Opinion

Opinion

Opinion: GOP should let Obama go over cliff

December 1, 2012

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— Why are Republicans playing the Democrats’ game that the “fiscal cliff” is all about taxation?

House Speaker John Boehner already made the pre-emptive concession of agreeing to raise revenues. But the insistence on doing so by eliminating deductions without raising marginal rates is now the subject of fierce Republican infighting.

Where is the other part of President Obama’s vaunted “balanced approach”? Where are the spending cuts, both discretionary and entitlement: Medicare, Medicaid and now Obamacare (the health care trio) and Social Security?

Social Security is the easiest to solve. So you get a sense of the Democrats’ inclination to reform entitlements when Dick Durbin, the Senate Democrats’ No. 2, says Social Security is off the table because it “does not add a penny to our deficit.”

This is absurd. In 2012, Social Security adds $165 billion to the deficit. Democrats pretend that Social Security is covered through 2033 by its trust fund. Except that the trust fund is a fiction, a mere “bookkeeping” device, as the OMB itself has written. The trust fund’s IOUs “do not consist of real economic assets that can be drawn down in the future to fund benefits.” Future benefits “will have to be financed by raising taxes, borrowing from the public, or reducing benefits or other expenditures.”

And draining the Treasury, as 10,000 baby boomers retire every day. Yet that’s off the table. And on Wednesday, the president threw down the gauntlet by demanding tax hikes now — with spending cuts to come next year. Meaning, until after Republicans have fallen on their swords, given up the tax issue and forfeited their political leverage.

Ronald Reagan once fell for a “tax now, cut later” deal that he later deeply regretted. Dems got the tax; he never got the cuts. Obama’s audacious new gambit is not a serious proposal to solve our fiscal problems. It’s a raw partisan maneuver meant to neuter the Republicans by getting them to cave on their signature issue as the hold-the-line party on taxes.

The objective is to ignite exactly the kind of internecine warfare on taxes now going on among Republicans. And to bury Grover Norquist.

I am not now, nor have ever been, a Norquistian. I don’t believe the current level of taxation is divinely ordained. Nor do I believe in pledges of any kind. But Norquist is the only guy in town to consistently resist the tax-and-spend Democrats’ stampede for ever higher taxes to fund ever more reckless spending.

The hunt for Norquist’s scalp is a key part of the larger partisan project to make the Republicans do a George H.W. Bush and renege on their heretofore firm stand on taxes. Bush never recovered.

Why are the Republicans playing along? Because it is assumed that Obama has the upper hand. Unless Republicans acquiesce and get the best deal they can right now, tax rates will rise across the board on Jan. 1, and the GOP will be left without any bargaining chips.  

But what about Obama? If we all cliff dive, he gets to preside over yet another recession. It will wreck his second term. Sure Republicans will get blamed. But Obama is never running again. He cares about his legacy. You think he wants a second term with a double-dip recession, 9 percent unemployment and a totally gridlocked Congress? Republicans have to stop playing as if they have no cards.

Obama is claiming an electoral mandate to raise taxes on the top 2 percent. Perhaps, but remember those incessant campaign ads promising a return to the economic nirvana of the Clinton years? Well, George W. Bush cut rates across the board, not just for the top 2 percent. Going back to the Clinton rates means middle-class tax hikes that yield four times the revenue that you get from just the rich.

So give Obama the full Clinton. Let him live with that. And with what also lies on the other side of the cliff: 28 million Americans newly subject to the ruinous alternative minimum tax.

Republicans must stop acting like supplicants. If Obama so loves those Clinton rates, Republicans should say: Then go over the cliff and have them all.

And add: But if you want a Grand Bargain, then deal. If we give way on taxes, we want, in return, serious discretionary cuts, clearly spelled-out entitlement cuts and real tax reform.

Otherwise, strap on your parachute, Mr. President. We’ll ride down together.

— Charles Krauthammer is a columnist for Washington Post Writers Group.

Comments

Gandalf 2 years, 4 months ago

Once again the craphammer shows his and the teapub’s true nature. Forget what’s good for America, wreck the economy and people’s lives for the good of the teapub party. Anything to “get” Obama and protect his own slimy breed. Guess the teapubs didn’t learn anything from the last election. I guess that’s a good thing, it will hasten their slide into oblivion.

Liberty_One 2 years, 4 months ago

The only way to save the economy is to end Social Security and Medicare. There is simply no possible way they can be funded at the promised level over the long term. That is a reality you folks need to start coming to grips with.

jafs 2 years, 4 months ago

That's just not true.

There are ways to reform those programs to make them sustainable without ending them.

chootspa 2 years, 4 months ago

Actually, almost identical to their current forms if you eliminate the upper income cap.

jafs 2 years, 4 months ago

Not actually a Ponzi scheme, more like a pyramid one.

And, by necessity, since the first recipients couldn't possibly have paid into the system much, if at all.

If we combined taxing a bit more with means testing benefits, we'd have something more akin to government services, like fire, police, etc. Everybody pays into those, most people are glad to, and the systems are used unequally, and only if necessary. In addition, most folks are glad not to need them.

And, I think they'd be much more sustainable as well, since many people who don't need the benefits wouldn't be taking them.

jafs 2 years, 4 months ago

Well, let's see.

