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Let's recap: after the Republican Party took the country hostage by threatening the full faith and credit of the United States last year, the sitting President of the United States with an allied Senate majority caved to an extremist House majority and delivered "98 percent of what [his opponents] wanted." They made a deal that would supposedly force Congress to address the supposed deficit crisis after the election by the end of the lame duck session, presumably after the Presidential election when little pressure from the voters remained. In theory, the Presidential election would also provide an impetus for negotiating strength for one side or the other, depending on the choice of the American people after a lengthy argument about national priorities.

As it turns out, the sitting Democratic President won re-election in a landslide, while his Democratic allies improbably gained seats in the Senate and narrowed the gap in the House, only failing to take a majority because of extreme gerrymandering. The polling showed strong support for Democratic solutions to the manufactured fiscal crisis, including a majority of Republicans in favor of increasing taxes on those making over $250,000 a year, as well as nationally firm resistance to any cuts to Social Security or Medicare.

But still the gerrymandered bare Republican House majority refused to budge. The President agreed to an array of concessions, including pushing the income level for the increased marginal rate to $400,000 instead of $250,000, and delivering a massive cut to Social Security in the guise of "Chained CPI", ensuring that Social Security benefits won't rise even as real cost of living does. This despite an American public that strongly supported progressive solutions to budget issues and had just elected Democrats who promised not to touch Social Security.

In response to the President's unbelievable deference, Republican Speaker John Boehner offered a "Plan B" so preposterous it should frankly have been interpreted as a refusal to negotiate. It called for reductions to food stamps, Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act and Social Security in order to prevent any cuts to military spending, while bumping up the marginal rate income level to a whopping $1 million a year. Basically, Speaker Boehner's plan was to starve and kill the poor, the sick and the elderly in order to preserve tax cuts for some of America's wealthiest citizens and bloated military spending the Pentagon doesn't even want. Senate Democrats were rightly offended by this bit of Christmastime callousness too cruel for Ebenezer Scrooge and immediately announced the proposed bill a non-starter.

As if this weren't stupid enough, Speaker Boehner then pushed his proposal to the House floor anyway. And it failed because it's wasn't conservative enough for House Republicans. An eventuality the Speaker knew would occur, as he read out the Serenity prayer and announced that the he didn't have the votes prior to taking the vote.

Unless one believes that House Republicans want a sequester, the only possible explanation for a refusal to accept Boehner's ultra-conservative "Plan B" is sheer belligerent nihilism on the part of the Republican caucus. It's the political equivalent of a suicide bomber so deeply wedded to ideological fervor that self-destruction and the annihilation of countless innocent victims is preferable to any form of good-faith dialogue or negotiation.

The White House claims it will still work with Congress to negotiate a deal. It's hard to see how, though. If Speaker Boehner tries to bring forward a neoliberal bill that most Democrats and just enough Republicans can pass, it will be the end of his political career--and Republicans may just attempt to remove him before he gets a chance. Nothing that can gain Republican majority support in the House has a chance of getting through the Senate even if the President were willing to accept the unthinkable just to make a deal.

Republicans are already taking the blame from the American public for their refusal to act in a sane manner.

The President and his Democratic need to simply take us over the cliff and offer the Republicans a pure middle-class tax cut, as well as a reversal of the most unacceptable sequestration cuts. Then keep offering the same deal all the way until November 2014 if need be to increase the pressure and the pain.

There's no point in negotiating with nihilists.

Cross-posted from Digby's Hullabaloo

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Comment Preferences

  •  Limbaugh: Barack Obama is trying to destroy the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    republican party........sheesh.....How fucked up is that?

  •  "What idiot designd the fiscal cliff?" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Involuntary Exile

    An excerpt from Bill Black's Let's Celebrate the Failure of the July 2011 Great Betrayal, a brief history of the fiscal cliff.

    It is revealing that no one in the media even attempts anymore to defend the bipartisan fiscal cliff (austerity) deal. The media normally have a romantic crush on anything bipartisan, no matter how much it harms the nation. The fiscal cliff austerity deal is so obviously stupid that even the media almost universally criticize it. This should prompt three obvious questions.

        1. What idiot designed the fiscal cliff (austerity) deal?
        2. Why did both parties support it?
        3. Why did the media not denounce the deal before it was adopted?

    The answers are:

        1. President Obama took the lead in crafting the “fiscal cliff.” He did so with terrible counsel provided by Treasury Secretary Geithner and William Daley, Obama’s chief of staff (Wall Street’s leading representative within the administration and, like Geithner, a strong opponent of stimulus and a strong proponent of austerity).
        2. Both parties “knew” that austerity was essential.
        3. The media “knew” that austerity was essential.

    The frog jumped/ into the old pond/ plop! (Basho)

    by Wolf10 on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 10:21:01 AM PST

  •  The Tea Party base are the real nihilists. (0+ / 0-)

    As somebody pointed out, Plan B failed because too many Rep. Reps. felt that they couldn't afford politically to risk being on record as voting for ANY tax raise, even if was a raise for just a tiny, extraordinarily wealthy segment of the population. Partly they didn't want to risk their funding from the plutocratic nihilists and partly they didn't want to risk being Lugared in the future by the nihilist base.

    Why "nihilist"?  The 19th century Russian nihilists believed that reform was self-defeating and that the only way to produce a just social structure was to destroy the existing unjust one and that violence in pursuit of that end was "creative." (Hmmmm, does "creative destruction" sound familiar?)

    It may only be the lunatic, NRA fringe that flirts with violence as a way to do away with the welfare state, but the rhetoric of what is now the mainstream of Republicanism certainly contains its share of violent metaphors -- e.g., Grover N., IMO, just got deliciously hoist on his own "drown-the-government-in-the-bathtub" petar.   Or, to go back to origins, once you make your slogan the idea that, "Government is not the solution, it's the problem," you've started down a slippery slope that leads directly to yesterday's Boehner's Last Stand and the serial attempts of the radicals to hold the economy hostage as a method of destroying the welfare state in a piecemeal fashion.  

    The Russian nihilist movement was destroyed after the assassination of the Czar (Alexander?), but it sevred as the psychological, if not the ideological, predecessor of the Bolsheviks.  If it weren't for the massive backing of the contemporary Republican nihilist movement by massive amounts of concentrated wealth and the supine pussilanimousness of the mass of the media who aren't outright fellow-travelers,  I'd say an American analogy with the Russian nihilists' being midwives to the Bolsheviks was absurd.  As it is, however?  

  •  They're not negotiating. (0+ / 0-)

    You may think that. I couldn't possibly comment.-- Francis Urqhart

    by Johnny Q on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 12:11:56 PM PST

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