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Republicans Ignoring Political Reality In Fiscal Cliff Negotiations

The analysis of the fiscal cliff negotiations keeps revolving around the same themes, and the question always comes down to one question, what is the GOP really willing to do when it comes to taxes. According to a new CNN report, it doesn’t appear that they’re willing to do very much:

One of the reasons Tuesday night’s conversation between President Barack Obama and John Boehner did not go well was because the GOP House speaker sent the White House a fiscal cliff proposal calling for a permanent extension of Bush-era tax cuts for all Americans, including for incomes in the top 2%, a Democratic source said Wednesday.

Democrats took the GOP counter offer to mean that tax reform cannot result in any marginal rates higher than current law, according to the source, who said Boehner’s proposal was a “sign” to Democrats that “Boehner and the GOP are unwilling or unable to do any sort of deal that can pass the Senate or be signed by the president.”

Democrats favor raising tax rates on wealthy Americans as part of a deal to avoid the year-end fiscal cliff, while Republicans want to extend the Bush-era cuts for all income levels.

A Republican source insists the White House may have misinterpreted the latest GOP offer, since Boehner’s offer includes tax reform down the road, which would render anything permanent moot.

The idea of “tax reform down the road” likely doesn’t sound very appealing to the Obama White House because there’s no real reason to believe that promised future action will take place. Indeed, that’s much of the problem with any of these long term plans to deal with the budget deficit. Since one Congress cannot really bind another, it’s relatively easy for a future Congress and President to reverse something that one of its predecessors have done. So, I can’t blame the White House for not necessarily being too thrilled about a plan that basically consists of a promise to do something in the future.

What this report really indicates, though, is that the GOP still has not moved from its position that all of the Bush Tax Cuts should be extended. In all honesty, it’s a position that makes no political sense at this point. I’ve noted several polls since the election showing that the public supports the President’s position on this issue and today there are two more, from ABC News and Bloomberg, both of which show the exact same thing. As I’ve noted before, Republicans seem to think that we’re in the same political situation we were in back in 2010 the last time that this debate came up. As I’ve noted before, though, the political climate today is far different than it was two years ago. Instead of coming off a winning election, the GOP is coming off an election in which it lost the Presidency, lost the Senate, and lost seats in the House of Representatives. Moreover, the President made his position on taxes a central part of his campaign and can now arguably claim a mandate on the issue. Ignoring these political realities strikes me as being akin to the Republicans who, during the course of the Presidential campaign, continually claimed that the polls showing Mitt Romney trailing the President were biased in some manner. The polls, however, turned out to be right on Election Day, and I’ll venture a guess that they’ll end up being right about this too. Why the GOP continues to pursue a politically dumb strategy is something that I simply cannot find a rational explanation for. If anyone can come up with one, though, I’d be interested in hearing it.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. legion says:

    Obama knows that Boehner simply doesn’t have the support within his own caucus to do his actual job. There are too many insane, incompetent nutjobs in the GOP to allow him to make a rational deal, and there’s too much attention being paid to this process to let him get away with proposing garbage. I’m frankly amazed he was able to hold on to the Speaker’s job after the last clusterf*ck, but maybe even the Teahadists didn’t want to change leadership that close to a Presidential election… now Boehner’s got no such cover.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  2. al-Ameda says:

    One of the reasons Tuesday night’s conversation between President Barack Obama and John Boehner did not go well was because the GOP House speaker sent the White House a fiscal cliff proposal calling for a permanent extension of Bush-era tax cuts for all Americans, including for incomes in the top 2%, a Democratic source said Wednesday.

    I am beginning to think that Republicans have convinced themselves that millions of “true” conservatives stayed at home on election day, and the election results are not to be believed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  3. Rafer Janders says:

    Wouldn’t “Republicans Ignoring Reality” have been a simpler and more comprehensive headline? You could even make it a macro and just slap it on top of most posts here — think of the typing you’d save!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  4. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Well, let’s not paint with too broad a brush.

    Boehner is not ignoring reality. He’s driving a hard bargain. Negotiation 101. The House leadership is not insouciant of reality. Senate Republicans are not absent from reality. Hell, even Tom “Dr. No” Coburn on this topic is orbiting well within the penumbra of political reality.

    There’s a difference between Republicans at large and a small collection of House members in gerrymandered districts who first were elected only two years ago and who in material part still were in grad school not all that long ago. I understand the demographics of Internet blogs — and as such that Republicans = stoo-pid is the default position — but there’s a whole other world out there beyond that computer screen and FYI Republicans are a heterogenous species.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 12

  5. Motopilot says:

    @Rafer Janders: To quote a prominent Republican, he said, “We create our own reality.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  6. Spartacus says:

    Why the GOP continues to pursue a politically dumb strategy is something that I simply cannot find a rational explanation for. If anyone can come up with one, though, I’d be interested in hearing it.