Those who need them would get them, and those who don't would be ok. Meanwhile, we'd have a more sustainable system, and not need to borrow money to pay for it.

Sounds ok to me - I'm fine with fire, police, emergency services, and the way we pay for them, and the fact that I don't generally need or use them.

jafs 2 years, 4 months ago

Sure.

But, I know where you're going, of course, and don't agree with your suggestions to get there.

jafs 2 years, 4 months ago

If it's a safety net, then it should be means tested, and provided to those that need it, rather than to everybody.

It's hard to understand how Medicare can be so solvent, given that the average recipient takes about 3x as much in benefits as they've paid into it.

And, according to hear me, simply removing the cap won't fix SS either, and he's not ideologically opposed to it.

jafs 2 years, 4 months ago

No, means testing means providing benefits to those that need it rather than everybody, not to "premiums".

A safety net isn't needed for those that can live comfortably in retirement and provide for their own healthcare needs without government assistance.

funkdog1 2 years, 4 months ago

The way to save the economy is to bring to an end the two wars and DRASTICALLY scale back our military and weapons. We do not need to maintain bases all over Europe. It's insane. We have the whole world so outmanned and outgunned it's beyond ridiculous.

voevoda 2 years, 4 months ago

Save the economy while destroying the lives of most elderly Americans? That's disrespectful and ungrateful and selfish. Unworthy of ethical people.

Carol Bowen 2 years, 4 months ago

The Congressional Budget office has a list of options with corresponding impact scores. Removing the ceiling on contributions and means testing income for benefits would be enough to fund Social Security.

chootspa 2 years, 4 months ago

I'm not in favor means testing the benefits. Everyone pays in. Everyone gets the potential for benefits. If you make it a welfare program, you endanger it.

Carol Bowen 2 years, 4 months ago

Social Security is set up like insurance rather than an individual pension plan. Those who die younger have paid for those who live longer. Seniors in their nineties are not receiving money they paid in. That money was spent down when they were younger. Seniors in their nineties are receiving money that was contributed by younger participants. Thus, it functions like an insurance. Not everyone needs to collect.

Katara 2 years, 4 months ago

I agree. Social Security should not be means tested. I do think that the wage cap should be eliminated though. Once that is done, we can consider if any other action needs to be taken.

jafs 2 years, 4 months ago

Why not?

I think the simplest, and probably best, solution to SS/Medicare is to means test both programs, and provide them to people that need them, and not to those that don't.

In fact, I think we should just structure all of our helpful programs that way. Collect taxes (not separately, but just simply), and then provide help to those that need it.

It's simpler, and it makes more sense to me.

Katara 2 years, 4 months ago

Because it may not be necessary. Removal of the wage cap may be all that is needed.

Why tinker with something more than necessary?

jafs 2 years, 4 months ago

The average Medicare recipient gets something like 3x the amount they paid in in benefits, and something similar is true of SS.

Also, a bunch of people who don't need those benefits are getting them, which seems odd to me.

Removal of the wage cap won't fix Medicare.

Why provide government assistance to people that don't need it?

Katara 2 years, 4 months ago

I understand that removing the wage cap won't fix Medicare. If you re-read my comments, I was talking about Social Security.

Social Security and Medicare are not entitlement programs even though many people lump them into the same category as other government programs. They are contracts that we have with our government. We contribute a set amount (well, percentage) of our wages and in exchange, we get an annuity (Social Security) and health insurance.

As with all types of annuities and health insurance, it is a gamble that you live long enough to at least collect what you have paid in. There is no guarantee that by paying in, one would recoup the monies back. Other times, one gets more than one pays in. As with all investments, there is risk for both parties.

jafs 2 years, 4 months ago

Why provide assistance to those that don't need it?

If it's a "safety net", as others have said, then it should be available to those that need it, not everybody. If it's an "insurance" program, as some say, the same is true. You only get insurance benefits when you need them.

Would you mind not getting SS and Medicare if you didn't need them? Especially if it made the systems more sustainable, and able to function without raising other taxes and borrowing money?

And, the deduction for FICA includes SS, Medicare, and disability, right? That may be why some like to talk about them as combined systems, even though they function a little differently, with Medicare charging premiums.

Katara 2 years, 4 months ago

Again, Social Security and Medicare are not entitlement programs. The rules are different for entitlement programs. Both programs are contracts.

If you wish to make changes to those systems, please contact your legislator to do so. I am not willing to waste my time in a fruitless discussion with you. I have already explained my reasoning and I am unwilling to repeat myself again and again for your benefit as conversations with you typically go.

jafs 2 years, 4 months ago

They're not "contracts", since they aren't entered into voluntarily.

I notice you don't answer the question at all, which is fine, but I don't understand the need for your attitude, as is often the case.

Katara 2 years, 4 months ago

They are contracts. Employment is a voluntary thing. FICA taxes are only collected on those who are employed (and who are employers). Additionally, an annuity (which is what Social Security is) is not an entitlement program. An annuity is a contract. Health insurance is also a contract.

You have a habit of badgering people when they have clearly explained their point. People run out of patience with that. I am sure you have noticed that fewer people engage in a discussion with you. If you dislike an attitude, you should rethink your approach to engaging people.

And you always have the option not to engage in discussion with those whose attitude offends your sensibilities. If you'll notice, you initiated a discussion with me and not the other way around.

jafs 2 years, 4 months ago

Employment isn't entirely voluntary - since people need money to live.

