Are we backing into austerity?


First it was the debt ceiling.  Now we’re cleaning up the fiscal cliff mess, but there are rumblings that we’ll have another debt ceiling showdown in the coming months.  Republicans should be ceding ground as they hold only one of the three houses of power in Washington (gerrymandering aided at that), but instead they’re repeatedly holding the economy hostage for their political gains.  (We already have a reverse Robin Hood system which facilitates an upward transfer of wealth through cartoonishly low tax rates on capital gains and estates.)  If those who could oppose them continue to blink, the situation will continue to deteriorate.  The weak economic recovery will stall and those who wish to dismantle the social safety net will be in a better position to do so.  Hilarity will not ensue.

The old axiom “Never negotiate with terrorists” seems to hold water here, but what do I know, I’m just a poor boy…

I have squandered my resistance

For a pocket full of mumbles such are promises

All lies and jests

Still a man hears what he wants to hear

And disregards the rest

-Simon and Garfunkel “The Boxer”

The Fiscal Cliff, Just Another Serving of Sabotage

You’re scheming on a thing that’s a mirage.

I’m trying to tell you now, it’s sabotage.

-The Beastie Boys

I just finished reading Daniel Altman’s (@altmandaniel) “Sabotage,” a book that details recent congressional efforts to obstruct economic recovery.  Altman’s book takes a close look at last year’s debt ceiling negotiations and surrounding matters.  He delivers strong evidence and logic in stating that it was a manufactured crisis intended to force concessions from President Obama.  I thought it a great analog for the current fiscal cliff negotiations, which shouldn’t be much of a surprise since the current mess is the bastard child of the former.  Here’s a sample of Altman’s perspective on said negotiations.

The Republicans’ first move was unprecedented in political and economic history. To demonstrate their newfound power, they drew a line in the sand, refusing to raise the nation’s debt limit unless the president and the Democrat-controlled Senate agreed to long-term cuts in the nation’s spending.

-Daniel Altman

The old chestnut of “Never waste a good crisis,” is now never waste the opportunity to manufacture and exploit a wildly unnecessary non-crisis.

As I stated in a post last week (How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Fiscal Cliff), it’s time to go over the bump and let the pressure amp up on congress to clean up their mess for those who truly need help.  The rest can fall by the wayside.

Now, if you’re still worried about the cliff, Altman’s book may help put things in perspective.  If you’ve already done that, the book is still a great read.

Still here?  Then I’m guessing you need the song.

I wouldn’t want to disappoint.

Dr. StrangeGov or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Fiscal Cliff

Congressional Republicans have yoinked their own legislation for the second straight week as John Boehner’s Plan B was apparently scuttled by recalcitrant members of the tea party.  It seems clear that no reasonable deal is in the offing, so I suggest we stop trying.  I can’t see how congress wouldn’t be forced to immediately enact legislation to provide relief for those in the lower and middle class as soon as its new class is sworn in.  There’s no need for President Obama to yield to demands for cuts to Social Security when the program is self-funded and in good shape for years to come.  Let’s ride this one out and drive home a better deal to start the new year.  So sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride!

If Major Kong doesn’t grab you, maybe Thelma and Louise will help bring you around.

Final Note:

If you’re looking for the particulars on the fiscal cliff, here’s a nice high level overview. (All data tastes better when served up on an infographic.)

Obama Makes 3rd Offer – Rs Take Another Step Back

Click through below for the details on the offer, but first chew on this quote from Michael Steel.

Any movement away from the unrealistic offers the President has made previously is a step in the right direction, but a proposal that includes $1.3 trillion in revenue for only $930 billion in spending cuts cannot be considered balanced. 

In other words, they’re not trying to repay the debt, or even close the gap in the deficit, they”re just playing a regressive game of high stakes tiddly winks.


via Obama Makes Third Fiscal Cliff Offer.