From Bruce Krasting:
I damn near fell off my chair (laughing) yesterday watching Timmy Geithner on CNBC. When asked if the president was willing to go over the fiscal cliff if the tax RATE on the top 2% were not increased, the Treasury Secretary snapped back, "Absolutely."
Maria Bartiromo was also floored by this; she spent the next hour telling the world she thought Geithner's position was clear evidence that the U.S. would be going over the cliff. She had big shot Senator Richard Shelby (R- Al) on air. She showed him the clip with Geithner making an ass of himself; the Senator looked like he had swallowed a wad of tobacco while he watched.
I was convinced that Geithner had made a blunder, a slip of the tongue that would later be clarified or retracted. Not the case. Last evening, the Treasury put out a blog about what a great job Tim did on TV. I took this as a confirmation that Geithner did not make a gaffe on air, his words were carefully chosen. When he said he was "Absolutely" certain that falling off the cliff was in our future if tax rates don't go up, he meant exactly what he said.
Given that Geithner will be out of his job running the Treasury soon, I'm sure that he went on TV with the blessings of Obama, and he had a scripted message from the president. There will be no negotiations on tax rates, the top rate is going to 40%, or we will be sailing off the cliff. What an idiotic bargaining position.
At this point, I don't think there is any significant opposition to increasing tax revenue from America's wealthiest folks; the question is how to achieve it. Raising marginal rates is one option; cutting deductions can accomplish exactly the same thing. Geithner and Obama will not consider adjusting deductions; the reasons are a mystery to me. It appears that the president wants to "punish" some folks, rather than to find a compromise that achieves the desired results.
So I agree with Bartiromo, unless the president backs off, we are going cliff diving in 20 days.
I believe the president has started a war. No real bullets or sabers in this war, but there will be casualties none-the-less. The question is, "Who is going to get hurt?" The thinking by all of the pundits is that a fall off the cliff will fall squarely on the shoulders of the Republicans. If they stand up to the administration on tax rates, the Republicans will get slaughtered in the Congressional elections two years from now.
The facts force me to conclude that Obama is, in fact, using the cliff negotiations to...
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