“Rather than lead us away from disaster, our representatives in Washington are fellow travelers on the train that is headed to disaster. Disaster will thus come.”
POLITICAL NONSENSE SURROUNDING FISCAL CLIFF
By Attorney Jonathan Emord
December 31, 2012
The political nonsense surrounding the fiscal cliff would be comical were it not so tragic for the American people. On the brink of the single largest tax increase in American history, one that will send our dysfunctional national economy reeling back into a recession and may well cause over 1 million people to lose their jobs, neither the President nor any member of Congress has risen to command the national stage and provide a detailed rescue plan. Instead, no one leads; everyone seeks to apportion blame. The few who do engage in serious discussion seek to achieve a temporary fix rather than an overall solution.
The President and Senator Harry Reid view a fall off the fiscal cliff as an opportunity to achieve political gains; the public, amazingly, holds the Republicans in the House more responsible for the failure to achieve agreement than they do the President and the Senate Majority Leader. The politics of delay and denial push solutions to the crisis down an increasingly treacherous road, inviting tangible evidence of hardship all across the nation. It appears that the nation must suffer grievously under the weight of a collapse of the economy and of welfare state services before sober thinking will come to the fore.
Obama and Reid know that if January 1 comes with taxes raised on all, the President and Democratic leadership will be well positioned to present themselves as the savior of the Middle Class by proposing a tax reduction for those earning less than $250,000 per year at a time when public outcry for tax relief will be at a fever pitch. At such a point majoritarian will leads to a reduction in tax for those who comprise the largest part of the electorate, leaving the wealthiest without the political clout necessary to derail the tax increase affecting them. That crass political gamesmanship is derelict precisely because it does nothing to address the underlying dynamics that bring the nation down. With the leap off the fiscal cliff, the pressure then will be considerable on the Republican House to accede to the President’s demands to achieve relief for the bulk of the electorate who will swiftly vote uncooperative Republicans out of office (or so the Democratic majority thinks). Whether Republicans break ranks and vote into place a middle class tax cut in the first quarter of the New Year or hold fast and block an attempt to pass such a measure, they will be made the popular whipping boys and girls, blamed for their failure to accede to the President’s demands before the leap off the fiscal cliff.