Sunday, December 30, 2012

Fiscal Cliff Shenanigans

Joe, can you help us here?

According to Lori Montgomery and Paul Kane in the Post (here), the fiscal cliff negotiations have hit (yet another) impasse. 

Mitch McConnell has called on Joe Biden to get involved on the White House's behalf. It sounds like the current sticking point is the Social Security adjustment index -- the Democrats have announced that any change to the rate of adjustment is a deal-killer.

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I have been uniquely unimpressed with the leadership skills of President Obama, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell in crafting a compromise on the tax and budget issues that are involved in the "cliff". 

For me, John Boehner is the only party leader who gets any credit, for having proposed the $1 million limit on tax increases, even though he was not able to bring along the Republicans in the House. (Of course I might have this backwards -- Boehner might be the least helpful of the bunch, since he very quickly threw in the towel when his backbenchers refused the $1 million limit).

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I really dislike the new pattern of "government by deadline", and I think the President takes a large portion of the blame for having let it become a pattern these past couple of years. 

I understand that the Republicans have been tremendously uncooperative (are they the least cooperative party-out-of-power in US history?), but the buck stops with the President when it comes to compelling a compromise. 

There are enough different issues involved that Obama, Boehner and  Reid should have been able to propose enough "gives" and "takes" for each party to make everyone a winner (or at least to show that everyone's a loser together). 

And that's the crux of the problem, I think -- our political leaders have become so obsessed with not wanting to "appear the loser" that they are afraid to move any legislation forward. And the irony is that no one can predict, ahead of time, how the details will be perceived in terms of "winning" and "losing", so the politicians end up trying to control something that cannot be controlled.

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