Negotiating til the end

Negotiating til the end
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With only a couple dozen hours remaining until Fiscal Cliff Doomsday, it’s obviously very difficult to write anything definitive about the state of the negotiations — other than that they’re in their extraordinarily frantic, last-minute phase.

Yesterday, President Obama and the four party heads of Congress — the two minority leaders, Speaker Boehner and Senate boss Harry Reid — had yet one more unsuccessful meeting at the White House. There were lots of big smiles but still “no concrete proposal” for a deal, in the words of Senator Reid.

It’s all a little surprising. Last time we checked in on the cliff talks, I was largely of the belief — encouraged by certain cocksure inside-the-beltway reporters, I will note — that much of the Washington intransigence over how to prevent the scheduled January 1 expiration of the George W. Bush-era tax cuts and so-called automatic “sequestration” spending cuts was just a lot of partisan theatrics masking a growing behind-the-scenes consensus.

We now that the theatrics weren’t really masking much of anything. After the bilateral Boehner-Obama talks broke down last Wednesday following a prolonged impasse over how rich someone had to be to deserve a tax hike, Boehner moved ahead with a so-called “Plan B” unilateral scheme of his own.

A million dollars, that’s the answer said the Speaker; we will raise taxes on millionaires but everyone else gets to keep their Bush-cuts. Also I’ll just ratchet up the cuts to Medicaid and food stamps so we can avoid all those nasty sequestration cuts to defense, too.

But while you can bring a Republican House to a tax hike, you can’t make him vote for it. After airing plan B with his caucus, Boehner was forced to grimly concede on Thursday that he simply “didn’t have the votes” to get it passed. Though they only comprise a minority faction, there are apparently still enough  no-taxes-hikes-for-anyone-under-any-circumstances Tea Party types in the House GOP to make even a literal millionaires’ tax a non-starter.

Sure, theoretically, Boehner could have just turned around and said, fine, so we’ll get a couple Democrats to pick up the slack, but a) Democrats obviously wouldn’t support a plan that’s so weak on tax hikes and so vicious on social spending, and b) Boehner is up for re-election as Speaker in a couple days and the last thing he needs is a reputation as a sell-out. I mean, merely proposing Plan B was risky enough with so many humorless tax purists in his midst.

So, lacking a bipartisan deal to rush through a divided government America must be doomed, right?

Perhaps not. As D-Day (FC-Day?) edges closer, it’s actually becoming increasingly popular to recast the whole Fiscal Cliff thing as a bit of a non-event. Basically the Y2K of 2012, said David Frum — at least in hype-to-effect ratio.

Precious little in the world of government ever happens literally overnight, after all. Even if we say that a massive federal tax hike will “take effect” on January 1, we all know in reality that this will affect almost no one in the short term, as it’s not like Americans pay all of their income tax in one giant lump sum promptly on January 2. Federal budget cuts to defense or Medicare or whatever that immediately “take effect” likewise require many months (or years) of percolating through many layers of affected bureaucracy, and it could be years before the public feels the full brunt of observably weakened federal programs.

In other words, once we get over our hysterical obsession with arbitrary deadlines, it becomes fairly clear that the commonsense realities of 21st century governance afford the politicians plenty of time to work out a deal even after New Year’s. With the public largely protected from immediate hurt, the most dramatic consequences — from the market or whatever — will be mostly a reaction to optics, not results, just the current mad drive for “a deal” is more about appearance than action.

The Y2K thesis is getting so popular, in fact, that many Democrats have started to openly contemplate the possibility that they might actually be in a strategically stronger position post Jan. 1 than pre, with their legislative goals far easier to achieve once the nation is completely over the cliff, as opposed to  tottering uselessly on the brink.

Think about it: the scheduled expiration of the Bush tax cuts will generate automatic tax hikes for everyone, and spending cuts for everything else. Since America seems unanimous that these are objectively Bad Things and since acts of Congress are not etched in steel, the obvious response is for the Dems to immediately sweep in with corrective action, and swiftly fix both problems on their own terms. It’s sort of a variation on that old trope about how it’s easier to “ask for forgiveness than seek permission;” from a Democratic perspective it may be vastly easier to modify bad legislation than prevent it from arriving in the first place.

After January 1, Democrats could quickly cut taxes for middle class families but not those for incomes over $400,000, or whatever their current standard of “wealthy” is. In functional terms, this is exactly the same as preserving the Bush tax rates for the majority and eliminating them for the wealthy, but through the magic of post-cliff semantics, it suddenly comes off as much less socialistically vindictive. Heck, Republicans might even be cool with it.

