Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Fiscal Cliff: Episode Two "The Spoilers!"

In our last Episode we saw the major players - and briefly noted how they talk and talk and talk past each other.  BUT ladies and germs, there are always players in the wings.  Call them the Eve Harrington(s) of the Fiscal Talks - because the sit and plot, all the while trying to trip up a deal so they can walk on and take credit.
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First, of course, is Grover Norquist.  At first blush, Grover is a funny looking little man - hard to talk seriously.  But he (of the "Vow For No New Taxes") is durable like a cockroach   He subsists on hot air, TV exposure and Ronald Reagan Porn.  He also seems to have a pathological aversion to shaving products, but that is neither here nor there.
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Grover has been, for a long time, at the heart of this drama.  If any Republican breaks the "Vow*", he marshalls a lot of money to attack them in the primary.  Since (outside of Iowa and California) districts are drawn to be safe to the incumbent party - he can often get the offending politician removed.
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Is there a loophole to Grover's pledge? Hell no!  In fact last year when some Republicans wanted to vote to remove Tax Credits for Oil Companies (yes kids - we in the USA pay Exxon, Mobil and BP to explore - because ... well they only have profits in the $billions of dollars) Grover said eliminating credits is the same as a tax increase.  Which is asinine, and was immediately repeated by Fox News and Rush Limbaugh.
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The second of our little schemers is Eric Cantor, Republican 2nd in command in the House.  He has been eye'ing John Boehner's job with all the subtly of vulture circling a dying man in the desert.  Think of him as Endora, forever behind a staircase moving obstacles in front of our dear Derwood.
 
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Why not Eve, Eve, little Miss Evil?  Well, Eve Harrington schemed and waiting for a misstep to further her career, Endora screws with Derwood because she can.  And yes, Representative Cantor is Jewish.  He started the big march of Jewish voters to the Republican Party only to find no one followed him there.
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Episode 2: Super Grover Strikes Back!
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As the Fiscal Cliff looms closer, our intrepid gang of "leaders" waddle towards the promises land - where the goal of meeting the deficit target occurs without going over the cliff.   FYI, wily Endora help crafted this self-same cliff last year!  As the land begins to drop away, some Republicans are making  sounds of revenue increases.
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Super Grover no like!
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So Sgt. Schultz and Gladys quickly say they won't raise tax rates, but fix loop-holes to raise tax revenue.  Not on the rich or the poor, but on the big middle that really has to pay taxes (not like Sir Romney's 13% rate).  When a television interviewer asked Speaker Boehner if, not two days ago he was talking about tax rates, Schultes remembered nut-thing about that conversation. Nothing!
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Super Grover happy.
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The Senate has already passed legislation to keep the Bush tax cuts for the first $250,000 of personal income (after deductions).  Super Grover no like that!
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So Sgt. Schultz does..
(looks off-stage... 
waits for directions
... and)
does NOT approve of that.
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Super Grover happy again.
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But Larry Tate has a little thing up his sleeve.  President Bush 2 (who is beyond parody) made those very "Bush Tax Cuts" temporary and ready to expire**.  So if Sgt. Schultz doesn't nothing, tax rates for everyone go up!  Oh no!  Electorate not happy!
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Sgt. Schultz could offer to pass tax relief for everyone who makes less than $250,000 (say 99% of Americans), but that make Super Grover not happy!  In fact, that might make Super Grover very very cross.  Although Endora might find it fun.
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What will Sgt. Schultz do?  Can he get President Gumby to give him cover?  Can Larry Tate say sober long enough to make his cunning plan work (yes - for the Brits out there, Harry Reid was going to be Baldrick, but I don't think enough on this side of the pond would get it).
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*Vow is the right word, since NY Rep. Peter King said he didn't feel permanently committed to never raise taxes, and Grover said that Mrs. King should see how he respects vows.  That didn't end pretty - Mr and Mrs King have been married 30+ years.  Super Grover made Representative very mad!
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** Why are the Tax Cuts temporary?  Because President Bush Two (really - beyond parody) said that they would pay for themselves and NOT raise the deficit.  The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (under Republican control) did not buy that "logic".  So the compromise was to make them temporary - and once they proved to pay for themselves they could be permanent.  How'd that work out?   

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