    Tribalism. All of the political pressure within the GOP is coming from extremist politicians with an extremist base in safe, gerrymandered districts. There is no political pressure coming from the more sensible (actually, just less insane) elements of the GOP. People like David Frum, David Brooks, James Joyner et al are not shouting loudly that tax rates on the 2% must rise.

    They’re not doing this because they are the same folks who’ve spent the last 20-30 years telling the crazies that tax rates must always go down. They said those things not because they were true, but because that was the way to put together a winning coalition. Now that some of their co-crazies are true believers they don’t want to run the risk of losing that portion of the coalition. So, they sit by quietly or in passing make the occasional heretical statement that a tax increase on the top 2% won’t hurt the country.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  7. stonetools says:

    All this confirms my belief that we are really going over the fiscal cliff. You can’t really negotiate with someone who isn’t reality based. I’m certain that the House Republicans believe they have the advantage, because their constituents ( and talk radio ) are telling them so. Doug should go over Hot Air and Althouse and post the above. He will find a zillion commenters telling him that he is all wrong and and the American people actually favor the House Republican stance.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  8. swbarnes2 says:

    @Spartacus:

    There is no political pressure coming from the more sensible (actually, just less insane) elements of the GOP. People like David Frum, David Brooks, James Joyner et al are not shouting loudly that tax rates on the 2% must rise.

    “Sensible” elements can speak with their votes. James and Doug vote for Republicans, that’s their contribution to American policy. And then they make sad sack posts about how awful Republican policies are, as if they didn’t contribute to making them.

    So, no, there is no pressure on Republicans to be more sane, and there never will be.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  9. legion says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    Boehner is not ignoring reality. He’s driving a hard bargain.

    He wishes he was. Unfortunately, it’s rather difficult to engage in serious bargaining when the other guy knows exactly how much you have in your bank account. In Poker terms, “big bank takes little bank”, and Boehner has very little bank indeed right now.

    There’s a difference between Republicans at large and a small collection of House members in gerrymandered districts who first were elected only two years ago and who in material part still were in grad school not all that long ago.

    You’re right, but what you continually fail to recognize is that your “small collection” are the people making the actual decisions for the party as a whole. It shouldn’t surprise you then that the entire party gets stereotyped as incompetent, ineffective, and downright evil. Don’t like it? Stop voting for idiots and con men.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  10. john personna says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    It is kind of late for Boehner to offer a “starting position.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  11. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    Boehner is not ignoring reality. He’s driving a hard bargain. Negotiation 101

    No argument, but he’s doing it from a position of weakness which he seems either unwilling or unable to admit that he’s in. To hear Boehner speak, you’d think that November never happened.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  12. David M says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    To hear Boehner speak, you’d think that November never happened.

    To be fair, I’m not sure anything happened in November that is going to change the mind of the GOP nut jobs in his caucus that object to any deal that doesn’t end Obamacare, Medicaid, Medicare, etc.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  13. Brummagem Joe says:

    Why the GOP continues to pursue a politically dumb strategy is something that I simply cannot find a rational explanation for. If anyone can come up with one, though, I’d be interested in hearing it.

    I think I’d have to pass on that Doug but then we’re not dealing with rational people are we? That Boehner ever made such a half assed proposal as pass ALL the tax cuts and trust us on tax reform at some indeterminate point in the future indicates either he’s totally out of touch with reality or he’s playing games to keep his caucus happy by producing the illusion of sticking to his guns. I incline to the latter but who knows . There’s also a dangerous notion abroad in the GOP that if they strap on the terrorist suicide vests again over the debt ceiling then they can win it all back in January. I’ve now seen a couple of comment pieces from journalists who have obviously had the word from the white house and the message is forget it. Obama is going demand a debt ceiling deal be part of the whole ball of wax or it’s over the cliff. Then he’s going to turn the heat up on business and the Republicans over the debt ceiling. Trust me he’ll hit the soft targets first just as Clinton did. How do you fancy throwing sand in the US airline system by starting to furlough air traffic controllers in mid January?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  14. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @David M:

    True, but he’s already purged some of them from the committees, and they don’t constitute a majority of his caucus. For reasons passing understanding, though, he runs it as though they did. He’s allowed his caucus to be held hostage to the whims of (largely) Southern bombthowers, when he doesn’t need them to get a bill through the House.

    From the GOP leadership’s perspective, their best course of action here (from a survivability standpoint) is to throw the TP folks under the bus and cut a deal with the moderates in their own caucus and House Dems.

