Theatrics at the cliff edge

Speaker of the House John Boehner during a media availability 18 December 2012 Both President Barack Obama and Speaker of the House John Boehner made combative comments in press conferences on Wednesday

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It has become known as the fiscal cliff, but it is more like a mutual suicide pact, agreed in the summer of 2011, in order to force Republicans and Democrats to do a deal to balance the books.

If they don't there will spending cuts so horrendous, tax rises so terrible that no one could allow it to happen. That's the theory anyway.

After all it is not just about the US. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) says the negative shock could put both the US and the world back into recession.

But there is a wearily familiar pattern. After some fairly serious negotiations, the parties are back to posturing. Today's vote on the Republican leadership's "Plan B' is largely theatrics.

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There are still few days left, and many think a deal will be done, because it has to be done.”

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The proposal from the Speaker of the House John Boehner does several things.

It amply demonstrates how difficult it will be for him to come to an agreement with the White House. Many conservatives will not vote for it, because it allows for some tax rises for the better off.

It is a flamboyant way of telling the president "see who I'm dealing with?"

If it passes the House, it also means there is a compromise plan in play.

If the Senate kills it or Obama vetoes it, as he says he would, Republicans must hope the Democrats would get the blame for putting the knife into the only existing proposal.

So it is positioning, theatrics, part of the negotiations, not the negotiations themselves. There are still few days left, and many think a deal will be done, because it has to be done.

But fighting on the edge of a cliff is a dangerous business.

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  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    We are watching the GOP shoot themselves in the head!
    The Fiscal cliff is not going to be the end of the world, but the reaction of the markets to a legislation process that is still being obstructed by stubborn partisanship antics will be very swift and detrimental to the health and well being of the entire world
    Our political process is broken, the election was supposed to end this dysfunction

  • Comment number 14.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    JoanneJaffe@7"...Nothing will happen for at least a month,"

    I think reaction on the world's financial markets would be swift and painful. And as the U.S. sagged into another serious recession, it would drag the rest of the world's economies down with it.

    Who got the blame would be moot. Agree it SHOULD be the Norquist-pledged Republicans -- but the U.S. in general would get the blame by most.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    #11.Looney Limey
    "GOP...pander to the rich and ignore the needs of 99% of the people"

    Oh dear, the politics of envy again. Obama panders to the poor & unsuccessful. The 1% don't need pandering to - the Reps are acting from principle, not chasing mass votes. Otherwise, they would be rabble-rousing, Obama style. for the greatest number of voter prejudices.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    The theatrics of the GOP over every piece of legislation with no intention of any action is not ended
    The election has simply dug the GOP in to a deeper pit of "The people voted for us to hold the House"
    That may be, but did they vote for the GOP to continue to pander to the rich and ignore the needs of 99% of the people they are supposed to represent
    Get off you podiums and get to work!

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    Ya gotta create a disaster before ya can be a savior and save a newly grateful public. After all if ya just got any ol'a deal you wouldnt have saved anybody would ya and nobody will be grateful

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    Update / observations from DC:

    Every evening the restaurants are full. People eat, chatter, drink beer - and then put the cost on their credit cards.

    The average American dies with net assets under $10k.

    35%+ of Americans have zero savings.

    People are creating their own, personal fiscal cliffs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    Democracy in action. The Chinese must be laughing their socks off.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    There really is no "fiscal cliff". It is a fiscal hill. Nothing will happen for at least a month, not all at once, a little each month, & can be fixed retroactively. BUT, Republicans will get the blame. They have earned it the last 2 years. They are the reason we have a AA rating and not AAA. They have gone crazy and want to take us to crazyland. In 2 years, Dems will take over Congress for good.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    Yup, it's business as usual in DC.

    Perhaps the US is essentially ungovernable, and will continue to lurch from crisis to crisis, between an ideologically zealous, demagogue president and a petulant Congress.

    And all the time the economy gets smaller (despite what the govt stats tell us) & people sink further into debt & despair.

    Some good news - gold is down - get some coins now!

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    Is that why I should be worried about everyone else's problems because we will be up the creek? Did your teacher ever tell you get a drink of water from the toilets? When you're an adult? The creek is twenty years long and thirty years wide and by the time you get to the other side your priorities will be different. People will have gone to the moon while you paddle. Leaving you confused.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    The architects of GOP strategy built this cliff and they have earned the right to face it, while the "mutuality" of this "suicide pact" strikes me as dubious. The new in-coming congress should be accountable, incumbents up for reelection, to face this matter in the light of day, and Democrats should never mistake a cliff for a cave.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    All I know is that something had better happen or we are all up the proverbial creek.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    I don't know either side well enough to end the fighting. The things they get riled about don't interest me remotely and the other half of the time I have no clue what language they are speaking what I know is that years of fighting and gloating has delivered precious little so why is money dangerous is it because people get angry about that and all manner of things and we won't like it when?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    Boehner is back to theatrics instead of working to compromise. He is not interested in governing and wants to keep campaigning. But Obama was already moving too fast to Boehner's position by agreeing to chained CPI on Social Security benefits and raising the income level to $400,000. So better that there be no deal than a bad deal. Start on a clean slate.


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