Saturday, December 1, 2012

Safe Bet: No Cliff Fall

Two items from yesterday's paper leave me convinced that Boehner's flat rejection of Geithner's proposal to avoid going off the fiscal cliff is just posturing.  First, from Jonathan Weisman's story, I was not aware that the cliff includes an enormous increase in the estate tax:

[Obama] also wants the estate tax to be levied at 45 percent on inheritances over $3.5 million, a step several Democratic senators balked at. The Senate bill made no changes to the estate tax, which currently taxes inheritances over $5 million at 35 percent. On Jan. 1, the estate tax is scheduled to rise to 55 percent beginning with inheritances exceeding $1 million.
Next, a story from Thom Shanker that the Pentagon has no Plan B on the shelf if we do go off the cliff: "[A] range of Defense Department and military officials say there is no formal planning under way on how the Pentagon budget could or should be trimmed further."  The feeling is that even if a deal is brokered that avoids "Cuts of $500 billion over the next 10 years, representing roughly 5 to 8 percent of the Pentagon’s budget," cuts are coming no matter what.  So why whet Congressional appetite?

Given this, Pentagon avoidance combined with a significant estate tax increase, the safe bet is that we will not go off the fiscal cliff.  Whether a Leftist or Rightist, all can acknowledge that concentrated wealth and the Department of Defense are scared objects in the church of American politics.

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