    Boehner seems intent to continue believing the fallacy that he’s beholden to a minority segment of his base that, for all their bellowing, is never going to vote anything BUT Republican. That’s his error, and I suspect it’ll cost him and his party more than they’ve just paid in November.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  15. MBunge says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: “Boehner is not ignoring reality. He’s driving a hard bargain.”

    The best deal Boehner is ever going to get is right now. If Obama waits, he automatically gets all the tax increases he wants and more. Then it becomes a bidding war between Dems and the GOP to see who can cut taxes and raise spending after sequestration.

    Mike

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  16. george says:

    Why the GOP continues to pursue a politically dumb strategy is something that I simply cannot find a rational explanation for. If anyone can come up with one, though, I’d be interested in hearing it

    I think in part its because for individual GOP candidates on a sub-national scale (congress, governor etc) it can work very well, even if it fails on a presidential level. For most politicians, the only political reality they pay attention to is the one in their own riding – what is going to get them elected.

    Its another example of the tragedy of the commons (GOP commons in this case).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  17. Brummagem Joe says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Boehner seems intent to continue believing the fallacy that he’s beholden to a minority segment of his base that, for all their bellowing, is never going to vote anything BUT Republican.

    To be fair I think it’s a little more complicated than that. When Boehner caves over this as inevitably he’ll have to all hell is going to break loose in Republican land because any deal is going encompass a lot more than just taxes on the 2%. Basically Boehner is right when he says Obama is running out the clock. He is because unless Boehner makes it worth his while he has no incentive to make a deal and any deal that is worth Obama’s while is going to cause uproar amongst Republicans and two thirds of his caucus are going to be required to put their fingerprints on it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  18. David M says:

    @MBunge:

    The best deal Boehner is ever going to get is right now

    Current House: GOP + 50
    New House: GOP +33

    Current Senate: Dem +6
    New Senate: Dem +10

    Just from a simple numbers point of view, doesn’t any delay weaken the GOP? Why isn’t the GOP trying to pass whatever they can now?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  19. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Brummagem Joe:

    all hell is going to break loose in Republican land

    As I would argue that it needs to. Leadership seems unwilling to acknowledge that they’ve allowed a small segment of their base to hold them hostage, with predictable results, so if it takes the party imploding into civil war in the short term in order to strengthen it in the long term, bring it on. Sometimes you really do have to burn down a village in order to save it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  20. swbarnes2 says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    As I would argue that it needs to. Leadership seems unwilling to acknowledge that they’ve allowed a small segment of their base to hold them hostage,

    People keep saying this, but people like James and Doug haven’t stopped voting Republican, have they?

    Sometimes you really do have to burn down a village in order to save it.

    You can’t burn down 27% of the population who is revoltingly crazy. Republicans will go after them, they have to. And that will have policy consequences. I don’t see the point in sighing over some Platonic Republican party that does not, and will never exist. We have to deal with the stupid policy desires of the real Republican party, as it actually exists, with all the power it is given by voters like Doug and James.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  21. Brummagem Joe says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Leadership seems unwilling to acknowledge that they’ve allowed a small segment of their base to hold them hostage,

    Well I don’t think it is a small part of the base. It’s probably 75% of the base if not more and now the entire Republican caucus in house and senate, and the party machine, is dominated by nut jobs. If you’re in any doubt about it look at whats happening at the state level where they are even crazier.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  22. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @swbarnes2:

    You can’t burn down 27% of the population who is revoltingly crazy

    Sure you can. At the risk of seeming dismissive, who else are they possibly, in reality, going to vote for?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  23. john personna says:

    According to the latest national NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, 65 percent say congressional leaders should make compromises to deal with the budget deficit, even if that means Democrats would need to accept targeted spending cuts to Social Security and Medicare, and that Republicans would need to accept targeted increases in tax rates.

    That includes 68 percent of Democrats, 66 percent of Republicans and 56 percent of political independents who support this position.

    I have no idea why less independents want compromise .. unless they are apolitical/detached.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  24. Ben Wolf says:

    @Doug Mataconis

    Are the politics really what matters? Raising taxes on the wealthiest will do nothing, absolutely nothing of economic value and any impact on deficits will be minimal. I’m aware the President has successfully exploited the American propensity for taking away from others rather than improving one’s own lot, but it’s still the wrong track, no matter how politically expedient.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 5

  25. john personna says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    What numbers are you using? Obama says the proposed tax increases would boost revenue by $750 billion over a decade. That is not enough by itself to close the budget gap, but no one has suggested it should be by itself.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  26. Brummagem Joe says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Sure you can. At the risk of seeming dismissive, who else are they possibly, in reality, going to vote for?

