So far, I’ve abstained from posts about the Fiscal Cliff or Fiscal Crag or Hoar Frosty Diving Board Into the Socio-Economic Pits of Hell. One, there is chatter enough without me throwing in my rapidly worthless 2 cents. Two, it is the most predictable story in the history of politics. But, let me throw in at least a cent and a half with the caveat that this post isn’t all about the cliff, but the behavior surrounding the tax hike on the wealthy.
It’s safe to say the Republican party is suffering bit of internal strife. Their election bid failed for many completely foreseeable reasons, not the least of which was acting like imbeciles led by a candidate who never met a position he wouldn’t gladly abandon. The Republican intelligentsia, like Bobby Jindal (And let’s face it, how intelligent can your intelligentsia be if Jindal represents it?), keeps trying to tell the Tea Partiers, Grover Grovelers, and Evangelical Loons to cool it. “Psst. They finally caught onto us. Shut up and look smart for a change you guys.” But, they just don’t get it.
The GOP still can’t figure out they lost the election. Or maybe they’ve just practiced ignoring facts for so long they can’t break the habit. They’re under the mistaken impression they can continue to act as they have and no one will be the wiser. Oddly, this is partly Obama’s fault. Until now, he’s negotiated every issue by coming into the room offering concessions before the ink was dry on his proposal. With each concession came a new Republican demand he almost always accepted until he became the proud owner of a 1969 Belchfire 5000 with no wheels or engine. Republicans call this negotiating in bad faith, which is true if by “bad faith” you mean not negotiating at all, just capitulating.
Obama Gets a Backbone
Suddenly, Obama gets a backbone and now sets the terms. He’s willing to negotiate, but he’s set some hard rules for what he finds acceptable, secure in the knowledge the vast majority of Americans will back him up on it. Republicans can complain all they want that Obama hasn’t presented a proposal (which he has) and that their proposal is balanced (while still containing the very things Obama said he won’t concede to).
In the process of not seeing what is wrong with this picture, they have said some unbelievably nutty things. Last week Boehner suggested that Obama actually following through on his campaign promise to raise taxes on the wealthy was madness, madness I say! Which, in a way, I suppose it is. A politician delivering on what he promised would seem mad to a politician who never has. Then, there are the simple lunkheads who dig a deep hole deeper.
Rep. Diane Black (R-TN) is the richest woman in Congress, a full-fledged member of the soon-to-be more highly taxed group. Thomas Roberts of MSNBC asked the genteel woman from Tennessee, “Over 65 percent of Americans agree that taxes need to be higher on those making over $250,000 a year. And I know you like to say these are small business owners, these are people that are going to give jobs to the American people. But when we look at this as a whole and the mandate that was given as a collective voice with the president’s re-election and he ran on the fact that he was going to raise taxes, and now this polling supports that Americans want to see taxes raised,” Roberts continued. “How can you stand there within the halls of Congress and say that’s not something you are willing to do?”
To which Black answered, “Well, I think that’s a really good question (but apparently one not good enough to answer). But here’s my question: If I say I want my neighbor to pay more than what I pay — I don’t care what level you’re at, you will always have that happen — but I think that what a lot of the American people are not aware of is how it’s going to directly impact them, and that is their jobs. Because these are the job creators.”
Diane, Diane, Diane. You just called 65% of the American people ignorant of what the taxes mean. Hell, even Mitt only insulted 47% of America. This is not the way to increase your voter appeal. Plus, you are arguing against many super-wealthy Republicans by single-mindedly refusing to accept tax increases on them — even though the rich can already see the handwriting on the wall. When Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein — surely one of the most arrogant, least sympathetic rich people on the planet — calls for heavier taxes on himself, you know you’re seriously on the wrong side of the issue.
There are Too Many Jobs
But, you’re not the worst. Billionaire investor and author Ken Fisher thinks we have too many jobs. In his words, “…if we continue to innovate as we have been it will mean more output with fewer jobs in the future. In the long run we will all benefit.” I suppose that is true if all means we folks who fund lower taxes on his $1.4 billion fortune. It would seem, at least in Fisher’s case, that he doesn’t intend to create many jobs with his windfall.
Republicans who will drive over the cliff to save some tax money against the will of 65% of Americans are not displaying much political genius. They will eventually lose this battle one way or another. They will have to concede because the few rational supporters they have left will punch out or because there isn’t a chance in hell of them getting their demands met when they are in no position to demand anything other than calling french fries, Freedom Fries in the Congressional dining room.
They will lose because it’s folly to continue as the party of angry white guys when there are a rapidly dwindling number of angry white guys left. They will lose because they can’t cater to religious zealots who want to quash anything not contained in the Bible at the expense of millions who like their rights just the way they are thankyouverymuch. They will lose because their candidates show the intellectual capacity of turnips and their spokespeople throw hissy fits when their own bought-and-paid for TV network declares the election over when it is over…and then fires him because he was such a pain in the ass about it. They will lose because they can’t continue to say, “no” while nodding their head, “yes” as every conspiracy crackpot in the nation mouths off about commie plots, Kenyan pretenders, and FEMA death camps. They will lose because they will ice their cake by letting The Donald’s hair speak for them or don’t take the hook to Clint Eastwood rambling at an empty chair.
It would be hard to repeatedly expend thousands of rounds of NRA-approved ammo at their own feet unless they were trying…trying really, really hard. So in the vast scheme of things, capitulating to avoid the cliff dive or just doing a Thelma and Louise doesn’t amount to much. The only principle they have ever adhered to is the principle of free political market capitalism. They sold their entire party and a good part of the nation to a band of lunatics to plug self-inflicted holes in their Big Tent. Now that their political capital is well and truly squandered, they are looking for a bailout – a bailout from the people they sold their party to. The ones that got them into this pickle because they are too obstinate, arrogant, regressive, and, well ignorant not to see what they are doing to themselves.
So here’s my cent and a half’s worth: The physical cliff is the least of their worries.
- Jindal to GOP: You look terrible (washingtonpost.com)
- The GOP’s bad fiscal cliff hand, by the numbers (salon.com)
- Pushing Obama Over the Fiscal Cliff (frontpagemag.com)
- Poll: 2-to-1 favor taxing wealthy (politico.com)
- Bobby Jindal Unclear on What Fiscal Cliff Is (nymag.com)
- Fiscal cliff: Obama and Boehner tussle as GOP argues over deal – live – The Guardian (blog) (guardian.co.uk)
- Obama sees signs GOP might relent on tax hikes for wealthy (nbcpolitics.nbcnews.com)
- Jindal to GOP: ‘Stop being the stupid party’ (tv.msnbc.com)
- Bobby Jindal Makes a Splash with Terrible Ideas (prospect.org)
- The Fiscal Ignoramus Factor (krugman.blogs.nytimes.com)