To cliff or not to cliff? That is the question.
Now that we have survived the Mayan apocalyptic prediction, and Christmas, all attention will be on the so-called fiscal cliff. But as I’ve been saying for weeks… don’t worry, be happy.
Things have been playing out like a simple B movie script. Some drama here, some there, a little comedy but no real great acting roles. All players just doing their bit parts.
Here is how I believe its going to proceed over the next week.
The press coming off their holidays will quickly, almost violently, wrench our attention back to the fiscal cliff. Now that Boehner has failed to get a bill out of the House, then its the Senate’s turn. They will put one on the table quite quickly, mirroring White House thinking. The republican senators will bawl loud. The democrats will make a little concession, but the republicans will still bawl. But there is little they can do about it. The bill will pass.
Boehner will then state that the House will never pass that bill. So the democrats will make a few more concessions on spending, perhaps a minor adjustment to taxes on the 1%. Between the House, the Senate and the White House, there will be agreement to move the taxes from those earning $250,000, to perhaps $350,000-400,000.
Boehner will demand more spending cuts and the president will agree to a few more, but also perhaps include defense cuts as well. The republicans will howl, defense cuts will be taken off the table, as well as some of the other spending cuts. The House will pass the bill, disaster averted.
That’s the treatment. The movie will be a little more complex than that.
The Senate’s bill will have little or no drama, even though minority leader Mitch McConnell will attempt to grab the spotlight condemning the lack of spending cuts and moaning about the taxes on the rich. He will accuse this ‘president’ of being dictatorial and not understanding bi-partisanship. Everyone will ignore him. Only Fox will give him any meaningful air time.
The Senate democrats however will tweak the bill just a little to show that they are willing to come to some agreement. But since the the Senate republicans are of little use… who cares.
Boehner however, will announce that the Senate version will not pass the House. He will appear to hang tough. He will make demands but no one will applaud him. The tea party doesn’t trust him, and the democrats will let him hang out to dry for a little. The cliff looms closer and closer. Everyone is close to panic mode.
The president will coolly step in and agree to a few more concessions. The moderate republicans will begin to publicly support the president’s plan. The tea party group will state that they prefer for the country to ‘go over the cliff’. Their intransigence to the point of madness will continue to hold to ‘no taxes on anyone’, even though even fools recognize that taxes are a must. It’s just who will feel the pinch.
A recent ‘survey’ states that the majority of the rich are willing to pay higher taxes. This will totally undercut the tea party’s argument. But it won’t change them. The republican party will be in disarray.
But the moderates will be well organized and the tea party won’t. The tea party’s problem is that they don’t know who exactly is loyal to them. You see, many moderates act like tea partyers to keep their jobs, but some began acting like tea partyers to fool others. We call them fifth columnists… and Boehner had a long time to plant these inside the tea party. They will vote as he directs if necessary. Some will continue to wear their masks. The thing is the tea party won’t know who is who. Boehner will.
The tea party will think they have enough power to grab leadership from Boehner, but suddenly they will recognize that he is much stronger than they thought. The press will have a field day. All the extremist comments coming out of the tea party will be given banner headlines and the public will be outrightly disgusted with these loons.
This internal struggle will ‘force’ Boeher to step up like a leader. He will make more demands of the president who will give him some sort of token ‘victory’. The tea party will be further incensed, even more so when Boehner puts a bill to the House. The moderates and the democrats will pass this bill. Crisis averted. The president and Boehner look like heroes. Then the purge begins.
One possible but unlikely scenario is that the country will go over the cliff. The truth is that the effects won’t be as bad as the media is playing it. No matter, the end game will continue to play out as above. But I don’t think that will happen. The fiscal cliff is an act that is still ripe for drama. If the country goes over and nothing happens, then politicians won’t have that distraction to call upon again. The fear factor will disappear. No. The crisis will be averted on time. Everyone will breathe a sigh of relief. The tea party will continue to rant and the public will really be happy to see their heads chopped off. Politics will relatively reasonable again.
Many people are making Boehner out to be the bad guy, but in the end, he will overcome that. He will be republican House leader for some time. Boehner, believe or not, is the good guy. He realizes that the only way the republicans can avert total electoral disaster in the next several election cycles, is if the tea party is trashed. They will be, and the republican party will begin to rebuild their image. They will have a chance to look sane again.