Fiscal Cliff Notes

Now that we’ve sat through the most of this year’s election movie, it’s time to gird our loins and get ready for the inevitable ending; the car chase. Our hero, Barack Obama, has destroyed the fortress of the evil right wingers, but the villains still have one more shot at destroying all that’s good and decent in the world by sending the economy into the abyss, in the hope that they can survive to pick up the pieces of a shattered post-apocalyptic nation.

We see the combatants careening down the highway at high speed. Obama’s in the driver’s seat, but Republican henchman John Boehner is doing his best to jerk the wheel away from our hero from the back seat. The camera pans to the highway a few miles ahead, where we see two sacred cows standing in the road. The cow in the right lane is a metaphor for tax cuts. The cow in the left lane represents entitlements. On both sides of the road there is a nothing but air, and a long fall to the bottom of the mountain of debt. The audience is on the edge of their seats, wondering if the two will stop struggling long enough to straddle the center line, injuring both cows but keeping the car from going off the cliff. The President is inclined to smack the tax cow and protect the entitleteat of the cash cow. Of course, Speaker Boehner would go for the opposite target. The camera shifts back to the speeding car, where one minute the two seem to be in agreement, the next minute they are hurling insults.

Both actors have a big stake in surviving this cliffhanger. There’s always the sequel to consider, and the next one will come in 2014. Obama will be around for a few years longer, but if he’s cut up in the crash, his star power will be permanently diminished. Boehner would like to be included in future episodes of the franchise, but he’ll get killed off if the audience is displeased. It’s a long way to December, and there are plenty of plot twists ahead. Stock up on popcorn and enjoy the ride, if you can.

Coming Attractions: I’d like to welcome Jeff Pelline to the comments section. Regular viewers know we have our little disagreements, but the whole idea is to expand the dialogue here. Let’s try to keep the rhetoric and personal jabs to a minimum if Jeff chooses to continue. I promise I will. I’m hoping that Greg and Todd will do the same. If it gets too nasty, you’ll end up on the cutting room floor.

 

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48 Responses to Fiscal Cliff Notes

  1. “… but the (Republican) villains still have one more shot at destroying all that’s good and decent in the world by sending the economy into the abyss, in the hope that they can survive to pick up the pieces of a shattered post-apocalyptic nation.”

    Is that the official middle road view now that it is the Republicans who have taken multiple shots to destroy all that’s good and decent in the world, and are the ones to blame for the current state of the economy?

  2. rl crabb says:

    It’s just a movie, George, and if the plot follows the usual scenario we’ll see that the hero has his own character flaws. Even Superman has his off days.

  3. Jeff Pelline says:

    Earl,
    You forgot to mention Barry Pruett, who (judging fom this weekend’s post – since removed – on Rebane’s blog) has appointed himself my “life coach.” Our family got a kick out of that. Nope, I think you’re all doing fine on your own. thanks for thinking of me, though!

  4. Todd Juvinall says:

    Hey you would think I have a reputation. Yikes!

  5. Judith Lowry says:

    Who is Earl?

    Bob’s second paragraph reminds me of the movie I saw today, Skyfall.
    Now, there is some terrific epic action filmmaking.
    And I must say that Daniel Craig is one gorgeous super masculine hunk.
    The gasps from the ladies in the audience were audible every time he removed his shirt.
    What a body!
    Who can forget the first Bond movie he made, when he walked out of the ocean in his swim trunks?
    And nobody fills out a tux like that man.
    It’s enough to keep an old lady off hormones.
    Pure testosterone on the hoof.
    And those crazy beautiful eyes!
    The action scenes were excellent, but they pale before the Craig pulchritude.
    I’m going back for seconds, maybe even thirds.
    No politics for me tonight, (the election is over you know).
    Just dreaming of Daniel.

    • rlcrabb says:

      Earl is my alter ego on another blog, Judith. Glad you enjoyed Daniel Craig. Myself, I’m looking forward to Lincoln coming out this weekend. I have a thing for Daniel Day Lewis. If I was gay, I’d be chasing that hunk. But I’m not gay, not that there’s anything wrong with it.
      Sorry about the ongoing obsession with politics. If politics would leave me alone, I’d leave politics alone. As it is, it’s hard to ignore.

  6. Judith Lowry says:

    Ah yes, the other dreamy Daniel.
    My Beautiful Launderette, A Room With a View, My Left Foot and the devastating, There Will Be Blood.
    I think that film identified the problems we are having now with the destabilization of the earth’s climate systems that have permitted life to survive on the globe. Rapacious greed and disregard for the consequences of uncontrolled resource extraction, rampant development and the resulting pollution, competitive wars, famine, disease and global terrorism.

