Does he want to do those things? I don't know. But in this political climate he may have no other choice.
A Real Debate
Democrats in the House and Senate can use that time wisely, too -- by explaining to voters that we have real choices before us, not just the artificial ones imposed on us by the artificial crisis. Wonkblog can create an "economic solutions adventure" with more better choices -- like the Fairness in Taxation Act, the public option for healthcare (supported 45-to-22 percent by voters as a deficit reduction measure), genuine controls on medical cost drivers, and a financial transaction tax.
And without the artificial panic of the "cliff," this debate about our economic future can take place where it always should have been: in public. These issues are too important to be settled through backroom deals.
That mean no more negotiating in the dark. Let the public hear this debate.
Who knows? Even the Republicans may surprise you. When the financial reform bill was debated in public, some Republicans crossed the aisle in surprising ways to back measures that Washington likes to call "leftist." In response, that bill's negotiations were hurriedly pushed back into the shadows.
Don't let that happen here. Let each side make its case so that the public can judge -- now, and in the next election.
Show's over, people. Just keep moving.
This would be a good time to tell all your elected representatives that you want them to end this charade by canceling the "cliff" and working seriously on the nation's problems when they return in January.
And by "working seriously on our problems," we mean all our problems: Unemployment. Under-employment. Wage stagnation. The high price of a college education. Poverty. Overcrowded schools. A crumbling infrastructure. Runaway health care costs. And yes, deficit reduction too -- once these problems have been adequately addressed.
The fiscal cliff was a gambit that failed, a Broadway musical that flopped, a virtual-reality display that disintegrated into a million fragmented pixels right before our eyes.
The show's over. Get over it, Washington, and get to work.