You Break It, You Own It
The GOP has just discovered that maybe they screwed up big time, and this time they just might have to pay for it (maybe). As David Horsey points out in both his cartoon and his column, Republicans were too clever by half and the President and (perhaps) the Senate might be willing to call them on it.
At its heart, the current impasse over a budget deal comes down to the GOP’s unwillingness to let George W. Bush-era tax breaks for the wealthiest 2% of Americans expire. Obama insists this has to happen and House Speaker Boehner says it will not. The obvious weakness in the Republican position is that the Democrats know they will get what they want – more revenue from the wealthy – either because the Republicans capitulate and make it part of a budget package before Jan. 1 or because that date arrives with no agreement and the tax cuts disappear automatically. This makes them strongly inclined to play hardball. The chairwoman of the Senate Budget Committee, Washington state's Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, has made it clear she is willing to brave the fiscal cliff rather than do a deal with Republicans that, as she has said, “throws middle-class families under the bus” while, once again, rewarding the rich folks who have done so exceedingly well in recent decades.
Republicans have to know protecting the upper-income tax cuts is a lost cause, yet they are loath to deal them away. That would amount to raising taxes, something most Republicans have pledged never to do. Perversely, this gives them an incentive to postpone a deal until after the start of the year. They can claim they did not cave to Obama, while Grover Norquist will not be able to hold them accountable for the tax hike. ...
When Republicans created the fiscal cliff as a means to force a grand bargain on the budget, they must have assumed Democrats would go soft in a game of chicken. Instead, it appears Obama, Murray and the Democrats have looked over the fiscal cliff and are not all that frightened by what they see. Politically speaking, the scariest thing at the bottom of that cliff is the trap Republicans have set for themselves. [Emphasis added]
Of course, this doesn't mean that some kind of deal won't emerge before the end of the session. While the tax cuts for the wealthy might go, cuts to "entitlements" might be be forged and traditional middle class deductions (mortgage interest payments) might be given up. Democrats will still have room to screw up, and if they have the room, this crop will fill it.
That's why I think it's important that we annoy the hell out of our current reps with phone calls, faxes, signed petitions and whatever else progressive groups are floating. And that kind of pressure needs to be doubled for the next Congress as well.
As I said back in June, it's time to do a whole lot of kingbirding:
Nature notes: Watched a tiny eastern kingbird assail a bald eagle who must have done some nest robbing. Irate little bird actually surfed the back of the eagle furiously pecking his head for about 1000 feet. Saw similar outrage directed at a raven. Tough day for nesting kingbirds.
I consider that an excellent metaphor for the very least we can do, so much so that I've created a new label, "Kingbirding." I suggest that as often as we can we peck mercilessly at the heads of the rapacious thieves stealing from our nest for as long as we can. If nothing else, it will annoy them, causing them to spend their oh-so-precious-time trying to shake us off. Faxes, letters, emails, telephone calls, vigils, letters to the editors: they may be just momentary distractions, but at least we are doing something.
And we'd better.