New Deal Numerology: Unfinished Business

Nov 15, 2012Tim Price

This week's numbers: 48; 3.4 million; 2%; 23; 87

48... is an edgy number. That’s how many days are left before the fiscal cliff kicks in. President Obama hopes a compromise can be reached now that Republicans know they’ll have four more years to make him miserable rather than packing it all into the next two months.

3.4 million... is a contracting number. That’s how many jobs will be lost as a result of the fiscal cliff. Progressives say that’s because austerity is destructive, while conservatives will just have to blame it on a warlock’s curse or something.

2%... is an expensive number. That’s how much after-tax income the fiscal cliff will cost the bottom 20 percent, suggesting that Bob Dylan’s theory that “when you ain’t got nothin’, you got nothin’ to lose” is not technically true from a budgetary perspective.

23... is a temporary number. That’s how many months ago the Bush tax cuts were originally supposed to expire before they were extended as part of a deal for additional stimulus. Republicans must be outraged when their two-year-old cartons of milk turn sour, too.

87... is an outgoing number. That’s roughly how many new members of Congress were elected this year, meaning the same number of lame ducks will be participating in the negotiations. Now we have to hope that the key to improving their job performance is removing the consequences.

Tim Price is Deputy Editor of Next New Deal. Follow him on Twitter @txprice.

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