First, let me just say, I hate the term: “the fiscal cliff.” It’s the most asinine way possible to summarize a very complicated set of policies—a political boogie man with which our dumb press is completely infatuated. Oh, and while I’m on this rant, don’t think, NPR listeners, that your precious Robert Siegel, MEEchelle Norris, and Melissa Block aren’t included in that group of ninnies. I heard an NPR interview of Grover Norquist last week that was so ball-less it made me blush.
Anyway, the most important thing to understand about the “fiscal cliff,” is that it completely undresses the GOP for what the party has become: a shriveled, naked, hairy old man that screams nonsense incessantly at anyone within earshot. See, the whole scary part about the fiscal cliff confirms two facts: A) cutting government spending hurts the economy, and B) cutting taxes costs the government money. Yet, we’re told by Republicans all the time that slashing government spending be good for the economy. They also tell us, concurrently, that we should cut taxes as much as possible, AND that the biggest problem we face as a nation is the deficit.
See the dilemma? It’s an unsolvable equation. Their ideas are mutually exclusive. And it clearly demonstrates the failure of the Republican belief in trickle down economics; after all, our economy is precisely what you’d expect to get after 30 years of such policies. Because we’ve cut tax rates, as well as creating thousands of loopholes which are used, primarily, by large corporations and the very rich, we have a massive deficit. Moreover, while these policies have been extraordinarily successful in redistributing wealth to the very rich, they haven’t used this money to innovate, create jobs, or stimulate the economy. Instead, they’ve used it to buy yachts, invest in China, and store their money in places like Switzerland and the Cayman Islands.
Unfortunately, for Republicans, the jig is up. Americans are realizing that because the rich don’t use their extra money to create jobs, we may as well tax them at a higher rate. Indeed, a Gallop Poll has recently shown that 70% of Americans favor eliminating loopholes and deductions for large corporations, and 66% favor increasing taxes rates on individuals making more than $200,000 a year, or families making more than $250,000 a year.
Yet, for some reason, Republicans, who just lost an election (lost the Presidency and seats in both houses of Congress) in which these issues were front and center, are insisting that we don’t increase taxes on the rich. Why? It’ll cost jobs they say, going back once again to their belief in trickle down economics.
The problem for Boehner and the rest of his clowns is that this is a theory that has failed in practice, and 2/3rds of our country knows it. If that’s not enough, in a recent CNN poll, 45% of respondents said they would blame Congressional Republicans if there was no solution to the fiscal cliff, compared with 34% who would blame President Obama.
Issues such as this are precisely where Republicans have to change their tune if they want Americans to trust their party with the business of governing. Much has been made of the fact that Republicans really thought Romney was going to win this election, only to find their delusions crashing around them on election day. What is so strange is that Republicans have gone right back to hiding in the fantasy land that Fox News and right wing radio creates for them.
Indeed, the conservative pundits are pouring over minutia, hoping to score points by suggesting impropriety and wrongdoing (read: Susan Rice and Benghazi). Worse, conservative editorialists (the fact that the Washington Post still publishes people like Robert Samuelson and Marc Thiessen, is an absolute affront to an otherwise decent newspaper, and civilization as a whole) are trying to suggest that it’s the Democrats who are overplaying their political hand in the current budget negotiations (this is wrong, and impossibly moronic to believe, as I’ll explain). And, just the other day, I was talking to a friend who listens to conservative radio, and when I asked him to name the two biggest government social programs, he named Social Security (which is correct), and welfare (dead wrong—welfare, or government assistance for the non-working poor, represents about 5% of the federal budget). In other words, nothing has changed. The spinning heads are still spinning, the conservative writers are still idiots, and conservatives don’t have a clue what’s going on in this country.
Let me spell it out for Republicans. If we don’t deal with the fiscal cliff, everyone’s taxes will go up, and it will be because Republicans refused to pass a bill that includes infrastructure spending and an increase in tax rates for the rich—both of which are popular ideas with most Americans (and if you read the rest of the CNN poll, almost all Americans are looking for compromise, which the Republicans are currently refusing to do). Then, after Republicans have already been blamed for not compromising to avoid a financial catastrophe, you can be sure that Senate Democrats will immediately pass a bill extending tax cuts on all income before $250,000, which House Republicans will either have to pass, or explain why they refuse to cut taxes for middle and lower class Americans. The whole time, the President, who is far more popular, persuasive, and rational than Boehner, McConnell, and the other leaders of the Elephants, is going to be telling the country exactly what is happening, spelling out what an intransigent party the Republicans have become. If you’re a Republican, that’s bad.
But after losing this election, their policies soundly rejected by the American people, they just don’t get it. And I don’t think they’re going to.