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Froma Harrop
NationofChange / Op-Ed
Published: Friday 28 December 2012
The Cliff is itself the result of that scandalous threat by the Republican right to let the U.S. go into default as a “negotiating tool” to force cuts in programs and to avoid economic catastrophe, the sides agreed to automatic tax increases and spending cuts, starting on Jan. 1, if budget deficits haven’t been dealt with by then.

The Politics of Threat

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The people are sad. If holiday shopping is any measure of public mood, the joy vanished this year. The grade-school massacre depressed everyone, and now our rapid approach to the Fiscal Cliff has many scared and afraid to spend money.

The Fiscal Cliff is a phony crisis dropped on us by the politics of threat. Rather than further their goals through the normal process, so-called conservatives are using threats against the economy to get what they want. They tried it during the debt-ceiling fiasco of 2011. They're trying it now.

The Cliff is itself the result of that scandalous threat by the Republican right to let the U.S. go into default as a "negotiating tool" to force cuts in programs. To avoid economic catastrophe, the sides agreed to automatic tax increases and spending cuts, starting on Jan. 1, if budget deficits haven't been dealt with by then. They haven't. Removing $500 billion from a still-weak economy could send us back into recession.

Republican House Speaker John Boehner seemed ready to deal before Christmas, but the right-wingers in his caucus wouldn't let him. His Plan B proposal would have let tax rates rise only for those making over $1 million, and "conservatives" in his party still rejected it. Heaven forfend that folks with seven-figure incomes be asked to pay more in taxes.

Obama doesn't seem to have much to negotiate over and, in any case, is politically stronger this time. For one thing, if the Bush-era tax cuts expire (as was written into the law by Bush-era Republicans), Democrats could try to restore them for the middle class. For another, Republicans lost the last election. For a third, some responsible Republicans are finally standing up to their own extortionist, Grover Norquist, and his threats of political annihilation against any Republican willing to raise tax rates.

They're telling him to take a hike.

Threats, threats, threats. One major tea party website is promoting a "Fax Blast" to end the "political cancer" of deficit spending. The recent election showed the tea partiers to be a menace mainly to the Republican Party, and the party elders are speaking up about it. The movement's power-of-the-threat is clearly not what it was, which is why the site blusters: "Just about the time they thought the Tea Party is growing weak from battle, giving up, WHAMMY! They get fax hammered with boiling hot faxes!"

Guess what. I don't care for deficit spending, either, and neither do most Americans. But we're not running deep deficits because we have unsustainable programs, as Republicans claim. Programs are sustainable if you sustain them. Things are paid for with tax revenues, and federal taxes as a percentage of the gross domestic product are at their lowest level in six decades.

No one likes a profligate government, and savings are there to be found. ObamaCare starts to address the enormous waste in the biggest source of entitlement spending, Medicare. Republicans want to slash its spending deeper through a voucher system. Fine, if they can sell Americans on their voucher plan, they should go ahead and do it. But note that they haven't, because the people want more medical security.

Since the right can't get what it wants through normal channels, it is trying the back door of threats to the American economy. We can all go over the Cliff, and everyone suffers. That'll teach us a thing or two. After Plan B went down, congressional Republicans' approval rating inched even lower to 26 percent. Perhaps the public is getting tired of being threatened.


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ABOUT Froma Harrop
Froma Harrop’s nationally syndicated column appears in over 150 newspapers, including The Dallas Morning News, Houston Chronicle, Seattle Times, Denver Post and Newsday. The twice-a-week column is distributed by Creators Syndicate, in Los Angeles. Harrop has written for numerous other publications, ranging from The New York Times and Institutional Investor, to Harper’s Bazaar and Metropolitan Home. Previously, she covered business for Reuters Ltd., in New York, and was a financial editor for The New York Times News Service. A Loeb Award finalist for economic commentary, Harrop was also honored by the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. Over the years, the New England Associated Press News Executives Association has named her for five awards.

The "fiscal cliff" is a rerun

The "fiscal cliff" is a rerun of what was called the "threat of govt shutdown" in the 1990s, and it w0rked beautifully. Responding to the blackmail, Bill Clinton ended welfare, wiping out our system of basic poverty relief, redistributing those public dollars upward (essentially, into the bank accounts of corporations). This time, Social Security is the ransom. Ah, but President Obama is no Bill Clinton. Thank goodness! It's us, the American people, who have to draw the line. The Republican Party today has become nothing but a tool for burglarizing the US Treasury.

yes, good point, the politics

yes, good point, the politics of threat. however, this is owned by both parties. you lily-livered liberals never see the nose in front of your faces: both parties are the same!

[1]if froma does think fiscal

[1]if froma does think fiscal cliff is important she should cover things she knows [?] [2]get idea raise taxes and kill recovery [3] uncertainty in taxing policy will kill any benefits of current policy [4] sorry gop you will not win elections with just angry white males who are tired of carring everyone else you need to start offering bigger bribes from public trough than the democarts

Since the biggest hogs at the

Since the biggest hogs at the public trough are 1% repugs. That is what the tea baggers are doing and have been doing since Raygun was pres.

Corporations are at the

Corporations are at the trough. Republicans shovel public dollars out of the Treasury, into the trough, keeping those corporations fat and happy. As every farmer knows, the feeding season comes to an end, and it's time to ship the hogs out.


gates,buffet,immelt,corzine,and etc gopers ?????

Despite the fact that the

Despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of the American people appear to support higher taxes on the wealthy, the Republicans keep saying it will hurt job growth.

Well, Mr. Boehner, if lower taxes on the wealthy means more job growth, WHERE are all the jobs today, because the super-rich have had a decade-long tax holiday, thanks to Jr. Bush.

So, the proof of your lies is in the economy itself! How come, with so much lower taxes for the past 10 years, the rich haven't created a plethora of good, life-sustaining jobs? Because it's all BS, Mr. Boehner; you know it, the Republicans know it, and the American electorate knows it.

Yet the Republicans, especially the Tea Party fringers, would rather slit their own throats than raise taxes on the super-rich masters they serve! It's ludicrous.

Stop croaking your mantra about "trickle-down" economics. That has never worked for the 99%, and you think we don't know it?

The Republicans are facing some tough decisions. Either you reject the organized selfishness of the Tea-Partiers, or you will be brought down to their level and never be able to rise again. And maybe it's time for that to happen. You have no place for moderates or liberals in your party anymore, though at one time you did. Now you've become the party of angry white males who fear blacks and minorities and want to keep women down and subservient. And to justify their prejudices, they invent all manner of lies and distortions and loudly proclaim them as truth.

But it's time to bury the "trickle-down" myth, isn't it? You just expose yourself to ridicule and shame by mindlessly repeating what no one believes. The rich don't create jobs. And they don't need their low taxes anymore. Not that they ever did, but it's time they paid their way too, since your party likes to demean the "takers."

palsimon's picture

Ron is saying what is as

Ron is saying what is as plain as the noses on faces of Congressmen. Doing the "right thing" is difficult for hard-headed, obstinate people that want what they want in spite of all the facts. The main fault is with the stupid electorate that refused to believe us when we told them not to vote for the same old parties, when we urged them to vote for third parties. The voters, too, cannot see whate is plain as the noses on their faces either. They still "believe" with unshakable faith that Democrats and Republicans are the only alternatives. They still believe that it would be a wasted vote to vote otherwise. Stupid voters. Deaf voters. Blind voters.

Where are all the jobs

Where are all the jobs created in a decade long tax holiday for the rich? The 1% created record numbers of jobs, they just created them in Asia & India instead of here in the USA. Don't you know they consider themselves citizens of the world? Or is that Masters of the world?

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