The sequestration spending cuts, likewise, can be easily compromised in a similar pick-and-choose manner. Perhaps the defense cuts will stay, but Medicare funding will be hiked back up. If the Dems are smart, they could probably even maintain sequestration’s $1.2 trillion figure as the total sum of all cuts, while also readjusting budgetary priorities towards things they care about, and away from things they don’t. The GOP might not be down for giving formal assent to pruning the Pentagon, but their thinking might change if the debate is framed around some take-or-leave-it proposal to “restore Medicare” — which, as we all know, is inexplicably popular even in Tea Party circles.

Lo, what difference a couple days can make. Suddenly a debate over tax hikes becomes a discussion over tax cuts; threats to cut social programs become proposals to protect them.

‘Course, with a couple hours still to go, this is all quite premature. Perhaps Speaker Boehner will revive and water down Plan B at the eleventh hour, grab a few Democrats, and ram something through Congress that the President can sign a few seconds before the big ball drops on Times Square.

Sure, he might lose his speakership in the aftermath, but if the Fiscal Cliff is a true harbinger of fiscal Armageddon, surly that’s a small price to pay for the survival of the national economy. But if it’s just an arbitrary, overrated, meaningless line of tape on the great stage of Washington theatrics — well, why bother?

Well get our answer shortly.


  1. JonasB

    The post-cliff scenario you're proposing does seem promising, admittedly. Looking forward to seeing if you're right.

  2. Dan

    I must assume President Obama finally quit smoking.

  3. @AshburnerX

    I'm pretty sure he has. He certainly hasn't done in it public for years, mainly because everyone gave him grief about being a bad role model for children the first time he did it.

  4. spaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan

    To be honest, I feel pretty bad for Mr. Boehner. His own party has neutered him. Even getting him to agree to a deal doesn't even mean anything for Obama and the Senate if he can't get it past the house.

    I used to be someone who really disliked the sort of 'elected dictatorship' model Canada has when under majority government. But looking at the complete inability for Europe to come to decisions, and the utter dysfunction of Washington right now… well… having someone able to make decisions and stick to them seems not so bad nowadays…

  5. Jake_Ackers

    This is what the Founding Fathers wanted though. Imagine if one party had control of everything. Every few years you would go around ping ponging policies one side trying to undo what the other did. The arguments seem silly but in the long run the US ends up having a smoother transition from one policy to the next.

    Look at Obamacare and it's a mess and Dems had all the power when passing it. Republicans and they spending under Bush. Imagine if one party had complete control like in a Parliament. The country is too large and to diverse to have a one size fits all attitude.

  6. Monapublican

    I think it's time to stop caring on what the founding fathers wanted. They were great people but we can't say they had all the right ideas. Despite what you heard, many policies have stuck in countries with parliaments. Thatcher's in the UK and Palme's in Sweden to name a few. We never had an actually "smooth" transition, unless you count countless political unrest, obstructionist tactics and a civil war as smooth.

    The Obamacare fiasco is not a good example, because even when the Dems had control in both the white house and congress, they had trouble in the senate. When the republicans under Reagan were going big they had trouble with the Tip O'neil house (often forgotten is that Reagan had the similar situation with congress exactly like Obama now). Who cares if one party takes over? As long as they do it through the democratic process and can be voted out, what's the real problem other than speculative "fears"? The fact that the country is too large and to diverse is the reason why we need to change from the one size fits all system we have now.

  7. Jake_Ackers

    Do you know how many stupid bills get proposed but never come to a vote? Do you know how many come to a vote and don't get passed? If we had a parliamentarian system, the kind of stupid laws would skyrocket. That is the reasons we have all these roadblocks. If one party controls all branches then, the voting is a rubber stamp. As it would be hashed out all before. At least with a divided gov't you have to comprised to get anything decent passed.

    Just because it's democratic doesn't make it a good thing. We are a REPUBLIC for a reason. The Constitution is the defender of freedom, not the public. It is in democracies that rights get voted away and legislated away. That is the difference. Moreover, we are so diverse, we need to only have laws that get passed when they face and pass all those roadblocks.