  7. Re Pelline’s 813pm – It appears that the journalist is playing fast and loose with quotes again, or his memory does not serve. This is the referenced and deleted Pruett comment in its entirety.

    “Jeff: I have been reading your posts since the election which started with calling George a pompous fool and now criticizing a man for taking care of his son after the death of the child’s mother instead of working where you think he should. I am really starting to worry about you. Are you okay? Did something happen which triggered this episode? If it is true that you actually “carved away time to go at it all weekend,” I think that you really need help. I would suggest spending the time with your wife and son or watch Steele’s football game, as it would be far more beneficial and far more fulfilling. Just an observation. ”

    I removed this (and others by JeffP) because it was non-topical and injected itself into a sequence of acerbic exchanges Pelline launched with other RR readers. As can be seen, there is no appointment, self or otherwise, of a “life coach” (sic). Nevertheless, with no malice aforethought, I do endorse your (Bob’s) invitation to JeffP focus his commentary on these pages. It would shorten the ideological distance he would have to travel from his own blog ;-)

  8. Jeff Pelline says:

    This is hilarious! Earl wrote: “Let’s try to keep the rhetoric and personal jabs to a minimum if Jeff chooses to continue.”

    You guys couldn’t even make it last for less than 24 hours!

    I’m happy with the election results, my life, my job, my friends and family, and my personal blog. Why do I want to be dragged into a mudpit with a bunch of angry, white men? Have at it!

  9. Jeff Pelline says:

    And as for this “life coach” advice:
    “I would suggest spending the time with your wife and son or watch Steele’s football game, as it would be far more beneficial and far more fulfilling. Just an observation. ”

    Stay out of my personal life please. Thanks!

  10. Barry Pruett says:

    As I read the blog posts over the weekend, there appears to be only one “angry white man.” LOL. As far as the fiscal cliff goes, it would be nice to see real spending cuts with the proposed revenue increases. I am eagerly waiting the leadership of Obama in addressing which expenditures he is requesting being cut with his proposed revenue increases.

  11. rlcrabb says:

    Ah well, so much for civility! It was worth a try, but like the election I guess we’re stuck with the status quo. All hope, no change.

  12. Michael Anderson says:

    Barry, excellent question. We all know that entitlements are the 16 trillion pound (almost) elephant in the room. I would love to see tax reform, some upward adjustments in marginal rates for upper income folk, and then some significant cuts in entitlements. Heck, I’m the guy on the cusp, I’m 54 and don’t expect a whole lot from SS. That has been my strategy regarding retirement since the 70s…I don’t count on the gov’t in any way; I expect SS to disappear before I can use it.

    That being said, all sorts of reform should be on the table: taxation, education, gov’t lease sales for resource extraction on public lands (also covering other commons, such as broadband spectrum and water rights, etc.), election, banking, immigration, and commerce. Our state v. fed regulatory environment is broken, and we need to streamline if we are going to be planetarily competitive.

  13. Barry Pruett says:

    Michael: I think that there are a lot of things that can be done. For starters, tax reform and means testing social security (not very popular with ultra-conservatives) should be on the table. I do not think that people are completely adverse to revenue increases for high income earners so long as the increases in revenue are accompanied by real expenditure reform. The fact of the matter is that we need to get our fiscal house in balance. My fear is that Obama focuses too much on revenue and not enough on expenditures. Focusing solely on one side is not “reaching across the aisle.”

    • Michael Anderson says:

      Barry,

      I agree that this debate has reached a focal point. I watched the Sunday talk shows and it’s very clear that everyone wants to avoid the “fiscal cliff.” I think Simpson-Bowles is a great starting point and I hope both sides embrace it as a solid beginning. I don’t think the lame ducks should be dealing with this very difficult legislation, and so I hope they can at least “kick the can down the road” for another 6 months so we can get this damn thing figured out. But I am hopeful. The only caveat I have is this Benghazi/Patraeus business. I don’t like it. As Peggy Noonan stated on “Face the Nation” today, the whole thing is very “mysterious.”

      My guess is that the CIA messed up in protecting the Benghazi embassy, it was their bailiwick. Stevens and company were depending on local support, backed by the CIA, and it never came. The only thing that is mysterious is why Patraeus didn’t understand why this failure would be a problem, and why he didn’t utilize effective counter-measures to prevent this horrible tragedy. The most likely answer is that he was too involved with Paula Broadwell to make good decisions, and so it goes. Plus, it now comes out that Paula’s nemesis is “37-year-old Jill Kelley, a close friend of the Petraeus family.” Ick. The whole thing makes my skin crawl. This sidebar situation has nothing to do with the ongoing stupidity of the Republican and Democratic parties not being able to come to a budget agreement.

