Speaker John Boehner is not a stupid man. Which is why political junkies are wondering aloud what he was up to with a highly unpopular, rather crazy counter proposal to avoid the fiscal cliff coughed up by House Republicans today. How bad is it? It’s bad:
Steve Benen— So, what’s the pitch? Under this proposal, Republicans would keep all of the Bush-era tax rates, but accept $800 billion in new revenue. How? Through “through pro-growth tax reform that closes special-interest loopholes and deductions while lowering rates.
“From there, the GOP leaders want to cut $600 billion from Medicare and Medicaid; cut $300 billion from mandatory programs; cut $200 billion by changing the consumer price index; and then cut another $300 billion in further discretionary spending. o call this a “counteroffer” is to strip the word of meaning. Under the GOP plan, Republicans get the more than $1 trillion in spending cuts Obama already gave them; Republicans get the entitlement cuts they want; Republicans get hundreds of billions of dollars in additional cuts to programs they haven’t identified; and Republicans get all of the Bush-era tax rates they’ve prioritized.
This isn’t a “counteroffer”; it’s a Christmas wish list written by kids without access to calculators.
It might make sense if there was a snowball’s chance in hell of a middle of the road compromise, but there is no need to compromise with Boehner. If Congress does nothing, taxes will go up on Jan 1, 2013. At which point most pundits agree it will be much easier to peel off a few dozen House Republicans to get a bill through reenacting the cuts on the first $250,000 of income, which gives the President exactly what he wants, what he ran on, and what large majorities agree with.
What Boehner’s counteroffer does mean is progressives now have 2014 mid-term election material to run on already. That was the bait and Orange Julius took it.
So time is greatly on our side. The only real worries are 1) the economic concern — taking that dough out of our hands for too long could send the stock market plummeting and, eventually, the nation back into recession. That would be somewhere between tough and catastrophic for a lot of middle class wage earners. And 2) the political concern — the majority of voters, who currently side with the President by a comfortable margin, might begin to blame him more than the House Republicans who are holding out on behalf of the super rich. I don’t know how the economic or political angle will shake out, but neither does anyone else and right now it’s crystal clear where most people are.
I do know one thing, just knowing evil filthy-rich greedy bastards like the Koch brothers and Sheldon Addelson will be paying tens of millions more starting on Jan 1 — after blowing tens of millions trying to unseat Obama — eases my fear and lightens my burden. But that’s just me, how will it affect you and what do you think?