One of two Republicans you know quite well is struggling with reality. Your job this evening is to decide which one.
On Wednesday, former U.S. House speaker Newt Gingrich, in a speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., declared the fiscal cliff to be a gross fiction, and urged House Republicans not to “cave” to President Barack Obama. From the Daily Caller:
“There is no fiscal cliff. It’s absolute, total, nonsense,” Gingrich said.
“It is an excuse to panic. It’s a device to get all of us running down the road so we accept whatever Obama wants because otherwise we have failed the fiscal cliff, and how can you be a patriot if you don’t do what the fiscal cliff requires, and the fiscal cliff will appear to us one afternoon, much like the land of Oz, where there will be this person hiding behind the machine who will say, ‘Raise taxes now,’” Gingrich intoned, “and if you don’t raise taxes you’ll have violated the fiscal cliff.”
“Now, do any of you want to be the person who stands up and destroys America by violating the fiscal cliff? Do you want to go on one of the national networks and explain that you are so reactionary, so out of touch with life, that you don’t care that America is going to die late on Thursday?” Gingrich scoffed.
The former speaker’s remarks called to mind a much-overlooked speech given by Johnny Isakson on the floor of the U.S. Senate earlier this month. You can watch it here, but I’ve transcribed the relevant portion. Isakson referred to the crisis as a “day of reckoning:”
”We’re in a very dangerous position. And I’ve been in this body one other time when we’ve faced a fiscal cliff. It was in September of 2008, and I will never forget it. The markets had been collapsing, the subprime securities had been collapsing, the world was in difficult financial times.
“The president of the United States – at that time a Republican – brought forward a plan to solve that problem, or at least to forestall the collapse of the market. …The House of Representatives rejected it, and the markets went down over 800 points in one day. Two days later, the Senate came back and adopted a plan to move us forward. The markets stabilized, but they were already at the bottom. They’d fallen by 50 percent…
“It’s one thing to gain the confidence of the world’s investors and body politics. It’s another thing to lose it. If you ever lose that confidence, if you ever go off that cliff and people no longer think this is the greatest place on the face of the earth to invest their money, then America has a harder struggle to come back than it would ever have by facing our problems now.”
“…We face a fiscal cliff. There are some in this chamber that say we need to go off of it. We’ll pay the price, and we’ll finally sit down and do what’s right. I would, with all due respect, say that’s pretty stupid.”
There is no smoothing over this. One of these two conservatives is remarkably wrong. Fortunately, we’ve devised a foolproof test to help you decide which one.
More than likely, you have a 401(k) account. It isn’t as large as you’d like, but you’ve been diligent and it represents a sizable amount of cash.
Now, imagine yourself in a room that’s empty except for a table, the former U.S. House speaker, and Georgia’s junior U.S. senator. You must sign over control of your retirement fund – all the money that will let you retire at 65 rather than 85 – to one of these gentlemen for the next eight weeks. Which one will it be?
Pick your man, and you’ve just decided whether the fiscal cliff is real or not. Because for small fry like you and me, our 401(k) funds are the chips in this very real game of poker.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider