Monday, December 31, 2012

The Cavemen?

As the media-hyped "fiscal cliff" approaches within hours, there are signs that a partial deal on tax rates might be near. Unfortunately, even though the Dems and White House have the advantage, there's word that President Obama and Senate Dems are caving to Rethug resistance on the threshold for tax increases. While he campaigned -- and was elected -- on a promise to let the tax rates rise on people making over $250,000, the newest threshold being tossed around is $450,000 for couples, which would be music to Rethuglican ears and a reward for their obstruction. The $600 billion in revenues that it would produce is a far cry from the $1.2 trillion originally offered by the White House when negotiations began. The New Republic's Noam Scheiber isn't mincing words:
"I think the president made a huge mistake by negotiating over what he’d previously said was non-negotiable (namely, the expiration of the Bush tax cuts on income over $250,000). Then the White House compounded that mistake by sending Biden to “close” the deal when Harry Reid appeared to give up on it. As a practical matter, this signaled to Republicans that the White House wouldn’t walk away from the bargaining table, allowing the GOP to keep extracting concessions into the absolute final hours before the deadline."
It remains to be seen what the White House will get in return for this concession, as the horse trading continues today. But this is a time of maximum leverage for the White House; it can't afford to let the Rethugs gain the upper hand early next year when they will use the debt ceiling to extort more concessions.

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