Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.
- Mark Twain, a Biography
The so-called “fiscal cliff” is looming, and I don’t see how we can avoid going over the edge. The election is now over, but nothing has really changed. Before the election we had Obama as President, a Democratic majority in the Senate, and a Republican majority in the House. Today, we still have the same thing.
The day after the election, Democratic and Republican leaders claimed to be willing to work towards a bi-partisan solution, but it sounds more like posturing than substance, and I don’t think there is enough time left before January 1, 2013 to avoid the tax calamity that will automatically happen on that date.
Though both sides agreed not to draw lines in the sand, congressional leaders did just that, staking out unchanged bargaining positions. Harry Reid, Senate Democratic leader, said he wanted to avoid the tax increases except for the wealthy and he would like to see substantial measures enacted during the lame-duck session of Congress that starts next week. Speaker John Boehner, Republican leader of the House, said that while he was open to tax reform, and saw considerable common ground on that, he continued to find tax increases unacceptable. Boehner repeated his previous objections to moving forward during the lame-duck session, except with temporary, stop-gap legislation to avoid the cliff. Vice President Joe Biden, saying the administration would like to move "right now," claimed "a clear, clear sort of mandate" on the tax issue, citing in particular doing "something on corporate taxes sooner than later".
It is thus apparent on the day after the election that the clarity it was supposed to have brought has yet to arrive.