Good Question.

Why is the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers Helping the Republicans?

Robert Reich

Monday, November 26, 2012

Why is the White House trying to scare average people about the consequences of the “fiscal cliff?”

If the President’s strategy is to hold his ground and demand from Republicans tax increases on the wealthy, presumably his strongest bargaining position would be to allow the Bush tax cuts to expire on schedule come January – causing taxes to rise automatically, especially on the wealthy.

So you’d think part of that strategy would be reassure the rest of the public that the fiscal cliff isn’t so bad or so steep, and that at the start of January Democrats will introduce in Congress a middle-class tax cut whose effect is to prevent taxes from rising for most people (thereby forcing Republicans to vote for a tax cut for the middle class or hold it hostage to a tax cut for the wealthy as well).

I dunno, what’s not to get?


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  1. ek hornbeck
  2. banger

    The President faces at least two constituencies here. One is a very ideologically driven plutocracy that wants to make sure that the arrow is firmly placed towards some variant of neo-feudalism. Opposed to them are increasingly motivated mainstream Democratic Party activists in the media, in the bureaucracy, in mid and upper management of various political organizations who would rather take a stand here against the plutocrats. While the plutocrats have had, on the whole, the upper hand after the 2010 elections, right now they are weakened by some very poor decisions and over-obvious attempts to simply seize power in Washington without caring much how many toes they step on.

    What remains to be seen is if this anti-plutocratic coalition of mainly upper-middle class professionals will assert themselves more vigorously than they have. However, be assured that this coalition is, at the moment, ideologically, rather indistinct–the best we can hope for is genuine pragmantism. We’ll see. I the past, I’ve been very pessimistic about the Democratic Party but I think they showed me something this election cycle–they turned into an effective political organization that has learned the lessons of the past four years and begun to grasp the importance of framing issues and effective propaganda and, above all, were able to display considerable unity and discipline–at least compared to the past.  

  3. terryhallinan

    Some dictionary definitions:



    A person whose power derives from their wealth.


    plutocrat [ˈpluːtəˌkræt]


    (Government, Politics & Diplomacy) a member of a plutocracy

    – Free Online Dictionary


    Not easy to mix plutocracy with purportedly popularly elected government but I like my unauthorized definition best. :-)

    How do you explain that some of the poorest citizens (e.g., West Virginians, Kentuckians, Mississippians)overwhelmingly favor the plutocrats while the richest of all the plutocrats does not?

    As long as even the most lefty of the lefts mostly speak of helping an amorphous middle class sometimes redefined as a median income person, who of course exists only in theory, instead of those who could use help, I believe we will continue on our plutocratic way.

    I see no way out of the box until we figure out what it is we are saying.  The DLC’s muddlling of language in order to favor the well off has had its desired effect and it is hardly benign IMHO.

    Best,  Terry

  4. TMC
  5. banger

    I did read Veblen in college and he really excited me but I haven’t looked at him for some time.

    I reread War and Peace and Anna Karenina every now and then.

    The problem of success is, of course, hubris and the current kleptocrats seem to have it in spades. They may very well do themselves in–I hope.  

  6. Mike Taylor

    Democrats never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity. Well, an opportunity to let the Bush tax-cuts expire (automatically), then force republicans to support (or to block/hold hostage) middle-class tax-cuts is too good of an opportunity for democrats not to miss. Democrats are going to keep missing this opportunity (every time).

  7. terryhallinan

    The only thing worse is any fix proposed by Democrats and Republicans alike.

    Raising taxes and, worse, cutting spending in a depression makes as much sense as putting delirious, feverish patients out in a snowstorm to cool off.

    Best,  Terry

  8. banger

    I think we are moving into something in between outright plutocracy which is another way of saying neo-feudalism. I think we saw, in this election, the power of the professional highly skilled middle class. This group is moderately well off and comfortable and wants to have more scope. I don’t see much chance for an outright plutocracy in part because the people at the top have shown themselves to be more stupid than I thought possible. Mr. Potter or Scrooge are not going to win many popularity contests when they come on as strong as they have recently. They’ll have to be content with merely being very influential rather that ruling by decree.  

  9. terryhallinan

    I don’t see much chance for an outright plutocracy in part because the people at the top have shown themselves to be more stupid than I thought possible.

    Did no one but me around here read War and Peace or, even more pointedly and analytically, Thorstein Veblen?

    A pundit years ago proposed that Dan Quayle was truly as intelligent as the other eminences in the Senate as declared in a ringing defense of Quayle by Ted Kennedy.  It seemed he was the rich kid who had no incentive to learn.  That dubious argument had some merit despite the subject.

    My general feeling is stupidity is a marvelous aid in becoming wealthy or wealthier.  It helps to avoid extraneous considerations.

    Best,  Terry

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