Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Robert Reich: Call GOP's Bluff And Go Over Fiscal Cliff

President Obama is returning to Washington for one last attempt to deal with the fiscal cliff. During prior negotiations with Speaker Boehner, the Republicans rejected the latter's "Plan B" in which taxes would rise on those earning an annual $1 million. Anti-tax conservatives continue to oppose any deal that cuts taxes on the wealthy. Robert Reich argues that even if House Republicans in 2013 continue to block a deal, Obama and the Democrats should call their bluff and go over the cliff:

...What if we go over the cliff and House Republicans continue to hold out against any tax increases on the rich while demanding major cuts in Medicare and Social Security?

The path of least resistance is for Obama and the Democrats to offer to keep everything as is, through 2013 – extend all the Bush tax cuts and continue all current spending (lifting the debt limit along the way) – unless or until a “grand bargain” on the budget is agreed to before the end of next year.

...The real problem with this gambit is it doesn’t change the game. Even down the road, Boehner’s hands will still be tied and the fanatics will remain in charge — which will give Republicans the stronger position in negotiations leading to a “grand bargain.” Compromise would have to be almost entirely on the Democrats’ side.

That’s why I’d recommend going over the cliff and forcing the Republicans’ hand. It’s a risky strategy but it would at least expose the Republican tactic and put public pressure squarely on rank-and-file Republicans, where it belongs.

The fanatics in the GOP have to be held accountable or they’ll continue to hold the nation hostage to their extremism. Even if it takes until the 2014 midterms to loosen their hold, the cost is worth it.

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