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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) speaks during a joint news conference with Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY)(L) and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) (R) on the Republican Filibuster of Reid's debt plan on Capitol Hill in Washington July 29, 2011
Biding their time.
If there was any doubt Democrats are willing to let Jan. 1 come and go without a deal with Republicans over the mix of tax hikes and spending cuts triggered at the end of the year, this week should have put it to rest. For one thing, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said so in an interview on CNBC, saying that President Obama is "absolutely" ready to let it happen if Republicans don't agree to letting the tax cuts for the wealthy expire.

But there's also a determined lack of urgency among congressional Democrats over trying to force negotiations.

Their aim is to string out the negotiations to give Republicans space to wrap their heads around the idea of raising tax rates on the rich. So far, each passing day seems to add another GOP voice to the chorus coming around on tax hikes. [...]

“Our basic strategy is to let them sweat it out,” said a top Senate Democratic leadership aide. “We don’t necessarily have to do anything.” [...]

“It’s to their advantage to slow-walk it. And they’re playing rope-a-dope,” said a House Republican leadership aide. “The quicker we can force the administration into a negotiation, the better off we’re going to be.”

Obama and his Democratic allies on Capitol Hill are united and refuse to back off their insistence that top tax rates rise for the rich. And congressional Democrats on Wednesday indicated that they have no plans to talk entitlements until Republicans pass the Senate bill.

The House, for its part, had a two-day work week, adjourning yesterday for a very long pre-holiday weekend, suggesting that maybe they're not so hell-bent on forcing the administration's hand quickly. Not if it means, you know, being at work.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 09:56 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Please call their bluff, President Obama, and you (27+ / 0-)

    too Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi.
    Don't let them get away with what they did the last time.

  •  We can get a pretty sweet deal by doing nothing (18+ / 0-)

    and coming back with the Senate bill to cut taxes on the first $200000 / $250000 of income.

    Economics is a social *science*. Can we base future economic decisions on math?

    by blue aardvark on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 10:08:03 AM PST

    •  It would be the very first time that (12+ / 0-)

      Republicans would really need the White House more than the White House needs them - opens up a whole host of other leverage and changes the dynamic between them pretty dramatically.

      Reversing that military spending cut in the debt ceiling deal alone would be extremely good leverage for the Democrats to right some of the other wrongs in that deal - or at least a few years of unemployment extension ;)

    •  No, let S.3412 die on Dec 31, too (9+ / 0-)

      The Senate bill has many provisions that are temporary for 2013 only.  The political landscape will be very different on Jan 1: perhaps Americans will come to understand that the deficit has been cut too much too quickly, and all scoring baselines will be reset for apples-to-apples comparisons.

      January's discussion should be about how best to cut taxes and increase short-term spending, reflecting the clear priorities of the progressive American majority (i.e. SS and Medicare benefits should be increased not cut).

      So let the do-nothing Congress do-nothing.  They should enjoy an extended holiday, starting now, not Wage War on Christmas.

    •  Hehe (6+ / 0-)

      Democrats will give 98% of the people a tax cut right after the Republicans hike everybody's taxes.

      And it looks inevitable to me too.  I don't see how the lame duck Republicans manage to get their act together to prevent it.

      Republicans: Taking the country back ... to the 19th century

      by yet another liberal on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 10:39:28 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Actually everyone gets a tax cut (7+ / 0-)

        right after the republicans raise everyone's taxes.

        It's really a no-lose for us and a no-win for them and the longer it goes on the longer and more they lose.

        But as has been pointed out the tax cut passed by the Senate is on the first $200k/$250k of everyone's income... even the top 2%. They just don't get any additional tax cuts on income above those numbers that the rest of us don't get.

        "Do what you can with what you have where you are." - Teddy Roosevelt

        by Andrew C White on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 11:35:30 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  This talking point is flawed. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          blue aardvark, ancblu

          While it's true that everyone gets a reduction on their first $250k of income, it is simply not correct that everyone gets a tax cut.

