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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!

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What do you think of the budget issue before us?

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    radarlady, LilithGardener

    "I'm a dweller on the threshold ..."

    by thresholder on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 12:13:43 PM PST

  •  Couple of problems with your plan (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    andrewdski, VClib
    But Obama has already laid out the plan: propose a tax cut for the middle class DISCONNECTED FROM UPPER LEVEL TAX CUTS!
    That has already been proposed and passed the (Democratically-controlled) Senate.  
    Imagine the GOP having to vote on a middle class tax cut by itself.
    This won't happen in the House.  Will. Not. Happen.  The House doesn't take a vote on anything the Speaker doesn't want them to vote on.  And he won't bring this to the floor for all the reasons you point out.  
    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
    Since a tax cut for all income under $250,000 has already passed the Senate and Speaker Boehner has not let that come to a vote, how can you "guarantee" that the Speaker would let it come to a vote "within a month"?   The only way that the Speaker will let something like this get to the floor of the House is if he's already worked out a deal with the President.  
    •  This is why time is important. (0+ / 0-)

      And why the Bush tax cuts must expire.

      Imagine it. EVERYONE's tax cuts expire and everyone warns of the impact of the budget cuts on the economy.

      Middle class America faces a $2,500 tax increase.

      And one party is offering to erase that tax rise ...

      While the other insists on holding it hostage to restored elite tax breaks.

      Imagine that political dynamic.

      And tell me that the GOP stone wall will hold.

      It simply can't.

      And that's why I want the leap off the cliff. Any deal BEFORE January will confuse everything and reduce the size of the win both politically and in terms of policy.

      I FEAR a premature deal being struck.

      I do not fear the results after Jan 2.

      By the way--this is not a "plan." That's why it's so beautiful. It's a situation that arises out of the worst purposes of both parties ... and will bit at least one of those parties on the ass.

      Hang in there, Tea Baggers!

      "I'm a dweller on the threshold ..."

      by thresholder on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 12:37:24 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Actually, that's not all that will happen. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        VClib

        The AMT will kick in for household income (that often means two earners) down to $75,000, which means that a family of four whose income is $75,000 will owe an additional $4000 when taxes are due this spring.

        In addition, everyone's take  home pay will go down on January 1 due to the payroll tax cut disappearing and additional withholding for taxes due next year.  

        The CBO estimates that this, plus the layoffs that will occur from the spending cuts (remember the defense contractors are ready send lay off notices because defense cuts will end some of their contracts, but the Obama Administration told them to wait because the fiscal cliff might not happen) will likely result in a recession and 9% unemployment.  That slide will start in December as soon as it becomes apparent a deal will not happen.  And, of course, those things will not end on the day (whenever that is) that both sides announce a deal at some point in 2013.  

        Do you think the country will think that is worth dealing with those consequences for an additional $80 billion a year in revenue (which is insignificant in terms of a $3.5 trillion annual budget)?

        •  These are real issues. (0+ / 0-)

          They add to the pressure that the GOP would feel.

          But it's my understanding that most of these effects would take considerable time to develop as drags on the economy.

          The reduction in take home pay would certainly hurt if it lasted very long. I don't see why tax cuts after Jan 2 wouldn't also quickly take effect.

          Anyway, this talk is moot. I strongly doubt that the GOP will fold BEFORE Jan 2.

          If that is so, then we face 2 choices:

          1. Our Dem leaders fold when they don't have to. I think that will lead to far worse problems than a 1 or 2 month dip in the recovery.

          2. We will go off the cliff. Whether or not we want to.

          That isn't MY PLAN! That's the harebrained scheme cooked up by the Grand Bargainers.

          I'm just recognizing the opportunity it poses.

          "I'm a dweller on the threshold ..."

          by thresholder on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 01:04:28 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Much of the economy works on expectations (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            coffeetalk, VClib

            If businesses are concerned that government policies will cause a recession, businesses will tend to delay hiring, and have layoffs sooner.  The result is that a recession becomes more likely just because of expectations.

            The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

            by nextstep on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 01:11:12 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  OK, but this cuts both ways. (0+ / 0-)

              Businesses will make decisions in either case.

              If they expect the GOP status quo, this will lead to more of what we have seen.

              Also, I think that everyone would be willing to wait a bit to see what the new Congress did in its first month or two.

              If the standoff goes for 6 months, then, yes, that would be a disaster.

              But I don't see that happening ... IF THE DEMS DON'T LOSE THEIR NERVE!

              And, again, it's all moot.

              If the GOP wises up, we'll have a compromise deal, potentially one that does more damage than the curb would do.

              If it refuses to play along, then that's where we'll be whether we like it or not.

              And I still believe that the dynamics in the situation will drive both parties AWAY from their worst instincts. The situation they created will take away all their comfortable options. It's the folly they jointly created. And for once, we win.

              IF WE DON'T FOLD!

              "I'm a dweller on the threshold ..."

              by thresholder on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 01:27:14 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  They actually have substantially less than a month (0+ / 0-)

    I could be wrong or I misheard this, but I think they only have 8 legislative days until we fall off the proverbial cliff.

    •  Interesting. (0+ / 0-)

      Unfortunately, I'm not a detail guy on this.

      The key to the dynamic is that BOTH middle class and elite tax cuts expire.

      No action is required to cut the latter.

      And positive action would be demanded to restore the former.

      That's a delicious dynamic, stronger than the weak-ass subservience of both parties.

      "I'm a dweller on the threshold ..."

      by thresholder on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 12:40:26 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Let the Grover Norquist pledge expire - (0+ / 0-)

    Those lame GOP frat members need a face saving way out of something many of them surely regret.

    Introduce new legislation now AND have more bills ready to introduce on January 2.

    Reid rolls out a rule change that breaks the filibuster on January 2.

    Patty Murray to GOP House (cliff note version):

    "No more delays boys, time to fish or cut bait."

    Sunday AM pundit version:

       "[T]o solve this problem, the wealthiest Americans have to pay their fair share too," she said. "If the Republicans will not agree with that, we will reach a point at the end of this year where all the tax cuts expire and we'll start over next year, and whatever we do will be a tax cut for whatever package we put together. That may be the way to get past this."

    Policy version:


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