Debt

Here’s the deal

Featured image Politico has posted the full text of the fiscal cliff legislation. I hope you have more luck working with it than I did. The political logic of the cliff — the fact that, absent compromise tax rates were set to increase on all taxpayers — always meant that a compromise on taxes would favor Obama and the Democrats. The compromise reached is consistent with that logic. The $450,000 per household »

Tax portion of fiscal cliff deal reportedly has been finalized

Featured image Robert Costa reports that, according to senior Republican Senate aides, the tax side of the fiscal-cliff deal has been finalized. The basic framework is as follows: — Current tax rates would be permanently extended for singles making $400,000 or below, and permanently extended for couples making $450,000 or below; — For singles, capital gains and dividends of $400,000 or below would be permanently taxed at 15 percent; capital gains and »

Obama demonstrates the virtue of the sequestration

Featured image President Obama has just completed his highly partisan remarks on fiscal cliff negotiations to a highly partisan crowd at the White House. If Obama actually wants a deal, he should hope that no Republican legislators were watching. And one can now better understand why Speaker Boehner became so frustrated after dealing on a sustained basis with this arrogant man. Stripping away Obama’s self-serving cheap shots at Congress — which some »

Deal or no deal?

Featured image There are somewhat conflicting rumors about the status of “fiscal cliff” talks between Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell. Byron York reported that a deal is close, one in which tax rates would rise only for those making $400,000 (or conceivably $500,000) a year and in which there would be a few other cliff-related fixes. But Politico says that there are no signs yet of a breakthrough. It’s not clear that »

Obama uses summit to turn up heat on republicans

Featured image At the White House on Friday, President Obama apparently told the “summoned” that he wants Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell to reach a deal on the income threshold for tax hikes along, I assume, with a few other partial “cliff” fixes. If they don’t reach a deal, Obama will have Reid call for a Senate vote on Obama’s plan to increase taxes on everyone earning $250,000 or more, plus an »

Is Obama over-playing his “fiscal cliff” hand?

Featured image The “fiscal cliff” consists of two elements — tax increases and spending cuts. The tax side is essentially a win-win for President Obama. Either he extracts a large amount of money for the government through across-the-board tax hikes he can blame on Republicans or he extracts a smaller amount of money from well-off Americans, thereby satisfying his emotional desire to stick it to Republicans and the well-off. The spending cuts, »

Ezra Klein: pseudo-wonk

Featured image Ezra Klein is a self-styled “wonk blogger” for the Washington Post. His work does, indeed, have a wonkish quality. But if you strip that veneer away, he’s just another liberal columnist who writes intellectually dishonest pieces intended to show that Republicans are intellectually dishonest. In other words, E.J. Dionne with a calculator or Dana Milbank with a smaller smirk. Consider the recent column in which Klein argues that conservatives aren’t »

Half a “cliff” may be better than none

Featured image Over the weekend, I suggested that we should go over “half of the fiscal cliff.” In that scenario, the deadline for avoiding the cliff would pass, Congress would subsequently grant retroactive tax relief for the vast majority of Americans, and the mandatory spending cuts would remain (though hopefully with relief for the Defense Department). The “half of the cliff” scenario is far from ideal. It would mean that some tax »

They Can’t Argue With Arithmetic

Featured image Most people think that Barack Obama is winning his argument with John Boehner. That is probably true, since Boehner has barely engaged in public debate, preferring to pursue the fool’s game of secret negotiations. The same thing is happening around the world, as demagogic politicians lie to voters, assuring them that the status quo is sustainable. Just vote for more government, and the money will magically appear. Somehow. American voters »

Plan B fails; Republicans move closer to political cliff

Featured image Speaker Boehner has pulled his “Plan B” for averting the year-end “fiscal cliff” because, in the words of the Washington Post, “he fail[ed] to persuade conservative Republicans to extend tax cuts for the vast majority of Americans and let tax rates rise for millionaires.” I quote the Post’s characterization because this is how the vote will be portrayed throughout the mainstream media and how it will be perceived by most »

With a deal in sight, Boehner looks for leverage

Featured image President Obama has made a counteroffer to Speaker Boehner that puts the two men within shouting distance of a deal that Boehner could present to his caucus. But much shouting — or at least much negotiating — remains before such a deal could be finalized. With that in mind, Boehner appears to be seeking whatever incremental leverage might be had. On the dealmaking side, Obama now says he will settle »

Republicans can’t waive their “forcing mechanisms” without having forced something

Featured image Speaker Boehner has offered to postpone for a year any new fight over the federal debt limit. The Washington Post says that this concession is “breathing new life into the stalled talks over the year-end ‘fiscal cliff’.” And, in fact, Obama met with Boehner for more talks this morning. However, what the Post means by “new life,” I fear, is that, as a result of Boehner’s concession, the White House »

Deal or no deal

Featured image According to the Washington Post, “the contours of a deal to avert the ‘fiscal cliff’ are becoming increasingly clear.” That deal would consist of three elements: First, tax rates on the “wealthy” would increase, as President Obama insists they must, but by a bit less than he proposes and perhaps with a more realistic definition of who is wealthy. Some deductions would also be limited, as Republicans have proposed, in »

An Administration That Will Live In Infamy

Featured image There was a time when people assumed that if America’s future was under attack, it must come from a foreign source–like, say, Japan at Pearl Harbor. Those days are long gone. Now, our decline is no one’s fault but our own. We elect leaders who are ignorant of America’s history and contemptuous of its values. The currency in which this ignorance and contempt is expressed is government spending. I am »

Obama postures as fiscal cliff looms

Featured image President Obama said in his radio address today that going over the so-called financial cliff “would be bad for families, it would be bad for businesses, and it would drag down our entire economy.” “Bad all around,” as Sam Spade would say. Most people understand this. The question is, how far will Obama go to avoid “the cliff.” On this question, Obama said that he will not sign a package »

Simpson-Bowles?

Featured image Confess: you don’t remember what, exactly, the Simpson-Bowles “Fiscal Responsibility and Reform” Commission proposed. I didn’t remember, either, but with many conservatives, including Steve Hayward, suggesting that the House pass Simpson-Bowles as its proposal to avert the fiscal cliff, I thought it would be good to refresh both my memory, and yours. You can read the Commission’s report here; it isn’t particularly long. The Commission’s proposals are good on taxes »

One generation got old; one generation got sold

Featured image I got a kick out of the following letter to the editor of Barron’s that seems to be making the rounds: A Warm Thank You To the Editor: This 50-something, white, conservative Republican wishes to thank America’s youth for sacrificing their financial futures and standard of living so that boomers, such as my wife and I, can look forward to a long and comfy retirement, which we could easily have »