    In truth you’ve got the wrong end of the stick…..the revoltingly crazy are RUNNING the GOP. Why exactly do you think Republican leader in the senate is currently sweating bullets

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  27. john personna says:

    (In comparison, direct farm subsidies in the US total about $10 billion annually.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  28. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    Raising taxes on the wealthiest will do nothing, absolutely nothing of economic value and any impact on deficits will be minimal.

    Well I suppose that depends on whether you think reducing the deficit by 140 billion a year has any value

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  29. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Brummagem Joe:

    Oops…… 160 billion

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  30. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Brummagem Joe:

    In truth you’ve got the wrong end of the stick…..the revoltingly crazy are RUNNING the GOP

    See, I’d argue differently. What control they do have stems from Boehner being either unwilling or unable to control them. As much as I detested Tom DeLay, the man did know how to run a caucus.

    Boehner is a weak Speaker, and therefore the inmates are running his asylum. Not because they outnumber the more relatively sane, but because Boehner either can’t or won’t put them in their proper place.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  31. Moosebreath says:

    @swbarnes2:

    “You can’t burn down 27% of the population who is revoltingly crazy.”

    No, but you can let their numbers drop by attrition (also known as letting the senior citizens who are most conservative die off) to the point where they have less of an impact. Unfortunately, it may take a few election cycles to get there.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  32. Rafer Janders says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    Raising taxes on the wealthiest will do nothing, absolutely nothing of economic value and any impact on deficits will be minimal.

    It will give them less money, and therefore less power, relative to everyone else, and I think that’s a good thing in itself. A society with a few very wealthy people and a lot of very poor people is not a healthy society, both economically and politically, and if we don’t chip away at the concentration of wealth at the top we are going to erode our democracy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  33. MBunge says:

    @Ben Wolf: “Raising taxes on the wealthiest will do nothing, absolutely nothing of economic value and any impact on deficits will be minimal.”

    This is not the end of history. Governing will have to go on and the most important thing in this fight is less the specifics of what the final deal is and more destroying the pathology that taxes must never, ever, ever, ever, ever, hold-my-breath-until-I-turn-blue, EVER be raised on anyone in any way for any reason.

    Mike

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  34. David M says:

    @Brummagem Joe:

    Well I suppose that depends on whether you think reducing the deficit by 140 billion a year has any value

    This also ignores the political advantages of a smaller deficit, in thwarting the GOP plans to destroy the safety net.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  35. john personna says:

    @Brummagem Joe:

    The “$750 billion over 10 years” thing is very widely reported.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  36. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    It doesn’t really work out that way, though. Taxes on the wealthy primarily serve to recirculate capital, putting it into the hands of the spending classes, who will, obviously, spend it.

    This creates demand, businesses expand in response, and the same wealthy folks that you are taxing find themselves growing wealthier in spite of those taxes because the value of their holdings (as opposed to their income) increases as a factor of expansion.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  37. Brummagem Joe says:

    @john personna:

    Perhaps you should read what you link to…… viz

    While Obama opposes Republicans’ approach to generating revenue solely by limiting tax breaks, his budget proposal in February included more than $750 billion in revenue from top earners by curtailing tax breaks. His new deficit-cutting plan would raise $1.6 trillion in tax revenue over the next decade.

    1.6 trillion divided by 10 would be 160 billion a year wouldn’t it?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  38. swbarnes2 says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Sure you can. At the risk of seeming dismissive, who else are they possibly, in reality, going to vote for?

    They can vote for no one. Republicans lose if that happens. Therefore, Republicans have to go after them. I think the likes of Sarah Palin have opened Pandora’s Box. The 27% is now accustomed to politicians supporting their crazy, they will not vote for an (R) who doesn’t pander to them. But James still voted for Romney, birther jokes and all. Doug would still vote for Bob “mandatory vaginal probes” McDonnell if given the chance, and both of them will vote for other Republicans too.

    So denying the crazy will likely turn off the crazy, and pandering to the crazy doesn’t turn off Doug or James really. So where is the downside to relying on the crazy?

    @Moosebreath:

    No, but you can let their numbers drop by attrition (also known as letting the senior citizens who are most conservative die off) to the point where they have less of an impact.

    Right, but that means all this “How do you fix the Republican party” talk is meaningless. The party is crazy, and will continue to be so for years to come, and there’s really very little that can be done about it. The focus then needs to be on “How can we stop crazy Republican policies from being implemented”. The obvious answer to that is to not vote for Republicans who will implement crazy policies, but Doug and James will never hear of it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  39. Brummagem Joe says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    See, I’d argue differently. What control they do have stems from Boehner being either unwilling or unable to control them.

