The edge of the fiscal cliff; with nowhere to go but up

Posted on December 18, 2012


It fascinates me to watch (often reluctantly) the endless parroting of Republican sound bites, talking points and blanket statements about the “dangers” of the fiscal cliff. One should not that the same partisan pundits who are bashing the President for having a bad plan are the same malcontents who spent the last year dutifully passing along Republican complaints that Obama had no plan. If you want an example of just how hypocritical the “right” is being on this, pick a Republican … any Republican.  During the GOP primaries, you heard all of them ranting and venting their “outrage” over Obama’s “intent” to cut Medicare. The faux-indignation was palpable. Today, the same people are ranting and venting that Obama’s refusing to cut Medicare ENOUGH. The hypocrisy is nauseating.

Anyone who’s read this blog in the past knows that I’m not known for being shy about outing the GOP’s defiance of reality, or its denial of climate science, or its pathological fixation on controlling women’s reproductive systems, or its demand that people believe that tax cuts for billionaires directly correlates to ballooning employment opportunities, or its adamant insistence that decreasing the amount of revenue the federal government collects from taxpayers will *INCREASE* the amount of revenue the federal government has.

It’s just plain fact that Republicans were in complete control of Washington during the fiscally irresponsible era when President Bill Clinton’s budget surpluses were transformed into the trillion-dollar deficit that President Bush bequeathed to President Obama. It’s a fact that the fiscal cliff was created by Republicans because they refused to negotiate a debt ceiling agreement in 2010. It’s a fact that the majority of Republicans who steadfastly sided with Grover Norquist on his “I will not support tax increases no matter what” pledge are quietly and secretively backing away from that pledge. It’s a fact that Republicans proposed the creation of the “Super-Congress” to address the nation’s debt crisis. And it’s a fact that the Sequestration cuts that they’re bitching about so incessantly now are the direct result of the Republican proposal to have Sequestration cuts if the “Super-Congress” failed to deliver a solution to the debt problem.

The next disproportionate blowup is most likely going to involve the pair $200 billion stimulus that Obama included in his third fiscal cliff offering that somehow didn’t exist before Election Day. I don’t have much of a stake in the stimulus horse race. I didn’t qualify for the Bush stimulus or Obama’s first stimulus, so it’s likely I won’t make the cut this time, either. But I’ll be interested to see how Congress and the media play this out. Stimulus plans didn’t used to be controversial in Washington; they were so common that John Boehner, Mitch McConnell and Eric Cantor *all* voted in favor of seven stimulus proposals under George W. Bush (that’s in addition to the 19 debt ceiling increases they voted for then but claim are “un-American” and “foolish” now). Every one of the 2008 presidential candidates had a stimulus plan, and Mitt Romney’s was the largest – more than double the amount Obama proposed. But in early 2009, when Obama began pushing his half of the Bush-Obama $787 billion stimulus plan, the GOP began describing stimulus as an assault on free enterprise—even though House Republicans (including McConnell, Boehner, Cantor and Paul Ryan) voted for a $715 billion stimulus alternative that was virtually indistinguishable from Obama’s “Socialist” version. The current Republican position seems to be that the fiscal cliff’s instant austerity would destroy the economy, which is bizarre after four years of Republicans stamping their feet in favor of austerity, and that the cliff’s military spending cuts in particular would kill jobs, which is even more bizarre after four years of Republican insistence that government spending can’t create jobs, while simultaneously demanding that Obama answer the “Where are the jobs, Mr. President?” chorus.

Pick an issue: There’s a Republican who supports both sides of it, depending on whether it’s an election year or not, or whether their own party occupies the Oval Office.

Let’s not forget that it was Republicans who brought us the “Jobs for America” program, through which 19 Million American jobs were outsourced and shipped overseas. It was Republicans who brought us the “Clear Skies Initiative,” through which carbon pollution and poison gas emissions from American factories increased by 38 percent because of Republican deregulation (i.e., castration) of the Environmental Protection Agency. It’s Republicans who insist that the American defense industry just isn’t big enough or expensive enough and demand spending increases, even though America currently spends more on defense than the next 26 countries combined – 22 of which are American allies.

Albert Einstein said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different outcome. If that’s true, then I must be insane because I continue to point out factual examples of Republican hypocrisy and yet somehow am still just the tiniest bit surprised every time a new example of it surfaces.

But what do I know? Up until a few months ago, I was completely unaware that women’s vaginas can distinguish between a lover or a rapist and completely shut down any pregnancy that results from the latter. And the fact that a rape-pregnancy is the will of “god” … well, that just completely decimated my entire concept of free will … and consequence, for that matter.

Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats are going to let the Sequestration cuts go into effect on January 1st. The Republicans know – despite pretending they don’t – that the American public is fed up with their blatant and childish obstructionism and will hold Republicans primarily accountable for the economic disaster that would follow.  And President Obama and the Democrats know that – no matter how much factual evidence is produced to the contrary – Republicans will put on their “Oh my goodness! We America-loving Republicans would never have allowed such a thing to happen” hats and wholly blame Obama for it.

The facts don’t seem to really play into these fiscal cliff discussions. Republicans are protecting the billionaires they serve, and the Democrats are pontificating about protecting the poor and middle class, while not actually doing anything of significance to actually protect them. But there they are, slamming fists and orating endlessly on the House and Senate floors and in front of any camera on which they can get face time.

Sound and fury; signifying nothing.