    You cannot compare the US to any other parliamentarian country. Most Swedes will agree on most things. Now try to get the majority of people within a the US to agree on anything. Because we are diverse is why we cannot have this direct centralized federalism. Parliamentarian countries tend to be way more homogeneous than the US is. Parliamentarian gov'ts doesn't work with vastly diverse and large populated countries, more so if its large, diverse and first world. The US is the third largest country in the world in size of population and the most diverse. If we had a Parliament this country would of went down the tubes a long time ago.

    Moreover, we do have a smoother transition when it comes to policy. We don't overnight ping pong between laws back and forth. It takes years and maybe decades before we get something new. Look at Obamacare, it took Hillarycare and then Romneycare. The Republicans, like Gingrich, supported mandating buying of health insurance in the 90s.

    Was Clinton able to allows gays fully overnight into the military? No. Did Bush get rid of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"? No. Was Obama able to close Gitmo, put terrorists on trial in civilian courts and get rid of the Patriot Act? No, no and no. Was Wilson able to get the US into the League of Nations? Nope but then Eisenhower was able to get us into the UN and NATO. Bush and social security? No.

    It took a terrorist attack in the first place to get something as big as the Patriot Act otherwise it would of been impossible. Overnight forcing of legislation doesn't work because of the checks and balances. Americans have always historically split the ticket. And frankly it always has worked because we had true leaders with Clinton and Reagan. Yet Obama can't get anything done. O'Neil and Gingrich had their fair share of saying No.

  8. Guest

    "Do you know how many stupid bills get proposed but never come to a vote? Do you know how many come to a vote and don't get passed?"
    People propose things because they know they won't pass. In the Westminster system, these are debated but, no surprise, they still don't pass, because if a government spent its time passing a load of stupid laws, most of the MPs would lose their seats.

    "The US is the third largest country in the world in size of population and the most diverse."
    On what basis is it the most diverse? Furthermore, how is that diversity reflected in its politics, or do you just mean that you have lots of shouty blokes who disagree a lot?

    Just because the politics of other countries looks all alike to you, doesn't mean they are. The questions are just different.

    Case in point: why is India less large, populated, or diverse than the US? It has a similar geographic range, more people, more sizable distinct religious groups, more pronounced and complex class differences. They have dozens of parties. And they have a Westminster-style parliamentary system.

    "Overnight forcing of legislation doesn't work because of the checks and balances."
    Nor can good, popular legislation pass. What this means is that any group with enough money can delay legislation until such a time as it suits them or the point is moot; there's no guarantee what is passed will actually be effective. The Westminster system has the problem, too, although it is perhaps slightly cheaper.

    The question suggest you ask yourself is whose interests does what mechanism protect? What scenarios are we talking about here?

  9. Jake_Ackers

    The US has a huge middle class in addition to political, social, economic, religious, racial, etc. etc. differences. It is bar none the most diverse in every aspect. There is no first world country the size of the US. The only example would be the entire EU together. Which goes to my point, all their social issues are national and not continental. Which would translate in the US as state issues and not national, considering that EU countries are more akin to a US state.

    How does it translate? Simple. The same reason there aren't Pan-EU social programs. Try to get Ireland and Sweden to agree on the same exact abortion policy. Impossible. Now take those two groups and spread it out across a nation of over 300 million. Yah. Now multiple that by several other groups. No way you can get liberal Vermont folks to agree with conservative Utah Mormons.

    Because of that a parliament in the US would result in a ping pong of policies and whomever happens to pay, steal, negotiate their way into power or influence it will pass the laws they want, their way. Until the next group gets into power. Under a Congressional system is never absolute-absolute power.

    Furthermore, on your India point. Even if you believe it is more diverse than the US, you can see why it is actually hurt by a parliamentary system and should more toward a republican/congressional system. The bureaucracy in India is a mess. The country is too large to have that much of a centralized gov't. And one can't blame it on "oh its third world." Yes that is a factor but look at Brazil. It has a congressional system with strong local and state gov'ts. India's governmental local systems in some places barely exist, if at all.

    The mechanism isn't intended to protect any interests. It's intended solely to stop stupid laws. That's it. Nothing more than that. The idea is the resulting laws would be the best (or least worst) and the most wanted (or least hated) laws. Pretty much it is suppose to weed out as much bad/unwanted laws as possible.

  10. Guest

    "Look at Obamacare and it's a mess and Dems had all the power when passing it."
    As I recall, it was looking like it mightn't pass because the Republicans had a minority barely large enough to veto it. I think JJ even did a comic on how the Dems had the Senate, the House of Representatives and the White House but couldn't pass this very bill, while Harper had a mere plurality of MPs in one house and a fair bit more unchecked executive authority.

