A recent and uniquely dangerous situation has reminded me yet again how very different reality is for some people. I refer to the denizens of the Washington DC Beltway–including politicians and media personalities–as opposed to people that live in the real world and therefore have to judge others not only by their words, but by their actions.
On the 12-02-12 edition of Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace dealt with the looming fiscal cliff and interviewed Treasure Secretary Timothy Geithner, who as regular readers will recall, is a notorious tax cheat. Consider this surreal exchange:
WALLACE: The president campaigned for re-election on the idea of a, quote, “balanced approach,” end quote, to deficit reduction — a mixture of tax increases and spending cuts. Here’s the plan that the Republicans say you presented to them this way —
GEITHNER: I can tell you what I presented. It will be helpful.
WALLACE: Let me ask you, they say —
GEITHNER: But it’s our plan, Chris, why don’t you let me do it? Why don’t you let me explain it?
WALLACE: Well, I’d like to ask you about this part of it, and then anything I leave out, you can tell me.
WALLACE: $1.6 trillion in tax increases, more than $80 billion in new stimulus spending, next year, and, unspecified nonguaranteed spending cuts.
WALLACE: Question, is that your idea of balance?
GEITHNER: It is. And let me explain what is in the explain they didn’t report to you and they didn’t explain to people, which is, we propose alongside the trillion dollars in spending cuts we agreed with Republicans, last year, on defense and a comprehensive range of other government programs, we proposed $600 billion of detailed reforms and savings, to our health care and other government programs. That’s $600 billion.
In fact, the health care savings in that plan are larger than the plans we have seen Republicans in the past in the context. Now —
WALLACE: Is that — is that what was in the budget?
GEITHNER: Well, these proposals have been — we proposed these things last fall and in the president’s budget, they are very detailed. Now —
WALLACE: That was a budget voted down 99-to-nothing in the Senate.
Only in the Beltway could that be considered a balanced proposal. Mr. Wallace forget to mention–and so did Sec. Geithner, a man from who I would never buy a used car–the demand to give Mr. Obama absolute authority to raise the debt ceiling whenever he feels like it to any level he prefers, which authority might well be prohibited by the Constitution, but when has that stopped Mr. Obama?
Wallace asked Mara Liasson of NPR what’s going to happen? Will America be driven over the fiscal cliff by Mr. Obama? She replied:
You know, what happened this week is pretty interesting. Either it is just kabuki theater and both sides are putting out their maximalist positions and fighting as hard as they can and saying the other guy is being intransigent, which is what they do to tell their troops that they are trying as hard as they can before they cave because the Republicans are going to have to move on tax rates, not just revenues, and, the Democrats are going to have to do a heck of a lot more on entitlement reform than is in the president’s proposal. That is what is going to happen if the deal is going to be done even if the deal happens after January, after a couple of failed votes. You know, after some kind of — a little bit of falling off the cliff. And, I continue to believe that that is what is happening, not that this thing is going to end in complete disaster.
Wallace queried former Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN), who believed the President is so concerned about his legacy, he will be anxious to work out a fair and reasonable deal before January. He added (referring to substantive entitlement reforms):
So, that is not sacrosanct and I think to get this result, particularly to get the significant increase in the debt ceiling, the president is going to have to give some there, and I think he will, and that will pleasantly surprise some people.
So avoiding the fiscal cliff depends on Mr. Obama suddenly becoming reasonable and pleasantly surprising people? In the real world, I’d get out of the car now while it’s still hurtling toward the bottomless abyss.
For those who haven’t been paying attention, let’s review: Senate Democrats have refused—in violation of federal law—to propose a budget for three successive years. In debt negotiations with Speaker John Boehner during the summer, Mr. Obama had a deal, but at the last minute, demanded an additional $400 billion in additional taxes, destroying the deal and putting us on the road to financial ruin.
Mr. Obama’s arrogance was legendary before the 2012 election. After he won reelection, there is even less reason for him to behave reasonably. With an opening negotiating position that drips or irresponsibility and unhinged arrogance, what reason is there to believe Mr. Obama will moderate his position? This is a man who believes compromise means he gets everything he wants.
Buckle up Americans. Regardless of whether feckless Republicans give Mr. Obama dictatorial financial concessions, we’re going over the cliff, now or later. Now will be painful, later will be disastrous. Mr. Obama is more than narcissistic enough to believe himself eternally immune from responsibility for his actions.
That’s the reality in the real world.