Monday, December 24, 2012

Mildly Cranky Monday Blogging

The basic, underlying fact of the fiscal cliff negotiations is, well, what you learn in high school civics: the eventual solution will need to pass the House, the Senate, and be signed by the president. Given a Republican House and a Democratic president, that means (1) that the Senate is mostly irrelevant (hey, someone tell Jonathan Weisman at the New York Times), and (2) that it really doesn't matter whether a GOP-only or conservative-only bill can get through the House (hey, someone tell Nate Silver at the New York Times). 

And going back a bit: the other underlying fact is that there will, eventually, be a bill or bills that passes. It's not quite 100% certain, the way it is with government shutdown or debt limit showdowns, but it's awful close to certain. The bill or bills may come before January 1 (very unlikely now), in early January, in late January, in February, even in March...but the odds are overwhelming that sooner or later something passes that will undo the bulk of the fiscal cliff tax increases, take care of the Doc Fix and the AMT fix, and do something about the sequester, among other things. 

Moreover, everyone involved knows it. Well, maybe not Michele Bachmann and Louie Gohmert, but just about everyone. 

So why am I not really cranky? Well, it is possible that a deal will be struck in the Senate that could work; the eventual deal needs the support of Barack Obama and John Boehner, but they don't have to be the ones making the deal (quick reminder: there is a possibility on the table that Republicans in the House could vote present and force Democrats to supply all the votes; that still means Boehner supports a deal, even if the way the support is expressed is by not voting against it). So I'm not ready to completely write off Weisman's article. And I suppose Silver's post is okay as an intellectual exercise; it just doesn't tell us much about how we'll actually get through the fiscal cliff.

But, yeah, the first thing to keep in mind is that something will eventually pass, and it will be a deal that mainstream Democrats and mainstream Republicans can live with. Any analysis of the situation that doesn't accept that starting point is probably not helping us understand it.


  1. I'm not the expert on politics that you are. From where I sit, I see something new in the Tea Party; They view compromise as Treason. I think it factors in more than we want it to, and I fear their ideology stalls a deal much longer or kills one completely. I hope YOU'RE right.

  2. My guess is that something passes the House in the second week of January with the support of about 50 percent of the Republicans and 80 percent of the Democrats.

    1. I second that, except that I think it will be the minimum number needed to pass.

      And while the Republican leaders will negotiate it, they won't vote for it themselves.

  3. A more detailed view of why "muddling through" really is the most common resolution of huge historical problems of all types, may be found towards the end of my 8200-word article (presenting the positive philosophy of history which may even help us move forward) under the "Philosophical Ron" tab at my webpage.

  4. We don't have to do anything "get through" the fiscal cliff. If we go over, well, we go over, and then the Congress can begin to fix all the stupid things they put into the cliff, or not. And then maybe there will be a recession, or not.

    But we do have to get through the debt limit, which we will slam into in February 2013. If it isn't raised, the Government will shut down and the country will renege on its debt. And that will be a catasrophe.

    There's no point at all for Democrats in compromising on the fiscal cliff if the Tea Party can still threaten to crash the economy by refusing to raise the debt limit.

    Any Democratic "compromises" that don't increse the debt limit aren't really compromises at all; they're things that Obama wants to do (e.g., cut Social Security). And if you don't accept that as your starting point you don't understand the situation.


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