There is No Fiscal Cliff
November 30, 2012
To receive Newt’s weekly newsletter, click here.
How many times have you heard about the terrible, frightening, all-imposing “fiscal cliff” in the last few weeks?
Now we have a constant media drumbeat that Republicans will have to cave to President Obama’s demands or they will bear responsibility for going over the fiscal cliff.
President Obama has increased his demands for more taxes and more spending.
The Left, both the politicians and the news media, have created a mythical threat which can only be solved by Republicans surrendering their principles and abandoning their allies.
Yet the fiscal cliff is entirely a manufactured threat.
The same people who are now negotiating worked two years ago to create the mess which they say is such a threat.
At any point they wanted to, the President and the Congress could reduce the “cliff” to a series of foothills by breaking the problem into ten or twenty component parts.
They could then focus on solving each problem on its own merits and out in the open with public hearings, public understanding and public involvement.
Public understanding, however, would limit the level of waste, favoritism, and special interests which could be funded.
That is exactly the opposite of what the Washington establishment wants.
To get a unique insight into the current psychological process of chanting “fiscal cliff,” it is worth reading Tom Wolfe’s essay, “Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers” (1970).
Wolfe describes a San Francisco welfare office in which the senior management hides away on the second floor and hires young, underpaid people to catch the flak of the welfare recipients who show up angry and unhappy. It is the job of the junior staff to endure the hostility while protecting the calm and isolation of the senior leaders.
The local Samoan community had figured out the game and decided to change it. As Wolfe vividly describes, they would send very large Samoans with war clubs into the office. The flak catcher would start explaining why they couldn’t see the senior decision makers on the second floor. The Samoans would begin chanting and pounding their clubs on the color. After a couple minutes of threatening noises, the young welfare worker would decide they weren’t getting paid enough to endure the tension and the sense of threat. They would let the Samoans go upstairs to make their demands to the senior welfare officials.
This brief description does not do justice to the beautiful writing and keen insights Wolfe brings to this scene.
But hopefully it does paint a picture of what we are living through.
The political and news media Left have fashioned an artificial club called “the fiscal cliff”.
They are now standing on national television pounding their club and describing more and more horrifying outcomes if Republicans refuse to surrender their principles and appease the fiscal cliff Gods as defined by the Left.
Their goal is to panic the country so the people will then apply pressure to panic the Republicans.
Every time you hear “fiscal cliff” just remember it is an artificial invention of the Left.
Every time you hear a dire warning about the coming crisis remember the Samoans pounding their war clubs and chanting.
House Republicans should start legislating solutions they believe in, allow President Obama’s alternatives the honest chance to win a floor vote, and move forward.
The current negotiations are phony, dishonest, and calculated to produce either a failure to be blamed on the Republicans or a success defined by the collapse of the Republican policy positions.
Republicans would be far better off to refocus their energy on legislation, appropriation, oversight, and communication — and relegate negotiation to being fifth on their priority list.