          At some point, the new taxes at the higher marginal rate exceed the savings on the first $250k. I can't do the math off the top of my head, but, as President Clinton would say, it doesn't add up.

          GOP: The Party of Acid rain, Abortion of the American Dream, and Amnesty for Wall Street.

          by Attorney at Arms on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 04:35:24 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I don't think that's the point... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Andrew C White

            All taxes are going up compared to now.  Taxes on all income will be higher.  The highest marginal rates will be higher anyway, whether lower rates are extended on the first $200K or not.  It's just a question of whether they save a few bucks on that first $200K.  

            •  OK. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              DSPS owl

              Well, I've heard people say that the Obama Tax Cut Plan is a tax cut for everyone because everyone gets the sub $250k cuts.

              And that's true for a group of people just over the threshold whose sub 250k cut exceeds their over 250k increase.

              Personally, I think we need to stop apologizing for tax increases, especially on the rich. We need to spend more time explaining that we don't want to raise taxes just for the sake of raising taxes. This is not so that we have "extra" money to just spend for no reason. This is to fund a bunch of stuff that is hugely popular.

              Though I personally believe that Reagan- or Carter-era tax rates also improve equality and stabilize democracy, that still is not raising taxes for no reason. But even before we get that theoretical, the logic of the prior paragraph is simple: we just pay for what everyone needs  and is broadly popular and that should be the Democratic message.

              I personally think these brackets are absurd and everyone should pay a curved tax rate based on their income that increases from 0% at about $15k to about 50% at $300k.

              GOP: The Party of Acid rain, Abortion of the American Dream, and Amnesty for Wall Street.

              by Attorney at Arms on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 07:24:18 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  My verbiage is flawed (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            the talking point... stated correctly... is not. Thank yo for pointing out that I stated it poorly. I'll clear that up in the future.

            "Do what you can with what you have where you are." - Teddy Roosevelt

            by Andrew C White on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 05:24:42 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Even some House Republicans see this (0+ / 0-)

          time, before Dec. 31st, as the zenith of their leveraging power

          It's really a no-lose for us and a no-win for them and the longer it goes on the longer and more they lose.
          They are not ready to sign on to Pelosi's discharge petition yet, but if Boehner can't corral the nutjobs in his caucus, they just may sign.

          "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

          by SueDe on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 05:32:24 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  But what happens to the sequestration cuts? (4+ / 0-)

      We all seem to be looking the other way with major cuts to government spending which will severely impact domestic services.

      The OMB estimate is 8% across the board in discretionary spending within Departments.  Since most of the spending in many departments is salary related, a lot of people are going to lose their jobs next spring.  Any way you shake this out, it is not going to be painless.

      Mitt Romney rides off into the sunset in his Audi.

      by captainlaser on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 04:18:27 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Lots of Time to Fix That (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        blue aardvark

        They come later and I suspect Obama's got an ace or two up his sleeve on that end.

        This post is dedicated to myself, without whom, I'd be somebody else. Though I'd still be an asshole. My Music: []

        by Beetwasher on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 04:30:29 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  We trade saving people's jobs in government (0+ / 0-)

        for saving people's jobs in defense.

        Economics is a social *science*. Can we base future economic decisions on math?

        by blue aardvark on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 04:42:30 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Probably too late for that. They just passed the (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          democrattotheend, a2nite

          Defense Authorization bill.

          Most other agencies are under continuing resolution.  Most I have contact with are "holding all spending until they understand what happens with sequestration".  People on science grants are being held off until after the first of the year.

          I know that NOAA, for example, has planned a 15-25% cut in spending since January 2012.  They are just waiting for the axe to fall.

          Mitt Romney rides off into the sunset in his Audi.

          by captainlaser on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 04:50:22 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  We just accept them... (0+ / 0-)

        We're not going to get a better deal from the Republicans now.  We're better off just accepting the poor taste of the sequester and moving on.  Anything the GOP would offer us would be even worse.  

