We will not go over the “fiscal cliff.” That’s my prediction anyway. I don’t make predictions often. As I often tell people, I am NOT clairvoyant. I cannot read minds or see the future. I do have pretty good political instincts, probably from working in or near politics for 90 percent of my life. I am no Chuck Todd but not too far away.
In any case, I do not believe we will go over the all too arbitrary and Congress created “fiscal cliff.” This is partly because President Obama was reelected. It was partly because the Democrats kept the Senate. With that in mind, our collective future rests in the hands of one man; Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Oh). Yes, the man who refused to use the word “compromise” on national television last year will be the one who forces his caucus to do just that.
First I need to have my own “Sister Souljah moment” (she once had an office down the hall from mine at RCA Victor, true story). The Tea Party makes for a great target as to why Washington seems incapable of getting anything done but they are a response to that inaction, not the cause of it. Our Congressional districts are becoming more and more polarized, resulting in more and more extreme representatives — remember, Congress is very much a mirror. If you don’t like what you see in Washington, you probably don’t like what you see when you look around you. It’s become too easy to blame one group or another for our collective failure to pay attention and act on what happens.
So, here we are. On the brink of yet another economic crisis. Europe has already gone back into recession (And we think that same austerity will work here? Are we that stupid, Joe Scarborough?). The great menace that is China has an economy that is slowing down. I am no economist but running a government on nothing but stop-gap continuing resolutions is not a way to run a government, when exactly was a full round of appropriations bills passed? Yeah, if you have to scratch your head at that one it has been too damn long. See? I am still a bitter cynic.
Yet, because Boehner is the speaker of the House and not someone like, I dunno, Eric “Dr. No” Cantor or Paul “I ran the marathon in under a minute” Ryan. Take home message: he is reasonable. Now, I would like to have a second “moment.” I believe that everyone who gets into public life is a patriot. Maybe a power hungry, egomaniac but also a patriot. I do not think Cantor or Ryan want to see the country fail, I just don’t think they are seasoned enough to understand the value of compromise.
Who is this John Boehner? His upbringing is nothing like Mitt Romney‘s. He has 11 siblings. He grew up in a two bedroom house. Yes, that’s right 14 people lived in a house with two bedrooms and one bathroom. He started working in his father’s bar when he was eight. If anyone gets the hardship brought on by recession, it’s John Boehner. He currently rents a basement apartment on Capitol Hill (really, his favorite restaurant is my favorite Italian place on the Hill).
Now I am no fan. In 2007, I worked a communications director for a Democratic member of Congress. One night there was a vote at about 1:00 am (we were still in the office, eyes glued to C-Span. The Democrats still had the House then and the man in the Chair was a D. He called the vote wrong — some members had not voted when he thought they had. It was bad. Steny Hoyer called for the vote to be held a second time and it was but the Republicans stormed out. The bill they disliked passed. The next day Hoyer asked Boehner to hold off on going to the Ethics Committee until they had looked into it. Boehner agreed (this was on the floor) but had actually already submitted a complaint with that committee. For years, that just got my craw (is that a real phrase?). Seriously, I thought that was crazily underhanded. Now, I have forgiven him.
What else do you need to know about John Boehner? He tried to lead a “coup” against Newt Gingrich. He smokes enough that you can smell him from a block away. He is a really conservative guy, though religious conservatives complain he is motivated more by small government conservatism than the issues that matter to them. I am not sure how he could be more conservative on same sex marriage, abortion and other things but I am not a social, fiscal or any kind of conservative so I am not the one to judge that. The conservative Cleveland Plain Dealer wrote this about him. The Plain Dealer says Boehner can “disagree without being disagreeable.” We need more of that in the world but even that is not going to save us from fiscal armageddon.
We will avoid the “cliff” because John Boehner is reasonable. We will lose the Bush tax cuts for people making over $250,000 a year or more. We will lower corporate tax rates but raise the top two rates to what they were under President Bill Clinton (you remember those horrible recession years, oh right, we had a great economy then) to 36 and 39 percent. We will make a pledge to deal with entitlements, though the actual changes won’t happen right away (sorry young people, the retirement age will go up, if not this year, sometime before you retire. Seriously, it has to.).
Don’t worry family, I am still the bitter cynic you know and love. Don’t believe it? I still wear only black.