Rick's Right

A friend of mine, name of Rick, says, in response to my recent post on the fiscal cliff non-negotiations by non-serious non-caring non-honorable people, that the best we can hope for is adoption of Simpson- Bowles. He's probably right. My suggestion that they kick out the politicians and bring in people accustomed to working out tough issues where the parties are far apart was more wishful thinking than serious. It would mean, after all, lawyers. Of which profession my friend Rick is a member. So is my brother, so was my aunt, my dad, and about the only people I call friends who aren't in my particular racket.

My brother, who was in fact often involved in such negotiations, involving literally billions of dollars, once told me he thought having lawyers there just made things worse: that if the lawyers left the room and let the parties themselves have at it, they'd work it out in record time. He might be right, too. If so, it could be because he'd been dealing with huge corporations, all of whom had big stakes in the outcome. Our political posturers, on the other hand, act as if the outcome matters only in terms of their personal gamesmanship. Shorting the country like some investors short stocks, they win either way.

I have no idea whether they'll reach a solution or not, and what will be the consequences if they don't. Nor for whom those consequences would be most dire: you, me, Rs, Ds? Meanwhile, I find it amusing that Rs and their apologists are all afaint over the fact that Mr Obama isn't, this time around, giving in at the drop of a teabag. His opening gambit wasn't the mid-point, as it had been in the past. Evidently he's expecting, and willing to engage in, tough bargaining; possibly even feeling as if, having been reelected on his promise to raise certain taxes on certain people, he has hand.

Personally, I think Simpson-Bowles was a little thin on revenue and a little thick on cuts on social spending. But any agreement that ends the incessant braying and bleating by such ludicrosities as Lindsey Graham and John Boehner would be aloe on a sunburn.

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