, Newburyport, MA

December 29, 2012

The view from the edge of the cliff

Bill Plante
Newburyport Daily News

---- — “So,” I asked Big Freddy after the waitress had brought him his coffee, “did you have a nice Christmas?”

“All other things considered, mine went better than somewhat,” Freddy said.

“The ‘all other things’ being related to ...?” I asked.

“I’m wondering what passed for Christmas for members of Congress who dragged stalemate back home for the holiday, and what they’re going to bring back,” Freddy said.

“The ‘over the cliff’ business,” I said.

“Obama’s and Boehner’s Christmas present that was supposed to save us from the cliff jump came unwrapped,” Freddy said.

“It turned out to be hunks of coal that Boehner couldn’t put in tea party stockings,” I said. “He’s no pushover, but he’s dealing with a live-or-die majority that wants no part of tax hikes.

“He had worked things out with Obama, and he tried to do that with House conservatives. But he just doesn’t have the clout Nancy Pelosi had with Blue Dog Democrats when she was running it.

“They didn’t see eye to eye with everything she was pushing on health care, but she ruled the roost. They either did what they had to do or pay the consequences, and most of them folded.”

“She was dealing with political adults,” Freddy said. “Boehner’s dealing with just enough die-hard, go-for-broke, green-as-grass but damned if they’ll budge beginners who won’t accept a tax hike come hell or high water.”

“So, what’s next?” I asked.

“There’d better be something,” Freddy said. “I don’t think Obama’s going to just sit in the Oval Office and twiddle his thumbs. Neither is Boehner. This is a crisis time for the country and it’s make-or-break for as far as their places in history go.

“Obama really likes Abe Lincoln. This is not like Lincoln’s time because of the slavery issue back then, but we’re at war longer than we were back then, and we’re running on credit our grandchildren’s grandchildren are going to have to pay for.

“Congress is at loggerheads. So was Lincoln’s. He made it work. Our debt being what it is, as far as history is going to be concerned, it’s what Obama does, not Boehner.”

“And time’s running out,” I said.

“They’ll find a way to stretch it some,” Freddy said. “They have to. Republicans got clobbered in November. They still own the House, but the way things are going, they’ll lose it two years from now if they keep on doing what they’re doing.”

“Advantage Democrats,” I said.

“Short term, yes; long term, who knows? We’ve never carried this much debt,” Freddy said. “That’s going to be on Obama’s back for four more years. He doesn’t turn it around, advantage Republicans somewhere down the line.”

“We should live so long,” I said.

“No way,” Freddy said.


Bill Plante is a Newbury resident and staff columnist. His email address is