The fiscal cliff negotiations were an example of politics at its worst, and what came out of it was totally distasteful.
The political process has often been compared to sausage making: Although we may enjoy the end product, if we want to hold on to our lunch, it’s best if we don’t witness the manufacturing process.
Rather than taking the lead during the last minute negotiations, President Obama assembled a cheerleading squad of handpicked middle-class supporters to serve as a backdrop while he gave what amounted to a “take-it-or-leave-it” proposal, berated Republican lawmakers and chastised Congress.
”One thing we can count on with respect to this Congress,” the president said, “is that if there’s even one second left before you have to do what you’re supposed to do, they will use that last second.”
GOP senators were incensed.
“I just listened to the president and my heart is still pounding,” Bob Corker of Tennessee said on the floor minutes after Obama’s “pep rally” speech.
“I was very disappointed to hear what the president had to say in front of a prep rally,” he said. “I know the president has fun heckling Congress, but I think he probably lost a number of votes with this.”
Sen. John McCain of Arizona was a bit more direct.
“What did the president of the United States just do?” McCain asked rhetorically. “He sent a message of confrontation to Republicans.”
“What he was saying is,” McCain continued, “take it or leave it. That’s not the way presidents should lead.”
And what did the Senate pass? Per Dan Spencer, writing for The Examiner: “According to the Congressional Budget Office, the bill increases tax revenue by $620 billion while reducing spending by only $15 billion. That’s right a 41:1 ratio of tax increases to spending cuts. When Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush increased taxes in return for spending the ratios were 3:1 and 2:1 respectively.”
After the deal was struck, U.S. John Cornyn posted on his Facebook page:
I voted for this bill because it prevents a huge tax increase on 99% of all Texans and Americans. Nonetheless, I am dismayed at the lack of seriousness by the president on dealing with the core issues of our fiscal problems. Our spending is unsustainable and it is high time the president and his party engage in meaningful dialogue to get this county’s spending under control.”
Although the process of sausage making can be pretty ugly, what comes out can often be a delight. Not so in this case. $41 in tax increases for every $1 in spending cuts has made the sausage is wholly unpalatable. The batch should be thrown out and Congress should keep at it until they get the recipe right.