Al Hunt states the case that Republicans, Democrats, and the White House alike lost in the deal for avoiding the “fiscal cliff”:
The bottom lines: The White House believes Republican leaders privately realize that holding the nation’s full faith and credit hostage to cutting popular programs is a loser. Congressional Republicans dismiss Obama’s lines in the sand, saying he invariably backs down and that any economic fallout ultimately hurts his presidency.
Both points are persuasive.
I certainly lost. I hold the unpopular position that the Bush tax cuts should have been eliminated in toto. Fortunately, I’m accustomed to being lonely. Now those cuts have been made permanent for 99% of taxpayers.
It seems self-evident to me that if you’re anti-tax you’ve also got to be anti-spend. The line drawn by Democrats is that they’re opposed to raising the taxes of 99% of taxpayers. Mathematically, that should mean that they’re willing to limit their spending demands, too, since you can’t spend what they want to spend just by taxing the top 1% of income earners. The numbers just don’t add up.
The line drawn by Republicans is that they’re opposed to raising the taxes of the top 1% of income earners. Hardly a populist position. I can only speculate that they’ve convinced themselves that if only you cut the taxes of the highest income earners enough it will produce a huge surge of economic growth. I just don’t see the evidence of that. If you don’t believe me, look at the minimal, short-lived effects of the tax cuts in 2002 and 2003.
The big winner is cognitive dissonance.