      •  It's not just the sequestration cuts (0+ / 0-)

        that will have to be dealt with if the country goes over the cliff - there will be a number of individual bills that will have to be introduced (and stand the chance of being held hostage) to right many of the other wrongs.  Congress will have to deal with the AMT, the "doc fix," end of extended unemployment benefits, end of FICA tax cut and the beginning of taxes specified in the ACA on "cadillac" insurance plans to name just a few - and these individual bills may not all pass.

        Feel-good as it may be to push Republicans father into the corner and listen to them squeal about the unfairness of it all, the result of taking the country over the cliff wouldn't be worth it.

        "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

        by SueDe on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 05:56:01 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  No, they won't "lose their jobs" (0+ / 0-)

        Federal employees MAY be furloughed, but the agencies don't usually fire anyone when these budget contretemps come up. That's what was done when we were shut down for several weeks back in 1995.

        We did receive our pay after everything was over, it wasn't OUR fault Congress couldn't get its shit together. But there was/is a possibility that we would get paid too.

        Of course, there is the possibility that Interior will have to close the National Parks...

    •  A very simple process.... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blue aardvark, JamieG from Md, IM

      1- Concentrate on accomplishing ONE thing....get a bill passed retaining tax cuts for those under $250,000

      2- Let the year-end deadline pass which restores higher taxes for those above that figure.

      3- Go have lunch and tell the GOP you will return as soon as they put together a public list of just where they plan to cut spending.  

      4- Wait for public reaction to the GOP proposals.  Tell the GOP if that is what they want, they have to draw up legislation in the House where they have the majority.

      5- When the bill is drafted, point out that this is what the voters would clearly have been facing IF the GOP had managed to win the election and ask them to let their representatives know what they think of it.

      6- Go out to dinner and then wait for dessert which consists of GOP flambe as the party tears itself asunder in a bloody battle for control between Jim DeMint and Rush Limbaugh, and John Boehner.  Remember too that Eric Cantor is just DYING to take over leadership in the House.

      Machiavelli couldn't have come up with a more fascinating scenario.

      Free markets would be a great idea, if markets were actually free.

      by dweb8231 on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 05:15:38 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The right and the punditry are saying (12+ / 0-)

    that President Obama and Democrats are screwing the pooch on their approach to the fiscal cliff.

    But President Obama's approval ratings are the highest they've been in years, 53% in Gallup and 54% in Rasmussen, both pollsters with a decidedly Republican lean.  52% in Gallup approve of Obama's handling of the fiscal cliff.

    Democrats, while not exactly popular, have a significantly higher approval than Republicans in their handling of the fiscal cliff - in Gallup 39% approve of Democratic leadership's handling of fiscal cliff, just 27% approve of Republican leadership's handling.

    Which proves my axiom, that whatever the right and the Beltway crowd say is the right and popular thing politically, the President and Democrats should do the opposite.  

    “Th’ noise ye hear is not th’ first gun iv a revolution. It’s on’y th’ people iv the United States batin’ a carpet.” - Mr. Dooley

    by puakev on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 10:50:32 AM PST

    •  Exactly why so many these days (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Beetwasher, puakev, ancblu

      pay no attention whatsoever to the right and the pundits...

      Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free
      ¡Boycott Arizona!

      by litho on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 04:15:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Problem is, the politicians do pay attention (0+ / 0-)

        and as a result the right and the punditry class end up having far more influence on the course of the debate than warranted.  It looks like President Obama finally understands this, as do most Democrats.  But there are still many "centrist" and "serious" Democrats, and moderately conservative Republicans, who take their cues from the pundits and are too easily startled by right-wing rhetoric and gestures.  

        “Th’ noise ye hear is not th’ first gun iv a revolution. It’s on’y th’ people iv the United States batin’ a carpet.” - Mr. Dooley

        by puakev on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 04:33:48 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Speaking of politicians' being startled (0+ / 0-)

          (i.e., having their political careers threatened), when is Jim DeMint scheduled to exit the senate?

