Thursday, January 3, 2013

Now what?

The “fiscal cliff” has now been averted, thanks to the professionalism of Vice President Joseph Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who are clearly the heroes of this drama. Now the question is, what next? Will Pres. Obama be even more emboldened, since he was able to fend off spending cuts with only a moderate upgrade from $250,000 to $400,000 in the threshold for the repeal of the Bush-era tax cuts? Or will the Tea Party be emboldened, since now they cannot be hung with the slander that they only want to help millionaires hold on to more of their money?

President Obama had said he would not negotiate on the debt ceiling raise. But he's accepted a compromise plan that does not raise the debt ceiling. He hardly has any cards left to play, now that the “fiscal cliff” compromise is passed and signed. He can bluster that he won't sign any bill that meets the needs Republican lawmakers have to reduce spending, but unlike the tax effects, he does not have the threat that he had built into the “fiscal cliff” issue — if the debt ceiling does not rise, there are provisions that such things as Social Security payments will continue to be made. What will happen? Who knows?

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