    It was a mess because it was a huge compromise. I'm not sure if even to begin with it was going to be an integrated federal health programme of the sort that could be as cost-effective and high-quality as state healthcare outside the States (too many Dems are listening to the private healthcare lobby), but by the end it certainly wasn't anything like that.

    Imagine if the Dems actually had the ability to pass what they liked – and had to accept the responsibility if it failed. Right now, the system just encourages parties to blame each other.

  11. Jake_Ackers

    They didn't need Republican votes to get it passed. They passed it how they wanted (as in they don't need Republican votes). If they can't get their own ducks in a row to vote (due to w/e reason) for it just reinforces my point. Bad bill to begin with.

  12. Dryhad

    Sorry, but by what metric is Congress not a parliament but the Canadian Parliament is? It's not as though the Republicans would have complete control if the office of President didn't exist, because the Democrats control the Senate. I'd argue that the Senate, with its staggered terms, is a much better safeguard against "elected dictatorship" than a single executive, for reasons that should be mind-numbingly obvious. I think my country (Australia), which does have an elected Senate but not a President bears this out.
    Besides, the electoral college is also a parliament, by some definitions anyway. Why do Americans think things would be different if you had a parliament? You do have a parliament!

  13. spaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan

    He's referring to a Parliamentary system, which the US congress most certainly is not.

    Congress is a legislature, sure, but only a parliament in the absolute most general use of the term (and considered a wrong use of the word by just about anybody in politics – I'd assume this blog included). Usually in political discussions the word parliament is used to reference a Parliamentary system, which generally has an executive controlled by the largest party or coalition of the lower house of the legislature, among other things.

  14. Dryhad

    In that case: Electoral College. But even if there were no electoral college, what precisely is so special about the House of Representatives that so many people seem to think the US would be a very different place if they effectively appointed the President? Sure, at the moment there'd be a different party in power, but the opposite situation would have happened back in 2006. So what's the big deal?

  15. spaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan

    The electoral college is still not a parliamentary system. It's just a very simple electing body. The electoral college doesn't write any laws.

    Also, the analogy would not be the House appointing the President. It's not just the lower house selecting the executive that makes it a parliament, but it's a whole different organizational structure with many different facets.

    Instead, imagine if John Boehner was both the Speaker and President, and could advocate to revoke the membership of members of the Republican Party who don't vote with his budget. Also, he would only be officially accountable to the House and not the Senate (the Senate would no longer have to approve of his cabinet picks, nor would it be able to impeach him), with the Senate becoming more of an approval committee than a place where much law is written or changed. The President would only need the approval of the House to stay in power, though the House could change Presidents without necessarily having a new election.

    You end up with a very, very different way of doing things.

  16. Dryhad

    1. Revoking party membership is not a part of the parliamentary system, because parties are not a part of the parliamentary system. The fact that the US does not place party leadership in the hands of an elected official (President or otherwise) is unrelated to the presence of a parliamentary system.
    2. The Senate being an "approval committee" is also a cultural thing rather than a systematic thing, I would argue. There's nothing systematically preventing the upper house from writing or changing laws (unless you want to claim that that's also in the definition of a parliamentary system somehow). The House of Lords in the UK is more or less a figurehead and as I understand it Canada has a similarly non-elected upper house, but in my country the Senate does enjoy democratic legitimacy and thus can take part in legislation.
    3. The notion that the President is currently "accountable" to the Senate may be technically true, but in practice only two Presidents were ever impeached, and both were acquitted. With the exception of the possibility of replacing the President without an election (which would happen very rarely, and may be analogous in some ways to the case of Gerald Ford), I don't think it would be that different, even if we accept that the electoral college is not a parliament, which I don't.

  17. Jake_Ackers

    THANK YOU! I hate it how people say we don't elect our President. Under that notion, the Parliamentarian countries don't elect their own leaders even more so.

  18. Guest

    But we DON'T elect the president. In case you forgot the electoral college still exist.

  19. Jake_Ackers

    Frankly, there is going to be a cop-out. It happened last time when Boehner got what was it $90billion in cuts? Everyone said it was a grand achievement. While it was in fact just plain lame. The Sandy Aid Bill is almost that amount and a chunk of that bill is pork.