And, since SS/Medicare/etc. aren't optional, they're not contracts, which require a voluntary willingness on both sides of the contract. If they were, then people like LO and others who don't want to make those agreements would be able to "opt out".

But that's not the case - they can opt out of benefits, but not out of contributions to the system.

I understand now - you're not actually interested in a dialogue, you just want to state your idea and be done. My bad, I thought you were interested in a give and take of ideas. I'll stop trying to engage you in that.

Katara 2 years, 4 months ago

You are really just bound and determined to try to argue about something that is fairly clear. This is why a discussion with you is so unpleasant.

Employment is voluntary. If it was mandatory, it would be slavery. There also many people in this world that have money from non-employment sources (inheritance, investments, etc.). Those people don't pay FICA taxes.

LO and others have the option to opt out by earning money through other means than wages. They can also opt out through alternative living styles (Freeganism is one that comes to mind). They can opt to live a religious life as a monk or a nun who take vows of poverty and who also don't pay FICA taxes. There are a lot of options than one can use to opt out if one wants to be creative or if one wants to be true to their ideology of teeny tiny government.

I am interested in a dialogue that does not involve me having to explain the same concept over and over and over and over and over to those who either choose to be willfully ignorant, those who simply don't pay attention to what has been said or those who have nothing else better to do with their time and choose to play the preschooler's game of "but why?".

You aren't exchanging ideas or engaging in a give and take. You are simply being contrary.

Carol Bowen 2 years, 4 months ago

Check out the various option for fixing Social Security researched by the Congressional Budget Office. The research indicates that removing the wage cap alone is not enough. I'm fine with adjusting Social Security gradually. Social Security and Medicare require more thought and caution than fixing the budget. See http://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/ftpdocs/115xx/doc11580/07-01-ssoptions_forweb.pdf , page xi. Click on the chart from the CBO document for full view.

Liberty275 2 years, 4 months ago

You are going to have old people that need food and shelter and at least minimal healthcare. You have to deal with that problem. Libertarian or not, I don't believe you will sit and watch a man starve or die for the lack of antibiotics. You have to have a plan. What is it?

average 2 years, 4 months ago

Except that it was not actually done, which is why those programs passed decades ago and are so untouchable now.

fiddleback 2 years, 4 months ago

The tacit principle in yet another piece of Kraphammer drivel is preserving a 4% tax cut for the rich.

Yes, GOP, fight like hell to preserve Bush's "temporary" tax cut, now in its 11th year, for those who need it the very least...

Meanwhile, 24 states under your complete control are about to find out just how well trickle-down works. Pander to Hispanics all you want. Try to turn Rubio into the next Obama, just as Romney was inevitably the GOP's John Kerry.

It won't work. The Wild West is over; you are the last contingent in the civilized world to believe in "every man for himself." You are the 21st century Whigs. A new party to contrast the Democrats will finally emerge after your politically-illiterate and moderacy-allergic retiree base dies off.

Enjoy.

jafs 2 years, 4 months ago

That's why reasonable people agree that spending cuts, as well as revenue increases, are necessary.

tomatogrower 2 years, 4 months ago

You know, Liberty One, I see kids and adults with all kinds of expensive toys. I see all the ads for even more expensive toys. In order to help out the less fortunate, you aren't willing to have fewer toys? To respect and care for the elderly, you aren't willing to lower your thermostat, so you have a little extra money to help them? Your adolescent rantings that it's all about me, me, me are immature and immoral. We live in a nation where there is more than enough to go around. It's just that some of you could care less about their fellow man, then go to church on Sunday and pretend to be good Christians. You are neither good, nor Christian.

Richard Heckler 2 years, 4 months ago

Charles K brings Anti American Thinking from the Beltway

This phony republican party is still against USA jobs and against the 99%. In reality the GOP is dead and is being misrepresented by a right wing anti american group of people who believe in a one party government. It's their way or the highway which came in like a hurricane with Reagan/Bush. Go away I say.

The nation has migrated to a republican party that is only posing as republicans. What has replaced republicans is the anti american right wing party. What does this anti american right wing party do for us? Nothing . Obstacles and frauds is the proper description.

STILL THE SAME........ against jobs and 99% of the people!

Neither WOMEN nor Republicans nor Democrats nor the Middle class will ever be able to afford those posing as the Republican Party! Nothing has changed since 2008.

-- Women will be getting more republican big government in there lives? It is on the way! http://www.kansascity.com/2012/10/05/3849961/joel-brinkley-gop-would-imp...

--- Public Education is a strong player in new Economic Growth yet republicans starve the system of funding which starves our teachers of resources. Which starves the desired level of education = stealing from our children’s future.

--- "Rebuilding America's Defences," openly advocates for total global military domination” (Very dangerous position which threatens OUR freedoms and the nations security) http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Project_for_the_New_American_...

--- The repub party declared the day Obama was elected their primary function would be to make Obama a one term president. Consequently their millions of NO votes became the disastrous campaign against women,The USA and jobs for Americans. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jun/09/did-republicans-deli...

