Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Making Sausage

News is scarce.  Newspapers can't afford many reporters who scout around for news items.  It's cheaper to print what is provided by the various wire services.  These days the newspapers are full of the various problems that Congress and the President are having in negotiating a law to replace the scheduled Simpson-Bowles scheme for automatic spending reductions and restoring the Clinton tax rates.  This plan has been given the name "fiscal cliff."  To keep us entertained, the news media are giving us daily details on what Speaker Boehner has proposed, what President Obama has proposed, Mr. Boehner's problems with his supporters in Congress, etc., etc., etc.

A famous politician from history, Otto von Bismark, Kanzler of the German nation, commented that crafting legislation is a lot like making sausage.  In either case it is not a good idea to watch the process too closely.  We are seeing the wisdom of Bismark today.  The publicity given to the problems of reaching an agreement on how to avoid the "fiscal cliff" is in danger of impeding progress toward an agreement.

I interpret the news stories about the fiscal cliff negotiations that Mr. Boehner is himself agreeable to certain increases in the tax rates.  He has a constituency in Congress that is dominated by the "tea party" or right wing faction of the Republican Party.  If he publicly agrees to an increase in upper income tax rates he is apt to lose his position as Speaker.  His replacement would be a dedicated right wing nut.  Mr. Boehner has to come to an agreement with Mr. Obama in a way that does not alienate or empower his right wing faction.  Perhaps the tax rate increase can be given another name so that it will not be apparent that it is indeed an increase.  Perhaps .....

Anyway, this is one of the little problems in creating the sausage of legislation.
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