Theatrics at the cliff edge

Speaker of the House John Boehner during a media availability 18 December 2012 Both President Barack Obama and Speaker of the House John Boehner made combative comments in press conferences on Wednesday

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It has become known as the fiscal cliff, but it is more like a mutual suicide pact, agreed in the summer of 2011, in order to force Republicans and Democrats to do a deal to balance the books.

If they don't there will spending cuts so horrendous, tax rises so terrible that no one could allow it to happen. That's the theory anyway.

After all it is not just about the US. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) says the negative shock could put both the US and the world back into recession.

But there is a wearily familiar pattern. After some fairly serious negotiations, the parties are back to posturing. Today's vote on the Republican leadership's "Plan B' is largely theatrics.

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There are still few days left, and many think a deal will be done, because it has to be done.”

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The proposal from the Speaker of the House John Boehner does several things.

It amply demonstrates how difficult it will be for him to come to an agreement with the White House. Many conservatives will not vote for it, because it allows for some tax rises for the better off.

It is a flamboyant way of telling the president "see who I'm dealing with?"

If it passes the House, it also means there is a compromise plan in play.

If the Senate kills it or Obama vetoes it, as he says he would, Republicans must hope the Democrats would get the blame for putting the knife into the only existing proposal.

So it is positioning, theatrics, part of the negotiations, not the negotiations themselves. There are still few days left, and many think a deal will be done, because it has to be done.

But fighting on the edge of a cliff is a dangerous business.

Mark Mardell Article written by Mark Mardell Mark Mardell Presenter, The World This Weekend

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  • rate this

    Comment number 255.

    LucyJ (250),

    ".. But we could leave Iraq to Iraqis to succeed or fail on their own ..."

    I think that has already happened.

    "... I also believe we need to reverse many Obama policies as well,
    not just Bush Jrs ..."

    Many posters to this blog agree with you.

  • rate this

    Comment number 254.

    In my 196 I did NOT say or imply Rosy had penis envy. Nor did I say any of the other named people have it. Read it.

    However, I am weary of trying to explain and assist those who don't want to be helped. I do not take kindly to being insulted with a suggestion I purchased a qualification through the mail.

    HYS is for informed debate. Not insults or kindergarten banter.

    Good night

  • rate this

    Comment number 253.

    242. Human Torch

    A woman with a Gun is no longer the weaker sex

    She is physically equal in strength to a man with a gun


    And Freud would argue the gun compensates for the lack of a penis thus making her equal to the male.

  • rate this

    Comment number 252.

    214. CarefulReader

    Despite your invective, you have supported my argument. As you pointed out, the education sector is an investment in "non-physical assets". That translates as abstract - not concrete - wealth. It is wealth that is not real. It is not backed by anything tangible. While we might factor it as 'wealth' in our modern economics, that is actually part of the problem.

  • Comment number 251.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?


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