If you’re like me, you’ve been following the “fiscal cliff” debates, where Speaker John Boehner and President Obama go back and forth asking the other side for a “serious offer” like petulant children holding their breath until Mommy and Daddy give them what they want. Just like petulant children, they will breathe long before they pass out. It’s survival instinct at its best.
Some might read that and think that this must mean that a decision will be made to avoid the “fiscal cliff.” Not so. In fact, I am becoming increasingly convinced that both sides will intentionally drive the country off the cliff in order to attempt to gain some measure of positive PR out of the whole ordeal. Politicians aren’t stupid. They wouldn’t refuse to fix the problem if it was political suicide. In fact, both sides are probably becoming increasingly aware of how toxic reaching a solution before the fiscal cliff would be.
See, it doesn’t matter what the nature of the compromise is. If a compromise is reached that avoids the fiscal cliff, Democrats will say that Boehner caved, and Republicans will say that Obama caved. The truth, of course, is that the nature of caving is that one side kowtows 100% to the other side’s demands. I don’t foresee Republicans letting Obama raise taxes without cutting spending, and I don’t see Democrats letting Republicans cut spending without raising taxes. Therefore, the only discussion which remains to be had is what the precise balance should be.
Even this is kind of silly to speculate on, of course, as any “serious plan” to solve our deficit crisis results in a balanced budget. I am not confident that either side wants that. So in a sense, I guess Boehner and Obama are both correct: Neither side is proposing a serious offer to fix our deficit crisis in this country, because neither side is proposing to create a spending plan where our revenue minus expenses is greater than or equal to zero. The intent of the current lame duck session of Congress, then, is clear: Make a big show about doing nothing, then let the incoming Congress worry about cleaning up the mess.