Dispatches from the Finanzklippe

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

Uh-oh. It seems a certain American English expression is spreading overseas, and not one we might prefer:

US-Haushaltsstreit: “Go f… yourself!” – Washingtons Nerven liegen blank http://t.co/XlE06lIu



This is of course the Twitter-link to Die Welt’s recent coverage of that ordeal of the “fiscal cliff” (Finanzklippe in German, if you’re interested). And, since it’s a reliable way to let others provide you with grist for your column (just ask the NYT’s Thomas Friedman, for example), journalist Ansgar Graw gives us here, right off-the-bat, a cabbie interview. The driver’s name’s Timothy, he comes from Jersey, and at least he’s capable of keeping a civil tongue as he transports Graw to his DC destination. “If I can’t make ends meet with my money,” he observes, “I can’t simply demand more from you [or “youse guys”?]. I have to start saving. But what does Washington do? They raise taxes, to avoid the ‘fiscal cliff’!”

That’s quaint. First rule of Macroeconomics: the family budget is a faulty analogue for the financial issues of a government, particularly one in charge of its own currency. Back to the Congress, Graw attributes all that profanity flying around to the “frayed nerves” left over from the recent brinksmanship. He errs, however, when he tells his readers that John Boehner’s headline “request” to Harry Reid occurred “in the White House lobby” – accounts rather place the incident to just outside the Oval Office, as both Congressional leaders were waiting to confer with President Obama.

Maybe we shouldn’t begrudge Boehner his letting-off of a little steam, though, because (as Graw notes, and everybody knows) an equally fraught confrontation over the US debt ceiling is less than two months away. Speaker Boehner might even be out of a job by then: he was left high-and-dry when his House Republican majority refused to back his “Plan B” budget program of December’s last week, and his immediate deputy, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, was careful to vote “No” himself on that “fiscal cliff” legislation.

UPDATE: Goodness, goodness. Now this completely uncensored bit from Poland’s Gazeta Wyborcza:

Apologies to anyone who needs them, this blog has never claimed to be G-rated. The occasion for this particular tweet, by the way, is a Gazeta twit – just click through to behold his mugshot – who needed an attention-getting title for his time-line editorial recounting the “fiscal cliff” craziness.

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