The Fiscal Cliff Is Really Boring

So says Buzzfeed’s Josh Stanton:

[W]e Capitol Hill denizens are officially bored out of our minds. Yes, Washington is again marching through the paces of an epic struggle between Boehner and Obama over spending. Dire warnings of economic collapse are in the air, a deadline looms ahead. But this time, Washington reporters are standing around watching what most of us believe — even if you don’t see it in the headline — is an entirely predictable Kabuki dance.

This time, there’s little energy in the Capitol and even less interest amongst the public. So far, at least, reporters haven’t found themselves camped out on uncomfortable marble hall floors for hours at a time or called back to the Capitol at a moment’s notice. There have been no walkouts, few public recriminations. In fact, aside from the occasional “no progress” statements by either side, there’s been very little of anything at all.

“I keep thinking that the fiscal cliff is the most boring crisis I’ve ever seen, and then I remember ‘Speed 2,'” Slate‘s Dave Weigel tweeted Tuesday.

That’s not to say work hasn’t been going on — it has. Despite their periodic pronouncements, both sides have traded proposals, and the White House and Boehner have continued to narrow the likely parameters of a final agreement, people involved in the talks say.

That is probably good news for America. For Hill reporters grown used to edge-of-your-seat fighting, the fiscal cliff is like a bad blues cliché come to life.

“There really isn’t a lot of excitement,” one veteran Capitol Hill reporter said, chalking it up to simple politics fatigue. “People are sick of this after the election.”

Adding to that general election fatigue is the fact that official Washington has very much become the boy who cried wolf. Since the fight over extending the Bush tax cuts during the last lame duck Congress in 2010, the fiscal cliff is the fourth time the White House and Republicans have engaged in a game of political chicken with the fate of the nation’s economy on the line.

“People are sick of it,” one longtime operative said of the various episodes of brinkmanship that have been the hallmark of the 112th Session of Congress.

One reason they’re sick of it, I think, is because we’ve seen this drama play out before and it always plays out the exact same way. The two parties offer and counteroffer, the both say that agreement isn’t possible because of the other sides intransigence, and then they end up making a deal of some kind in the end. That has been the way that these debates have gone in Washington for so long now that the news reports and the blog posts practically write themselves. Really, how many times can you write the same thing about marginal tax rates? As Blanton goes on to note, the fact that this debate is occurring after a grueling Presidential election also contributes ton the sense of burnout. I know I can say that I haven’t been following this story as much as I did the debt ceiling debacle back in the summer of 2011.

So, it will be good when this boring “crisis” is over and we can move on to the next one.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Deficit and Debt, Taxes, US Politics, , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held 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 contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Ben Wolf says:

    @Doug Mataconis

    Don’t you also get the impression the discussion on this is so off track it isn’t even wrong? We have serious, systemic problms facing us and yet no one can shut up about a lousy four percentage point increase in nominal tax rates.

  2. bill says:

    it’s over-rated, not much would happen if the tax cuts expired (as opposed to the current train of thought that calls them “tax hikes”) not much would happen no matter what they compromise on, we’re still deep in debt and my kids will have to pay for it.

  3. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    both say that agreement isn’t possible because of the other sides intransigence, and then they end up making a deal of some kind in the endkicking the can down the road


  4. superdestroyer says:

    Image how politics will be in the future when the major issues are entitlements and how to pay for them. One should wonder who wants to go into politics to be the tax collector for the entitlement state.