So, the fiscal cliff ‘crisis’ is now officially over. Congress has passed a last minute deal that raised taxes on a few wealthy people without cutting spending in any way. After President Obama and Speaker Boehner, in 2011, failed to reach agreement on the ‘Grand Bargain’, which would have raised taxes but also cut entitlements, and after the House last month failed to pass Plan B, we can now get ready for the next artificial crisis in a few months, when spending will be examined, and the debt ceiling fight, which will see if the House will actually demand some type of deficit reduction measures to raise the debt limit. So, after this two month debacle we have all witnessed, who won and who lost?
President Obama – As recently as this weekend, Obama conceded to a change in the method that the cost of living is adjusted for Social Security payments, which would have had some long term effects on federal spending. Somehow, this disappeared in the last two days. So, he gets credit for averting the ‘crisis’.
Joe Biden – The Vice President showed that he was able to negotiate a deal with the Republicans in the Senate. This should allow his Presidential aspirations to blossom, since he seems to be the person in the administration who can actually accomplish things in DC.
151 House Republicans – A basic rule in American politics is that it is smart to vote against bills that pass and vote for bills that fail. That way, you can’t be criticized. Well, these were the House members who stood their ground.
Eric Cantor/Kevin McCarthy – Likewise, these two GOP leaders maintained their solidarity with their members while making Boehner’s power more tenuous.
Deficit Hawks – I put this group first, since it includes myself, and apparently very few people in DC. We get few chances for there to be meaningful cuts in federal spending; now, one is gone. Those who believe that other opportunities will be more fruitful are much more optimistic than reality seems to warrant.
Mitch McConnell – McConnell made the deal with Biden. why then is he a loser? Simple…how is McConnell going to avoid a contentious primary fight now? His state is ground zero for Tea Party Republicans. It’s doubtful that he will be able to keep them in line next year.
John Boehner – Boehner’s Plan B loss apparently wasn’t humiliating enough for the Speaker. Now, to pass a much worse bill, he had to vote for it, while his lieutenants scrambled for political cover. As predicted last week, he will be allowed to hold onto his job, but has lost any semblance of power.
Paul Ryan – Et tu, Paul? Ryan, whose claim to fame is that he believes in deficit reduction, votes for a bill that does exactly the opposite. It’s hard to see how his Presidential aspirations will not be clobbered for 2016. I guess that he is trading long-term House power for a chance at the Presidency; we’ll see how that works out.