We Did Not Fall Off the Cliff; We Will Get Stuck on the Ceiling
NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- As far as political melodrama is concerned, it doesn't get mellower than the cliff-hanger of a negotiation about the fiscal cliff. As a typical Hollywood blockbuster, the hero and the villain duke it out amidst fantastic noise and flashes until the very last minute and the hero has no other choice but to win and kiss the girl.
The crowd never gets tired of it. Only this way, it feels, can it get its money's worth.
We got our money's full worth in the entertainment department. But in the real-value department it's far less satisfactory. They did reach an agreement, as I cynically predicted. But they settled on the easy part, which is raising taxes, and left out the hard part, which is cutting spending. This is not what I predicted. I did expect the Republicans to give up and give in; I just didn't expect them to do it so thoroughly.
But raising taxes is easy; you just pretend that you're raising somebody else's taxes. Cutting spending is always much harder because spending is such a joyous and charitable thing to do, especially when it's nobody-in-particular's money.If the Republicans had to fight so heroically against raising taxes, without cutting one penny (and what is this penny thing anyway? Has anybody used it?) of spending; then there's no way they could even last a day in the coming one-sided massacre of a negotiation on debt ceiling. Their threat of holding firm on the debt ceiling is so pathetic that the joke of minting one trillion dollar worth of platinum coins has been taken as a serious counter-balancing nuclear-weapon by their opponents. I expect that the Republican members of the Congress would show up to the upcoming negotiations with the sole purpose of a satisfying therapeutic session, to curl up in a cushy corner and sulk. Either this is democracy at work or Obama overplayed his mandate. For simplicity of argument I'll assume it's the former for now. It makes sense. For all our heroic, innovative and flat-out awesome fiscal and monetary abuses, we have received no punishment at all. So why not be a good sport when the world insists on burying you with free money? So Republicans will give in again, what's the problem?
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