NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

January 5, 2013

Get your parachute out for the next cliff

Bill Plante
Newburyport Daily News

---- — Big Freddy was late for our morning break, and I had about finished with the newspaper when he arrived.

“So, did you see the New Year in?” I asked as he settled himself.

“Saw the old one out and slept like a babe in its mother’s arms,” Freddy said.

“Contented that we wouldn’t be going over the economic cliff after all was said and done?” I said.

“Since Mitch McConnell called Joe Biden to see if anyone in the White House knew how to kick the ball down the road,” Freddy said.

“Which they did,” I said.

“Smart move,” Freddy said. “Biden and McConnell go back a long ways together. He lets Obama know it’s now or never if he wants enough of a deal to keep from going over the cliff, Obama gives him the green light, Biden calls McConnell back, and the rest is history.”

“But the end run had to have hurt Harry Reid,” I said. “He and McConnell had been going at one another in the Senate for months.”

“Not by a long shot,” Freddy said. “It let Reid off the hook. McConnell had a long and friendly history with Biden. It frees Reid up for what’s going to be blood on the floor of both the House and Senate two months from now.”

“Deficit reduction,” I said.

“Facing reality,” Freddy said. “Uncle Sam’s bent over with debt. The Treasury can’t pay our bills without borrowing more and cutting back. Republicans still rule the House. If they don’t knuckle under it’s over the cliff we go.

“Two years down the road Democrats get to rule everything in Washington.”

“And advantage Obama’s legacy,” I said.

“He needs the Congress. All of it,,” Freddy said. “He has the Oval office, he has the Senate, and he has whatever it is we’re still fighting for in the Muddled East which has been going on for so long kids born back when it started are finishing grammar school.

“But it’s legacy time, and he can’t get to where he wants to be in the history books with Republicans still holding the upper hand in the House.”

“Some hand, with the Republicans having to deal with the tea party as well as Democrats who are doing everything possible to get the speaker’s gavel back,” I said.

“It’s one for the history books for certain,” Freddy said. “I can’t recall this much division in our lifetimes. No way anyone could have seen what was coming back when George Bush took office.”

“The world’s been on fast-forward to only God knows where since, but it was far worse back when Pearl Harbor was and we turned things around back then,” I said.

“We had the time to do it after the wars were over, but everything’s been on fast forward since 9/11 on George Bush’s first watch,” Freddy said.

“And we’ve been over reaching ever since,” I said.

“Too much, too fast, and it’s why we’re cliff hanging,” Freddy said.

“One thing’s certain. We can’t hang forever. Two months down the road, we’re going to get a re-run of what we just dodged at two minutes to midnight. You have to hope it won’t come to that again because push coming to shove on the edge of a cliff can go in only one direction for everyone.

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Bill Plante is a Newbury resident and a staff columnist for The Daily News.