America's fiscal suicide pact

 
US President Barack Obama speaks on the economy in the East Room of the White House in Washington on 9 November 2012 Barack Obama says he's open to new ideas but both sides are not budging - yet

Related Stories

America might be forgiven for thinking they suffered a concussion, instead of holding an election, on Tuesday night. The country now has double vision.

The electorate was repeatedly told by both candidates there was a clear choice between two very different visions. After Tuesday, they might feel they have made one.

Republicans in Congress have other ideas. House Speaker John Boehner is insisting tax rises for the wealthy can't be allowed to happen.

Speaking before the president did so this afternoon, he said: "Everyone wants to get our economy moving again. Everyone wants to get more Americans back to work again. Raising tax rates will slow down our ability to create the jobs that everyone says they want."

He called on the president to lead.

Mr Obama did, but not in a direction that will delight Republicans. He is using the moral authority of his re-election to push his case. There is nothing new in his call for Congress to extend "middle-class tax cuts" at once. He's said it repeatedly before the election.

But it's different now. He has a renewed mandate and his demand has a fresh moral weight behind it. He pointed out even people who didn't vote for him told opinion pollsters that taxes should go up for the richest.

First act negotiations

There has to be an agreement. If the two sides can't get behind a plan to cut the deficit there will be pretty horrible consequences.

The ugly phrase "fiscal cliff" has stuck, but it is more like a ticking economic timebomb. The two sides agreed to a suicide pact if they couldn't reach agreement - tax rises and defence spending cuts the Republicans loathe - as well as other spending cuts that are offensive to Democrats.

The trouble is if the bomb goes off, it is not just the politicians who will be hurt. It is American economy that would explode, probably taking what's left of the world economy with it.

President Obama said that people had voted for action but he would refuse to accept any approach that wasn't balanced and made the middle class suffer alone. He said there shouldn't be a long, drawn-out drama.

The Republicans won't play along, and he will presumably portray them as churlish bad losers who won't accept the people's verdict. They will doubtless point out they too (or some of them) also have a fresh mandate.

While both Mr Obama and Mr Boehner sounded consensual they were in fact restating their mutually exclusive positions.

They are heading for confrontation, but this is only the first act - they are both stating a hard line, before the give and take of negotiations. They do have to get a move on. The drama can't run for long before it turns into tragedy for all of us.

 
Mark Mardell Article written by Mark Mardell Mark Mardell North America editor

Is Obama right over Iraq?

The Obama doctrine says the US will only go to war if its vital interests or those of its allies are threatened, so what does that mean for Iraq?

Read full article

More on This Story

Related Stories

Comments

This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
 
  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 385.

    369 'a Presidency more polarizing Obama's?

    Dubya.

    As for your tedious whinge that all the meeja told whoppers about poor Mittens, as ever you are unable to distinguish between ‘lies’ + ‘assertions MK dislikes or disagrees with’. Even Mittens and the RNC didn't complain about a stream of lies in the media. But of course there has to be an excuse for the defeat of your favourite

  • Comment number 384.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 383.

    373 Andrea ‘You are mistaken. I didn't predict a Romney win. Jumbling all our views/words again.’

    You are mistaken. I most deliberately said ‘in some cases predicting his defeat’ ie making it clear that this did not apply to all those named.

    The ‘relentless sniping and whining’ did however.

    ‘Enjoy your laugh. We're stuck with him.’

    As I was saying...

  • Comment number 382.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 381.

    far_east (377),

    “… wiretapping and spying on emails etc is applied to non US Citizens.”

    Well of course it is! The term is espionage, an activity in which all nations of which I am aware engage. I trust this does not come as a surprise?

    Or is this yet another of your utopian fantasies from which you think the U.S, UK et. al. should abstain?