--- Republicans want to kill PBS and NPR - NO I want my tax dollars to support PBS and NPR

--- Publicopoly Exposed frankly is a threat to Democracy - ALEC http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/11603/publicopoly_exposed/ http://www.justice.org/cps/rde//justice/hs.xsl/15044.htm

--- Killing Social Security Insurance Is Not An Option. http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2010/0111orr.html

--- Killing Medicare Insurance is simply not an option. http://www.thenation.com/article/159769/paul-ryans-plan-destroy-medicare

These republican economic positions are apparently entitlements that have literally destroyed millions of jobs, our economies,retirement plans and put families out of their homes. Plus make owning a home a risky investment - now that is remarkable.

--- Ask yourself is the market value of your home worth less than your mortgage? How much market value have home owners lost since 2007? Trillions of $$$$.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 4 months ago

Eliminating deductions as a way to raise revenues is just a flat-out lie and scam. The math just doesn't add up. But it's the only cover Republicans have for their agenda of blatant class warfare, all the while completely ignoring the real turdbomb that'll be passed on to subsequent generations-- global warming induced climate change that will make the planet hostile to the survival of hundreds of millions if not billions of humans.

chootspa 2 years, 4 months ago

Actually, there is some math to support it, but you'd have to eliminate a lot of deductions, and the people who would feel it the most would, once again, be the middle class.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 4 months ago

However, I do agree with Chuckie, although the headline has it backwards-- Obama should let Republicans drive the country over the so-called "fiscal cliff." It's something they've been working for for the last four years, and they should get what they want.

That wouldn't be nearly as disastrous as Obama conceding way too much in a so-called grand bargain.

jafs 2 years, 4 months ago

How much should Obama compromise, if at all, in your view?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 4 months ago

The deficit/debt issue is a complete irrelevancy in contrast to the one overriding, real issue we all face-- global warming/climate change.

If we, as a species, not just as a country, fail to deal with it, those lucky enough to survive will look back on this debate as little more than a rearrangement of the deck chairs.

jafs 2 years, 4 months ago

Again, shifting the conversation.

You say Obama shouldn't "concede too much", so I ask again how much should he compromise, if at all?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 4 months ago

I'm not shifting the conversation. I'm saying the conversation is wholly irrelevant in the face of a dramatically more important issue that really isn't being discussed at all.

About the only relevancy this issue has is that it will likely take many years of deficit spending to keep us from driving off the global warming/climate change cliff-- a very real cliff unlike the imaginary one under discussion here.

jafs 2 years, 4 months ago

If it's irrelevant, then it doesn't matter how much he "concedes".

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 4 months ago

It's only relevant to the extent that he if he goes along with a strangling of the economy with austerity hysteria it may make it impossible to make the investments that will redirect the economy in a sustainable direction.

jafs 2 years, 4 months ago

Who cares if it's all irrelevant?

This reminds me of an old Woody Allen movie - he's a young child in class who didn't do his homework, and the teacher asks why not. He responds that the universe is expanding, and in the long run it will just dissolve. When she asks why he didn't do his homework again, he says "What's the point"?

I don't understand the extremes - why is anybody who suggests cuts in federal spending caught in "austerity hysteria"? The budget is huge, and I'm absolutely certain we could find a number of ways to spend less without going that far.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 4 months ago

We aren't causing the universe to expand, nor can we prevent it from doing so. And any negative results from it will happen billions of years from now. So your analogy isn't an apt one.

I agree that the deficit could be dramatically reduced in very sane ways. But there is very little sanity involved in things like the war and weapons budget.

At any rate, the fact remains that reducing the deficit is entirely pointless if global warming/climate change isn't reversed dramatically and quickly-- something that isn't being seriously considered or debated at all in Washington right now, on either side of the aisle.

jafs 2 years, 4 months ago

The point is that there's a frame in which everything is pointless and meaningless, and in the long run we're all dead anyway.

That's what you're doing when we start discussing the deficit and debt issue, and you switch to global warming - you're switching the frame.

Either it matters what Obama does, as you first suggest, or it doesn't, because it's irrelevant. Unless you use different criteria for what matters with each subject, you can't have it both ways.

I just asked how much he should compromise, since you suggest he shouldn't do so too much, and instead of answering, you switch topics and frames on me.

So, I did likewise, with the WA joke.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 4 months ago

I'm not changing the subject. I'm telling you that the subject is a fraud. The deficit is to a very, very large extent a non-issue. It's pure distraction put forward by those who want to preserve the status quo, which includes ignoring real issues with real consequences, global warming/climate change at the very top of the list.

jafs 2 years, 4 months ago

If it's a non-issue, then it doesn't matter how much Obama "concedes".

That was your first point, that he shouldn't do that too much.

And, I completely disagree with your characterization - I think that our huge national debt and annual deficits are real issues with real consequences, and I have no interest in preserving the status quo or ignoring other important issues like the ones you mentioned.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 4 months ago

If we address global warming and climate change, then we may survive for deficits to become an issue that we can address.

But to address global warming and climate change will require restructuring our entire economy and society, and doing that will mean running large deficits for many years to come.

That's just a fact.

jafs 2 years, 4 months ago

Why?

What's your suggestion for dealing with climate change?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 4 months ago

There are numerous things we need to try. But doing nothing, as we're currently doing, is sure to end in disaster, and will require even higher deficit spending to deal with those disastrous circumstances-- Sandy is going to cost us several hundred $billion in spending alone.