          "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

          by SueDe on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 05:37:13 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  And yet... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Code Monkey, Beetwasher

    Their apparent strategy for the GOP is to try to pass blame for raising those taxes on the Dems.  Clueless.  Obama is basically saying 'Please don't throw me into the briar patch!"

    'Goodwill' between the GOP and the President is as abundant as unicorn farts - Me'

    by RichM on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 11:03:16 AM PST

  •  why do we want the same jerks that have (5+ / 0-)

    been obstructing for the last few years making any final
    decisions for us?  Let everything expire and let
    the newly elected official do the work.  

    "It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment." *Ansel Adams* ."Even if you are on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there."*Will Rogers*

    by Statusquomustgo on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 11:07:44 AM PST

  •  It's on the House Republicans (7+ / 0-)

    the ball is completely in their court. They act or they don't. There is no requirement for our side to do anything at this point except wait, point at them, point out their weakness, talk about our demands from a position of strength, and continue to win the war of public opinion as long as the Republicans let this run.

    It's all on them.

    "Do what you can with what you have where you are." - Teddy Roosevelt

    by Andrew C White on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 11:31:38 AM PST

  •  We'll see (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    There is nothing to lose by maintaining a skeptical position re Washington Dems and plenty to gain.

    •  Even their "strong position" isn't one (0+ / 0-)

      It  just seems like that in comparison to what they were willing to sacrifice last year.

      •  I'll suspend judgement on that for the moment. (0+ / 0-)

        It depends on what "entitlement reforms" the Dem's propose after the first of the year.

        "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

        by SueDe on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 05:40:06 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  They don't mean presciription drug negotiation n/t (0+ / 0-)
          •  Elizabeth Warren (0+ / 0-)

            and other progressive senators will be there this time. There will push Democrats left with us MAKING them do it.

            The left is organizing this time and that is why Democrats are doing well this time.

            •  Most of the same actors as before when (0+ / 0-)

              they had a large majority are there. Right now, if the Progressives wanted t hey could shut this down by saying none of them would vote for it. The GOP won't vote for it, so what's left? Other than going over the cliff.

              Instead, the Progressives are making seemingly strong answers until you realize they are including wiggle room words.

              I am not really interested in unicorns and fantasies.

              The left doesn't need to do anything. The polling data tells DC where the public is. They just don't care.

            •  And let me add that the "left" (0+ / 0-)

              if the public is already against this and DC is still pushing for this anyhow- will have no effect whatsoever. There's nothing to wait and see about. The fact they are having this conversation in the first place, when everyone knows this can be decided next year when there are more Democrats in the House and Senate should be an eye opener to anyone who is not trying to be fooled.

                •  Progressive either at this site or in the diary (0+ / 0-)

                  you link to from this site have not earned the benefit of the doubt.

                  Its not the White House that concerns me. Its the Progressives in Congress who can stop this merely by saying no.

                  If they say no, there is no Grand Bargain, Fiscal Cliff or anything else.

                  This place is nothing but an echo chamber. these things have been discussed for months on Digby's site amongst others.

                  No one, and I mean no one, except the kool aid drinker believes that anything we are seeing is real. There's a poll up on this site right now saying 70 percent of the public is against any cuts. Its not he first poll to show this.

                  Yet here we are discussing this anyway. If no one wants this on the Democratic side, why is it even an option on the table.

                  •  ummm pelosi has said (0+ / 0-)

                    no benefits cuts to social security , medicare, and medicaid.

                    Pelosi is holding a hard line.

                    The white house and harry reid have taken SS off the table.

                    Furthermore, even adam green is encouraged by what he is seeing from Dick Durbin.


                    •  See this is why you are drinking (0+ / 0-)

                      the Kool AId

                      Go back and read that article as a skeptic.

                      1. Why is there a need to put in pressure at all?

                      2. The article is all about how people feel

                      3. Its not about certainty about what the Democrats will do.

                      That's how a skeptic reads that article because there are no on the record facts like 'The White House has taken Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid off the table because Progressives have siad no to any deal with those programs involved."

                      That statement is one of certainy. the article you link to is wiggle room.

