By Frank Hill
No, it wasn't the 79-yard punt by Duke punter Will Monday in the 2012 Belk Bowl in Charlotte, North Carolina, although that was pretty darned great, you gotta admit.
No, the greatest 'punt' of the recent college bowl season was performed collectively in a three-legged kick down the road by President Barack Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker John Boehner on New Year's Eve in Washington, D.C. in the Fiscal Cliff Bowl Sponsored by The AARP, Grover Norquist and The American People.
We are talking about the 'deal' that you are going to hear a lot of bleating and chest-beating about over the next several weeks and months. The one that is supposedly going to 'avert a recession!' and 'make the rich pay their fair share!'
If Will Monday's punt was spectacular, the fiscal cliff 'punt' by our elected leaders to kick this problem down the road was even longer and tip-toed along the sidelines even further.
Let's look at what was accomplished versus what is needed to solve our fiscal dilemma:
1. President Obama has finally achieved his dream of sticking it to the rich and making them pay their 'fair share' of the tax burden. Congratulations, Mr. President! You have just guaranteed that this is the last time for the next 20 years that ANY Republican will vote for ANY tax increase.
2. Why? Simply because the GOP got no spending cuts in return for their vote to raise these taxes! None, nada, zero. In the past, the GOP was at least 'promised' a 3-to-1 or 2-to-1 spending cut/tax hike ratio. This time, it was nothing.
The GOP did get a 'promise' from President Obama to talk about the $109 billion in sequester cuts 2 months from now in early March or right about when we will see another fight over the extension of the debt ceiling again.
Who negotiated this deal, Mephistopheles or Faust himself?
Usually, in any deal that involves any pain, both sides have to give equal amounts of skin and certain cherished body parts to complete the compromise. President Obama gets to crow to his crowd that he has finally 'made the rich pay their fair share' so he can check that off of his campaign promise list. Warren Buffett will be happy and all the stars and starlets in Hollywood and the Silicon Valley can start paying more taxes since they supported President Obama.
(We would love to see any of their tax returns for the next 10 years to see if they actually do pay $1 more in taxes or if they just hire better tax lawyers and accountants to shelter their income. Just as they are doing today and have done so for centuries)
3. For those of you who are keeping score at home, this 'deal' will:
- Raise revenues by around $600 billion between now and 2022 (maybe)
- Cut zero spending except for a piddling $24 billion (maybe) to pay for the two-month delay in the sequester that was supposed to kick in today and cut $109 billion in defense and domestic spending
- Raise spending by $30 billion to pay for more unemployment benefits for another year because this economy just will not respond to anything this Administration has proposed or passed
- Restore Medicare cuts of $31 billion to pay for doctors to keep seeing Medicare patients which was dishonestly used by the Obama Administration to 'pay for' (sic) Obamacare when passed in 2010
Normally, great Presidents are able to marshal the disparate factions of both parties and both sides of the Capitol to do something great for the nation in times of distress. If the 'fiscal cliff' couldn't force them to act like grown-ups and get something positive done for the people of this nation, what else will?
(Editor's Note: Frank Hill's resumé includes working as chief of staff for Senator Elizabeth Dole and Congressman Alex McMillan, serving on the House Budget Committee and serving on the Commission on Entitlement and Tax Reform. He takes on politics from a fiercely independent perspective at the blog Telemachus).