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Why The GOP Doesn’t Need a Last Minute Deal on the "Fiscal Cliff"

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Whoever invented the term “Fiscal cliff” should be forced to listen to it 500 times a day every day for the rest of his or her life like Chinese Water Torture. It’s Fiscal BS.

The military budget needs slashing and as for entitlements, the new taxes will be very welcome. Meanwhile, the bond vigilantes are going to remain strangely non existent. We’re going to be dragging along the bottom economically with the tax hikes or without them. After all interest rates at zero have done nothing to help over the last five years. Our problems are structural first, and fiscally driven second. There’s only so much macro-economics can do.

But my view on the “Cliff” is not really why I’m penning this.

It’s because if I were the GOP I’d be happy to play along with the Tea Party right in the caucus and say no to a deal. They win either way. The Dems, despite their recent electoral victories, could, yet again, come up with some weaselly short-term compromise. But even if they don’t GOP will remain strong in one key respect. They control the House and it’s all they need to do what they do best – which is say no.  The Dems will call them out as spoilers but the GOP will still control the House after 2014, because it’s gerrymandered out of Democratic reach and far less susceptible to the demographic time bomb hitting the GOP nationally.

I’d go even further than that. In some respects holding the Presidency and Senate are hassles the GOP can do without. They know that what they really want to achieve would cause uproar among the public – so why bother being proactive about it? You don’t have to run the show to starve the beast. You just have to make the place ungovernable.  The GOP have become a meta-party that governs by not governing.

So perhaps the GOP strategy is this.  If taxes do rise, and we truly go over the “Cliff” ( I don’t think we will suffer in any meaningful way but that’s beside the point ), the GOP can say “we tried to stop it, but the Dems pushed as over the edge”.  In other words, the GOP want us to go over, and they want the economy to fall further, so they’re ready to pick up the pieces with their lunacy.

The nightmare scenario for the GOP is that we go over the “Cliff” and not much happens except we balance the books, hit the rich where it hurts, and increase pressure for serious tax reform.

I believe that’s what the President is banking on.

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Written by coolrebel

December 29, 2012 at 6:31 pm

The Grand Old Party Is Now Just The Old Party

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British Prime Minister Harold Wilson’s most famous line has never been more true. “A week is a long time in politics”.  It seems like almost yesterday that the GOP talked of a “permanent majority”. They were so confident, so convincing, and so convinced of their hegemony that the rest of us thought it was only a matter of time.

A few short years later, and the party is rushing headlong to irrelevance. It is no longer Grand, except in its grandiosity in it’s ever more fantastical adherence to concepts utterly devoid of acceptability. It’s a delirious, deluded drunk stumbling from one disaster to another through a schizophrenic miasma of half-truths and outright lies. Its decline has been so fast, the ghosts of its glorious past or all still alive, dignified, silver templed gentlemen of the old school who no longer have a place in the overturned temple of moderation.

Can it rebuild itself? Can it truly learn the lessons of self-inflicted defeat after defeat? The answer is almost certainly no. This is not a party of the rational. It is a party of zealots, believers, built around an uncontrollable kamikaze caucus that is on the verge of throwing its leader – no shrinking violet – to the wolves. Its response to humiliation is to sink deeper into its dream-state.

It would be good to be shot of this monster. But they will linger. For the next two years at least they will hold the House. And for the next God knows how long they are likely to hold at least 41 seats in the Senate, which – barring the end of Cloture – leaves them  doing what they most enjoy, which is destroying the hopes for progress and sanity in this ungovernable megalith of a country. Casting off the shackles of inertia would be made easier if the Democratic Party rejected its own forces of tired regression, the Public Service Unions, the Progressive left, the Politically Correct, and the kneejerk welfarists.

Even now, as one of the our two major parties literally withers in front of our eyes, the hope of renewed vigor in the American Experiment seems sadly elusive. A third way that draws the best from both sides of the American cultural divide is further away than ever.

Written by coolrebel

December 21, 2012 at 10:42 pm

Score One For The President. Your Move GOP Scumbags.

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Obama was forceful enough tonight to make it clear that the GOP has to make a choice. Putting aside the details of the plan – which could have been more focused – If the GOP in Congress block the Obama jobs plan, Obama will do his best to tar them with ownership of the crisis. If they don’t, they’re handing the President a victory, and an election boost next year. What they’ll probably do is to employ a version of their standard “accept with unacceptable conditions”. That could muddy the waters just enough to parry Obama’s otherwise quality political move.

There’s one other problem here. The President is going head to head with a GOP House majority that revels in its lack of national popularity, whereas the President requires national popularity to be reelected. It’s an unfair fight in that respect, because the GOP’s Presidential candidates escape with little if any collateral damage.

Written by coolrebel

September 8, 2011 at 10:59 am

Debt Ceiling Debtageddon. Another Y2K?

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So let me get this straight.

The President and a bunch o’ pundits said that if we defaulted on the debt ceiling we would have been downgraded, and cried catastophe whenever they got the chance, with Geithner,  Goldman Sachs’ favorite bagman, leading the chorus of Cassandras.

Putting aside the fact that the debt ceiling was a technicality and that our bills would have continued to be paid over time, we didn’t miss out on the debt ceiling – and we were still downgraded.

So the President’s Debtageddon scenario came to pass.

And what happened?

The markets plummeted – mainly because of some bad economic numbers and the Euro Debt Crisis – and then bounced right up again. Stocks are pretty much where they were. And most importantly – the yield on a 10 year note hit its lowest point in history, as everyone flooded into ‘downgraded’ treasuries.

Moody’s and Fitch’s Rating Agencies ‘shrugged off’ what their buddies at S+Poorhouse decided to do, which is bad news for S+P, who now look like outliers (with the accent on the ‘liars’).

It’s becoming increasingly clear that there would have been no debtageddon, and the President’s use of the threat totally backfired.

Instead of forcing the GOP to buckle, the Cassandra threats of our demise and the attack by the ‘bond vigilantes’ enabled the Tea Party to leverage real power because they didn’t care if we ‘defaulted’ (a misused term if ever I heard one). That set up a classic blowback which allowed Boehner to be ‘forced by’ or in other words ‘use’ Tea Party intransigence to force Obama to back way, way down.

It’s easy to say, but what the President should have done was to stand up to GOP intransigence, with the help of some real – non Wall Street led – economic advice. We aren’t in a debt crisis. US Treasuries will remain the haven of last resort for decades to come. We need stimulus spending. Medicare saves the US money. Social Security is not at risk. The Pentagon has to be cut.

If he’d just asked for a clean bill in Congress, and then when the GOP failed to pass it, ignored the debt ceiling completely, debtageddon would simply not have happened, and the issue would quite simply have faded away.

The Debt ceiling would have been passed in a sad voice vote sometime just before the recess.

Bless them, but yet again, Obama’s political and economic team made a dog’s dinner of things.

Written by coolrebel

August 14, 2011 at 11:47 pm

The State of the Union: People Don’t Care About The Details

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Captain Sensible gave a cracking performance out there tonight.

Every crafted word was about as rational and considered as it can be, threading the needle, professionally, professorially, as usual. The GOP and Tea Party responses, by contrast, came from the other side of the sanity spectrum, somewhere between total delusion, and crushing ignorance.

And yet, it’s the GOP in all its lies, puffery and vanity that scored big in the Mid-term elections last November. The Klingon forces of darkness zapped President Spock and his army of sane and sensible Democrats but good. Usually the good guy wins, but the rules were thoroughly shattered last time out.

All the wonks, from top to bottom tell us that the Obama Administration had got it right. The stimulus package put a million-plus to work, health care reform will cut the deficit, and the economy is growing at a good clip. So what gives? Why are people were so ungrateful?

The answer is simple.

The details mean nothing to 90% of the American people. Only those wonks and New Yorker readers and regular tweeters take this State of the Union stuff seriously. Most other people – I’d say 90% – make their superficial judgments about government and policy based on their own experiences, and a few shreds of news and information. They grab onto ‘bites’, they form strong opinions based on little understanding of government, taxation, economics, and policy making, In other words, most people ‘feel’ their political positions, they don’t ‘think’ them.

That 90% is hurting bad. Their jobs are on the line or gone, their houses are under-water, or under threat, their kids are at failing schools, and their middle class lives are being squeezed by outsourcing and crushing debts. Their response? Lash out. I mean the 90% is only human.

Barack Obama was elected in the eye of the harshest economic storm to hit America since the Great Depression. It truly was a historical moment. But instead of going on the offensive with the wind and Congress at his back, he called for calm. He took a studied bi-partisan approach to government and tried to steady the nerves of the 90%. He made deals, on the Stimulus package, on Health Care, on Financial Reform. He made sense at a time when people wanted someone or something to blame.

That opened the door to the bad guys. The GOP, and the FreedomWorks and Koch boys saw their chance to outflank Obama by appealing to the public anger in a way President didn’t have the foresight or stomach to do.

It didn’t matter that the GOP and Tea Party positions were (and are) total nonsense. They sound tough, they’re easy to understand, and they fulfill the need that the 90% have for enemies. And so the enemy instead became the deficit (for some bizarre, totally fatuous reason), and everyone believed that was now the problem. No matter that tax revenues have fallen through the floor. No matter that we’re paying for two wars, no matter that without a stimulus we’d have gone into a wholesale depression. The deficit was and is the new enemy. but it’s a bad guy that serves the anti-government right rather well.

If the public had cared even a jot about the facts, they would have rejected the GOP and Tea Party positions on public spending as the utter piffle they are. But they don’t. The GOP rhetoric ‘felt’ right. It fulfilled a deep, psychological need. The details weren’t important, even the really really big ones.

