Share on Google Plus Share on Twitter Share on Facebook 1 Share on LinkedIn Share on PInterest Share on Fark! Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon Tell A Friend (1 Shares)  
Printer Friendly Page Save As Favorite View Favorites View Article Stats   3 comments

OpEdNews Op Eds

The Next Game of Economic Chicken: Not on the Deficit But Over Taxing the Rich

By (about the author)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 2 pages)
Related Topic(s): ; ; ; ; ; , Add Tags Add to My Group(s)

Well Said 1   Interesting 1   Valuable 1  
View Ratings | Rate It

opednews.com Headlined to H3 11/10/12

Become a Fan
  (104 fans)


With the election behind us I had hoped we'd get beyond games of chicken. No such luck.

But first you need to understand that the game of chicken isn't about how much or when we cut the budget deficit. Or even whether the upcoming "fiscal cliff" poses a danger to the economy.

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office on Thursday warned that the automatic tax increases and spending cuts scheduled to start in January amount to too much deficit reduction, too soon. They'd put the economy back into recession, and push unemployment to about 9 percent. But the CBO also warned of an economic crisis ahead if the United States doesn't stem the growth of the nation's exploding deficit.

Get it? Reduce the budget deficit too quickly, and we're in trouble. But fail to address the deficit, and we're also in trouble.  It's really a matter of timing. That's why I think any deal should include a trigger mechanism that begins to cut spending and raise taxes when the economy has two consecutive quarters of 6 percent unemployment or less, and 3 percent annualized growth or more.  

In reality, though, the upcoming game of chicken isn't about any of this. It's over the clearest issue President Obama and Mitt Romney fought over: whether taxes should be raised on the rich.

Democrats and Republicans are now maneuvering to maximize their bargaining leverage when they sit down next year to decide this.

On Friday the President called on called on Congress to immediately make permanent the tax cuts for Americans who make less than $250,000 a year, while at the same time allowing tax rates to rise for wealthy Americans -- and then making those rates part of a broader deal next year.

The President knows congressional Republicans won't agree, but he needed to set out his central demand because it's the one thing that can fairly be interpreted as a mandate from the election.

So what's going to happen? Bear with me, because this gets interesting.

Some Democrats (and some White House strategists) figure they'll have most bargaining leverage in next year's deal if they do nothing now -- allowing tax rates to rise automatically on everyone after the first of the year. Then they plan to offer Republicans a deal that reduces taxes on people earning less than $250,000 -- which would be retroactive to January 1.

Republicans would have to choose between a tax cut on the middle class or no tax cut at all. Democrats believe Republicans would have to take the deal. Even Grover Norquist would be hard-pressed to come up with an argument against it.

Some Republicans, meanwhile, figure they'll have more bargaining leverage if they keep things as they are until late January or February.

What's magical about late January and February? That's when the debt ceiling has to be raised again, which means that's when Republicans can once again threaten to vote against raising it. (In theory, we'll hit the ceiling at the start of January, but the government can juggle payments and take various "extraordinary measures" for another month or two beyond that -- maybe even until March -- before it could no longer be able to borrow enough money to pay its bills.)

This is the thinking behind House Speaker John Boehner's proposal earlier Friday that all the tax cuts -- including those for the rich -- should be extended until next year, until there's a deal. "I'm proposing that we avert the fiscal cliff together in a manner that ensures that 2013 is finally the year that our government comes to grips with the major problems that are facing us,'' Boehner said.

So who blinks first? Democrats who don't mind going over the cliff because they'll get a better final deal -- and the deal will be retroactive to January 1   so it's not really a cliff at all but more like a little hill? Or Republicans who want to extend the Bush tax cuts beyond January 1, until we get sufficiently close to the debt ceiling that they can once again threaten the full faith and credit of America?

Next Page  1  |  2

 

http://robertreich.org/

Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor and Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, has a new film, "Inequality for All," to be released September 27. He blogs at www.robertreich.org.

Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Writers Guidelines

Contact Author Contact Editor View Authors' Articles

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

The Republican's Big Lies About Jobs (And Why Obama Must Repudiate Them)

Paul Ryan Still Doesn't Get It

What Mitt Romney Really Represents

The Minimum Wage, Guns, Healthcare, and the Meaning of a Decent Society

Why the Right-Wing Bullies Will Hold The Nation Hostage Again and Again

The Gas Wars

Comments

The time limit for entering new comments on this article has expired.

This limit can be removed. Our paid membership program is designed to give you many benefits, such as removing this time limit. To learn more, please click here.

Comments: Expand   Shrink   Hide  
2 people are discussing this page, with 3 comments
To view all comments:
Expand Comments
(Or you can set your preferences to show all comments, always)

I hope that you are right Professor Reich -The Rep... by manifesto 2000 on Saturday, Nov 10, 2012 at 8:11:37 PM
I have unshakeable faith that the Democrats could ... by John Rachel on Sunday, Nov 11, 2012 at 12:11:30 AM
Democrats will have to learn how and when to be as... by manifesto 2000 on Monday, Nov 12, 2012 at 2:54:53 PM