    •  I agree (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rikon Snow, SueDe

      There's not all that big a difference between what's happening now and the end of 2010. The Democrats lost their nerve then, bully-ragged into cutting a needless deal with an invigorated GOP.

      Once again, doing nothing is the best course, easiest to pursue, and one that merely strengthens the Democrats' position. This manufactured "crisis" doesn't need to be rushed to a resolution. It will be far better served by cool deliberations, and we can get to that as soon as the Republicans leave off with the histrionics.

    •  Agree. Although it feels great not to be (0+ / 0-)

      Playing defense (against ourselves as much as Them) for once.

      "Let's see what fresh fuckwittery these dolts can contrive to torment themselves with this time." -- Iain Banks, The Hydrogen Sonata

      by Rikon Snow on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 04:23:41 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Side benefit to the short workweek: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    fewer GOP reps in town for Nancy to twist arms for the Discharge Petition.

    Radarlady, enjoying this way, way too much for productive work...

  •  Pre-holiday weekend? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    What holiday would that be?  Pearl Harbor day?  Am I completely disoriented?

    Early to rise and early to bed Makes a man healthy, wealthy, and dead. --Not Benjamin Franklin

    by Boundegar on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 04:05:06 PM PST

  •  HAHAHAHAHAHA... (0+ / 0-)

    that's all I can do...  HAHAHAHAHA...

    The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing online commenters that they have anything to say.-- B.F.

    by lcj98 on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 04:06:24 PM PST

  •  There is nothing to be gained by making a deal (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Beetwasher, greenbell, kovie, Bailey2001

    Either politically or in policy outcome before Jan. 1.

    Democrats would lose in midterm elections on any thing the GOP is willing to sign off on. Higher taxes on rich are not enough. There also must be no cuts to entitlements.

    •  Exactly (0+ / 0-)

      The latter is what the GOP has been gunning for all along. They were always going to yield on tax rates for the rich, which in real-world terms don't mean much to the rich. Finally "breaking" on tax rates was always intended to be a way to force Dems to yield on entitlement cuts, lest they look too partisan.

      "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

      by kovie on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 05:06:32 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Rpoe a dope (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    litho, Beetwasher

    Then it's fly like a butterfly and sting like a bee.

    Obama has learned from the early rounds and now is in command of the ring.

    If cats could blog, they wouldn't

    by crystal eyes on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 04:07:41 PM PST

  •  with this crowd (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    litho, Beetwasher

    rope-a-dope is child's play.

    the best lack all conviction while the worst are full of passionate intensity

    by mailman27 on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 04:10:19 PM PST

  •  I am so glad to see (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Womantrust, Beetwasher

    our side finally standing up and refusing to back down.  Let the GOP sweat.  I have seen some of them begin to try to find a way out of the 'emergency' they invented.  Let them pay for it!

    I am not religious, and did NOT say I enjoyed sects.

    by trumpeter on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 04:10:52 PM PST

  •  You can also hear it in the desperation (5+ / 0-)

    in the voices of Republican spokesmen.  Boehner, Cantor getting up, plagiarizing the president's criticism of their own plan, and then pleading with the president to sit down and negotiate.

    No way, guys.  Ditch Norquist, and then we can talk.  Until then, we'll just watch you spin in the wind.

    Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free
    ¡Boycott Arizona!

    by litho on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 04:13:22 PM PST

  •  Don't underestimate the vindictiveness of a party (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    that lost the election to hand pain to the American public.

    Even with the Tax Cut for the middle class to pass (the Senate bill), we still end up with sequestration.   The impact on people who work for the Federal government will be significant and perhaps 8-12% of the federal workforce will be let go.

    That is a lot of people out of work.   This is the second phase of the recession.   We did this in 1936 and we will do it again.

    Mitt Romney rides off into the sunset in his Audi.

    by captainlaser on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 04:15:52 PM PST

  •  Ridiculous... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I don't know how Republicans ever got the idea that holding 1/2 of Congress gave them control to dictate what happens.  