It didn’t have to be that way. Instead of letting the right lie their way into the hearts of the 90%, Obama could have provided them with real rather than imagined enemies; like Wall Street and the Financial Sector that got us into this mess, got bailed out and is still earning handsomely from our misery, like Un-American American companies that export jobs overseas, and reap the benefits in profits at the expense of the American worker, like China, which steals our technology, takes those jobs, and fixes its currency too. All good enemies that the 90% could ‘feel’ were not on their side. and all enemies that serve a Democratic rather than a Republican agenda.

It was a big fat hanging curve just waiting to be driven out of the park. But Captain Sensible whiffed.

The results are plain as the powder on John Boehner’s nose. A large and fired-up Republican majority in the House, hungry to tackle that deficit with the inchoate support of the 90% who are angry enough to support the idea.

Which left Captain Sensible with a big problem tonight. How to ‘do something’ when you have to cut discretionary spending to satisfy the 90%. So tge Prez talked about innovation and education and R+D and out-competing China all that other stuff at the same time as saying he was going to freeze spending for five years. Uhh? No matter that China Inc, our number one “competitor”, is actually a command economy that can and does pump trillions into its economy on the say so of the Communist Party Central Committee. No need to worry about mixed party seating in the Chinese Parliament, because there’s only one party, so naturally a consensus of opinion is not too hard to reach.

In short, after oh so reasonably backing half-baked so-called landmark legislation that lacked the punch to connect with the 90%, and keeping cool when he should have been pointing the finger at our real enemies, Obama has reasoned himself into a corner, having to innovate and cut all at the same time.

It could have been so different, but instead it was just another State of the Union speech, full of promises, full of inconsistencies, full of the usual bi-partisan BS. In other words another speech that will quickly be forgotten by the 90%.

Meanwhile, the angry GOP just keep on pounding.

Written by coolrebel

January 25, 2011 at 3:39 pm

Why Isn’t Obama Giggling at GOP Healthcare Repeal?

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After a short, and barely respectable lull in their nasty ‘rhetoric’, the GOP is once more gearing up to repeal Obama’s Healthcare overhaul in the House.

Nobody seems to notice that the Senate spent a year watering the current law down to weak tea, but still has a Democratic majority, and that sitting in the White House is a President who called Health Care reform a landmark piece of legislation.

I think it’s a fair bet to suggest that whatever lunatic scrawl the House pass is going to be regarded with nothing less than utter disdain by the Senate and President.

In short, the whole Repeal Health Care shenanigan is a total waste of time. Talk about the bridge to nowhere. This is the fart to nowhere.

I can understand the lazy-ass media taking it seriously, because the twenty-two year olds in the White House and Capitol Press Corps don’t know any better, and will juice the story that isn’t because their bosses tell them to.

And I can understand the GOP taking it seriously, because they’ve designed the whole charade to fail to show the American people how the Democrats and bad old Obama just won’t see sense even when they get a second bite at the cherry.

And I get why Harry Reid and his Senate hosers are steering clear of the business of the “other house” but that still leaves the President.

We know, that Obama knows, that we know that the GOP joke plan is going to be nutzo and that it doesn’t have an ice-cube’s chance in hell of getting by Harry, so why doesn’t he say so? Why is the Prez so silent?

The brain trust in the West Wing – so brilliant and yet so wrong in the past – have got their chess moves all lined up no doubt. And that worries Thereisnoplan, because the silent game the White House is playing seems risky.

Rather than taking advantage of the natural and silent majority in support of the original legislation and calling the GOP maneuver for what it is – which is ‘wasteful politics for the sake of it’, he’s banking on the GOP making fools of themselves first.

But that’s a dicey move. After all, if there’s one thing the GOP propagandists have proved time and time again, it’s this. If you give them the stage and don’t face them down, they can whip up the public any which way to Sunday. And there’s already a rent-a-mob on stand-by ready to get noisy on health care yet again.

Which brings us to what the President should say, and it goes something like this.

POTUS calls a press conference on something else, like the fact that his Iran strategy is actually working, and takes a question about GOP health care plans to which he replies…

“They’re wasting their time, and for all their talk about deficits, their wasting the people’s money too. Because its taxpayers that pay their salaries up on the hill, and I doubt they’re too happy about them re-opening a done deal. The Senate’s not going to look at it, and even if they do, I’m not budging an inch. This legislation will help all Americans, it will drastically lower the number of uninsured in this country, and it will lower the deficit – unlike GOP time-wasting up on the Hill. The GOP always accuses us of playing politics. If this Health Care Repeal deal isn’t a political game, I don’t know what is. Call off the dogs boys. Bring me a plan on immigration, or education, or tax reform, that I can take seriously”.

Written by coolrebel

January 17, 2011 at 1:47 pm