They are terrified of being on record as having voted to raise taxes and their behavior indicates that they would prefer higher taxes and cuts to be triggered by virtue of their inaction, even if it plunges the economy into another recession.
We cannot tax cut our way to prosperity any more than we can tax and spend our way into fiscal nirvana. It requires a balanced approach of sensible spending cuts, substantive entitlement reforms and negotiated tax increases.
I thought I'd take the opportunity for a quick lesson in remedial math on small business taxes. Fact-based explanations reveal Speaker Boehner's math-challenged rhetoric for what it is -- nonsense.
Obama, mercifully, has given up the quest for a grand bargain that he never should have pursued in the first place. His current position -- let's just preserve the tax cuts on the bottom 98 percent and fight about the rest of the budget another day -- is exactly what it should have been all along.
In the political circus surrounding the fiscal cliff, we are missing the forest for the trees.
Just imagine, if Washington would just do nothing, all the years and years of wrangling over the long slide of our nation toward fiscal calamity would be over. Overnight, we would achieve a degree of fiscal balance that most Americans must have come to believe is not possible.
Rather than voting to move forward with a balanced plan to protect low- and middle-income people and prevent service cuts that will stall our economy now and for years to come, the House will only be allowed to vote to do the following:
Hands off Social Security. If the Republicans are willing to raise tax rates on high earners but demand more spending cuts in return, the president should offer larger cuts in defense spending and corporate welfare.
Speaker Boehner's "Plan B" deficit package vote is a political stunt designed to feign leadership instead of doing the hard work at the bargaining table with President Obama.
It's naive for members of either party to think they can sign a deal which overrides the voters and defies their values without paying a steep political price. (And Democrats have more to lose on that score than Republicans.)
It's our job to protect and promote, not harm, our real job creators -- the middle class and those striving to join it. Here is how I propose we do it.
The European sovereign debt crisis remains a serious threat, but not because a collapse of Greek, Spanish or Italian debt would infect confidence in U.S. Treasuries. The real issue is that such a crisis would threaten the solvency of many major French and German banks.
Since 2007, the median net worth of the American family has plunged nearly 40 percent. A deficit reduction plan that includes a modest tax increase on the two percent who can most afford it is our best hope for moving ahead in a fair and balanced way.
Is John Boehner just worried about his leadership position? Is he really putting his own re-election as Speaker of the House before all else? Here are Boehner's major possible routes out of the fiscal cliff discussions, in chronological order.
As Keynes emphasized, "The boom, not the slump, is the right time for austerity." Following this maxim, the grand bargain should contain special belt-tightening provisions that raise taxes above Clinton era rates if unemployment falls significantly below the 6 percent mark.
When people say that we need a "balanced approach" to reducing our debt and being fiscally responsible, what I hear is: We need to balance what is good for the whole country with what is good for a few super wealthy and powerful people.