Why G.O.P. Extremists Are a Danger to the Country
The hard core” Take this country and shove it, I don’t want to live here anymore” GOP zealots are not going to find any sort of deal that they will agree to no matter what’s proposed. So Boehner and the sane Republicans, probably at least 100 or more, need to make the break now and dis-empower these Luddites who wish to throw our country under the bus. Surely there’s enough GOP members to vote through a deal with the Democrats even if they have to break it down into incremental chunks to get through it.
The fact that under Plan B the increase in tax rates would have been confined to the top 0.3 per cent of tax filers counted as nothing to the G.O.P. zealots. Neither did the fact that Grover Norquist, the high priest and keeper of the pledge for the anti-tax movement, had signed off on Boehner’s proposal. And nor did the fact if the talks between the Speaker and President Obama fail, then on January 1st virtually all Americans will face a tax increase, not just those earning more than a million dollars a year. In the ideologically-driven Republican Party of today, many congressmen won’t let the family dog drown to save their wives and children. If that means that the entire family perishes, so be it. The principle is what counts.
So, where are we now on the fiscal cliff? Surprising as it might seem, not much has changed. At the start of the week, the White House and the G.O.P. leadership were pretty close to an agreement. In an attempt to gain more leverage, Boehner then tried a squeeze play—introducing Plan B—which failed disastrously. Now we are back to where we were: with the White House and the G.O.P. leadership squabbling over not very much. On taxes, the difference between the two sides is about thirty billion dollars a year; on spending, it is about twenty billion dollars a year. In the context of a $3.8 trillion federal budget, these are piddling discrepancies.
By year’s end, Obama and Boehner will almost certainly reach a deal—a fact reflected in the muted reaction on Wall Street to the failure of Plan B. At noon on Friday, the Dow was down a hundred and fifty points, or a bit more than one per cent. If investors really believed that the economy was heading over the fiscal cliff, the fall would have been much bigger. A trickier issue is whether an Obama-Boehner agreement would pass the House. With the support of the Democrats (who would have opposed Plan B) it probably would. The Republican majority is just fifty. If Boehner could garner, say, a hundred loyalists out of the two-hundred-and-forty Republican members, which even now seems possible, the agreement would pass comfortably.