  • Comment number 380.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 379.

    ref #370
    370.EvidencePlease
    19 Minutes ago
    366. MagicKirin: "No that would be man like Mitt Romney who saved the Olympics"

    Romney saving the Olympics? The man who predicted the London Olympics would be a disaster?
    _I was refering to the Salt Lake game which were tained by the corrupt IOC bribary scandale and yes the London Olympics were bad in paying attnedence and infastructure

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 378.

    All for All (374),

    “Chryses @368
    Same error as @244 & 360
    You quote 4th Amendment as evidence of violation …”

    Yes. Your proposal @221 “… incomes rationed …” is obviously unconstitutional, as the 4th Amendment prohibits such draconian action by the Feds. If you would rephrase your proposition in much less extreme terms, then we may be able to achieve a compromise.

  • Comment number 377.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 376.

    354. Magic

    Posters here will get to put their money where their mouths are and show their superior humanity by providing those poor struggling EU countries with all the money they are requesting. It's the right thing to do, and I'm sure they'll be taking their own advice about not being greedy and selfish.;-)

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 375.

    EvidencePlease (367),

    “365. Chryses: "If you are not an American, you never had those rights. Under the U.S. Constitution, they are reserved for American citizens."

    “… It seems to suggest that only the only rights valid in the entire world are the rights granted by the US Constitution, to US citizens only …”

    It speaks of and to citizens, their States, & the Federal government.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 374.

    Chryses @368

    Same error as @244 & 360

    You quote 4th Amendment as evidence of violation

    Your quotation supplies no evidence that state duty to set and collect 'reasonable' tax, and state duty 'reasonably' to provide ensure defence, would necessarily involve "unreasonable search and seizure…"

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 373.

    363. John_in

    You are mistaken. I didn't predict a Romney win. Jumbling all our views/words again.

    Enjoy your laugh. We're stuck with him.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 372.

    313. Phffft “If you want the Crown to take over again,just call.”

    We’ve been quite prodigal. You sure you want us back, Pops?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 371.

    EvidencePlease (367),

    “365. Chryses: "If you are not an American, you never had those rights. Under the U.S. Constitution, they are reserved for American citizens."

    This statement is simply bizarre …”

    Not at all. It only acknowledges the obvious. The U.S. Constitution applies only to U.S. citizens. To what other nationals should it apply, and what of those nationals’ governments?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 370.

    366. MagicKirin: "No that would be man like Mitt Romney who saved the Olympics"

    Romney saving the Olympics? The man who predicted the London Olympics would be a disaster? I trust you're not crediting him with the triumph it turned out to be.

    That would be truly offensive.

    As for his detractors, there were quite a few Rep detractors during the primaries. There will be more in the months to come.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 369.

    I can't think of aPresidency in my life time that has been more polarizing than President Obama's

    Or a time when the media has attacked with lies any opponent of a President as the NYT,CNN,all 3 major networks, the Huffington Post did to Mitt Romney. they were not the 4th Estate they were an arm of the DNC

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 368.

    All for All (360),

    “Chryses @353
    Same Error as @ 244 …”

    While I have not changed my position, I’ll dispute the error.

    “… As @353, you imagine or pretend tax and defence to be matters of "unreasonable search & seizure" …”

    Not at all. Your proposal @221 “… incomes rationed …” is unconstitutional, as the 4th Amendment protects us from such aberrant government.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 367.

    365. Chryses: "If you are not an American, you never had those rights. Under the U.S. Constitution, they are reserved for American citizens."

    This statement is simply bizarre. It seems to suggest that only the only rights valid in the entire world are the rights granted by the US Constitution, to US citizens only.

    How do you think the rest of the world manages?

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 366.

    ref #362Ah, that would be the bankers who went bankrupt I suppose
    ______
    No that would be man like Mitt Romney who saved the Olympics straighten Mass fiscaly and made Bain the great company it is.His only detractors are dems and unions ( the latter of which is a leech on humanity)
    Hows liberal Jerry Brown doing for the bankrupt State of CA?

 

Page 1 of 20

 

Features

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.