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The Fiscal Cliff is boring. Been there, done that. But there is a fairly hidden side that is important and isn't talked about.

The imaginary cliff (which Paul Krugman says should be called, more accurately, "the austerity bomb", a term that at least is more exciting, as well as more accurate, though I like "The Republican Job Killing Cliff" ) is a simple move by Republicans to get tax cuts for the wealthy and chip away at Medicare and Social Security. (They can't eliminate the two programs completely because the public wouldn't stand for it, as Bush found out, so they use 'deficits' as a chisel and hammer.)

But it's a Republican win-win. They get to try to attack the economy, while at the same time draw all the attention and effort away from job creation. They did it last time – the public discussion was all about job creation and then in a matter of a couple weeks it was totally about the deficit, and the imaginary cliff isn't the only bit of legislation that they've used in this manner.  

Obama won. Democrats gained seats in the U.S. Senate. Democrats gained seats in the House of Representatives. (In fact, the Democratic Party got far more votes for House seats than did Republicans. Republicans got more seats because of their anti-democracy reshaping of House districts, called gerrymandering; they actually got a minority of votes when you add all votes for a national total, something that should be publicized to the high heavens but isn't.)

Two-thirds of the Tea Party puppets elected in 2010 got sent packing. The NRA's candidates mis-fired spectacularly. And we all know the dismal ROI for the billionaires Karl Rove suckered for his big commissions.

Democrats won, and yet there is a lethargy about in the land. Why? Because we're back to the same old Washington bullshit. rather than doing something about jobs. Jobs is all anyone cares about, or at least it's the main thing people care about.

Why didn't the Democrats have a jobs program to announce on November 7th? Or 10th? Or today? Why have they slipped back into following the Republican agenda of distraction? The Republican position would be very harmful, of course, but say so and then talk a lot about job creation.

The Administration ran an excellent campaign, though let's race it: Romney was a horrible candidate with horrible credentials. But he was the best of their lot, and got lots of money to run. Now that same campaign intelligence needs to be put to work clubbing the horrible Senate Minority Leader and Speaker of the House. The Republicans tested a few excuses for less than a week and finally hit on the re-use of the 47% theme. Now they say the 51% got gifts and voted for more gifts. Goofy, sure, but their people will buy it – even the ones that are part of the 47%. Irony is not a concept that exists in Republican brains.

We should have had an instant comeback against the incompetent businessmen who promise to lay off workers and charge their customers more because of the vague costs of Obamacare. Did our bright campaign strategists take a vacation after the election?

Where was the preparation for victory? The shovel-ready plan? Why wasn't a Jobs Bill ready, and making today's news? Why are we still calling it a Fiscal Cliff instead of a Government Shutdown?

Hey. We won, ya know.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The composition of congress doesn't change until (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Southerner in Yankeeland

    January.

    Therefore the only business that can be done is something that can be done with the 2010 congress.

    We're talking about fiscal cliff, because the 2010 congress created the sequester problem and isn't keen on big defense cuts, even though their caucus never could vote on any way to avoid it.  

    We're talking about the fiscal cliff because the only stimulus Obama's passed since Jan 2009 was a payroll tax cut that expires on Jan 1, and the last gasp of the original stimulus (extended unemployment benefits) also expire on Jan 1.   While it is unlikely anything will be done about either of these things, they can be put on the table as part of some deal to avoid the sequester.

    We're talking about the fiscal cliff because the Bush tax cuts expire on Jan 1, and a bill already exists to extend the tax cuts for sub 250k income citizens, so Obama is seeing if the House will break off 30ish Rs to vote it in.

    There is no other business that the House cares about.  The Senate might or might not confirm a few appointees, but aside from that, nothing else is going to happen there.  However....a lot of things will happen on Jan1 if nothing is done.  Most of these things are actually a pretty good idea, but Obama's seeing if he can do better, and perhaps avoid wasting another 3-6 months of his next term trying to get those "better" things back into the budget with the next congress.

    This is also a test case to see how likely it is to fracture the Republican house caucus.   If they break here, the odds are good the next congress will also break.  If they stay together, nothing is done, but Obama can try again with the next House.

    What Obama can propose or do next term may depend on how filibuster reform turns out and will depend on whether Republicans continue to vote in lockstep in the House (meaning any proposal they do will be acceptable only to tea-partiers, and not the Senate or the White House).

    If the House remains a do-nothing proposition, Obama will have to focus his efforts on executive orders, key appointments and regulation via various agencies.   If it proves possible to break the R caucus, then Obama can put other things on the table.  (Immigration reform seems the most likely, with tax breaks on middle class if the "cliff" happens as also fairly likely).

    Direct job stimulus?  That takes money, and the Executive doesn't have the ability to raise money for new projects.  There might be some discretionary funds in some agencies that could be spent on direct hiring rather than other things (DoD in particular might have some wiggle room here) but at best you're tinkering with the margins, much like quantitative easing at Treasury...for a real impact you need congress on board.

    No chance in hell congress is going to pass direct stimulus unless this country is willing to vote in a Democratic house in 2014 without surrendering the D majority in Senate.

    •  Much Thanks (0+ / 0-)

      Thanks very much for your informative reply. I'm very media and money oriented and that skewed my view (and probably limited my information channels), so your reply is very useful.

      I'm not sure what to do in a situation like this: delete my diary, or leave it up so your reply stays available. I think I'll do the latter for a while, then the former.

      Thanks again.

      A Southerner in Yankeeland

      •  It'll roll off the screen soon enough (0+ / 0-)

        And my opinion was just my opinion.  But Obama is who he is.  He doesn't fight battles he doesn't think have some chance of success unless there is some other objective in mind (such as the failed push for a Jobs bill in 2011-2012 to differentiate himself from the Republicans in Congress).

        Trying to push an agenda that won't pass normally just makes him look weak.   The time for symbolic efforts is when it'll put pressure on the other side.  A great example of the latter is the extension of Bush tax cuts to people earning less than 250k.  Obama got it passed in Senate, which puts House republicans in the following no-win situation.

        1.  Pass the bill.   Gives Obama a "win" and puts them on record as "raising taxes on the job creators", both of which hurt them with their base.

        2.  Don't pass the bill.  Jan 1, taxes go up for everybody, and Rs are blamed for the sub 250k tax increases.  Then, they get to do it all over again when Dems propose a sub 250k tax cut in January...where they either give Obama a "win" and get same status quo as #1, or are seen as opposing tax cuts on the non-wealthy, which hurts them with everybody.

        Seriously, on tax policy the Rs are screwed unless Obama and Reed both inexplicably weaken their own positions.   On the other "fiscal cliff" items the Rs are a little stronger, but the hypocritical attitude toward defense cuts means if the sequester occurs, their base won't give them enough credit for the non-defense cuts to make up for their own stupid "hollowing out the military" rhetoric.   On the dem side, the sequester has some nasty cuts, but entitlements were protected and the deep defense cuts help ease the pain a bit.

        (Nobody likes the sequester, by design, but as long as Rs won't raise taxes, ever, it's gonna happen.  If the R house passes the sub 250k tax bill, and winding-down-afghanistan comes under defense cuts there may be enough wiggle room to improve on the sequester)

        I dunno how it'll play out.  But I like the dem cards better than the R cards at this point in time.

        I wish congress was doing something more productive.  But if this is what they're gonna focus on, it's a hell of a nicer situation than we were in while the debt ceiling was being held hostage.

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