I want us to go off the fiscal cliff! I want it because it will in the American mind divide middle class from elite class tax cuts and profoundly change our ideological trajectory!
This cliff-hanger fight is as much of a cross-roads as the election was. Win and we open up whole new vistas of possibility. Pre-emptively surrender (they can't really beat us--our leaders have to surrender) and we muddle back into dysfunction.
I actually want the GOP to obstruct a bit longer. Here are my reasons:
First, the cliff isn't a cliff. I don't think I need to explain that here. Many have done so.
Second, I want GOP intransigence to save the Dems from themselves. Like many here, I fear the instincts toward pre-emptive conciliation of the President and other Dem leaders. I'm glad the original Simpson-Bowles deal fell apart when the GOP refused to accept a gift unwisely offered.
Third, I want this "Grand Bargain" to collapse for obvious political reasons. I want the GOP to sear their obstructionism indelibly into the WHOLE nation's consciousness. Believe it or not, that has not previously happened. Neither the MSM nor the Dem leadership have ever forced the GOP to pay a political price for their irrational obstructionism.
So what makes me think this will be any different? Well, here's my key, 4th point:
Fourth, I want Americans to conceptually divide the concept of "tax cuts" into class divisions!
We all know that the GOP has for decades blurred the thinking of the average American by rhetorically CONFLATING massive tax cuts for the wealthy with ephemeral, illusory, token middle class tax cuts. Again, I need not explain that here.
But what's beautiful about this situation is what is happening and will happen if we go off the cliff, er, make that curb.
Jan 2 (date?) the Bush tax cuts expire IF NO DEAL IS REACHED! I personally think this will happen. I don't see the GOP figuring this out in a month shortened by holidays.
That means Dems don't need to do ANYTHING to raise taxes on the wealthy. Not a thing.
Of course, middle class taxes will rise, too. But Obama has already laid out the plan: propose a tax cut for the middle class DISCONNECTED FROM UPPER LEVEL TAX CUTS!
My God, this is a progressive wet dream. Imagine the GOP having to vote on a middle class tax cut by itself. And THEN having to try to convince the nation to ADD a SEPARATE CUT for the fat cats. That's a political impossibility, folks.
And here's the ideological pay off. This will play out in a way that Americans cannot miss. They will SEE Republicans OPPOSING middle class tax cuts and INSISTING ON elite tax cuts. The American people will finally discover that there is a massive difference between the financial interests of the 3% and the 97%! They will SEE THIS UNFOLD BEFORE THEM ... not in a political back room.
That battle would change the political dynamic in America for decades to come. The GOP (and Dem enablers!) would be exposed AND Americans would learn to make a crucial and long missing conceptual distinction.
AND ... we would win. Imagine PBO and other leaders going to the people over this. Imagine red state voters demanding THEIR tax cuts from their GOP masters whether or not the elite get paid!
Consider the sole thing that must happen: Boehner simply needs to allow a bill to come to the floor for a vote! That's all he has to do for us to win. I guarantee that he would do that within a month or so and that 1/3 or more of the GOP caucus would vote for this. And imagine the political hazard faced by the Thugs who refused to abandon their "principles"! Oh, baby, it could not get any better than that!
A pitched political battle on this played out over 2-3 months would be the best thing that could possibly happen to change America's political trajectory.
So ... what could go wrong?
Well, our Dem leaders can snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by conceding prematurely. They may do so. (Call and send letters, folks!)
And of course the SMART thing for the GOP to do is to mediate this out and quickly make a deal that minimizes the damage. As long as they have to make real concessions, that will actually be a significant win.
But it would pale in comparison with the beauty of the next Congress convening without a deal and a DEM proposal for middle class tax cuts de-coupled from a sharply raised elite rate. Oh,Mama, I want to see that!