Washington's mating dance

In my way-way-north-of-Utica-high-school years the most popular subject was mating rituals.

If you are older you may remember them. You saw them at high school dances and other social gatherings. The guy would brush past the gal. The gal might bat her eyes at him. He might be so brash as to say a few words. She might play coy. If nothing came of it they both could play innocent to their friends. “I didn’t say nuthin’ to her.” “I didn’t flirt with him. He flirted with me.”

A few politicians are engaged in a mating ritual in Washington. If they actually get together you might be the winner. All of us might be.

Last week I read remarks from a Democrat congressguy who creates tax policy. He said that he maybe, possibly could accept some tax cuts. But he was coy about this. He tossed in a few “ifs.” The big one was if, if, if the cuts would help expand the economy. Because if the economy expanded it would throw off more tax money for Washington.

Next thing, the White House leaked a tidbit. If, if certain tax cuts were to appear on the President’s desk he might, perhaps, possibly go along with them. If, that is, if they helped the economy expand. So that it would funnel extra tax dollars to Washington.

Here is what is significant about these ruminations: This is not how Democrats and the President have been talking the last few years. They have been talking about nailing the rich. They have been talking about narrowing the gap between rich and poor. Spreading the wealth. If you have a successful business you didn’t build that on your own. That sort of divisive stuff.

So here we have a different line and tone coming from the left.

Meanwhile, over on the right, we have a Republican congressguy. He helps shape our tax policies. Suddenly, he is dusting off his proposals for cutting some taxes. For reducing tax rates to just two for most taxpayers --10 and 25 percent. For dumping most deductions. For simplifying the tax code. For cutting death taxes and capital gains taxes.

Why? Well, to help expand the economy. So that it would funnel more tax dollars to D.C. To feed the spending beast.

These ideas were floated quietly. Nobody went for the jugular. Nobody wrapped their ideas in propaganda. Nobody sprayed vitriol about the room before they presented their thoughts.

They could have. One side could have snarled “Well, it’s about time you saw the light. We’ve been telling you to do this for years.” And the other side could have snapped “If you hadn’t screwed things up so bad in the first place we could have done this years ago.”

Nope. No grandstanding. It is as if they are circling each other at the edge of the dance floor. “I’m not saying I’m asking, but if I did happen to…?’ “Well, I’m not saying I would, but if you did happen to…, maybe…”

This is sometimes how serious things get done in Washington. Each side sends out a scout. “My team says if such and such was proposed…”

Why the ritual at this time? The elections later this year. Our economy needs a kick in the butt. Everybody but Alzheimers folks on the Palau Islands knows this. Such a kick would make the Democrats and the President look more like they are trying. They would be reaching across the aisle. They would swallow some bitter pills to juice up the economy. The Republicans would seek grateful votes for doing their bit.

What if this ritual leads to nothing? Well, both sides have left plenty of cover for themselves. None of the big leaders howled from atop the barricades and waved big flags. So nobody will get a pie in the face if this flops. (Don’t ever say I flunked my How To Mix Metaphors class.)

I wish them good luck, both sides. We need the economy to grow faster. We need more sensible taxes. Strike up the band. Maybe he will work up the courage to ask her to dance. Or vice-versa.

From Tom...as in Morgan.

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