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Hullabaloo


Monday, December 03, 2012

 
The public negotiations grind on

by digby

I would take the time to parse all the "fiscal cliff" blather on the Sunday shows but it's a big waste of time. They are publicly posturing for the negotiations and none of it really means much. All we know is that the Democrats are standing fast in their demands for tax hikes on the rich and the Republicans are trying to find their footing.

This morning Greg Sargent reports:

I have just confirmed that ... Obama is willing, albeit very reluctant, to go over the cliff.

He would be extremely stupid to say otherwise at this point in the negotiations, but I am happy they are, at least, saying it. There is no good reason for them to be politically worried at this point and the market high priests have been naysaying so long that they sound like the boy who cried wolf, so perhaps the administration isn't listening to them anymore. And the truth is that it's the best way to get those tax rates back up without throwing the sick and the old over the cliff in the process, so I've always been in favor. Just let it happen.

Also, keep in mind that Grover "Nobody" Norquist already gave his dispensation to allowing the tax cuts to expire:

“Not continuing a tax cut is not technically a tax increase,” Norquist said.

Asked if it would violate his Americans for Tax Reform’s anti-tax pledge, Norquist said: “We wouldn’t hold it that way.”

Norquist explained that he doesn't want them to expire, but he clearly gave his signers wiggle room on this one.

So, this is the way to go. But it isn't a simple as we might want with the silly sequester nonsense still out there and the debt ceiling hanging over everyone's heads, which the Republicans will use to extract their pound of flesh and we still don't know what that will be. (Geithner took SS off the table on the Sunday Shows but was very careful to explain that they were more than willing to deal with it down the road.)

In fact, it would appear that the Grand Bargain is being broken up into a series of negotiations (also called "kicking the can down the road") so vigilance is necessary. I'm fairly sure that the White House being in constant talks with the Republicans about cutting spending isn't good. (But then neither is this high stakes cliff diving, so pick your poison.) But I have long taken the position that any programs that aren't cut today is a good thing, so that's probably the best we can hope for.

I have no way of knowing what's ally going on in these negotiations and neither does anyone else. The administration is taking a public hard line on taxes and the Republicans are fumbling around on cuts, which is as Greg points out a turn around from the last negotations. If they can hold the line, we might get out of this first round of negotiations without too much sick and elderly skin in the game.

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