Disguising the Non-Recovery: Why Obama Might Want the Fiscal Cliff
From what I have followed in the news, Obama isn’t acting like someone who wants to avoid “sequestration”—the automatic cuts and tax hikes that many have dubbed “the fiscal cliff.” Instead he acts like someone who thinks he has a hang glider ready.
Of course, since Obama is basically playing “chicken” with the Republicans in Congress, perhaps I shouldn’t read too much into his behavior. Obviously, he doesn’t want anyone to see him blink as he faces off with his GOP opponents.
But I have to wonder if maybe he has no intention of dodging the crash. Does Obama want us to go over the so-called fiscal cliff? What would make such an event rationally desirable to him as a Democratic President?
I think it might be in Obama’s best interests to allow sequestration to take place and not make a deal with Congress to avoid it if two things are true: 1. The U. S. economic recovery the media and government measurers have been telling us about lately is more or less fake; and 2. President Obama (or his controllers) know that it is fake.
I am virtually certain of the first point: we are either already in recession, or are about to be, even if Congress and the President make a deal.
On the second point, I am not sure one way or the other. I have never been able to settle in my mind if we are ruled by blind morons who are as clueless as they seem or if we are being herded to Hell by malignant, manipulative, death-worshipping masterminds. OK, that last alternative is probably a little bit overstated, but you understand what I mean. Basically, I don’t know whether or not Obama believes his teleprompter.
But if Obama or his handlers do realize that the economy is in even worse shape than we are being told, then he is going to need a way of pretending that it wasn’t him. He needs a cover story that allows him to say he was leading us into recovery and then something happened to destroy his efforts.
I have listened to Diane Rhem on NPR talk to among her liberal guests, and I’ve heard plenty of this kind of excuse-making: We were on the edge of recovery and then the Japanese tsunami hit. We were on the cusp of recovery and then the “unexpected” Spain debt crisis started.
If Obama can blame Republicans for refusing to make a deal and putting us over the fiscal cliff, then he has a major Democratic campaign slogan for the next election. He can tell American that the GOP wrecked the recovery for the sake of the wealthy. It will be preposterous story, but he knows the mainstream media has got his back.
Of course, a more likely scenario is that Obama would love to get a bunch of tax hikes on the “wealthy” and is willing to make a deal with Congress if he gets much of what he wants. But, if Republicans hold to their principles, then he will prefer no deal to a GOP deal.
Personally, even though I want Obama to lose the propaganda war, I also hope we get sequestration. I hate tax increases but we need the spending cuts, and the only way we are going to get even these minimal cuts is to go over the fiscal cliff. I have to hope the media and the Democrats will overplay their hand. When Americans feel the new federal tax burden, they may wake up and cry for relief for all Americans, not just their favored few.
Mark Horne has been studying the intersection of ethics and the economy since high school. He was raised in Liberia, West Africa and Kwajalein, Marshall Islands, as well as on the Atlantic coast of Florida. He graduated from Houghton College in 1989 and from Covenant Theological Seminary in 1998. He was ordained in the Presbyterian Church in America and has pastored churches in Washington state and Oklahoma, as well as serving as an assistant pastor in St. Louis.
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