    He can’t control them……they’ll fire him and make someone else speaker and Boehner likes being speaker. As the events of the last election demonstrate the leadership has completely lost control of the primary process. McConnell is wetting his pants at the possibility he may get primaried.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  40. john personna says:

    @Brummagem Joe:

    Didn’t Ben specifically say “Raising taxes on the wealthiest will do nothing, absolutely nothing of economic value and any impact on deficits will be minimal?”

    That is the $750B part.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  41. Brummagem Joe says:

    @swbarnes2:

    You’re absolutely right. They need these nutcases to turn up at the polls and they are a majority of the base. The entire Republican identity politics strategy of the last 30 years has revolved around maximising the vote of the crazies. And as you say JJ and Doug just vote tribally and ignore the craziness.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  42. michael reynolds says:

    The GOP would rather raise taxes on everyone – and cut off unemployment insurance to boot – than relinquish their core religious beliefs. It has never been about deficits for them. It’s not about governing at all. It’s not about the good of the country. It’s about serving the wealthy.

    In order to serve the wealthy they use social issues and racism and homophobia to rope the ignorant into voting against their own interests in service to the rich. But always keep your eye on the ball: it’s been about the elites. It’s been about money. Everything else was a sideshow.

    But what’s weird is, it’s not even about the rich per se anymore — not in a world where Silicon Valley is giving the Democrats 90% of their donations. It’s about the doctrine of rich exceptionalism. The primacy of rich man’s rule, or rich man’s privilege. It’s become religion, not economics. As Spartacus pointed out upstream, what are they going to do, admit that their doctrine was nonsense?

    This is how depraved this party is. They would rather burden working people and the unemployed and the country as a whole than surrender on a point of doctrine. The GOP is insane.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  43. john personna says:

    @this:

    This bit ties it directly:

    Let Bush tax cuts expire on income over $250,000: Obama and Democrats want to let the Bush tax cuts expire on income over $250,000 ($200,000 for singles). They would raise the top two income tax rates, increase high-income households’ capital gains and dividend rates, and re-impose limits on their personal exemptions and itemized deductions. It would also increase the estate tax rate.

    All told, that proposal could raise close to $1 trillion over 10 years.

    I think the larger number, the $1.6B target includes other kinds of tax increases, possibly to capital gains and etc., as discussed at that link.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  44. Brummagem Joe says:

    @john personna:

    That is the $750B part.

    It’s 1.6 billion….sigh

    His new deficit-cutting plan would raise $1.6 trillion in tax revenue over the next decade.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  45. Brummagem Joe says:

    @john personna:

    I think the larger number, the $1.6B target includes other kinds of tax increases, possibly to capital gains and etc., as discussed at that link.

    And who do you do think principally pays capital gains, the increased rate on divs, estate taxes, etc?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  46. john personna says:

    @Brummagem Joe:

    Are we sure the $1.6T target only goes after the rich?

    Because if we are going to go after broader revenues, that might be kind of a narrow focus.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  47. john personna says:

    @Brummagem Joe:

    In the old days everyone selling a house gave serious consideration to capital gains.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  48. Brummagem Joe says:

    @michael reynolds:

    In order to serve the wealthy they use social issues and racism and homophobia to rope the ignorant into voting against their own interests in service to the rich.

    Exactly. Today’s GOP is an alliance between the plutocrats and the preachers with few opportunists like the neocons and the conservative media racket along for the ride.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  49. Brummagem Joe says:

    @john personna:

    Are we sure the $1.6T target only goes after the rich?

    So what do think the entire Boehner/Obama fiscal cliff negotiation is all about then?…..LOL

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  50. john personna says:

    @Brummagem Joe:

    I think we’ll be lucky if we get just the $750B by negotiation.

    Full expiration would raise more serious money, because it would be a broader based increase. It might even be what we should be paying, based on current government services.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  51. An Interested Party says:

    I am beginning to think that Republicans have convinced themselves that millions of “true” conservatives stayed at home on election day, and the election results are not to be believed.

    Well hell, right after election day, that theory was being floated around here by the usual suspects…

    He’s driving a hard bargain.

    Speaking of delusional suspects…it’s a little difficult to drive a hard bargain if you have little to nothing to bargain with…

    I’m aware the President has successfully exploited the American propensity for taking away from others rather than improving one’s own lot, but it’s still the wrong track, no matter how politically expedient.

    And the right track would be?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  52. john personna says:

    Interestingly:

    Going over the fiscal cliff would result in the expiration of all the above changes to tax policy, with an immediate reversion to the income, estate, gift, generation-skipping transfer, capital-gains and dividend tax rates last seen under Clinton. This would mean a huge increase in tax revenue, $325 billion over the next two fiscal years, according to a Congressional Research Service report.

