December 13, 2012
Embrace the SuckBy William L. Gensert
Let's go over the cliff Gangnam Style.
It used to be an accepted truth that America would never negotiate with terrorists -- at least before Obama made 'leading from behind' so popular -- or the ascendency of his current variation, 'leading from nowhere.'
Well... in fiscal negotiations Barack Obama is a terrorist. Think about it; he has nothing to lose, because he cares only about winning -- the nation be damned. In fact, the economic depredations inherent in cliff diving provide him with an advantage.
By letting lower tax rates on the middle class expire, potentially he has access to so much more money to transform America, along with the ability to blame the Republicans for the entire debacle -- should he choose that route.
Or... he could wait, and then propose legislation restoring the rates for the middle class only, while including an increase in executive power -- the ability to unilaterally raise the debt ceiling without the approval of Congress.
Control of the debt ceiling is one of the few tools the House can wield, but it only becomes effective as a weapon in the beginning months of the year, when the ceiling is reached, whereas the cliff is New Year's Day.
...And his majesty is salivating over the prospect of campaigning -- yes, to him, this is still a campaign -- on tax cuts for the middle class held up by greedy Republicans trying to reward their wealthy buddies.
As for the sequester, the second part of the fiscal cliff, half of the spending cuts would be borne by defense, which ties in nicely with his notion of America as more humble -- one nation among many -- in a world of equals, with most more equal than us. The cuts to social programs can be finessed with executive orders, innovative regulatory fiat and imperial diktats.
You see, there is no downside for him.
This is why his first offer at the negotiations was $1.6 trillion in tax increases -- double the position he campaigned on less than a month before -- plus an actual increase in spending of $50 billion as another 'mini' stimulus -- because stimulus worked so well before.
And what about his "balanced" approach of including cuts in spending? Well...maybe, but cuts would only be discussed later -- if he's not too busy being the greatest man to have ever lived.
Let's step back for a moment for some background and a little review.
Barack Obama is a terrible negotiator. When he went up against the Russians in the New Start Treaty of 2010, he ceded, before talks even began, the one card he held, missile defense systems scheduled for deployment in Eastern Europe. This is how we ended up with an agreement where we disarm, while they modernize their nuclear weapons.
Yet, his offer in the fiscal suck was brilliant -- in its way. It basically says "I give you nothing. You give me everything -- now go away. I have my impending $4 million vacation coming up. Aloha, suckers."
Apparently he has had some remedial training in the art of the deal since dealing with the Russians.
Yet then, he made the classic mistake, always made by the terminally hubristic, he walked away thinking he had already won.
Of course, it didn't help that Boehner is a bonehead and a horrible negotiator in his own right.
When in a negotiation, if your opponent offers nothing, and you are willing to make a deal somewhere in the middle, you do not start out in the middle with your first offer.
That is idiocy at worst, lunacy at best, incompetency in reality.
Your opponent will see this as weakness and a likelihood you will fold. Any skilled negotiator would walk away when the initial reply concedes almost everything wanted, because it opens the door to the possibility of getting more.
The bad negotiator, full of visions of personal ascendency, never returns -- that's Barack. He could have bargained in earnest and easily gotten $1.2 trillion in tax increases -- but he knew better, and decided to hold out for everything. You have to love someone who will not accept victory.
Boehner's first offer should have been "Zero," no tax increases and whatever level of domestic spending cuts that would frighten the heck out of the progressive morons whispering in the moron president's ear.
The House of Representatives, after all, does control the nation's purse strings. The President has a stronger position today, having just won reelection campaigning on higher taxes for the wealthy. Republicans, however, are not exactly unarmed -- but a weapon is only utile when used.
If Boehner wanted the middle, and Barack offered the other end, he should have started at the polar opposite and worked toward the middle.
In addition, he structured his offer incorrectly -- $800 billion in revenue increases by limiting deductions, without raising rates.
