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The looming "fiscal cliff:" Will Obama cave again?

Updated on November 13, 2012

As the nation stands on the brink of what economists and pundits are calling the “fiscal cliff,” House Speaker John Boehner appears on national television wrapped in the same old mantra: “Raising tax is unacceptable… If you’re increasing taxes on small-business people, it’s the wrong approach,” and President Obama warns that he will not sign a bill that does not make millionaires, like him, “pay a little more.”

Boehner and the Republican Party seem to want the president to agree to the plan Gov. Mitt Romney campaigned on and lost: Keep the Bush-tax cuts in place but close loopholes for the rich. Former President Clinton and many others have said the “arithmetic” in this plan does not add up. It seems strange that the GOP has lost Romney and now is trying to recruit President Obama to carry out Romney’s plan. Why would Boehner think the president will accept a plan that, among other things, led to Romney’s defeat? Is it because he caved on this issue in the debt-ceiling debate? Perhaps so. He thinks the fiscal cliff is so scary that Obama will cave in order to avert it.

The fiscal cliff has reference to a bill that was passed in congress in the summer of 2011 that mandated the formation of a so called “super committee” to come up with a proposal to cut the deficit by $1.2 trillion over 10 years and that if the committee failed, automatic cuts would go into effect on January 1, 2013. If the committee fail, automatic reductions in spending and increases in taxes would be implemented. The supper committee failed and the election has been fought and won by the Democratic Party, including a second term for the president, a pickup of senate seats, and an increase in house seats. Now, the day of reckoning is upon us. It has been described as “a loaded pistol pointed at the head of the economy, and if it goes off, we could be facing another recession.”

Polls show that Democrats and Republicans agree that the rich should pay more, but Boehner has not gotten the memo. The one sticking point has been—and still is—the Bush-tax cuts. That is what led to the fiscal cliff in the first place, and that is what hinders the two parties from coming together and avoiding it.

President Obama caved in 2011 and, as a result, angered his base and even lost some independent voters. Now it is time for the GOP to cave. But the Bush-tax cuts have become the GOP’s sacred cow, and Grover Norquist, who has signed pledges from them to not raise taxes, has become its pope.

The one thing, above all else, that seems to characterize the GOP is that the party, even in defeat, remains defiant. The party seems to think that it is a sin to compromise with Democrats, even for the good of the nation. Republicans are not good losers. They lost the 2008 election, but on the very night of the presidential inauguration, they began planning all types of unethical measurers to deny the President a second term. They vowed to not allow bills to pass the House and the Senate that would help the president to bring the country out of recession and, therefore, win a second term. They began painting the president as “other than” American, calling him “not too bright,” and saying he is the “food-stamp president.” They decided to engage in voter suppression measurers, making it hard for the poor and middleclass to vote. Now that the 2012 election is over, they seem to have dug in their heels with the hope of blocking progress so that they can blame Democrats and use it as a means of retaking the presidency in 2016. They continue to push the same policies that lead to their defeat at the ballot box. They seem to never acknowledge defeat on any issue.

Although President Obama spent the summer on the campaign trail, saying that those making $250, 000 and over will have to pay more, and although opinion polls show that more than 60 percent of those polled agree that the Bush-tax cuts should expire, many of us are still trembling in our boots, hoping our president will not betray us again. The President needs to listen to the powerful voice of the social media: “All you have to do is nothing. Do nothing and let the Bush-tax cuts expire.”

If the President does not allow the Bush-tax cuts to expire once and for all, he will be confronted with it again and again, every time a budget issue such as raising the debt ceiling again this year comes to the fore. Republicans will milk this sacred cow to death in order to have their way.

George W. Braswell, Jr. in his book, Understanding World Religions, asked a relevant question and made a significant comment: “Why would a people save a cow when they need the maximum production of foodstuff and when they have inadequate caloric and protein rations? …Hindu religion bars the slaughter of cattle, has a taboo of eating beef, and allows cows to roam the Indian countryside, clog roads, stop trains, steal food from marketplaces, and irritate tourists. What kind of sacred cow is this?”

Why would the GOP continue to hold on to its sacred cow when clearly the “governed” has given the government “consent” to kill it? It has indeed become a taboo that is senseless, destructive, and counterproductive.

President Obama needs to kill the GOP’s sacred cow NOW. This is HIS time—perhaps the only time.

Will he do it?


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