    Basically full expiration is 160B. Hard to think how Obama can get that by some other route, just coming from the rich.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  53. Brummagem Joe says:

    @john personna:

    In the old days everyone selling a house gave serious consideration to capital gains.

    This is not the olden days and no one has been making large capital gains on houses since the fall of 2006 unless you’d noticed……LOL

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  54. Brummagem Joe says:

    @An Interested Party:

    And the right track would be?

    That will remain a mystery…..LOL

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  55. Brummagem Joe says:

    @john personna:

    Hard to think how Obama can get that by some other route, just coming from the rich.

    Yep….it’s all a ruse Obama is planning to impose lots of new taxes on the middle class….LOL

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  56. legion says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    who else are they possibly, in reality, going to vote for?

    In the general elections, always Republicans. It’s the primaries where those nutjobs cause problems… That’s how you get neanderthals like Akin and Mourdock into office.

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  57. john personna says:

    @Brummagem Joe:

    Raising taxes on the middle class is as easy as going over the cliff. Short of that though, I think (as I say) Obama will take the $750B, and perhaps a further crumb or two. I mean, there is absolutely no reason Republicans should take a deal of similar size to the cliff, but more targeted on the rich.

    You’d need a full on Democratic majority to pull that off.

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  58. Brummagem Joe says:

    @john personna:

    Obama will take the $750B,

    It’s 1.6 trillion…..even Boehner claims he’s offering 800 billion….what don’t you understand about the link that YOU posted………..really you need to do something about that egomania…..we all get things wrong sometimes even me….LOL…..but at least I have the good sense to fess up to it.

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  59. john personna says:

    @Brummagem Joe:

    Isn’t $1.6T Obama’s target? Largely unspecified?

    $750M is the concrete gain on specifically the expiration of Bush tax cuts on incomes over $250K.

    Obama can’t just “take” his own target. He needs Boehner for that, and I’m guessing Boehner will agree to that much rather than go off the cliff.

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  60. john personna says:

    USA Today:

    $1.6 trillion in revenues, including $960 billion from raising the top marginal rates on wealthy Americans as well as higher taxes on capital gains and dividends and an additional $600 billion from unspecified revenue sources.

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  61. john personna says:

    (Basically you are trying to take “an additional $600 billion from unspecified revenue sources” to the bank and count it.)

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  62. Ben Wolf says:

    @An Interested Party:

    And the right track would be?

    1) Policies to increase wages. Neither party is even discussing this.

    2) Increasing the minimum Social Security payment to $2000. Instead the discussion is on how to best impoverish the elderly.

    3) Revoking FICA, a highly regressive tax.

    4) A Jobs Guarantee to permanently end unemployment instead of leaving millions to languish as a buffer against inflation

    5) Amending the ACA to end recission, which is conveniently allowed to continue in the current law.

    6) A $5000 deposit into a health-expense plan for each American, every year. This would allow market forces to impose discipline on rising health costs.

    7) A $700 billion per year stimulus until our debt-driven depression is over.

    Pick any you like, they would be vastly better for the American people than what is being discussed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  63. swbarnes2 says:

    @legion:

    In the general elections, always Republicans. It’s the primaries where those nutjobs cause problems… That’s how you get neanderthals like Akin and Mourdock into office.

    I don’t get this. Sure, it might be the nutjobs who put Akin in the general election, but when a guy like him wins, it’s because the “sane” Republicans voted for him too.

    And again, the policies of Akin didn’t fall out of the sky. They came out of the Republican National platform, which was written by other Republicans who have political power because “sane” Republicans voted it to them.

    You cannot pin the problems of crazy Republican policies all on the crazy 27%. They are not acting alone. Their guys have a lot of the power they have because people like Doug and James vote for them.

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  64. Rafer Janders says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    I like these. I like these a lot.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  65. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    I’m surprised you didn’t include curing cancer and a free Ferrari in every garage…..LOL

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  66. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    I like these. I like these a lot.

    I like the idea of winning the lottery but it’s not going to happen.

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  67. Barry says:

    @HarvardLaw92: “Sure you can. At the risk of seeming dismissive, who else are they possibly, in reality, going to vote for? ”

    Even crazier nut jobs than the current set of GOP politicians – in the GOP primaries.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  68. Barry says:

    @michael reynolds: “But what’s weird is, it’s not even about the rich per se anymore — not in a world where Silicon Valley is giving the Democrats 90% of their donations.”

    You are assuming that Silicon Valley is the center of gravity of Richlandia.

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  69. legion says:

    @swbarnes2:

    You cannot pin the problems of crazy Republican policies all on the crazy 27%. They are not acting alone.

