We dodged the end of the world on Dec. 21, but now—due to Republican intransigence—we’re heading off the fiscal cliff on Jan. 1. The mascot of the Republican Party is no longer an elephant; it is a lemming.
Of course, some Republicans could do the right thing and join Democratic House members to avoid the calamity that will befall our economy. But it doesn’t look like that will happen. Gone are the days when Republicans will put country ahead of party. Keeping their congressional jobs in safe, gerrymandered districts is far more important than moving the country forward.
In their defense, Profiles in Courage was not about a bunch of political winners. They do not fear a Democrat challenging them in their congressional district; they fear a Republican challenger in their primary. The guardians of political cash are ideologues only too willing to take out their own. Those who fail to adhere to the no-tax pledge will suffer the wrath of the right. Tax increases of any kind, for anyone, anywhere, regardless of circumstance are an anathema—country be damned.
Exacerbating this ridiculously rigid policy stance is an unwritten rule of the Republican Caucus—anything that passes the House must be done solely with Republican votes. Democrats are not to be consulted. The paralysis in the House is mind numbing.
The leader of this circus is Speaker of the House John Boehner, but he is clearly not in control of his members. His latest plan to show “strength” in negotiations with the President—by simply passing his own plan—failed to get enough Republican votes to pass the House.
So, taxes will go up automatically for everyone, unemployment insurance ends for 2 million people, automatic spending cuts go into effect, and uncertainty is sure to roil the financial markets.
Ironically, the rich will most likely lose more money in the stock market slide than they would have paid with a 2 percent tax hike. The proverbial “cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face.”
But, hey, Happy New Year. The world did not end, and, in the final analysis, we still have healthcare.