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What a long, strange trip it's been. Despite a decade of attempts by Pete Peterson and his accomplices to "re-educate" us about the necessity of slashing our social safety net, the public has politely refused to take the bait. So every time, they simply move the goalposts closer, never taking their eye off the prize. They will never give up.
Now we have the manufactured crisis of Taxmaggedon, and the expiration of the Bush tax cuts. Since most of the Republicans have promised Pope Grover they will never, ever, ever raise taxes, the Democrats have to give them something really big and shiny to make them stray from the One True Faith - and we all know what that will be, right? They're planning to do this during the lame duck session:
(Reuters) - Two respected former lawmakers whose names have become synonymous with bipartisan compromise in a highly divisive Congress are meeting with dozens of lawmakers to forestall a potential year-end fiscal crisis dubbed "taxmageddon."
Former Democratic White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles said he and former Republican Senator Alan Simpson, are working with a bipartisan group of 47 Senators and as many House members to frame a compromise on $7 trillion in looming fiscal decisions, Bowles said on CNN's news program, "Fareed Zakaria GPS."
Their names have become synonomous with "bipartisan compromise" because both parties are captive to Wall Street and are eager to hand them our earned benefits programs on a silver platter. But hey, bygones.
Without a deal, the end of the year brings higher taxes for most Americans with the expiration of historically low income tax rates enjoyed by nearly every American and expiry of a payroll tax break, along with broad automatic spending cuts that most lawmakers in both parties want to avoid.
"I believe this group will come together during the lame duck," after the November 6 elections, said Bowles, in reference to the congressional session that occurs after an election but before the new members have been sworn in.
Bowles co-chaired a presidential commission on reducing the federal deficit with Simpson that failed to win enough support to move forward, but which is held up by many moderates as a model for a potential deal.
"I believe the markets will force us," to come to a deal, Bowles said.
As Paul Krugman points out ad nauseum, if the markets are so upset with the deficit, why are they lending money to the U.S. government at record lows?
Bowles was White House chief of staff from 1996-98 under Democratic President Bill Clinton and Simpson was a Republican Senator from Wyoming from 1979 to 1997.
A stalemate over the issue could push the country briefly back into recession, the Congressional Budget Office said last week.
Goldman Sachs estimates that failure to reach a deal could shave about 4 percentage points from Gross Domestic Product in the first half of next year if lawmakers fail to reach a deal.
"If you want to be a purist, go somewhere on a mountaintop and praise the east," Simpson said. "If you want to be in politics you learn to compromise."
Notice how the "compromise" always entails people like us giving up what little security we have so people like that can add another zero to their already astronomical bank balance.