    I’m not disagreeing – I’m just looking at a different point in the process. If the remaining, “non-crazy” part of the GOP wants me to take their crocodile tears seriously, they need to get off their asses and make their sanity apparent in the primaries. They’ve got a pre-set bias not to vote for any Democrat, but they don’t have the intestinal fortitude (or attention span) to see that a non-disgraceful option survives the primaries.

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  70. Ben Wolf says:

    @Rafer Janders: We can have proactive policies to improve the welfare of every American or we can accept Brummagem’s implicit argument, which is that the best we can do is try and manage the gradual erosion of living standards. Unfortunately his kind of self-defeating rhetoric is now entrenched in the Democratic Party. Anything which appears even moderately difficult is immediately abandoned and the vast majority suffer as a result.

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  71. Andre Kenji says:

    @Barry:

    You are assuming that Silicon Valley is the center of gravity of Richlandia.

    Not only that. For every Mark Zuckerberg there are dozens of single people eating noodles and pizza as dinner and trying to make a money losing startup viable.

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  72. Andre Kenji says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    A $5000 deposit into a health-expense plan for each American, every year. This would allow market forces to impose discipline on rising health costs.

    No, health care is expensive in the United States because the system is financed mostly by the government(Employer provided healthcare only exists because there is a tax deduction for it) while the health care per se is provided mostly by private clinics and hospitals, many of them for profit(Bain Capital has investments in Private care).

    That generates rent seeking and fraud(60 Minutes did a report about that two weeks ago). What states and cities should is to create it´s own network of hospitals and clinics(Clinics could be used for small procedures, easing hospitals), or maybe the federal government could build hospitals. That would cut healthcare costs, and besides that, if you want short term stimulus there is nothing better than that.

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  73. Harvardlaw92 says:

    @Barry:

    Speaking as a moderate to liberal leaning Dem-trending voter, could you explain where the downside to that from my perspective might be?

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  74. Barry says:

    @Harvardlaw92: My point was that GOP politicians can’t ignore the base because of ‘who else are they going to vote for?’. There is someone else, and surviving politicians are well aware of it.

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  75. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    or we can accept Brummagem’s implicit argument, which is that the best we can do is try and manage the gradual erosion of living standards. Unfortunately his kind of self-defeating rhetoric is now entrenched in the Democratic Party.

    Funny, I thought reality was supposed to have a liberal bias? But then misrepresenting what one says is standard operating practice around here. Not all the dwellers in alternate universes are in the Republican party.

    Andre Kenji says:

    That generates rent seeking and fraud

    Exactly. The US healthcare system costs twice as much as anyone else in our peer group for two basic reasons. Firstly and principally, because the delivery system of doctors, hospitals et al is profit driven and incentivised to drive up costs by increasing revenue. Secondly, a large part of it is funded by a mechanism that is constantly rent seeking.

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  76. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Harvardlaw92:

    Speaking as a moderate to liberal leaning Dem-trending voter, could you explain where the downside to that from my perspective might be?

    The even crazier nj’s often actually win elections in low turnout off years with all kinds of malign consequences or haven’t you been following events in AL, VA, MI, WI lately?

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  77. john personna says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    We’d obviously blast by 100% debt to GDP with that list. Heck, it might even be 200% or 300% of GDP.

    It is a fairly fringe gambit. You won’t find any mainstream politician or economist who would give it 5 minutes.

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  78. john personna says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    It is not like there is a binary choice: accept decline or goose the economy by spending alone.

    There are a good set of things which can be done at low cost.

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  79. Rob in CT says:

    the best we can do is try and manage the gradual erosion of living standards

    Well, that certainly seems more realistic than your plan, Ben. No doubt you think this is a failure of imagination on my part. What I see is that living standards eroded for some time but, via a variety of policies, we tried ignoring it, much like Wile E. Coyote when he’s run off a cliff. But then he looks down and dooooooooooowwwwwwwn he goes.

    From my perspective, you’re basically saying “well, don’t look down!”

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  80. john personna says:

    @Rob in CT:

    We have this: U.S. Intelligence Agencies See a Different World in 2030

    Given that we should get our house in order. I don’t believe that would include Ben’s second mortgage.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  81. Rob in CT says:

    To be fair, if I was given total control and told to come up with a plan, it might include 1 or 2 of Ben’s suggestions (the one that really appeals to me is scrapping FICA, and replacing it with a combo of carbon tax and income/capital gains/estate tax increase, the result of which is greater progressivity).

    But the list appears to treat debt as meaningless, and I don’t think it is. I do agree that we could use greater focus on employment in comparison to the great debt freakout.