    I say just go over the cliff.  Taxes should go back up on everyone anyway, and the economy is strong enough to handle it.  The current default outcome is better than anything we can negotiate with the Republicans.  

    At most we should strong arm them into keeping the middle class tax cuts, and just leave everything else alone.  

    •  It's a math thing. (0+ / 0-)

      House = 1/3
      Senate = 1/3
      Administration = 1/3

      "I'm totally pro-choice in the matter of abortion. But of course I'm also so radically pro-life that I think every person from birth onward must have full and affordable access to healthcare." - Gail Collins

      by gritsngumbo on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 04:21:39 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Luvin' Every Minute of It (0+ / 0-)


    This post is dedicated to myself, without whom, I'd be somebody else. Though I'd still be an asshole. My Music: []

    by Beetwasher on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 04:18:23 PM PST

  •  Did we actually learn... (0+ / 0-)

    ...that a compromise offer is a bad opening offer? That when you have the upper-hand in terms of public perception, time is on your side?  And that negotiating against yourself gets you a piss-poor deal in the end? That after four years, we've mastered Negotiation 101?

    I almost don't want to get my hopes up.  I want to believe...

  •  Oh, come on. (0+ / 0-)

    They're probably all at work, maybe just not in session. That's a sort of Foxesque cheap shot to take at them. Isn't enough that they're wrong about everything?

    Anyway, I'm happy if they aren't working, the House GOP, since everything they do is shit.

    They so believed that, um, I forget his name, was going to beat Obama that they set up these expiring deals. Hahahha. The Republicans continued to destroy themselves with facts.

    GOP: The Party of Acid rain, Abortion of the American Dream, and Amnesty for Wall Street.

    by Attorney at Arms on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 04:31:55 PM PST

  •  Would love to be in the house of reps they never.. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    do any work. They only work a third of the year, bennies, pension. You would think that all the good stuff they get from the job they would want to work harder!!??

    America, We blow stuff up!!

    by IndyinDelaware on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 04:40:34 PM PST

  •  I actually wonder whether (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    going over the so-called cliff would really be all that bad. Taxes would go back to Clinton levels, hardly a disaster for the economy at the time. Spending would get across-the-board cuts but specific appropriations would be made to reverse them. The real problem would be medicare and social security but think how focused and angry seniors would be as they blamed Republicans for the cuts that would really start to bite just as the mid-terms came into play. So, rather than freak out like the MSM, I am not at all alarmed by this. Who knows? We might see Defense shrink!

    For if there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life. - Albert Camus

    by Anne Elk on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 05:02:33 PM PST

  •  But if Repubs prove willing to raises taxes (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    democrattotheend, jfdunphy

    on the rich in exchange for big cuts to entitlement programs, will Dems have the spine to walk away from that too? So far the GOP leadership has refused to budge on raising tax rates. Only rank and file members have said they're willing to do this. What will Dems do when the GOP leadership finally "breaks", but only in exchange for cuts to entitlements? Doesn't everyone see that this was the setup from the start? They were ALWAYS going to "break" on tax rates for the rich. Pretending to be adamant about this was always an act, a set up for looking bipartisan in the end in being willing to raise tax rates, in the hopes of putting the onus on Dems for not similarly being willing to compromise on entitlement cuts.

    I don't know why we're so focused on tax rates for the rich. The big kahuna has always been entitlement programs. This ain't over by a long shot.

    "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

    by kovie on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 05:04:00 PM PST

    •  That is my concern (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kovie, jfdunphy, sreeizzle2012

      I think the Dems may get their way regarding taxes, but only in exchange for entitlement cuts. Depending on what those cuts are I am not sure that's worth it.

      •  They're being set up, as usual (0+ / 0-)

        I have to wonder, though, if they're as naive about it as they seem, or if this is just another Kabuki drama in which each side plays its respective part with the outcome predetermined. Repubs get their entitlement cuts and praise for being "reasonable", Dems get their tax rate increase (and, I believe, entitlement cuts that more than a few of them also want) and praise for for being "reasonable", and the only one who's worse off is the people. The classic DC two-step.

