Word is that negotiations have resulted in an eleventh hour and fifty ninth minute agreement. It is a caboose led train, the reverse of how things are supposed to work.
The focus of cliff negotiation had shifted to the President and the Senate, reversing the Constitutional path of fiscal legislation. Supposedly, it goes from House to Senate to President. Now the river flows upstream, from President to Senate to House.
Presumably, some form of legislative fiction will meet the Constitutional requirement. Maybe they'll backdate the unfolding Senate agreement the House ratifies. Maybe they'll get the CEO of some large banking institution to help forge the supporting documentation. If these guys can seize a mortgage holder's house through fraud, surely they can create a way to seize Boehner's House by manipulating documentation.
This has not been an easy year for Republicans. The stereotype of Republicans acting solely in favor of the wealthy, indifferent to the middle class, disdainful of the poor, had been denied, sometimes vigorously. In the Reagan years, Republicans largely seemed to dispel the image for a while. The idea that Republicans were interested solely in the wealthiest of wealthy Americans had never been vanquished, but it had been diminished. It bubbled along beneath the surface, breaking through enough to keep the legend going.
It was a sort of Loch Ness monster. Nobody had actual evidence. No photographs could be authenticated beyond vague shapes that could have been anything. The actual proof emerged this year. The Boca Raton sighting was completely verified. The existence of the monster was documented. It was indisputable.
Not that lots and lots of evidence didn't already exist. Policies favoring the rich had been a Republican staple for a long time. Those policies had been somewhat obscured, still perceptible, but only as through a glass darkly. Policies favoring the rich were supported for decades by trickle down theories which eventually mutated into Supply Side theology. Working class folks were offered reasons for pain. In the long run, tax policies that spared the very rich would help everyone else. There were charts, projections laid out on paper, bell shaped curves that put actual graphical imagery into play.
Even Republican debate audiences could be explained, in a way. Yes, they could be seen and heard on television, cheering at death for the uninsured, booing combat heroes if they were gay, ecstatic at capital punishment administered to those of doubtful guilt. But the eventual candidate was said to have merely pandered. He was rich, but he was no caricature.
Then came the Boca Raton footage, the 47 percent. The picture of those lazy, irresponsible, people composing the 47 percent as presented to wealthy Romney backers had an effect. The donors approved the picture and disapproved of those who hadn't achieved the success that must surely go to the virtuous. The video of that presentation, the picture of rich folk pointing fingers at those not wealthy, made a stereotype of the rich, and of Republicans, and gave it substance.
A blogger once reacted to a comment of mine, posting on line "To all idiots named Burr Deming..." When family members googled my name, they would find that posting. I remember mentioning once that, since the blogger hadn't been more specific, I just assumed he was talking about some other Burr Deming.
I suspect that many of those 47 percent did not take personal insult at the tape of the after dinner slur. My imagination tells me that many, perhaps most, thought the remarks were aimed at someone else. Combat veterans in treatment, working Americans riding buses to and from work, senior citizens receiving Social Security, little kids receiving breakfast programs, would not be inclined to think of themselves as part of the group being insulted.
I also suspect that most people, whether in that group or not, even if they took no personal insult, were offended. Those others, those down on their luck, those needing a helping hand, did not deserve to be regarded so heartlessly.
The image of the harsh conservative, concerned only with wealth, wrapped in snobbery, insulated in privilege, took on new life for those whose continuing financial concern is economic survival.
And that was only in the months before the election.
Post-election maneuvers have not been more kind to Republicans. Before Speaker Boehner disappeared into a purple haze, back when he was negotiating on behalf of House Republicans, President Obama had issued an initial proposal. It was based on positions taken and promises made during his reelection campaign, positions endorsed by a solid majority of voters. It included a tax increase on Americans earning over $250,000 a year.
Republicans first responded with a four page letter, most of which was an angry series of complaints. What struck me was what accompanied a demand for more entitlements.
The most telling part of the original negotiations, the talks between House Speaker John Boehner and President Obama, was the nature of the Republican demand for a reduction in what they are calling entitlements. An entitlement would be a paycheck for a teacher or a police officer. An entitlement would be medical care for an elderly patient or a wounded combat veteran. An entitlement would be breakfast for a little kid before school, or an unemployment check, or a grant toward college expense.
The Republican demand for slashes that affect the poor and middle class was accompanied by an equally important demand, one which the President rejected right away.
Republicans had wanted to name an amount that these programs would be mowed down. But they wanted the President to make the decisions about which people would suffer and by how much. They wanted no Republican fingerprints on GOP-forced sacrifices from ordinary folk.
Republicans would name the figure. The President would allocate the pain.
It is easier to make demands than to accept responsibility.
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