    Ben: would your jobs guarantee basically be minimum-wage jobs (scrap minimum wage, use jobs guarantee to set a de facto minimum wage? If so, at what level?)? What would we have those people do, exactly?

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  82. john personna says:

    @Rob in CT:

    If you are king of the world, a carbon tax is good. If you are only the King of US, a carbon tax pushes energy intensive jobs across borders (carbon burning Canadiaaaaans!!!)

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  83. john personna says:

    Related: King Crabs invade Antarctic for 1st time in 30 million years.

    Our conservative friends will no doubt assert that the crabs have a liberal agenda.

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  84. Rob in CT says:

    @john personna:

    Understood – you do need to do international deals. Assuming I was going it alone, my carbon tax would be quite mild (in which case it would do very little wrt climate, but it’s multi-purpose for me. I also am aiming to raise some revenue, because I’ve killed FICA). If I was actually able to secure agreements with the big boys of the world on a carbon tax scheme, then I’d get more serious.

    It’s a classic tragedy of the commons problem.

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  85. Rob in CT says:

    @john personna:

    Get captain Sig on it, stat!

    ;)

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  86. Ajay Jain says:

    President Barack Obama won both the elections in 2008 and 2012 based on his campaign to raise taxes on people making above $200,000.00 of family above $250,000.00. The people have spoken in great numbers to validate President Obama’s proposition on taxes.

    Representative Paul Ryan and his budgetary ideas were soundly rejected by the 2012 electorate and the Republican House of Representatives must heed to the voice of the nation. Otherwise Republicans are destined to loose the Presidency every four years till Texas turns blue and then the Presidency will be out of the reach of the Republicans for a very long time to come!

    If the Republicans want to wash their hands off the “Makers & Takers” philosophy of Mitt Romney and Representative Paul Ryan then the Fiscal Cliff is their chance to support not cutting into Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and keep the masses in the nation from going permanently in the Democratic camp.

    If Republicans want to defeat the 47% philosophy of Mitt Romney and Representative Paul Ryan forever and join the nation in the quest to support the middle class thus ending the class warfare which Republicans are loosing, 2012 election being their latest proof Republicans should come to their senses and give up their support of Representative Paul Ryan’s agenda of cutting into Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Representative Paul Ryan’s budgetary philosophy has met its fate at the polls this November and Republicans must start anew supporting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid rather than cutting them.

    If House Republicans do not support and pass the Senate bill supporting cutting taxes on the 98% people and 97% small businesses instead let the nation fall off the Fiscal Cliff for the sake of saving the top 2% tax breaks then the nation will punish the House Republicans in 2014 and they will loose the only branch of Congress they now hold.

    Republicans ought to learn from the adage that “A bird in hand is better than two in the bush”. A Republican House is better than dreaming a defeated Obama or a red Senate in the near future. Remember Obama now in 2013 is only five short in Senate votes to thwarting a Republican filibuster.
    So let the 2012 election results be a forewarning to any Republican scheme to cutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid to the bone and then expecting to win the ONLY voters thay are left with i.e. the White elderly voters!

    From hereon let it be a lesson to all aspiring Republican Presidential candidates that the Demographic clock is ticking and it does not favor the Republicans if Texas turns blue!! There are only so many election cycles before the State of Texas may turn blue unless Republicans change their ways and tax the 2% rich at Clinton rates and avoid cutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid!!

    Take this from a life long Democrat who voted twice for Ronald Reagan and was not a very proud Reagan Democrat but still loved Reagan. I have been a proud Texan since 1990 and can vouch that Texas is on its way to becoming a blue state unless Republicans discover another Reagan among themselves which is difficult in the Ted Cruz and TEA Party era!!

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  87. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Brummagem Joe:

    The even crazier nj’s often actually win elections in low turnout off years with all kinds of malign consequences or haven’t you been following events in AL, VA, MI, WI lately?

    Which almost always results in backlash. The one thing that I have found that I can count on the GOP to deliver is hubris in staggering proportions.

    I play the long game.

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  88. Brummagem Joe says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Which almost always results in backlash.

    It can do but if anything the most recent election solidified the Republican hold on state govt’s so your conclusion about ultimate outcomes is far from conclusive even though they undoubtedly have a tendency to over reach. Didn’t Walker beat back a recall in WI and isn’t his anti union legislation still on the books?

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  89. John D'Geek says:

    @Doug Mataconis

    Why the GOP continues to pursue a politically dumb strategy is something that I simply cannot find a rational explanation for.

    Game Theory.

    A more cynical version would be “if you set up the game so that the Republicans can only loose, then they have to take the path that lets them loose the least — which is by sticking to their guns and blaming the Democrats. It may not work in the nation at large, but it’ll work just fine in their districts — and that’s what really counts, right?”

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