year?
Harry Reid: Don't bother, we'll kill it in the Senate and you'll get blamed for it
Boehner: Okay, we'll give you what you want, but we want a tax exemption for people who own wombats
Harry Reid: What do you have against wombats, you orange-skinned freak?

Boehner has no shot, because no one takes him seriously. Doubt that? Back to the breathless AP dispatch:
Thursday's drama was a major personal defeat for the Speaker, who retains the respect and affection of his tea party-infused conference, but sometimes has great difficulty in getting them to follow his leadership.
If Boehner had any respect or affection, the vote would have come down differently. Meanwhile, we get this from the president:

At the White House, Press Secretary Jay Carney said that Obama's "main priority is to ensure that taxes don't go up on 98 percent of Americans and 97 percent of small businesses," citing statistics associated with Obama's campaign promise to increase top tax rates on household earning more than $250,000 a year.

"The President will work with Congress to get this done and we are hopeful that we will be able to find a bipartisan solution quickly that protects the middle class and our economy," Carney said. Pointedly, the statement didn't say whether Obama would work with Boehner to revive stalled talks with Boehner or turn to the Democratic-controlled Senate to try to salvage the situation.
Pointedly -- yet another adverb that doesn't work especially well, since the whole thing really doesn't have much of a point.

Now, Boehner isn't taking my calls, but I'll offer him a little bit of advice anyway. Walk away. You can't win this scenario. Let Obama and Harry Reid figure it out. And get a wombat.


First Ringer said...

Boehner has the "respect and affection of his tea party-infused conference"? To continue the Princess Bride theme, quoting Inigo Montoya, you keep using that word "tea", I do not think it means what you think it means.

It is precisely the "tea-infused" part of the party that doesn't care for Boehner, or his leadership.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand this Tea Party thing, if that's what it is. Seems to me that Boehner was just about to hang Reid and Obama out to dry with this "last gasp" effort. Obviously every negotiation has failed because Reid and Obama don't want to avoid the fiscal cliff, they just want to blame Republicans for it. And here Boehner was handing them almost everything they said they wanted initially, and have since said they won't even consider. That very loud and public refusal to accept "victory" would have placed the blame squarely on their shoulders, where it has always belonged. Yes, the GOP would be "sacrificing principle for politics," but not really. If you can't solve the problem at least make the opposition own it, right?

J. Ewing

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