Barack Obama looked at his offer as a gift, considering it a possibility to now get not only the $800 billion in increased rates, but $800 billion in closed loopholes and limited deductions as well. After all, since the election, he has believed the increased rates a done deal.
Boehner, when putting the elimination of deductions on the table before being asked, was mimicking Barack when he gave up missile defense to the Russians before negotiations began.
Poor conservatives, Republican Boehner sucks as a negotiator every bit as much as Obama -- lucky America.
But it's not over. There is a time constraint -- technically a deal must be done by January 1, 2013, but in reality, an agreement has to be in place before the president's publically funded vacation -- it would be selfish of America to expect his royal highness to delay his recreation for the good of the nation.
Send to the Senate a bill permanently extending the Bush tax rates for all with income levels under $200,000 per year individually and $400,000 per year for those filing jointly. This is different from the president's plan, which pines for increases at $200,000 individually and $250,000 jointly, but this should be an easy argument to win for Republicans as a defense of marriage, however marriage is defined.
Tie into the legislation a permanent extension of the 2% payroll tax decrease, leave deductions alone, and walk away. A big part of negotiating is passing the pen and shutting up.
Leave the sequester in place; defense will suffer, but defense spending has always included a certain amount of bloat and this will serve to wring out at least some of it. And, when the detritus hits the fan, as it will under the leadership of America's weakest president, we will do what we have always done, rise up. Putting defense on hold for 4 years will not destroy America.
The other cuts in the sequester on the domestic side, can be argued point by point as Barack attempts to end run each one. The Republicans may not win each argument, but they can win some of them.
The Senate cannot vote against this, despite the increase being less than the $1.6 trillion increase demanded. And Barack cannot veto it either, because it is almost everything he has been on record asking for -- at least before he decided to overreach.
And... the beauty is, once they sign on, because they are who they are, they will immediately trumpet it as a great win for the president.
Now here is the key. The Republicans need to agree. The president did win, because they were just too weak to oppose him -- even though they knew this was bad for the nation.
Pass the pen and shut up (RIP Zig Ziglar).
Barack, the poor negotiator, will accept the win with all the graciousness and class he has displayed throughout his first term -- boasting about his victory at every opportunity.
Then, he will own it -- all of it -- the moribund economy, declining employment and increasing food stamp and disability enrollment, the higher costs of gasoline, home heating oil, food and all the basic staples of American existence, as well as the constant challenges to American interests abroad -- remember, Chris Stevens was only the first.
The overall decline in the American standard of living will for time immemorial be remembered as the "Obama New Normal."
All of this will be Barack. He will finish his presidency with an approval rating in the single digits, and he and his ideology will be destroyed.
An uninformed America, by reelecting the worst President in modern times has shown itself to be addicted -- to the easy answer and the glib phrase spoken by the least informed among us, read from a teleprompter in dulcet tones and life-affirming cadence.
Everyone knows that addicts need to hit rock bottom before they can get better.
Americans need to suffer before they let go of socialistic dreams.
I never met a tax I liked. Milton Friedman said any additional revenue from a tax hike will never serve to reduce deficits because "in the long run government will spend whatever the tax system will raise, plus as much more as it can get away with."
But... render unto Barack, what this election has shown to be Barack's -- allow the President to raise taxes on the most productive and destroy the economy.
For sure, many will not survive -- me included -- but after the death and destruction, maybe rationality will prevail and we can put Barack Obama and his disastrous policies behind us.
Nietzsche said. "Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you."
We are gazing into the abyss, and if America is to be saved, we must all become monsters.
These next 4 years for America and its people will surely suck. With Obama's reelection this has become an unavoidable truth.
I say, embrace the suck. It is our only chance to survive.
George Bernard Shaw said. "A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable but more useful than a life spent doing nothing."
And if there is one truth in life that by the grace of God has been granted to each of us, it is this:
There is no limit to how many times you can start over.
Let Barack be Barack, it is certainly a mistake for America, but frame the discussion in truth, and in 2016, we can at least begin again.
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