    And on JJ's point about it taking months to take affect. Yes it is technically true. But we have seen the media cheerleading for a recession during Bush. And then every time Bush opened his mouth the stockmarket took a nose dive. Perception is a big part. The fiscal cliff plus the Obamacare taxes plus all the spending cuts could hit us bad. And naturally the Republicans will get blamed for it.

    Businesses tend to plan for the next year or two. And the Obamacare taxes are going to be a hit to the economy. Now with the fiscal cliff, the politicians will blame that and you will start to see the snowball rolling.

  20. Svan

    I jokingly predicted months ago that from a literary perspective the most exciting outcome of the fiscal cliff was to go over it, and thus was practically mandated from the get go. It also seems to get the harsh business of government done while still preserving the corn-fed narrative of non-compromise both parties have been stroking since four years ago. Parties get to match spending with revenue while still letting incumbents play out this song and dance for their more hysterical constituents.

  21. Colin Minich

    Grover Norquist tweeting the following:
    "We had an election Boehner was elected speaker. Now lame duck obama should get over it. (Also 30 GOP governors)"

    Still a twelve-year-old after all these years. See, warts and all, I won't blame Obamacare for fiscal cliff troubles. The Democrats aren't perfect but Lord knows the Republicans have been the most obstructive, intrusive, and misinformative bunch in all of DC. The schism is already apparent between the Scott Brown style of Independent Republicans, the moderates, the Bachmanns, and the Grover Norquist "Pledge" Republicans who quite frankly are lost in a mindset decades expired. I won't like going over this proverbial cliff but I refuse to blame a signed act that won't even go into effect until 2014 IIRC over the most ideologically stubborn and frightening Republican Party I've seen to date. A pox on their home.

  22. Jake_Ackers

    Yah the problem is these kind of Republicans are 100% or bust. Instead of getting 80% or so. I welcome trying to stop the other side but there comes a point that you need to give in at least on something to get what you want. Or at least realistically minimize the damage.

  23. Virgil

    I think events have proven these statements wrong. Norquist was evidencing his (troublemaking) sense of humor in response to Obama's contention that he had won the election. That said, a deal has now passed with Norquist's blessing… far for being obstructive, intrusive and misinformative.

    I also am curious as to what, precisely, is out of date. I do not see any particular reason that government should be bigger now than in, say, 1970…and quite a few reasons why it should be smaller in the tech age.

    All of these points aside though, the fact is the taxes are now higher on some people, and they probably aren't going higher again during this term since an actual tax hike would be politically unpalatable. Therefore….well….how big should deficits remain? Obama seems willing to reform Medicare and some of the other entitlements, but I have no answer as to what the Senate might do.

  24. Colin Minich

    And we have Grover's words blessing it as such in writing or video format?

    I'll believe it when I see it. And the evidence to the Republican obstruction is right there in the Hurricane Sandy relief debacle to where Chris Christie of NJ and Peter King of NY righteously flipped out amongst others. Why shouldn't the government be bigger? Simple, because the greater devil is private industry which has that cute penchant to cast aside national citizen consideration for the cheaper cost. Case in point, the auto industry in the 1980s/90s and the fact a California construction company contracted Chinese laborers to construct an AMERICAN bridge.

    No…I'll take my government before I take contracted foreign slavery.

  25. Jake_Ackers

    Are you seriously suggesting gov't should be bigger? That our gov't needs more laws? Private industry is the greater devil?

    War, famine, genocide, slavery, etc. etc. It's all gov't created problems. Companies kill, but it's not the millions and tens of millions of people that gov't has.

    Moreover, Grover's blessing was in writing. If Grover didn't give some support, there is no way an agreement would of been agreed so soon. Not only did his group release a statement, he also went on the record.

  26. Colin Minich

    Wow that is a very misconstrued attempt at Clausewitz in regards to extensions…I mean wow. I'm suggesting that in the course of national/domestic economic interest, considerations of the greater whole of Americans, private industry is absolutely not to be trusted.

    I think what you just tried was an incredibly poor attempt to equate waging war on nation-states or in defense to trusting government regulation over private business.

    What blows my mind is that people are actually listening to Norquist. His idealism spawned from when he was twelve, TWELVE! He's only agreeing so that he'll reload with another round of unrealistic garbage.

  27. Jake_Ackers

    Okay now it makes more sense. I thought you meant it as a blanket statement. Fair enough. I understand where you are coming from. Thing is with business as long as there is competition, I can just stop buying from one company. Good luck trying to not paying taxes though.

  28. Colin Minich

    So apparently…a deal has been reached:

    "The measure would extend Bush-era tax cuts for family incomes below $450,000 and briefly avert across-the-board spending cuts set to strike the Pentagon and domestic agencies this week."

    It's not quite what I had in mind but at least it's a fair take against the Republicans' original proposal of no less than $1M earners. What makes me wonder is just what specifically was going to be cut from the Pentagon and domestic agencies. I'm by no means a Paulbot or libertarian, thankfully, but I do think there are some glaring issues both in defense and domestic spending that should be going, like bloated contracts for example.

    This is a prime opportunity for the Democrats and Obama to really twist the arm of Republicans. Don't get soft on us now because it's the holidays, ladies and gents.

  29. Jake_Ackers

    It requires what I posted in another comic. We need a major swift in foreign policy to a non-interventionist and home defense, a more mature statesman approach. One in which we oversea world politics rather than try to dictate it. In a post-9/11 era we cannot dictate as we did back in the Cold War. We need to have regional players taking care of their own business.

    None of this will happen anytime soon. One because Obama is not Hillary. And two because the Republicans are not Robert Taft nor Calvin Coolidge. The US needs to go back to what was envisioned under Eisenhower. Letting countries take care of their own business and just have the US as support/oversea/supervise rather than try to be the policeman of the world.

  30. Colin Minich

    I don't like that term "non-interventionist." It reeks of the excuse Ron Paul used to be an isolationist. Non-interventionism screams letting China and Russia continue to do as pleased with places in dire need of at least some assistance like Syria and international trolls like North Korea. I am 100% against any scaling back of forces in Asia particularly when China is now having a penchant to bully around other neighbors/allies such as Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, etc. Europe? Yes, that's fine. They can start to learn to build themselves up and not be the laughing stock of NATO missions.

    But I like the term oversee. It's good to do that because in the grand scheme of things I want the US to be the kind of nation that will simply watch South Korea and Japan do its own thing and step in when other people, including North Korea, start to encroach or think far worse.

    Well unfortunately the GOP is a far cry from the Eisenhower establishment of Republicans. I dunno whether to thank Reagan or the neoconservative movement for that…along with evangelical Christianity.

  31. Jake_Ackers

    Neos. After the Joe Liebermans got kicked out (long before he did) of the Dem Party, they all became Republicans. So you get this weird social conservatives with economic liberal and foreign policy interventionist. The exact positions and combinations that no one likes. Aka, the Santorums of the world.

    Yah I don't like the non-interventionist term either. That's why I explained it with the mature country that oversees approach. Just look at the parallels with today and Eisenhower.

    Great Depression and World War 2. Great Recession and World War 4. Pearl Harbor and 9/11. (Global War on Terror, I count the Cold War and the GWoT as World Wars because they are, just way more covert and intelligences than guns and uniforms on a battlefield.) Eisenhower was in a Post-Pearl Harbor/WW2 era and into the Cold War. We similarly are in that post-911 era and moving into a more covert preventative war era. Eisenhower shifted largely from a huge military to one focused on putting nukes on everything in order to reduce cost. Less men, less equipment, more tech. The same goes for today. Or at least it should be (without the nukes part).

    As a result we need this "Oversee" model, it's our Cold War. But doesn't mean that it has to follow the Cold War model of detente. It's like the Cold War in the fact that there will be plenty of proxy wars and covert operations. US History tends to follow about 4 types of generations and repeats itself every 80 years give or take. We are in it again. There are huge parallels that can be drawn and learned from. And then adapted, of course. If we don't learn from our history, we are doomed to repeat it.

  32. Jake_Ackers

    Problem is though even with the cliff "resolved", we still don't have the spending cuts. We should of had the spending cuts first and then resolve the tax increases/cuts.

  33. Virgil

    I'm not sure….cutting spending is the harder sell. This seems to be a question of where we want the peg. Normally (since 1945) taxes and spending have been around 18-20% of GDP. Right now, after the deal, we are probably at 17-25%, and that's before the health care bill goes into effect.

    There are some signs that you have Clinton-like fiscal conservatives within the Democrats that want reform, and others that are opposed to any cut whatsoever. These two factions will, I suspect, now fight each other in the Senate and will determine the outcome. The House's (Tea-Party) record is well known.