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 35.

    This American voter is disgusted with both Republicans and Democrats for their partisan brinksmanship on the budget. No matter who "wins" you can be certain that it will be the middle class taxpayers who lose.

    It's a pity the president and Congress don't have their paychecks on the chopping block if no agreement is reached!

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    All this insanity is being played out in The House of Representatives where the GOP have the most members and out vote the Dems
    The Congress is the next step, that is controlled by the Dems
    The GOP membership in the house is split and the divide is influenced by Money on one side & ethics & a willingness to compromise on the other
    Mr. Boehner is the Ringmaster of a circus that is out of control

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    What they need is an unelected upper house so that the Government of the day can just steam roll through any legislation they damn well like.

    You guys.....

  • Comment number 32.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    The results of the election are still reverberating around Washington
    The GOP who lost in the house are causing havoc because they are heading back home
    The ones staying are in shock and cannot get past it
    The people voted for them to get back to work to WORK
    Not prance around playing games & getting rich from corporate lobby goodies that get the corps their pet tax breaks & the rich their breaks

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    This dog & pony show just goes on & on
    The House & Congress have spent us into a pit and now the GOP are telling us we will all fall off a fiscal cliff if we do not grant the 1% most affluent people in the U$A a tax break
    They are also insisting that we stop letting the poor get free health care and no family will get a tax break for their children
    Is it that they believe the people are stupid?

  • Comment number 29.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    Presidential Transition Act of 2010 cost the tax payers $8.9 milion
    That is the amount of money Mitt Romney spent on his "Transition" when he won the election
    How much went to his buddies on the back of the American Worker who bears the burden the taxes paid to the IRS
    The workers who voted for income inequity to end and the members of the house to show fiscal responsibility
    Not to throw away 8.9m

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    It's just a stage managed drama by GOP. It'll also help them to divert attention from gun control debate and back to where we were with our usual good, old days.

    It seems that political campaign will never end in US, as MM suggested before. It also seems that we do not need any administration or even political parties.

    Let every issue be decided by general referendum!

  • Comment number 26.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    We've had "trade" treaties and military spending to make the world safe for investments. Workers wages stagnate while upper incomes soar and are taxed less. Private equity and hedge fund personnel pay half the tax rate of workers, and capital gains passed to heirs are 100% tax free. We should worry this perverse system may crash on a "cliff"? -- Guess again.

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    Well, the nutters in Congress only care about giving more money to their wealthy friends. Obama's proposals are at least balanced. America deserves the mess it is in if they vote in a dysfunctional load of legislators to Congress.

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    I dont get it! The Republicans dont want to tax the Millionaires but instead "want to close loopholes" Does that mean the the rich have been cheating us out of paying their income tax via loopholes they lobbied for with their Republican Representatives?-If they close them,Do the rich have to pay it back? {I should be careful******look what happened to Socrates for asking the wrong questions}!

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    1% can benefit from tax breaks when they pay at a rate of 15% vs 35% of the rest of us
    It is insanity !!

    But they don't they are taxed and a higher rate than taxes of investment income a second time. Why don't you compaklin about the unreasonable pension useless govt workers get. They should be abolished, unless you in a life saving service.

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    Never vote into power those who desire it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    The US fell off the cliff in the 30's and just hasn't hit the ground yet. When it does, there's going to be one apocalyptic mess. But, if I read my Mayan calendar right, the world ends tomorrow so who cares?

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    The GOP are about cutting spending, spending that they were a part of putting on the credit card
    Two wars & Tax breaks for all
    The hard earned money I have given to the IRS for the GOP & Dems to spend for the benefit of ALL citizens in a fiscally responsible way is being held for ransom so that 1% can benefit from tax breaks when they pay at a rate of 15% vs 35% of the rest of us
    It is insanity !!

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    Why is this theatrics when Obama's plan only addressed 6 days.

    At least Boehner has made an effort to compromise something Obama is unwilling to do.

    Mr. President are you willing to raise all of our taxes?

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    Just theatrics. It will be the Republicans fault if this happens and they should take note even if voters' memories are relatively short. They do have to face another mid-term election and if we are in further recession one won't have to look far to find the Party to blame after this transpires.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    Boehner and his ilk give every indication of being concerned only with giving more of our money to the rich. He seems to ignore the fact that it is they primarily who are responsible for this mess but they are all right, Jack. Loony Limey has it right.
    Peter D


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