Whatever Happened to the Certainty Fairy?

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Dec. 5 2012 10:36 AM

Whatever Happened to the Certainty Fairy?

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 05: U.S. Speaker of the House Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) arrives at a news conference after a House Republican conference meeting December 5, 2012 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The House Republican leadership held a news conference to discuss its negotiations with the White House on the fiscal cliff issue. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

House Republicans, who are getting ready to wrap up votes for the week, held a largely newsless presser this morning to update the people of America on debt talks. John Boehner glided past four questions about his leverage -- and how little of it he still has -- but he did grapple with the poll numbers. How could he stand firm when polls revealed a huge majority for top rate tax hikes?

"The revenues we've put on the table come from -- guess who? The rich!" America's least popular taxpayers would pay more, and this would be done "not by raising rates," but by closing loopholes.

This sounded strange. On the one hand, you could tell people hitting that $250,001 income level that the only new tax they're going to pay is a slightly higher rate on income at and above that level. On the other, you tell them that their rate will remain in limbo, but they will be hit, at some point, by the elimination of loopholes. Which loopholes? We'll find out later!


One year ago, Boehner was arguing that the rates themselves needed to be extended because you didn't want people to keep guessing about how much they'd pay. "The idea that tax policy can be done two months at a time is the kind of activity that we see here in Washington that has really put our economy off its tracks," he said. He's not quite contradicting himself now, but he is opting for some murky period of tax debate over a clean tax increase that's been on the books, ready to kick in, for two years.

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics



The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

Congress’ Public Shaming of the Secret Service Was Political Grandstanding at Its Best

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

A Plentiful, Renewable Resource That America Keeps Overlooking

Animal manure.

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10


Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

Hasbro Is Cracking Down on Scrabble Players Who Turn Its Official Word List Into Popular Apps

Florida State’s New President Is Underqualified and Mistrusted. He Just Might Save the University.

  News & Politics
Sept. 30 2014 9:33 PM Political Theater With a Purpose Darrell Issa’s public shaming of the head of the Secret Service was congressional grandstanding at its best.
Sept. 30 2014 7:02 PM At Long Last, eBay Sets PayPal Free
Sept. 30 2014 7:35 PM Who Owns Scrabble’s Word List? Hasbro says the list of playable words belongs to the company. Players beg to differ.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 30 2014 3:21 PM Meet Jordan Weissmann Five questions with Slate’s senior business and economics correspondent.
Brow Beat
Sept. 30 2014 8:54 PM Bette Davis Talks Gender Roles in a Delightful, Animated Interview From 1963
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 7:00 PM There’s Going to Be a Live-Action Tetris Movie for Some Reason
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 30 2014 11:51 PM Should You Freeze Your Eggs? An egg freezing party is not a great place to find answers to this or other questions.
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.