      Michael A.

      • Tony Waters says:

        Michael: The Benghazi operation was not an embassy, but a consulate, at best. There was also a CIA house in Benghazi closely connected to the consulate, which is the place from which reinforcements were sent.
        I suspect one reason more is not coming out is that the CIA doesn’t want it t0 expose the extent of their involvement in Benghazi militias and politics. If that is the case it is likely that the entire story will continue to appear confused to those of us on the outside.

        Tony

        • Steve Frisch says:

          One thing is clear, a lot of people have engaged in a lot of speculation, without any real information or evidence about what actually happened, which is why opposition politicians–particularly Presidential candidates–should not be commenting on American intelligence operations and crises IN THE MOMENT. The shamelessness of the desire to politicize this issue for electoral gain by the very people who counsel caution in every other intelligence or military operations circumstance is absolutely transparent, including from more than one retired former military spooks who post here.

        • Michael Anderson says:

          Tony,
          Yes, a consulate, thanks. A consulate that also appears to have been involved in running heavy weapons to Syrian rebels.
          Will this be the first Black Ops that is truly exposed to the open air? I sincerely doubt it.
          Michael A.

    • Steve Frisch says:

      I would go with means testing and raising the retirement age for SS to 70; ending the Bush Tax cuts on the top 2%; regulatory reform; shifting regulation on leasing of some public lands in exchange for a higher percentage of the ROI from operations; restructuring the military for a stronger rapid deployment force in exchange for reducing European and Asian commitments; and (gasp) some reforms to the ACA to include opening exchanges to interstate competition and tort reform.

    • Greg Goodknight says:

      “My fear is that Obama focuses too much on revenue and not enough on expenditures. ”

      The ‘tax the rich’ message was pure rabble rousing. If you could confiscate the assets of the “1%”, it wouldn’t solve the spending problem.

  14. Michael Anderson says:

    PS I support means testing with SS. Not too hard to agree on that one. But what’s the cutoff? One problem is that national incomes are so disparate — the red states have lower wages than the blue states. Can you adjust SS means-testing nationally, based on income standards? I guess we’ll have to wait and see…

    • Tony Waters says:

      I sense the beginnings of agreement between Steve, Michael and Barry, at least on this blog.

      • Steve Frisch says:

        Lets hope Congress can follow suit….I already have friends telling me that raising the SS retirement age should be 100% off the table. My rationale is that the budget can’t be looked at as simply a collection of individual actions……all rational savings should be on the table and analyzed.

  15. Jeff Pelline says:

    This is a funny exchange. I just ordered up some wired bumper stickers, like the ones you get at “Trees of Mystery” on the North Coast when you drop into your parking lot to check out the gift shop.

    While inside, they wire them to your bumper. Since most people don’t carry wire cutters on vacation, it’s free advertising until you get home.

    Mine read: “Four more years, four more years!” LOL.

    BTW, Earl, you have got to monitor your blog!

  16. Jeff Pelline says:

    Oh, one more thing:
    Hey Mark,
    Thanks for your advice about this blog. “Good grief,” as Charlie Brown would say.

    • rlcrabb says:

      Yes, it’s difficult herding cats. Can’t be online, all the time. Glad to know that the comments on SFR are never over the top, contentious or mean-spirited.

      • Greg Goodknight says:

        LOL!

        The county was declared to be going Purple by the usual suspect after Obama won a plurality over McCain here four years ago, about 51 to 46. This time Obama got a smaller percentage of the total than McCain did then. No, the opposition doesn’t have to roll over and play dead; 49.3% of the country voted against Obama, and had the administration been the model of transparency that was promised four years ago had been the rule over the last two months, or had better weather, it would have been a different outcome.

        I doubt the thin veil of civility will hold Jeff’s tongue in place very long, either here or there.

  17. Jeff Pelline says:

    Earl,
    If you can’t be on line regularly enough, you shouldn’t promise to monitor your blog, as you did in this post.
    Otherwise, it’s just an hollow marketing promise.

    • rl crabb says:

      I just have a higher tolerance for disagreement, and I never thought of “marketing”, as you put it. I just offered a truce to see if it might stick, and it didn’t. The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step, but it looks like we’ll continue to trip over each other.

      • Todd Juvinall says:

        There you have it Crabby, JeffP says you must sit in front of your monitor at all waking moments to edit comments. So there!

