Monday, January 07, 2013

Mark Steyn on 'Fiscal Cliff Mirage'

I'm not certain the extent that it was scripted but it certainly stinks of political theater:
The political class has just spent two months on a down-to-the-wire nail-biting white-knuckle thrill-ride negotiation the result of which is more business as usual. At the end, as always, Dr. Obama and Dr. Boehner emerge in white coats, surgical masks around their necks, bloody scalpels in hand, and announce that it was touch and go for a while but the operation was a complete success — and all they’ve done is applied another temporary band-aid that’s peeling off even as they speak. They’re already prepping the OR for the next life-or-death surgery on the debt ceiling
The twin points are that ultimately nothing changed to a great extent in our socioeconomic policies, not taking into account the specifics of how this costs citizens; it is always this way, including the politicians claiming that they saved us from a horrible fate. Naturally this horrible fate must be built up by a narrative, even if the narrative does not hold together in the dialogue.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the latest triumphant deal includes $2 billion of cuts for fiscal year 2013. Wow! That’s what the government of the United States borrows every ten hours and 38 minutes. Spending two months negotiating ten hours of savings is like driving to a supermarket three states away to save a nickel on your grocery bill.
We put in a lot and get a little. The only reason we have this much drama is because of the characters involved and the aftermath of bad policies over the course of a number of years whose value I find uncertain.

I will finish my point some time later but ultimately how the latest "Fiscal cliff" drama ended was determined by how we got to it. From November until today there was no way it could gone another way.  Any scenario where politicians would have come to a better solution to the problem is one where we did not have this particular problem to begin with.  In the meantime the people that let the car ignite are congratulating themselves that the car did not explode, although the while ignoring that the flame is still there.
the question of whether America is capable of serious course correction — and, from debt ceiling to supercommittee to fiscal cliff and now back to debt ceiling, the political class keeps sending back the answer: No, we’re not. For a good example of how Washington drives even the greatest minds round the bend, consider Charles Krauthammer’s analysis on Fox News the other night:
I would actually commend Boehner and Paul Ryan, who in the end voted ‘yes’ for a bad deal. But they had to do it.
If courage is the willingness to take a stand and vote for a bad deal because you’ve been painted into a corner and want Obama to fly back to Hawaii at the cost of another $3 million in public funds that could have gone to algae subsidies so he’ll stop tormenting you for a week or two, then truly we are led by giants... If you think politics is a make-work project for the otherwise unemployable, then the system worked just fine. And I don’t mean only the numbers: On Monday, 300 million Americans did not know what their tax rates would be on Tuesday.
Rather than attempt to track historical reasons for how we arrived at these specific points I will just note that Boehner is far less responsible than how we got to this point than one might think. We elected this political culture, and ultimately it migt have happened because of our own idealism.