Fiscal Cliff: The 'Let It Burn' Lobby May Be on to Something

It is very possible that even if the GOP leadership can come to a deal with Obama and the Democrats on avoiding the fiscal cliff, the LIB lobby will put so much pressure on House Republicans that the deal would be voted down. This would include any increase in the debt ceiling as well, although that vote may come early next year.

The problem for Boehner is that despite the insane nature of such a position -- actually supporting the idea of allowing 10% across-the-board cuts and a $95 billion tax increase -- the pyromaniacs may be right.

Daniel Henninger in the Wall Street Journal:

The only issue on the cliff negotiation table held true by every serious person is that the entitlement crisis is going to crush the country. But nothing is dearer to this president than higher taxes on people defined by him as the wealthiest. If the president's DNA prevents him from a compromise that also includes a sequester-strength commitment to disarming the entitlement bombs, much less discretionary spending, take the sequester. Better the fiscal cliff than pitching the American people over the bottomless entitlement cliff.

Bottom line: Obama doesn't want a "deal." He wants victory. He wants the GOP's head on a pike that he can parade around the capital while bragging to those liberal pundits whose approval he so desperately seeks that he has crushed the enemy, seen them driven before him, and heard the lamentations of their women.

With that in mind, the LIB lobby's desire seems almost rational. Why negotiate with someone hell-bent on winning at all costs? Henninger points out:

The main reason there isn't, and may never be, a solution on the fiscal cliff is that Barack Obama doesn't know how to do a political compromise. Where in his career did Barack Obama ever learn the art of the political deal? Nowhere.

If a real deal with real spending cuts and real entitlement reform is unreachable for whatever reason, even the establishment would have to consider joining the pyromaniacs.

The more pragmatic establishment blanches at the thought of cliff diving, believing that the party would pay for this position in the 2014 midterm elections. There is some validity to that argument given recent polls. But the LIBs counter with the adage that it's better to retain your soul and go down to defeat fighting for what you believe than cave on such a fundamental principle.

Would that political parties could afford such childlike purity. But despite its irrationality -- a political party shouldn't set out to deliberately create conditions for a crushing defeat -- there is an overriding principle to consider as well: self-preservation. What would a full-monty cave-in on taxes do to the Republican Party, especially if it comes with no guaranteed cuts in entitlements? If Speaker Boehner believes he can herd his caucus to vote for precisely the issue for which he and other leaders have spent the last year saying they would never consider, he will have a revolt on his hands the likes of which have not been seen since the Goldwater rebellion of 1964. He may get the revolt anyway, given his milquetoast performance so far in these negotiations.

President Obama is going on vacation on December 17 and won't return until January 6. Boehner should treat negotiations over the fiscal cliff with equal seriousness and adjourn on the 17th sine die until the new Congress is sworn in. Since the president has indicated that he will not respond to the GOP offer with one of his own, there appears little reason for the Republican leadership to stay in town and negotiate with someone incapable of reaching a deal.

While the art of compromise appears lost on the Let It Burn crowd, it is also apparently not in the president's lexicon either. This leaves the firemen to enter the scene and bring down the curtain, playing "Light my Fire" by The Doors.

The time to hesitate is through

No time to wallow in the mire

Try now we can only lose

And our love become a funeral pyre

One lump or two?