        I think that some Dems are really this stupid and/or weak, and some just playing along to get what they want with minimal political downside, since they can avoid blame for entitlement cuts by claiming they had no choice and at least the got those tax rates increased. Of course, this is just a different brand of stupid and weak, because it'll kill them in 2014. But what do these Dems are, there's always K Street if they get thrown out of office.

        God I hope I'm wrong.

        "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

        by kovie on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 05:28:10 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  We need some entitlement reforms (0+ / 0-)

          I know that's not a popular opinion here, but those who say no changes are needed justify that by saying that the system is solvent for another 20 years. That's great, but what good does that do those of us under 30 who don't plan to retire within 20 years?

          I don't think raising the Medicare age is a good idea, because it would cause far more pain to those affected than is worth it for the small amount it would save. I'm actually working on a paper right now about potentially unforeseen economic consequences of raising the age, such as the burden on employers of having to pay for two more years of insurance coverage for older, sicker workers.

          But something does need to be done, and it kind of bothers me that some people don't seem to care about the system's long term viability as long as they get their benefits.

          Obviously, the best way to do it would be to allow Medicare to negotiate with drug companies, but I don't see that being politically viable anytime soon. So absent that, I think the best options might be some of those laid out by the Center for American Progress, which put together a blueprint for how to save $375 billion without cutting benefits or raising the eligibility age. And of the proposals I have heard on the table recently, one solution that seems more tolerable than others is to increase the premium supplement paid by higher-income beneficiaries. I understand the arguments against means-testing, and I think means-testing the program completely is a bad idea. But they already charge higher-income beneficiaries (making over $85,000 in either earned or unearned income) more, and I don't see why those premiums could not be raised. They only really affect seniors who keep working (and thus often have access to employer-provided insurance anyway) or seniors who earn at least $85,000 in investment income, who probably are not destitute.

          For my paper, I am also exploring the possibility of allowing people to buy-in at age 55 as a way to keep the system solvent, but the problem I see there is that the full cost premium for Medicare is probably more expensive than, say, a bronze plan on the exchange. If that is true, then a buy-in would probably have adverse selection: those who chose to buy in might be sicker than average for their age group.

          •  These aren't cuts to benefits (0+ / 0-)

            What's being discussed is actual cuts to benefits, not savings that don't affect benefits. Repubs absolutely want benefits cut, while too many Dems appear "reluctantly" willing to have them cut. Until Dems draw a line in the sand over benefits and make it the line they simply will not cross, Repubs will continue to have an advantage here. I agree that to the extent that entitlement programs are on the table, it should be on the cost, not the benefit side. But Dems have done a bad job of framing it as that, leaving the door open to benefits cuts. They're being outplayed even as they act as if they're outplaying Repubs. It's so obvious. Which makes me wonder if maybe some Dems WANT benefits cuts.

            If Dems care about preserving benefits then they need to take them off the table and make it clear that only savings are on the table, all else is non-negotiable.

            "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

            by kovie on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 06:46:54 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  the left has been pressuring (0+ / 0-)

      obama and the democrats. they have back off earned benefit programs so far.

    •  Your Concern Is Noted (0+ / 0-)

      And taken in context of every one of the other completely wrong predictions of Obama making benefit cuts. Yes, we've heard these concernes over, and over, and over, and over and yet somehow they never materialize. Yes, maybe THIS time you will be proven correct. Maybe. Maybe not.

      Feel free to fret and clutch your pearls at your leisure.

      This post is dedicated to myself, without whom, I'd be somebody else. Though I'd still be an asshole. My Music: []

      by Beetwasher on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 06:38:02 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  What did he mean by "serious entitlement reform?" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite, ancblu

    Did anyone see this? It doesn't seem to have gotten much attention so far.

    Obama, speaking to the Business Roundtable group of chief executives, said Republican leaders in Congress had to accept the reality that tax rates must rise on the wealthiest Americans to achieve a fiscal deal.

