In the famous 1955 movie "Rebel Without a Cause,"plays a rebellious young man with a troubled past who comes to a new town, finding friends and enemies. As the plot thickens, Dean is egged by the local thugs into a game of “chicken” in stolen cars. The concept is to race the cars to the edge of a cliff, and whoever jumps out of the car first is declared the “chicken.” The scenario ends tragically as the antagonist “Buzz” is prevented from jumping out his car as the sleeve of his leather jacket is looped around the car door handle and the car goes over the cliff with him in it. Dean jumps to safety and could be declared the “chicken,” but he is the survivor, saving himself and emerges the wiser of the two.
YoutTube video scene from the movie can be found here.
The fiscal cliff as it is called has been described by some as a game of “chicken” by pundits, but it is more a result of a “failure to communicate.” A failure to reach a deficit reduction agreement two years ago is due to longstanding differences and inability to reach consensus between Democrats and Republicans on taxes -- particularly whether to extend tax cuts from President George W. Bush's administration.
The communication breakdown happened two years ago and resulted in The Budget Control Act that included an immediate increase in the debt ceiling, along with a mechanism for facilitating two additional increases. It also provided for automatic spending cuts to begin on Jan. 2, 2013, if no agreement is reached.
Who will be the “survivor” or rather the “savior” of the American middle class preventing them from being plunged into possibly another recession as a result of increased taxes on the middle class? Some believe that Buzz’ ultimate destination should be allowed to happen; however, most economists disagree with that scenario is disastrous for the country.
Since Republicans for now are holding firm to their opposition to raising tax rates on the wealthy, the only way they say is to increase revenues by a “down payment” closing loopholes and limit or eliminate deductions. The deal is not comprehensive because it does not include raising tax rates on the wealthiest 2 percent in the country, furthering procrastination on a decisive solution.
Both sides need to be willing to negotiate, and that means giving up something. The Democrats will have to come to the compromising table ready to make cuts in Medicare and Medicaid, which most agree will be insolvent in 12 years if nothing is done. Social Security, however, is another matter. In a speech Tuesday, Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill) said, Social Security does not contribute to the federal deficit and should not be part of negotiating package, according to the Huffington Post.
Taking it to the people, not the cliff edge
President Obama trusts the electorate and is taking his arguments to the people as he did in 2011.
In July 2011, Obama told House Majority Leader, one of the lead Republican negotiators in the endless budget battles of president's first term, that it was time to make a deal or face the consequences.
"Don't call my bluff," the president said in ending the White House meeting, according to Cantor. "I'm going to the American people with this."
In response to the president’s re-instigation of this strategy, Senate Minority Leader(R-KY) is following his fellow Republicans in The House by clinging to old arguments calling on Democrats to cut Obamacare as part of the fiscal cliff negotiations even though the law will reduce deficit and lower the rate of growth of health care services.
McConnell even tried to discredit President Obama saying he was still “campaigning” by taking his message to the American people, as the president plans to go directly to the American people with a consistent message. In 2011 Obama held a series of events around the country, mostly in swing states in which he pushed for higher taxes on the wealthy as part of his main campaign theme to restore equal opportunity for the middle class.
Clearly, McConnell has the sleeve of his leather jacket wrapped around the antiquated “Grand Ole’ Party” with old fashion concepts that discredit the power and intellect of the people’s will, as well as social media.
The White House has set up a new Twitter hashtag: "My2K," a reference to the extra $2,200 in taxes it says the average family will pay if all the George W. Bush-era tax cuts expire at the end of the year. Obama is asking Congress to extend the Bush tax cuts for middle class Americans, while ending them for Americans who make more than $250,000.
Both sides need to be ready to negotiate
The Republicans need to accept a balanced approach that includes tax revenues that close loopholes, broaden the base and allow tax increases on the wealthiest in the nation. The Democrats need to come to the table ready to make the cuts in Medicare and Medicaid that do not make the most vulnerable Americans shoulder entirely the burden of reform. Social Security, however, should be off the table.
We only have 34 days left to find out who gets to be James Dean: The Democrats or the Republicans? But in a recreation of the story perhaps Buzz can be saved as well as long as he is willing to give up his expensive leather jacket in favor of the people’s cloak.