Monday, December 3, 2012

Truth On Fiscal Cliff Negotiations

We apprehensively advance through this nail biting moment in history as a great Nation floats, uncertain, caught in a holding pattern, hoping its leadership will find wisdom enough to avert the so called Fiscal Cliff, even if most of us don’t fully comprehend what such a cliff entails, or even if such a thing exists. We’re too busy struggling, hanging on to whatever we have, hoping for stability, and hoping that tomorrow brings some relief to our stress.

So let’s look for a little insight into what astute and gifted minds are really doing deep in the core of the negotiations apparently so critical to the very future of the Nation. Let’s dig for a sign of prescient coherence determining the very nature of our future.

Here is a discussion/interview which John Mauldin recently conducted with Rob Lehman and David Krone, the chiefs of staff for Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), and of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), respectively. Lehman and Krone are two very key individuals in the current budget negotiations. Mauldin, who writes on economics and investments, usually refrains from using an ideologically tempered pen. Late in the somewhat non-descript forty minute discussion, a head snapper gets dropped by Lehman, who works on the Republican side of the negotiating table.
At minute 37:00 of the linked video Lehman (R) makes a statement about spending. “We’re talking about reductions in the growth of spending.” He confirms that there will be no reduction in spending. Krone (D), sitting next to him, is drooling out of camera shot. Washington does not spend less year-to-year. Ever. Is that clear? Negotiators are only negotiating amounts of spending increases and areas of such increases in spending. That’s it. Don’t believe anyone standing at a podium performing waffling prevarications in Washington while making claims of imminent spending cuts.
Oh, but wait, you say, what about that the $16.2 trillion in debt which we cannot ignore? When you spend $3.6 trillion, but receive $2.3 trillion, you have to cut over a trillion from your annual expenditures somewhere along the line if you harbor any hope of getting ahead of the backlog of debt and the corresponding overwhelming interest. What about that looming additional commitment in entitlements which will more than quadruple that debt? Hmm. Well, forget about it. Ignore it. Have a good Christmas, and Happy New Year. You’ll never be able to endure that burden, so why worry? We’ll just crank up the presses. Isn’t that how you pay back what you owe? Just print money?
Obama continues down the seemingly never-ending campaign trail, arrogantly pretending that he is providing tax cuts to the middle class and further pretending to demand a “balanced approach.” He has repeated his limited talking points at every recent use of the teleprompter. Someone might explain to him that retaining the Bush tax cuts which are due to automatically expire at the end of December, does not mean reducing the middle class tax rates. He either has no grasp of what he is claiming, or is knowingly lying to the taxpayers.
There are no tax cuts on the horizon and there are no expenditure reductions coming. Spending is out of control, and the truth is that tax increases are coming for all levels of society.
Everyone knows that the mantra “tax the rich” is just demagoguery, . . . well everyone except those with a paucity of common sense. Tax increases for the so-called rich will not put a dent in the deficit. And Obama’s claims of the approximately $10 billion in revenues anticipated from the rich is annoying. He still won’t acknowledge that such supposed anticipated amount is over 10 years. Please, someone tell him. The very rich probably don’t much care, since the increases will simply mean less real redistribution of wealth, but the increase will not impact their lifestyles.
Obama professes that only agreeing to his demands would avoid the ‘fiscal cliff’, and doing otherwise, “would be bad for the economy, it would be bad for those families (supposedly the whole middle class), in fact it would be bad for the world economy.”
He’s getting ahead of Republicans on the “message,” so that no matter what happens, Boehner and the Republican controlled House of Representatives will eat the negative fall-out. And the fall-out is coming, but what is not coming is spending reductions.

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