November 7 and after

“This is not the story you have heard about the budget. You have probably heard a terrifying tale of dysfunction and impending doom, with the catchphrase “the fiscal cliff” used by budget wonks to describe all the automatic changes scheduled for January 1. It’s a story of disaster that could arrive by accident and must be prevented at all costs. Every aspect of this narrative is inaccurate.”

“… if Obama wins, starting on January 1, everything that has held true in Washington for the past two years flips upside down. Even tax reform, which the two parties have endlessly discussed but failed to agree on, will suddenly become very easy, because instead of using reform to make people pay more, any new reform will tax people less.”

Jonathan Chait, New York magazine

Jonathan Chait carefully teases apart scenarios under a red or blue Oval Office victory.  Although rarely appreciated by commentators, there are almost limitless possibilities here for the winning side to engage in credit claiming and considerable opportunities for leverage.  Chait provides readers with a more comprehensive guide to a post-Obama victory than a Romney victory,  but even so, his description of the game as it could unfold is terrific.

Author: Miriam Laugesen

Miriam J. Laugesen is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Policy at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. Much of her research is focused on the design and politics of physician payment policy within Medicare. Twitter:miriamlaugesen@

3 thoughts on “November 7 and after”

  1. The scariest part of a Romney victory? Besides the fact that he’s a vacuous amoral cardboard cutout of a human being?

    It will only take a few months for a Romney administration to dismantle our entire social safety net built over 100 years. By the spring, they will have repealed not only Obamacare but Medicare as well, and replaced it with a voucher system. It will be very difficult for a future administration to put Medicare back in place. The EPA and the Education department will likely be dismantled or at least whittled down to nothing.

    Jonathan Chait: “Let’s first imagine that, on January 20, Romney takes the oath of office. Of the many secret post-victory plans floating around in the inner circles of the campaigns, the least secret is Romney’s intention to implement Paul Ryan’s budget. The Ryan budget has come to be almost synonymous with the Republican Party agenda, and Romney has embraced it with only slight variations. It would repeal Obamacare, cut income-tax rates, turn Medicare for people under 55 years old into subsidized private insurance, increase defense spending, and cut domestic spending, with especially large cuts for Medicaid, food stamps, and other programs targeted to the very poor.”

  2. Someone who had heard Bowles and Simpson [hereafter – BS] speaking about the deficit and their “plan” was going on about how something had to be done. While the discussing this something similar to Chait’s analysis struck me, the “fiscal cliff” is no different than the BS proposal.

    The only difference is BS does not raise enough revenue because it has a stupid income tax rate cut and is implemented most slowly at first.

    Of the “fiscal cliff” and BS proposal, the cliff looks like the soft landing.

    Now to elect a Democratic House.

  3. This reminds me, obliquely, of the classic Hoosier novel “A Girl of the Limberlost”. The heroine, Elnora, is raised by her widowed mother under a savage regime of poverty—the family hasn’t a cent to spare, lives in perpetual terror of having to pay some sort of tax assessment. In principle they own an immensely valuable (and sustainable) woodlot, which her mother (due to an emotional block on the topic) refuses to exploit. The novel shows Elnora’s struggles to muster the tuition to attend high school; her struggles with the social life of someone with no dresses and no pocket money; and her giving up the idea of college since she lacked any hope of paying for it. Later in the book we learn that the family *had* had money—some steady rental income had piled up untouched, the taxes her mother so feared had never existed, etc.—the entire “poverty” childhood had been a lie, a monumentally unnecessary piece of fear and stupidity.

    That’s what the Republican’s lie reminds me of. “If we don’t cut taxes, industry will collapse! If we don’t fire teachers, the Treasury will implode! Or so we think, we don’t do the math to check, but we’d better keep Elnora in rags and uneducated just in case.”

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