I am home at last from the knee surgery and am very grateful for your kind concern. AND Obama is still president! And the GOP is as stupid and destructive as ever. So let's end the old year the way I intend to go in 2013: finishing the job we have all begun by demanding that our government work in spite of the Tea Party in Congress.
At this moment, the GOP leaders are supposedly huddled in a dark room of the Capitol trying to decide whether to hold hands and leap off "the cliff". (I'm assuming you know the cliff from all the bleating on TV.) The whole thing is more stupid than terrifying. The real cliff is the cliff of public opinion. But for reasons I'll discuss in a subsequent posting the Congressional GOP doesn't care about public opinion. As for the fiscal cliff, the Democrats have been willing to make a deal for quite a while. But the GOP is set on suicide and has been for the last several years. (Why else pick Romney as a candidate?)
It's just that we don't want them dragging us over any cliffs with them, not even phony cliffs like the present one. And yes, it is a phony cliff. Because as soon as the ball drops at midnight in Times Square and every VOTER'S taxes go up, the Republicans will be scrambling back up from their suicide leap, begging for a chance to vote tax relief to 98% of Americans.
How can the Republicans NOT vote for that? By then it will be tax REDUCTION. How can they not vote for TAX REDUCTION? It's more important to them than sex.
And they will not try to hold up the tax relief for the 98% in order to get a tax break for the 2%. Not if they have even a small shred of sense. Even the Tea Party people would balk at that gross unfairness.
The resulting tax hike on the rich will (it is my understanding) forestall the "sequestration", the huge automatic cuts in fed spending that would have been split 50-50 between defense and non-defense. Some of us who grew up with Ike's "beware the military-industrial complex" will be disappointed at defense not being axed, but you can't always get all you want. And at least we will have the satisfaction of knowing that the rich's bucks, not ours, are going to the rescue of defense.
So if I understand what's going on - and the media have been grossly inadequate in laying it out - the GOP has a double incentive to NOT give a tax break to the very rich 2%. First, it would look bad to further hold up everybody else's tax relief for the sake of the 2%. Second, the GOP's beloved and bloated defense budget would take a fearful whack unless the 2% are tagged for that tax hike.
None of the above paragraph has been enunciated by any Republican so far as I know. (See the P.S. below.) So maybe I've got it wrong, but it's more likely that they are just too scared. They cannot and will not tell their constituents what's really going on because the entire thing is such an affront to the far right. Do you see it? Sure you do! If the GOP can't stop the taxes automatically going up on the 2%, and thus the end of any sequestration cuts, the GOP is enabling - oh, horrors! - spending by the federal government. Yes, half the spending is for military crap even the Pentagon says it doesn't want, but some of it is for things like school lunches.
And heaven forbid that a hungry kid should get a lunch paid for by Uncle Sam, albeit as part of a subsidy to agribusiness. You want that kid to grow up to be an Obama voter because he got a sandwich?
So it appears that, at the worst, the GOP will take the leap and then quickly undo it. They'll quickly give the 98% back their lower tax rate, save the defense budget with the tax hike on the rich, and even let the rich buy a kid some lunch.
So then what's the harm? The pseudo-drama filled a lot of air time, didn't it? So who got hurt by the GOP leap?
We all did. And more on that later.
Tune in next time for "The GOP'S Doomsday Machine".
And a blessed and happy New Year to each of you! (But not Ann Romney.)
P.S. After I wrote this paragraph but before I posted this column, the NY Times began reporting there's something in the wind about the sequestration being forestalled by the tax increase on the 2%. It's nice to be ahead of the news! That's us! Firstest with the mostest! Sort of.