    "We've some movement in the last several days among some Republicans, I think there's a recognition that maybe they can accept some rate increases as long as it's combined with serious entitlement reform and additional spending cuts," he said.

    I wonder what he means by "serious entitlement reform." I can't imagine a deal on raising the Medicare age or cutting Social Security would actually come within a week, but it makes me a little nervous. I know Democrats in the House oppose this but I am not sure that enough Democrats in the Senate wouldn't vote for it. I am not even opposed to all entitlement reform, but I think raising the Medicare age is a really bad idea. When I read Corn's book, it seemed like the president was willing to accept it back in 2011 because the Republicans wanted to do far worse. But I hope that now that he has more leverage he will resist this.

  •  Not gonna happen (0+ / 0-)

    Of course Boehner is strutting and posturing like its an interview at Wrestlemania, but what he's actually done is purge Reps. Tim Huelskamp of Kansas and Club-for-Growth fave Justin Amash of Michigan from Paul Ryan's House Budget Committee;  and he (Boehner) has had Reps. Walter Jones of North Carolina and David Schweikert of Arizona removed from the House Financial Services Committee--a Tea Party purge, really, and a warning to other troublemakers that he (Boehner) will be fucked and double fucked if he is going to lose his majority to a bunch of extremist whack jobs.  So my call is there'll be a deal.

    •  And therein lies (0+ / 0-)

      the enjoyable circular firing squad now besetting Republican ranks.  

      The counter-reaction to the "purge" is viscerally angry, however.  

      What will come of it ... where can the disaffected baggers go?  

      Dick Armey left "FreedomWorks" now that his Republican rebranding effort is no longer effective. DeMint is bailing from the Senate for the oxymoronic "Conservative Think Tank."

      The radical fringe seems to have lost, but any Rand Paul driven "libertarian" third party effort will clearly benefit the Democrats.  

      Interesting times -- and thankfully the historically unraveling is occurring with the bad guys.

      The one permanent emotion of the inferior man is fear - fear of the unknown, the complex, the inexplicable. What he wants above everything else is safety. H.L. Mencken

      by ancblu on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 10:18:35 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Why is it a "fiscal cliff," (0+ / 0-)

    if the tax revenues go into funding Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, while it's national defense if Bush the lesser launched a war against Iraq when, in the memorable words of  radio commentator Lionel, Iraq "didn't even have a can of RAID?" Republicans seem to have lost all sense of perspective, even if their own relatives need the social safety net.

  •  Just Manage The Optics (0+ / 0-)

    Public should see that the Democrats have the more popular proposals on the table and they are not going to give in to the unpopular programs of the Republicans. There will just be the villagers and the very serious people blaming the Democrats for not giving in. Fuck'em.

  •  They Get It! (0+ / 0-)

    "Obama and his Democratic allies on Capitol Hill are united and refuse to back off their insistence that top tax rates rise for the rich."

    By Jove, they get it!

    I am beginning to wonder if the Democrats finally realize that not only did they win the election, but most of the country agree with them on the "cliff."  How wonderful it is to see Democrats being Democrats again.

    The world isn't going to come to an end if the "cliff" happens.  Retroactive legislation can always be passed in the next Congress.  And if they do that, they -- not the Republicans -- can legitimately be seen as the saviors of the little guy and the country as a whole.

    So let the Republicans slobber.  The monkey is on their backs now, and hopefully he will scratch them up but good.

  •  Call Them And Just Say No (0+ / 0-)

    That's why I called up Sen. Murray's office last week and let it be known that I don't want to see a deal until the next Congress sits down. They can fix any nagging issues then.

    If there were any issue I'd want to get settled before the holidays it is unemployment compensation. It would be an enormous comfort for people to know their UI wasn't going to be cut off at the end of the year. And, as far as the economy is concerned, every last small business owner should be calling up Congress and demanding unemployment be extended because that money doesn't just go to the unemployed, the unemployed spend it at the local market.

    But other than that, I'm happy to wait until July.

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