One thing that could be implemented in rather short order would be a carbon fee and dividend program in order to enlist market forces in reducing carbon usage and output. And one attraction you should like is that it's revenue neutral.

Briseis 2 years, 4 months ago

A liberal perspective....

Think about it for a minute. It is a fact that about 47% of the voting public do not pay any federal income tax and the majority of this group vote Democrat. While it seems like the sequestered cuts will trim entitlements and this group will suffer as a result, it may not actually happen at all with the large increase in tax revenues to offset the entitlement cuts. We could actually see a growing welfare class out of this fiscal cliff, one that favors Democrats at the voting booth.

As a bonus from going over the cliff this way, the Democrats get a huge cut in Defense spending that Republicans would never vote for any other time.

Let's be generous and assume that the rich, not just billionaires and millionaires, includes everyone making over $200,000 a year and that they represent 6% of the voters, with the middle class group finishing off the final 47%. Sure the top 6% pay a bit more than 50% of the tax revenues generated, but this big 47% middle class group pay for just about all of the remaining 50% of federal taxes.

So what about the tax pain inflicted on this "middle class" if we go completely over the fiscal cliff and tax rates go up for everyone? I suggest that the majority of middle class are conservatives and vote Independent or Republican. By inflicting pain upon this group, perhaps we see another 2-3% fall down into the non-tax-paying group and become dependent on government assistance to get by. A good number would likely switch their votes to Democrats, believing the blame piled on the Republicans by the Administration and the Democrats in congress.

Does it benefit the Democrat voting block if we have a little more pain on the middle class? Will the Democrats likely increase their hold on more voters who might then require assistance from the government to meet their needs, either in the way of Medicaid, food stamps, rent assistance or outright welfare?

I suggest you think hard about propaganda in these various fiscal cliff issues and whether you are being fed a truth or a lie. Think about the effects on the future voting pool more than the faux sincerity displayed to convince you that these congressmen care about the economy. They may say one thing but actually want something else to happen - and they may simply be loading up on blame ammunition.

Going over the fiscal cliff may be what they all really want - willing to wait for the battle to see who can blame the other party the most and be believed the most by the next pool of voters.

I'm sorry the fiscal cliff is not about the economy . . . it's about the votes!

jafs 2 years, 4 months ago

If you included any sources for your assertions, it might be worth discussing them with you.

jafs 2 years, 4 months ago

Well, since my previous research has showed that middle class people voted for Obama, I tend to think the other assertions in this post are equally invalid. But, if this poster really believes his comments, I'd be glad to discuss them with him if provided some sources.

What was the topic of our conversation?

jafs 2 years, 4 months ago

Ok - thanks.

Do you really want me to provide a source for the fact that in the first two years of the Clinton administration, deficits were shrinking each year? It really is easy to look up.

jafs 2 years, 4 months ago

"It really doesn't matter about the deficit".

Bizarre how concern for the deficit is a rather mutable thing, depending on who's in power, for some folks.

chootspa 2 years, 4 months ago

You know what percentage of the vote Romney got? 47%. Just thought I'd toss that out there.

tomatogrower 2 years, 4 months ago

"Think about it for a minute. It is a fact that about 47% of the voting public do not pay any federal income tax and the majority of this group vote Democrat."

Brisels, I didn't finish reading your post, because your first sentence is already wrong, so I assumed the rest was wrong. Many of those 47% are retired people. Most of them I know vote Republican. I personally know 2 younger people on SS disability who are Republican. Most of the clients and people I know who are undereducated and part of the working poor who don't pay taxes, voted Republican. Since the majority of people who are on welfare are white, and whites mostly voted Republican, I assume those welfare recipients who voted, voted Republican. Since your first premise is both wrong and insulting, then I was not interested in whatever else you had to say. Sorry.

Cait McKnelly 2 years, 4 months ago

It's interesting. After the election, when polls were taken, many of the people who voted for Obama's re-election said that they were aware of the "fiscal cliff" and actually, fully expected the country to go over it. Not only that, they stated that when (not "if" but when) it happened they would blame the Republicans for letting it happen, not the Democrats.
I will try and look for the sources where I read this.

Cait McKnelly 2 years, 4 months ago

Thank you, Katara. I appreciate it.
I found this, from the article, very telling.
"Seven in 10 Americans want lawmakers and the White House to compromise and reach an agreement, but two-thirds say they believe efforts will fall short. Twenty-eight percent say they expect Washington to behave like “responsible adults,” with 67 percent saying leaders will behave like “spoiled children.”
This, more than anything, tells me the GOP is in a downward spiral.

Katara 2 years, 4 months ago

And the Republican response to such polls is to double down on the derp. I simply don't get why they believe the reason Americans rejected them is because they weren't conservative enough.

Americans are tired of the nastiness. They are tired of Republicans playing chicken with their futures. They are tired of being insulted because they don't fall lockstep into the Republican mantra of "Tax cuts fix everything". They are tired of the repeating the same actions over and over again and get worse results each time. Trickle down doesn't work. Tax cuts don't create jobs.

This is why Republicans didn't do so well and as long as they refuse to compromise and work for the good of all Americans, they will be simply become extinct much like the dinosaurs with their inability to adapt to their environment.

bd 2 years, 4 months ago

Is that why 47% of the voters thought we are no better off than we were 4 years ago????? Look in the mirror and ask yourself???

