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One-dimensional chess — Crooked Timber

November 14th, 2010

The big issue to be decided by the lame-duck Congress is whether to extend Bush’s tax cuts for the very rich[1]. This is a one-dimensional chess game, with the obvious zero-sum property that if the tax go through, the Republicans win and (at least in standard political terms) the Democrats lose by an equal amount.

There seems to be a near-universal consensus that
(i) The game is a forced win for the Dems (pass a bill extending the cuts for everyone but the rich and dare the Repugs to oppose it)
(ii) The Dems opening move will be to resign

This analysis certainly gives support to the idea of unobserved dimensions, presumably monetary

fn1. The option of not extending them for the well-off, and doing something serious about the deficit without too much impact on demand is way outside the Overton window.

Posted via email from John’s posterous

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  1. PeterS
    November 14th, 2010 at 17:41 | #1

    Is sentence (ii) unfinished? If not, I don’t really understand it.

  2. jquiggin
    November 14th, 2010 at 18:42 | #2

    In chess, to resign is to concede victory to the other player

  3. November 14th, 2010 at 20:02 | #3

    Pr Q said:

    The big issue to be decided by the lame-duck Congress is whether to extend Bush’s tax cuts for the very rich[1]. This is a one-dimensional chess game, with the obvious zero-sum property that if the tax go through, the Republicans win and (at least in standard political terms) the Democrats lose by an equal amount.

    I don’t mean to carp (still less snark) but didn’t Pr Q suggest not so long ago that the Big Issue for the next congress would be the REP’s threat to shut down the government unless health care was repealed?

    Obama and his aides plan a series of pre-emptive capitulations, after which the Republicans will demand the repeal of the healthcare act (or maybe abolition of Social Security). When/if that is refused, the Repugs will shut down the government, and this time they will hold their nerve until Obama folds.

    On this reading the normally gloomy Pr Q seems to have lightened up substantially, given that a government shut-down is now presumably no longer on the REP agenda. