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And there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth when the current stopgap to avoid the Fiscal Curb was announced.  For the life of me, I didn't realize that a difference of 200K could cause such a brouhaha.  Seriously, that's all I'm seeing here.

Remember when Schumer floated raising the rates only on millionaires only during 2011 or 2010?  And we went along with it?

I guess it's in terms of package size.  Who knows.

So what do we get in the deal?

Marginal tax rates increasing for 400K; 450K
Capital gains rates increasing to 20% for the same (I think the same)
Estate tax going up to 40% for over 5 million
One year extension of Unemployment
Five year extensions of certain tax credits
A one year extension of the Farm Bill

That's all I can name of the top of my head.

But the thing I'M most concerned about was the 60-day hold on the sequester.  THAT was what McConnell really wanted.  Because it brings on the big hostage crisis.

Remember this?

Well, so far it's played out EXACTLY like the President said it would:  Only the tax part has been taken care of, and Republicans are thinking they have all the leverage going into the debt ceiling negotiations.  And now with the sequester added to the mix, the game starts all over again.

So let's break down how it will probably play out this time:

I'm becoming convinced that the President's speech yesterday was less about yesterday and more about what's coming.  If you recall, he was "adamant" about future deficit talks including an "equal" ratio of cuts to revenue. Here's the relevant section:

And I want to make clear that any agreement we have to deal with these automatic spending cuts that are being threatened for next month, those also have to be balanced, because, remember, my principle always has been let’s do things in a balanced, responsible way. And that means the revenues have to be part of the equation in turning off the sequester and eliminating these automatic spending cuts, as well as spending cuts.

Now, the same is true for any future deficit agreement. Obviously we’re going to have to do more to reduce our debt and our deficit. I’m willing to do more, but it’s going to have to be balanced. We’re going to have do it in a balanced responsible way.

For example, I’m willing to reduce our government’s Medicare bills by finding new ways to reduce the cost of health care in this country. That’s something that we all should agree on. We want to make sure that Medicare is there for future generations. But the current trajectory of health care costs has gone up so high, we’ve got to find ways to make sure that it’s sustainable.

But that kind of reform has to go hand and hand with doing some more work to reform our tax code, so that wealthy individuals, the biggest corporations, can’t take advantage of loopholes and deductions that aren’t available to most of the folks standing up here; aren’t available to most Americans.


 Now, if Republicans think that I will finish the job of deficit reduction through spending cuts alone -- and you hear that sometimes coming from them, that sort of after today we’re just going to try to shove only spending cuts down, you know, well -- shove spending -- shove spending cuts at us that will hurt seniors, or hurt students, or hurt middle- class families without asking also equivalent sacrifice from millionaires or companies with a lot of lobbyists, et cetera. If they think that’s going to be the formula for how we solve this thing, then they’ve another think coming. That’s not how it’s going to work. We’ve got to do this in a balanced and responsible way. And if we’re serious about deficit reduction and debt reduction, then it’s going to have to be a matter of shared sacrifice.

What's KEY in the upcoming negotiations is that the REPUBLICANS propose the cuts first.  It is THEY who must be specific with what they want to cut.  THEY have to propose the benefit cuts.  Why not?  Lindsey Graham already did on national TV.  


Let's play those clips of Republicans talking about Medicare and Social Security in terms of holding the debt ceiling hostage.  Let's play them ad infinitum.  We have the power of social media.  WE can change the narrative from the ground.  

Because if the country sees Republicans holding the country hostage for Medicare and Social Security cuts, do you REALLY think they will win elections?  

As far as the President goes, if you hear stuff about Social Security and Medicare coming from him, you will also hear IN THE SAME BREATH some specific REVENUE INCREASING items.

The kabuki will be in HOW MUCH of the increased revenue through tax reform we will get and HOW MUCH of the things we are concerned about will be cut.  

Because they will.  SOMETHING we like will be cut.  And cut severely.  Problem is, there's nothing left really to cut except Defense and Medicare.  Everything else is just chump change in the grand scheme of things.  Unless you eliminate whole agencies and programs.  And we need new spending too--more disaster relief (If anyone thinks 2012 was a fluke they're in for a rude awakening as the drought deepens, for one), infrastructure (can anyone say highway bill?), and what not.

So the President will use the State of the Union to talk about a "Grand Bargain" that combines spending cuts with more revenue from tax reforms on the wealthy.  Republicans will say "cuts only" and propose NOTHING.  Republicans will also talk generally about "entitlements" but not propose anything specific.

In the end, we will get probably about a 65-35 ratio of cuts to revenue.  And welcome a version of Chained CPI.

And I'm HOPING with a new filibuster-reformed Senate, that the McConnell bill regarding the debt ceiling passes.  I think Pelosi can find a couple dozen Republicans to vote for it, especially if it has a small sweetener or two added.

So NOW is the time to flood the switchboards of Congress and the White House to pressure them to do this right.  Do the debt ceiling and the sequester RIGHT.  Do NOT repeat NOT put earned benefits or social welfare programs on the chopping block.

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