Imagine. For a brief time this man was the frontrunner for the Republican nomination for president. Newt Gingrich has welded enormous power in politics as Speaker of the House of Representatives, but he doesn’t induce a lot of confidence as a leader when he dismisses not just the effects of the fiscal cliff, but that it even exists as a problem.
“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.
Gingrich is right. Obama is holding all the chips. That’s partly because most Americans agree with the solutions Obama is presenting. Yet if Gingrich thinks that the Republican Party stepping away from negotiations means that the GOP is not going to be blamed, then he’s in a pretty interesting fantasy world. Whichever side appears as not wanting to work this problem through is going to be blamed if disaster hits.
The only way the fiscal cliff is nonsense is if the automatic spending cuts passed in the budget deal of August 2011 and Bush tax cuts of 2001 are viewed as no threat to the economy. The fact is most economists see this as a recipe for a new recession. That’s painful nonsense.