    • Judith Lowry says:

      Ow!
      Olive branch slapped away, is Bob that bad to you?
      I thought journalists were supposed to have thicker skins than that.
      But, Jeff, as a former bullied kid, I feel your pain.
      And that’s what it is, your feelings get hurt so easily.
      In fact all you guys on this blog could use a bit of grounding.
      You are smart enough, nice enough and doggon’ it many people like you.
      Same for Bob.
      Can we agree to disagree?

      I know you saw the nasty comment Steve Baker hurled at me a few days ago on your blog.
      Lobbing one over my bow never sits well with this cranky old lady.
      But even today, if he offered to sit down with me, Shelly and Richard, and have a reasonable talk, I/we would be open to it.
      You know, united we stand and all.
      Don’t think he will though, and that’s a shame.

  18. Judith Lowry says:

    As the lone woman on this blog, I feel a little bit like Wendy and the lost boys.
    All you gentlemen want to do is make war on each other, play the blame game espouse your dubious theories about the economy. What makes any of you experts on such a complex problem. From what I see, none of you have made enough success to merit having your opinions taken seriously.
    I will wager that each of you have your computers and other appliances on standby 24 hours a day, even while you are sleeping.
    Not doing that, I mean actually having to wait for something, could be one way of saving millions, perhaps billions of dollars. Put it this way, it couldn’t hurt.
    After the 911 attacks on New York and D.C. someone said, “America, welcome to the world.” and then went on to cite our oversized “thirst for oil”, which will spell our doom.
    I would say Americans have a huge appetite for resources of all kinds and we waste them mindlessly and shamelessly.
    Every time we fill our gas tanks and then squander that resource for entertainment and recreation, we are sentencing someone to death. It could be a young American soldier or a foreign child. American hedonism and gluttony for resources make us collectively culpable for most of the misery on the planet, but we don’t like to think about that while we are enjoying ourselves at the expense of the third world.
    Keep up the chatter gentlemen, but it won’t change a thing until we each take some personal responsibility, like the Germans who work hard and save their money, and have said “Nein!” to nuclear energy.
    Americans, knowing our country is being brought to its knees, are spoiled babies bellowing about the Earth’s empty breast which we have drained in the name of pleasure, distraction and cheap Chinese goods.

    • Michael Anderson says:

      I think Chip’s citation over on Jeff’s blog this morning is particularly poignant:
      “Politics is the entertainment division of the military industrial complex.” Frank Zappa

      It’s all about the comedy, Judith. Laughter keeps us healthy and happy. If you’re not smiling when you hit ‘Send’ then what’s the point?

  19. Barry Pruett says:

    Steve: In principle, I agree that everything needs to be on the table. I think 70 may be a little high, but the idea is okay. Is it possible for Congress and the president to come together on the deficit issue and get off of their ideological sidelines? If these guys could balance a budget and start reducing the debt, they would be rockstars, but I do not think that either party is likely to give an inch in spending (liberals) or taxing (conservatives). It is time to pay the piper.

    • Greg Goodknight says:

      If you want to tax the rich, start by giving them less money. Means test SS and Medicare.

      It’s my understanding the ones who are aghast at doing this are Dems who need to cling to the fiction that recipients are just getting their own money back.

  20. Todd Juvinall says:

    Cut spending to match income.

  21. Barry Pruett says:

    Also, what I am hearing is that Democrats want current tax increases, but also will put off any expenditure decreases for at least four years…meaning we are still digging the hole and making decisions based solely on political considerations instead of doing the right thing.

  22. Jeff Pelline says:

    Truce? Tripping over each other? Feelings get hurt easily? Olive branch snapped away?
    Sounds like Dr. Phil.
    Just agree to disagree and move on.

    • rlcrabb says:

      Move on?…as in “dot-org” or what? Is it some kind of dog whistle for your hidden agenda to remove us uppity rural white people to your UN re-education camp? And Dr. Phil? Ryan can tell you the real enemy is Dr. Oz, who might recommend that laughing at one’s self occasionally is a good way to deflate an overactive ego.

      • Ryan Mount says:

        I accidentally confused three Dr. Oz episodes and used brown seaweed capsules as a suppositories (there were several) and then tried to use my psychic powers to throw a six pack of Red Bull at my teenagers to get them up before 11am.

        The net result was that the teenagers didn’t budge, and my butt hurt.

      • There’s a UN reeducation camp up here? Hmmm, maybe those anti-Agenda 21 people know something.

  23. judith lowry says:

    Got it.
    But I can hope.

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