A fiscal cliff deal does seem to be in the offing. I read Jonathan Weisman's story online last night and again this morning with the delivery of the paper and the gist of the bargain is that Obama has reduced his revenue demand by four hundred billion dollars, from $1.6 trillion to $1.2 trillion, in an attempt to meet Boehner, who recently raised his revenue target from $800 billion to $1 trillion. Also, "The White House plan would permanently extend Bush-era tax cuts on household incomes below $400,000, meaning that only the top tax bracket, 35 percent, would increase to 39.6 percent. The current cutoff between the top rate and the next highest rate, 33 percent, is $388,350." Obama's position now is to let only the top tax rate, not the top two tax rates, revert to Clinton-era levels.
On the spending side, Obama has come up with $1.22 trillion in cuts over ten years, part of which is from changing the way the government calculates inflation. Medicare and Medicaid are to be cut by $400 billion.
Obama wants a two-year increase in the debt ceiling. Boehner is willing to give one year. Included in any deal, Obama wants an extension of the emergency federal unemployment benefits and some more stimulus spending . Nothing was reported on the fate of the estate tax. Boehner is set to bring the deal to his conference this morning.
If this is the deal, I'm not satisfied. It is basically a maintenance of the status quo, a status quo which is not working for working people. Recalling Paul Krugman's column from last Friday, where he argued that the fiscal cliff is more a political crisis than a budgetary one, the deal being reported by Weisman doesn't alter the political landscape in the way that going off the cliff would. And that's what we need -- a big paradigm shift. We've got to start acting more collectively to address the numerous huge problems that confront us. We will not be able to do so as long as the Mad Mullahs, who serve at the behest of the 1%, hold sway in the House. Going off the fiscal cliff would call the question.
What I've been calling the Counterpunch Left is apparently right and I've been wrong. Obama is a Manchurian Candidate for the plutocracy to that extent that he maintains a status quo that is fundamentally plutocratic and unsustainable.
It's interesting that Krugman blogged yesterday afternoon that he wants to see if the "Republican crazies" scuttle the deal before weighing in on whether to support it. He says a "chained CPI" is a real benefit cut but far less damaging than an increase in the Medicare eligibility age. He says there's some merit in going off the cliff in order to out the GOP Mad Mullahs; then he says, "but there’s also an argument that this might not work."