Robert Reich writes There's Only One Way To Beat The Republican Fanatics, which suggests a more decisive and dramatic analysis than Reich delivers. Although, I agree with the basic gist of his argument - that it would be better to go over the cliff, than kick the can down the road extending select current policies until next year, as Reich believes the GOP would go along with - this short post seems more like a "holiday quickee" than an a comprehensive review and analysis of the many alternative proposals and strategies being advocated over the last few days. Despite this, it is still thought provoking and worth a quick read.
Reich reminds us that when playing chicken with a "crazy person" (Reich's word choice not mine, sorry), the more rational player will lose if convinced the other will commit themselves to instant death rather than given into a rational choice.
Obama could decide going over the cliff isn’t so bad after all – as long as he and congressional Democrats introduce legislation early in the 2013 that gives a tax cut to the middle class retroactively to January 1st (extending the Bush tax cut to the first $250,000 of income) and restores most spending — and Republicans feel compelled to go along.
But, wait, Oh no! Reich asks what if we go over the cliff hoping to pressure the GOP into voting for a middle class tax cut, and delaying sequestration, but the Republicans don't go along due to Boehner's hands being tied by the deranged-fanatic fringe of his Party? Or worse, Reich asks what if the "House Republicans continue to hold out against any tax increases on the rich while demanding major cuts in Medicare and Social Security?" Reich doesn't point out that we may not need the approval of the whole right wing, nor even, perhaps Boehner's blessing, with another variation being that of trying to break off 25 House GOP cross overs to vote for the tax cut, which will be the daily focus of media outrage, For future reference, let's call this strategy, "Dive and Fight" for a middle class cut.
Alternatively, our president could adopt a proposal now being explored by pockets of Republicans - an option we might call "Kick the Can" (down the road to a time when some in the GOP believe their negotiating posture might be stronger. i.e. debt ceiling, or in a hoped for Democratic variation,next year):
Reich thinks its okay that deficit hawks "won't like it," but notes that this gambit doesn't "change the game," and Boehner's hand's will still be tied by fanatics, and this option might leave Republicans in a stronger bargaining position. But, he fails to inform us this is why the "delay until the debt-ceiling" variation of this strategy seems to be one of the RedState favorites. The other variation preferred by some Democrats, and seemingly the one Reich is thinking about here is the "delay for a year, or subsequent agreement" variation.
The path of least resistance is for Obama and the Democrats to offer to keep everything as is, through 2013 – extend all the Bush tax cuts and continue all current spending (lifting the debt limit along the way) – unless or until a “grand bargain” on the budget is agreed to before the end of the next year. ... This is likely to satisfy enough Republican fanatics to gain a majority in the House. And it would avoid the fiscal cliff, kicking the can down the road and giving everyone more time.
Based on this "brief analysis" Reich decides he prefers going off the cliff and "forcing the Republican hand," aka Dive and Fight and predicts this approach can evolve into an optimistic lead up to the 2014 elections when we can Throw the Bums Out, which I essentially agree with.
That’s why I’d recommend going over the cliff and forcing the Republicans’ hand. It’s a risky strategy but it would at least expose the Republican tactic and put public pressure squarely on rank-and-file Republicans, where it belongs.
The fanatics in the GOP have to be held accountable or they’ll continue to hold the nation hostage to their extremism. Even if it takes until the 2014 midterms to loosen their hold, the cost is worth it.
I'm more often a fan of Robert Reich, than many other's here, but in this case Reich seems to be vastly oversimplifying the situation, even though I agree with the basic gist of his sentiment. Rather than feel sort of dumb that I've already spent four times as much time than Reich put into this "holiday quickee," just to call your attention to a 90 second read, let me mention a few other options for dealing with the fiscal cliff that Reich doesn't mention.
For example, perhaps the possibility we should be most concerned about, would be a hasty, last-minute, Limited Grand Bargain, where, in the next week or two, President Obama makes whatever concessions necessary to get an extension of unemployment benefits, the so-called "doctors fix," and a few other "essentials" with compromises on the real estate tax, AMT, moving the threshold to $400,000, agreeing to chained CPI, or goodness knows what.
Antoher interesting quick read is the The Come Together Starbucks strategy reviewed and panned by Kali Joy Gray in Starbucks to solve that whole fiscal cliff thing with a slogan.
And, the Split the Difference stratetgy from Senator Kent Conrad that Joan McCarter dismissed this morning, in Kent Conrad ready to give away the farm on the fiscal cliff.
Also with reading from this morning are Jed Lewison report of House GOP not returning to D.C..
While President Obama has a more difficult trade-off of balancing adversarial shaming of Republicans approach, with cultivating goodwill for possible budget agreement, keeping immigration reform, and other negotiations in mind, the rest of us may have a more straight forward agenda.
Doesn't it seem as if we should be jumping up and down blaming Republicans for a host of unfortunate consequences of their failure to act, and compromise with the goal of bringing 25 House GOP crossovers to vote for a simplified Harry Reid Senate Bill for a tax cut, for those earning less than $250,000, and including the Medicare "doctors fix," and perhaps adjustments to the AMT, and estate taxes, as well as extensions of unemployment insurance?