So here we go with that “bipartisan” thing again, and as usual it’s the poor folk who’ll be screwed.
Obama and his administration, along with Harry Reid, are currently trying to send a message that bipartisan co-operation on averting the so-called “fiscal cliff” will involve raising taxes on the rich as well as cuts to discretionary programs, including Social Security and Medicaid. Axelrod, the ass, undercut a whole lot of possible leverage when he said that talk of a mandate for tax raises on the richest was “foolish“, especially after Joe Biden said that’s exactly what the Obama second term has.
Speaking for Republicans after a conference call with his Congressional colleagues, Mr. Boehner said he was ready to accept a budget deal that raised federal revenues, but not the top rates on high incomes. And the deal, he said, also would have to overhaul both the tax code and programs like Medicare and Medicaid, whose growth as the population ages is driving projections of unsustainable future debt.
Instead of allowing the top rates to go up, which Republicans say would harm the economy, Mr. Boehner said Washington should end some deductions and loopholes to raise revenues. The economic growth that would result from a significant deficit reduction compromise would bring in additional revenues as well, he said.
Mr. Boehner entered the ornate Capitol room with none of his usual bonhomie, walked to a lectern and spoke in formal tones from two Teleprompters. He then hastened out of the room, ignoring shouted questions.
Now, the thing is that reform of the tax code and cuts to the safety net afforded the least fortunate Americans are already things both sides agree on – and no matter how you parse it the results aren’t going to be pretty.
It is widely expected – including by liberals– that Obama intends (again) to pursue a so-called “Grand Bargain” with the GOP: a deficit- and debt-cutting agreement whereby the GOP agrees to some very modest tax increases on the rich in exchange for substantial cuts to entitlement programs such as social security and Medicare, the crown legislative jewels of American liberalism.
I’m honestly hoping that the GOP keeps to its recalcitrance and that the Obama White House refuses to deal under such circumstances again. At least that way we’ll all suffer any fallout together, instead of throwing the least able to bounce back from any “fiscal cliff” over that cliff to save the rest of us any pain.
Update: Bonus reads – Digby says they’re bipartisanly coming after Social security even though there’s no need to do so as it doesn’t really affect the deficit, so there must be another agenda. Paul Waldman tracks down who coined the highly misleading phrase “fiscal cliff” and, surprise, it was Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke.