Saturday, December 01, 2012

Republican foolishness on "fiscal cliff" negotiations

By Frank Moraes

I tend to think that Republicans are more evil than stupid. But sometimes I wonder. For example: Republican operatives have leaked Obama's initial offer to deal with the "austerity bomb" (which is a much more accurate term than "fiscal cliff"). That's fine, but their reason for doing it is foolish. They think they can attack the president as not taking the negotiations seriously. No one other than Fox News is going to accept that narrative.

Instead, most people are reacting like Ezra Klein, who wrote, " Obama to GOP: I'm Done Negotiating With Myself." In fact, Klein even says that he agrees that the offer isn't serious. But I don't see this at all. Thus far, the only thing the GOP has said is that they wouldn't accept increases in tax rates at all. And this is coming from the party that has no real leverage. If no deal is reached, taxes go up by $500 billion dollars per year -- most of that on high income earners.

Not all liberals are happy. Robert Reich thinks that Obama has already given away too much. He thinks there should have been no signaling of a willingness to raise the top tax bracket to some level less than the Clinton rate and that cuts to Medicare should have been completely off the table. I agree with him on the first point. On the second, the administration claims that these savings will not come from reduced benefits, so I will go along with them.

Overall, I'm pleased that the offer looks as good as it does. (Even Digby seems moderately pleased, and these days that's saying something!) As may others, I am glad to see that that the president is not pre-negotiating.

What's more, let's not lose sight of the most important thing here: the Republicans screwed themselves. Over the last two years, they've been unwilling to make extremely lopsided deals with the president, thinking that he would not win re-election. Well, now that he's won re-election, they should know what the situation is. Those earlier deals were insurance and they decided to go on without it. Those are the breaks.

But it is wonderful to watch the Republicans running around so obviously desperate and making total fools of themselves. They are reaping what they sowed. And it is soooo richly deserved.

(Cross-posted at Frankly Curious.)

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