The Norman Transcript


December 12, 2012

Sappy New Year



There’s one good thing about being a commentator: No one remembers what we say. Not only is it job security, it means we don’t have to be very brave to swim against the flow. That’s what I will be doing here, timidly going where few have gone before.

I say you can make those party plans.

Assume that the political parties will come up with a deal. It may be nothing more than a sham agreement, but they will be able to announce some sort of “hard-fought compromise after intense bargaining.” It probably won’t happen until moments before the deadline on the 31st, because of their addiction to 11th-hour melodrama. It might even come after midnight, if they use that old stop-the-clock routine, and we won’t officially know whether to sing “Auld Lang Syne” or Auld Lang Whine, but 2013 will begin with a deal.

All the negative bluster is really positive. While the two sides bluster out front, the president and the speaker meet behind closed doors. The only way the White House has any chance of placating restive Democrats dug in on entitlements is to give the public appearance of hanging tough. Same for the Republicans teeming with those who would just as soon shred all socialprograms and get rid of all taxes. We are already seeing their rigidity bend a little as a few GOPsenators indicate that they might not fall on their swords over taxes.

It’s still early in the game. Only at the last second can they all make concessions and have any credibility when the time comes to tell their partisans that they squeezed out everything possible. What we will then hear is public screams of outrage from the immoderates on both sides, the same members of Congress who will privately agree to vote yes if their support is needed for passage and if they get something in return. We will have once more avoided disaster, and then we’ll move on to the next crisis.

As for New Year’s, maybe the politicians could make a resolution to do things differently. They’d break it immediately.

© 2012 Bob Franken, Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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