Poor John Boehner! He seems caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place, as current negotiating circumstances play havoc with his tenure as Speaker, which could produce another public “trail of tears.” The “fiscal cliff," or “slope," or “curve," or whatever metaphor suits your fancy, looms large on the horizon. Many are beginning to accept that allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire may be the best strategy, and the latest polling data from Pew Research suggests that a majority of Americans will blame Republicans if that happens.
The GOP, however, continues to live in its parallel universe, believing that the election was somehow rigged and that Americans actually favor their draconian proposals. This past weekend, many pundits on the Right, including conservative David Brooks, were decrying the behavior of fellow Republicans for not accepting political reality and failing to adapt to the obvious will of the people.
As Brooks pointed out, going over the cliff will draw ire from a host of constituency groups Republicans have always called their own. Business leaders will be upset if confidence takes a hit. Defense contractors will be up in arms if budget sequestration cuts in military spending proceed unabated. And lastly, no self-respecting congressman wants to go back home to take abuse for raising taxes on the middle class instead of the wealthy among us.
Brooks is even more blunt when he proclaims:
"Moreover a budget stalemate on these terms will confirm every bad Republican stereotype. Republicans will be raising middle-class taxes in order to serve the rich — shafting Sam’s Club to benefit the country club. If Republicans do this, they might as well get Mitt Romney’s '47 percent' comments printed on T-shirts and wear them for the rest of their lives.”
Brooks and others also chided the GOP to stop whining and complaining about Democrats refusing to deal in good faith. Although they thought it would never happen, they forcefully commanded the GOP to put a real deal on the table. And what was Boehner’s response? Was it a detailed “Plan for Prosperity” that only magic beans and fairy dust,” as White House spokesman Jay Carney proclaimed.could love? No, it was just more of the same old campaign “smoke and mirrors” rhetoric, no details or substance forthcoming, “
Obama reiterated as much during a Bloomberg interview, “Unfortunately," he said, "the (Republican) proposal right now is still out of balance. When you look at the math, it doesn’t work.”
It is the same misguided GOP dogma that limiting deductions and closing loopholes can replace raising tax rates on the wealthy. This Republican ploy is highly transparent, just one more veiled attempt to force a tax increase on the middle class, as if that would help swell the Republican ranks in years to come.
So once again, are Democrats the only responsible fiscal managers on the Hill? The “elephant” in the room that Republicans want to ignore is that their policies during the Bush years destroyed both the domestic and global economy, leading to the worst recession since the Great Depression. Why in their right minds would anyone approve two wars, enormous tax cuts for the rich, and a sweetheart deal for Big Pharma and then fail to address the financial consequences of such actions? It boggles the mind!
One can easily go down the grand conspiracy path as one explanation for this apparent fiscal incompetence on the part of Republicans. The prevailing theory is that these massive deficits would provide a convenient excuse in the future to dismantle social legislative achievements for the past 80 years, including Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and the “safety net” of unemployment and welfare benefits.
One obvious solution would simply be to reverse the major Bush policies that contributed to the current deficit problem, roughly $7 trillion of the current figure. Offset the wars with cuts in military spending. Allow Medicare to negotiate discounts for drugs for seniors, and lastly, allow the Bush tax cuts to expire on schedule. A simple rendition of “Occam’s Razor” states, “All other things being equal, a simpler explanation is better than a more complex one.” This rule of thumb that often guides the scientific method may be lost on Republicans, however, since many in their community have yet to accept the basic principles of modern science.
Obama has made it mandatory that tax rates go up in order for a deal to be consummated. He will veto anything that is not “balanced” in this respect. It is time for the wealthy to participate in “shared sacrifice." The president goes on to elaborate, “America is poised to take off. Let’s make sure that we don’t have a self-inflicted wound, because there are a lot of silly games played up on Capitol Hill.”
As for GOP gamesmanship, can the party rise above this dysfunctional behavior flaw? Our economy is being held hostage by their intransigence. Boehner’s response is to blast his own brethren for not covering his back. On Tuesday, he removed four conservative lawmakers from plum committee assignments after they had “bucked party leaders,” i.e., the Tea Party, and would not get in line.
"This is a clear attempt on the part of Republican leadership to punish those in Washington who vote the way they promised their constituents they would - on principle - instead of mindlessly rubber-stamping trillion dollar deficits and the bankrupting of America," said Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks, a Tea Party group.
Rep. Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, one of the four demoted legislators, also remarked, “This is clearly a vindictive move and a sure sign that the GOP establishment cannot handle disagreement.”
With such dissention in the ranks, the best advice for Boehner is to take a few cliff-diving lessons over the holidays. The odds look grim for finding any common ground at this stage.
The late, one of our best comedians and social critics, once quipped, "The reason they call it the American Dream is because you have to be asleep to believe it.” It is time for Republicans to wake up from their self-imposed slumber, put their misguided ideology aside for the moment, and make an attempt to save the American Dream for all of us. Lean Forward!
References provided by links inserted in text.