Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Tension-Filled New Year's Day in the House of Representatives

The post title above draws on the reporting at the Wall Street Journal, "Cliff Showdown in House: Chamber Takes Up Senate Version of Bill Despite GOP Objections on Spending."

I've been out all day, visiting friends and watching the Rose Bowl. But I've been following along on Twitter. Things have been a lot more complicated today. Folks woke up this morning and went to work to actually get a grip on what was in the Senate's fiscal cliff compromise passed during the wee hours. Tom Foreman breaks down the House GOP's opposition at the clip. And the best analysis I've read all day is this lead editorial at the Journal, "Obama's Tax Bill Comes Due":

The headlines say the Senate has passed a bill to avoid the tax cliff, hallelujah. This is the way to look at it if you have a pre-Copernican view of politics where Washington is the center of the economic universe. The better way to see it is that the tax bill on the private, productive part of the economy is now coming due for President Obama's first-term spending and re-election.

The Senate-White House compromise is a Beltway classic: The biggest tax increase in 20 years in return for spending increases, and all spun for political purposes as a "tax cut for the middle class." But taxes on the middle class were only going up on January 1 because the politicians had set it up that way, manufacturing a fake crisis. The politicians now portray themselves as scrambling heroically to save the day by sparing the middle class while raising taxes on small business, investors and the affluent.
Continue reading.

And see David Malpass, "Nothing Is Certain Except More Debt and Taxes."

Also at the Los Angeles Times, "Obama wins 'fiscal cliff' victory, but at high cost":
WASHINGTON — President Obama, who campaigned on raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans, has fulfilled that promise even before his next term starts.

The announcement Monday night of Senate agreement on a compromise to avert part of the "fiscal cliff" meant that for the first time in two decades, Republicans in Congress were preparing to vote in favor of a bill that raised taxes, an extraordinary concession to the nation's fiscal woes and the president's reelection.

But Obama's victory fell short of what he had campaigned for, and came at a high cost. Even if the House later Tuesday or Wednesday musters the votes to approve the bill that the Senate was to vote on in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, the terms of this compromise guarantee another pitched battle over spending and taxes within months.
Continue reading.

I think the costs will be higher for Republicans, actually. If I can gather the motivation, I want to go back and research how the GOP agreed to this "fiscal cliff" framework in the first place, and especially whose idea it was for "sequestration." For real. It's as if an automatic tax increase, with spending cuts to defense, was tailor -made for the Obama White House in the first place. You're not negotiating a deal when that's the "consequence" of failure. The Democrats would get massive tax increases, etc., and could blame them on the GOP. See Jonathan Tobin for more on the frankly shitty politics of it all, "GOP Plays Into Obama’s Hands on Cliff."

In any case, politics on New Year's Day isn't all that pleasant. I think most people would rather be relaxing than stressing higher taxes and spending cuts. But these are the Obama Democrats we're dealing with nowadays. They don't really care about the well-being of regular people, and they certainly don't care about economic growth. They care about political power and expanding their big government agenda, and they've been quite good at it. Ross Douthat has more, and then I'll be back with more on this later, "Liberalism’s $400,000 Problem." (Via Memeorandum.)

UPDATE: The bill passed in the House and now goes to the president for his signature. At the New York Times, "G.O.P. Advances Senate-Backed Plan, Despite Opposition."