Katara 2 years, 4 months ago

Thank you for providing such an excellent example of what I was describing.

jhawkinsf 2 years, 4 months ago

Just prior to bailing out the big banks, we were told we were on the edge of the abyss. So too, when we rescued the auto industry. Then came the stimulus, with it's dubious overall effect. And stimulus II. And we've been bailing out, rescuing and stimulating piecemeal fashion ever since.

I'm a little abyssed out. Go over the damn cliff. Or not. Get it over with. 'Cause these guys in Washington haven't the slightest clue in the world as to what they're doing. Of course, neither do I. But at least I'm not pretending I know. At least I'm not taking other people's money while pretending to know.

Liberty275 2 years, 4 months ago

Take it down. Rebuild a country with no nanny state or jesus-based law.

beatrice 2 years, 4 months ago

CK: "Where is the other part of President Obama’s vaunted “balanced approach”? Where are the spending cuts, both discretionary and entitlement: Medicare, Medicaid and now Obamacare (the health care trio) and Social Security?"

Those are the things the Republicans want, so let them propose those cuts. Obama put forth his plan, so now it is time for the Republicans to state for the record what cuts they want to make to Medicare, Medicaid, "Obamacare" and Social Security. Let the Republicans stand before the American people and say what cuts they want to make to social spending while protecting cuts to taxes for the wealthy. My guess is they won't.

Cait McKnelly 2 years, 4 months ago

Of course they won't! They can't propose actual cuts to Social Security and Medicare. Half of their base is over the age of 50! They want Obama to do it so they can point fingers and say , "See? HE took you down!".

verity 2 years, 4 months ago

As I recall, Newt Gingrich tried this. I also seem to recall that didn't work out so well for Newt.

By the way, Mr Krauthammer, President Obama won the election.

I say go for it. Quit letting the recalcitrant bullies intimidate. Let the Republicans slide over the cliff. Maybe we'll get some new ones who don't put party and power before country.

John Hamm 2 years, 4 months ago

Spend, spend, spend. We do not have a revenue problem. We have a spending problem. When are you Liberals gonna see this?

jafs 2 years, 4 months ago

We have both, and reasonable people of all sorts agree on that.

Reducing the issue to either simply a revenue problem or a spending problem isn't convincing.

yourworstnightmare 2 years, 4 months ago

I encourage the GOP to keep calling for cuts to medicare and social security in the angry punitive way they have been doing, while at the same time refusing to raise taxes on the wealthy.

This will ensure democratic victories going forward.

oldexbeat 2 years, 4 months ago

50 percent or more of the money we could cut is in defense. That fact is not being talked about by anyone seriously. One, many of the 1 percent make big money from war. And 2, no one wants to seem 'weak' even though we spend more on war than Russia and China, etc. combined. One trillion dollars has been taken since 2001 by the wars. That's the problem, not social security, etc.

FlintlockRifle 2 years, 4 months ago

Floor board the old convert, and head for the cliff-----------

tomatogrower 2 years, 4 months ago

Good grief. Get your story straight Tea Bag. First you claim that he doesn't come up with any ideas, then you claim that he comes up with ideas no one supports. Which is it? It can't be both. Do you ever listen to yourselves?

weeslicket 2 years, 4 months ago

let me know if i,ve boiled down cal's argument to the correct viscosity: 1. for the past four years republicans did everything they could to sabotage america, SO THAT they could make president obama a one-termer. 2. failing that, the republicans will now do everything they can to sabotage america for the next four years, SO THAT president obama's legacy will suffer.

) it's pure genious (

Centerville 2 years, 4 months ago

This is just a publicity stunt for politicians. A total fake-out. If we stop giving them all this attention and they just get on with their vacations and do nothing by Dec 31, then the sun will come up on Jan 1 as usual. Nothing will have changed. We'll still have an acknowledged $16 trillion debt, an unacknowledged $78 trillion in unfunded liabilities, an 8% unemployment rate. And a populace that thinks they can ride it over the rainbow.

Briseis 2 years, 4 months ago

The fiscal cliff is a made up meme of gloom and doom, masterfully created by politicians to continue sucking money from the working man...and woman.

This is not a battle of left and right. It is a milking of the working stiff to continue their life of government luxury.

voevoda 2 years, 4 months ago

Krauthammer's idea of Republican leverage is to saddle Obama with the legacy of a poor economy? It won't work. First, because he inherited an economy in free fall. Second, because the Republican Congress has prevented him from taking the measures he intended in order to correct the economy. Third, because as the first African-American president, he is guaranteed an important legacy, no matter what else happens. Krauthammer is reduced to making this kind of argument because in fact the Republicans are out of leverage: they either compromise with the President, or they own the dive over the fiscal cliff. After all, they are the ones who built the fiscal cliff in the first place.

Jeff Kilgore 2 years, 4 months ago

You mean, Obama should let GOP go over the fiscal cliff, which by the way, won't happen. This is just Groundhog Day, (the movie) all over again.

msezdsit 2 years, 4 months ago

Social Security is the easiest to solve. So you get a sense of the Democrats’ inclination to reform entitlements when Dick Durbin, the Senate Democrats’ No. 2, says Social Security is off the table because it “does not add a penny to our deficit.”

