Right Thinking From The Left Coast
Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one. - Albert Einstein

Thursday, December 09, 2010

The Fix(es) Are In

As the lame duck Congress winds down, they are paying off as many supporters as they possibly can.  After a near revolt against the President, the “progressive” wing of the party has fallen into line on the tax deal.  Their price? More spending, of course:

The White House and key lawmakers cleared the way Thursday night for swift Senate action to avert a Jan. 1 spike in income taxes for nearly all Americans, agreeing to extend breaks for ethanol and other forms of alternative energy as part of the deal.
Tax provisions aimed at increasing production of hybrid automobiles, biodiesel fuel, energy-efficient homes, coal and energy-efficient household appliances would be extended through the end of 2011 under the bill.

OK, they’re “tax expenditures”.  But they’re tax expenditures we don’t really need at the moment.  Still, this was an epic collapse from the progressives.  At least Obama held out for a partial restoration of the estate tax and unemployment benefits.  The principled progressives held out for even less and collapsed instantly.  Indeed, many commentators think it was a token objection to placate their base.

(I must say, this only raises my trepidation about the deal.  Right now, the New Era of Cooperation has only managed to blow an $800-900 billion hole in the budget.  Unless this is followed by quick—and likely extremely unpopular—action to correct the long-term deficit, we are simply plunging faster into deeper fiscal shit than this nation has ever known.  We don’t have time to fuck around.  After the new Congress is seated, the Tea Party and others need to bring immediate and fierce pressure to tackle the debt.  Pretend they’re still Democrats if you have to.  Because as we learned from the last Congress, Republicans, in the absence of pressure, pretty much are Democrats.  And not the Blue Dog kind.)

But that’s not the only group being paid off.  Obamacare—which just accidentally cancelled discount drugs for children’s hospitals—was supposed to have a positive effect on the budget.  But this was partly the way a payoff to the doctors’ lobby was split off.  The “doc fix” cancels planned 20% cuts in physician fees and the promise to end the doc fix was the price of the AMA’s endorsement of Obamacare.  The Democrats just passed the doc fix for one year, although in a rare display of semi-responsibility, they “paid” for the extra 2011 spending by cutting healthcare subsidies in 2014.

What’s really hilarious to me is that the AMA got rooked ... again!  Their support for this was conditional on a permanent doc fix.  Instead, the Democrats only extended it for one year.  So right now there a bunch of AMA shitheads running around wondering how on Earth they got stabbed in the back for the nth time.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 12/09/10 at 09:16 PM in Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink
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