Social Security is paid for. It is not an entitlement. The republicans insist on robbing from social security and they don't want to pay it back so they think it should be on the auctioning block.

The pubs are lying about this one and just keep on keeping on their game of lies. But that is how they operate so just hang it on obama instead.

jafs 2 years, 4 months ago

That's really just some government accounting there.

Social Security is not "paid for" - money was collected and put into the trust fund in order to prepare for the Baby Boomers' retirement. If they'd left the money there, it would have been "paid for". Unfortunately, they "invested" it in government bonds, which means they've used it for other things.

Now, in order to pay those benefits, money will have to be raised from somewhere else, most likely other taxes, but it's certainly possible the money will be borrowed as well.

It's a stupid thing to do, and it makes the whole idea of saving up extra for the fund absurd.

verity 2 years, 4 months ago

We paid for Social Security and they stole the money. Maybe those who did that should be made to pay it back. We believe in restitution, don't we?

jafs 2 years, 4 months ago

They didn't "steal" it, they "borrowed" it.

It's in fact required by law for any excess balance in the trust fund to be invested in government bonds - strange but true.

How would you go about making "them" pay it back?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 4 months ago

US Govt. bonds are the single-most secure investment in the world. That doesn't mean they are 100% secure, but neither are any of the alternatives.

jafs 2 years, 4 months ago

It's utterly insane to "invest" SS trust funds in government bonds, and makes no sense at all.

The fact that not everybody understands that is amazing to me.

Just think about what it means please - instead of leaving money in a fund to use for SS benefits, we "lend" it to ourselves, and then we have to come up with the money plus the interest on the bonds.

We have turned an asset (excess money in the SS trust fund) into a liability, and will have to get all of that money from somewhere else, most likely other taxes, and possibly borrowed money as well.

It makes no sense - it's like lending myself money from my left hand and paying myself back with my right hand plus interest.

If we leave the money in the fund, then we have SS benefits paid for, and no extra money to come up with for bond interest. We don't have to raise other taxes or borrow money.

verity 2 years, 4 months ago

I was being facetious. Apparently I'm not always as humorous as I think I am.

jafs 2 years, 4 months ago

My bad - I can be a bit too serious at times.

:-)

msezdsit 2 years, 4 months ago

There is a chunk taken out of my check for social security. That is paying for it.

jafs 2 years, 4 months ago

It doesn't pay for your benefits, it pays for current benefits.

I did a little calculation - based on our SS statements, we'll pay enough into the system to pay for about 8 years of benefits. That means that if we live to 90, which I hope we do, we'll take out about 3x as much in benefits as we've paid into the system, including both our contributions and employer contributions.

Cait McKnelly 2 years, 4 months ago

"Opinion: Obama should let GOP go over cliff"
There. Fixed the headline for ya.

tomatogrower 2 years, 4 months ago

It's funny. They are still all about Obama failing, even if it brings down the country. When are they going to start doing their job? Too bad it so difficult to fire these guys.

roadwarrior 2 years, 4 months ago

Norquist is the only guy in town to consistently resist the tax-and-spend Democrats’ stampede for ever higher taxes to fund ever more reckless spending.

reckless spending. why don't we define actual reckless spending and eliminate it. Rather than attacking benefits we have paid into and appreciate, let's address the incredible amounts of pork barrel spending lobbied for to buy votes. Why must we be under constant threat, selling our societal aspirations in deference to 'roads to nowhere" ?

KiferGhost 2 years, 4 months ago

Even Ben Stein understands that raising taxes would be the responsible thing to do. Come on America, let's act like adults for once.

beatrice 2 years, 4 months ago

Are you calling for the literal death of our president?

jafs 2 years, 4 months ago

I don't like the carbon tax and dividend program a lot, because I don't think it will work as advertised.

You say we need large deficit spending to deal with cc, but don't say why, and then say if we don't do anything, we'll need large deficit spending.

So, in your view, we're just doomed to large deficits, I guess.

I read somewhere that we need to reduce worldwide emissions by 14% by 2020 - most Americans can reduce their emissions by that amount with rather small changes in lifestyle, I'd think. No need for massive government programs, or deficit spending.

Why do we need large deficit spending to deal with cc? If you don't have any real reasons, then I reject your argument.

Trumbull 2 years, 4 months ago

"House Speaker John Boehner already made the pre-emptive concession of agreeing to raise revenues. But the insistence on doing so by eliminating deductions without raising marginal rates is now the subject of fierce Republican infighting."

John Boehner also said that he would use the next debt ceiling agreement as a means of leverage for bargaining. This would be bad considering this could further risk the United States' credit rating. This would be a sequel that we really do not need.

After the election, there was a sense of back to normal. I would not be suprised that employment #'s would improve. Now we have self created uncertainty by congress. If this is about one party vs. the other, it needs to be called out as nothing less than sabatoge. They are going against the best for our country to serve their party. These guys come off as villians as a result. No wonder they have such a low approval rating.

Mixolydian 2 years, 4 months ago

Aren't the democrats always harking back to the Clinton economic glory years (never mind the dot com bubble and sensible republican budgets)? Why would democrats care if all the Bush tax cuts expired and we went back to the Clinton tax rate schedule? True, it would raise taxes on everyone. And aren't democrats always going on about cutting the defense budget? The other half of this fiscal cliff, sequestration, would really gut the defense budget.

For republicans, it's a fiscal cliff. For democrats, it's a return to the glory years. Seems like we'll soon find out in January which one it is. Either way, it'l likely to happen.

Trumbull 2 years, 4 months ago

Yes that is true, but the cliff will stall the economic recovery or put us back into a recession. Lower tax revenue resulting from the recession might offset the gains made by tax increases and budget cuts.

It is a fiscal cliff for both the Republicans and Democrats. But do the Republicans see a stalled economy as a consolation prize? Considering there obstructionism and their conduct during the debt ceiling crisis, I do not doubt there is an element of them wanting to see a failed Obama 2nd term to position themselves for the next election. If this is true, I consider them villans.

Mixolydian 2 years, 4 months ago

Krauthammer assumes the republicans can do anything to stop the expiration of the current tax rates and the gutting of the defense budget. It's exactly what the democrats have wanted for the last ten years. It's going to happen because it's what the democrats want and they hold all the cards.

Alyosha 2 years, 4 months ago

Such willful ignorance on your part, rockchaclk. Your thoughts deserve the same amount of respect you give to the President — they are those of an "ignorant child."

Briseis 2 years, 4 months ago

Hear! Hear!!

Obama Theatrics, Obama Reality

Obama has been too quiet lately. And when he does speak, he says little of substance. For example, on the looming fiscal cliff that has America panicked, he held a press conference on Nov. 28 to urge people to tweet Congress.

The only hard policy statement included was a reiteration of his well-worn proposal to not to raise taxes on families earning less than $250,000 a year.

Tweets? Really? Why not have a bake sale? In Everybody’s Autobiography (1937), the American expat Gertrude Stein expressed the futility of returning to her childhood home in Oakland, Calif., by writing, “There is no there there.” The phrase has come to indicate something that is empty of meaning or substance.

People who make the mistake of listening to Obama’s rhetoric often conclude there is no there there. His plans usually consist of sermons in which his voice rises and falls to emphasize phrases like “American exceptionalism” and “social justice.” They are packed with promises, but lack substance as to how anything will be accomplished. People should stop listening; they should start watching, instead, because the substance of Obama is not at the podium, but in the regulatory and other agencies he is creating to enforce de facto law without going through Congress.

http://lfb.org/today/obama-theatrics-obama-reality/

FarmerNuts 2 years, 4 months ago

This scenario has been played out many times in the past with the people in the middle paying for the rich to get richer. Face it, there is no more motivation in this country to do better than your parents. The current administration does not fear the growing debt because they know that the debt no longer matters - we will always be the cleanest shirt in the dirty laundry. We buy more than half of our new debt each week. When will we be buying all of our own debt? Just make the interest rate 0% and let the presses go.

xorobabel 2 years, 4 months ago

The latest CBS poll indicates Americans are more likely to blame Republicans than Obama by a margin of 2-to-1 if the US goes over the 'fiscal cliff.' Gallup has Obama's approval rating at 54% while that of Congress is 18%.

The argument that Americans will blame Obama at this point is laughable, and it is being spread by the same people that said Romney had 'momentum' and that it would be a near electoral landslide for the Republican.

The implosion of the modern GOP and its transformation into a regional party has been a truly sad event, and it seems that Republican leaders are content to bring the United States down with their party.

gudpoynt 2 years, 4 months ago

I'm calling "check" on the GOP. If we go over the cliff, then it's "mate".

"Why", you ask? I'm glad you did.

  1. An overwhelming majority of Americans will blame the Republicans for going over the cliff.

  2. Once everybody gets slapped with tax increases and sequestration, then the whining and screaming is really going to reach a fevered pitch.

  3. That fevered pitch will be the fuel that Democrats need when they introduce "emergency" legislation when congress reconvenes next year.

And it's at that point, after the taxes have already been raised... that Republicans will find themselves having to support Democrats proposals for tax reductions for everybody except those making over 250K.

In the end, if we go over the cliff, Democrats will end up with cuts in defense and the middle class tax cuts and very likely, similar measures that will get passed to "fix" the damage done by going over the cliff.

If we go over the cliff, the Republicans just lost all of their bargaining power, instead of the sliver they are clinging to today.

But, they are still in check right now. In order to save face and maintain a shred of credibility among the public, they will have to avoid going over the cliff. And right now, they have to eat a bit Democrat sandwich, and raise taxes on the wealthy in order to do that.

Goodbye 20th century, supply side GOP. It was nice knowing you.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 4 months ago

There is no "cliff."

Wall Street Manipulates Deficit Angst with 'Fiscal Cliff' Fear

Deficit hawks rely on media allies to report budget doom to advance their agenda of cutting Medicare and social security

by Dean Baker

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/dec/03/wall-street-deficit-fiscal-cliff-fear

xorobabel 2 years, 4 months ago

http://www.quinnipiac.edu/institutes-centers/polling-institute/national/release-detail?ReleaseID=1821 - The views of Americans on this issue.

85% of Americans are against an 'anti-tax' pledge.

Americans favor raising taxes on the top 2% by a massive 65-31 margin.

Obama's approval rating hits its highest point in 3 years.

Yes, Republicans. Do it. 'Let Obama go over the fiscal cliff,' and we'll see who the American people blame.

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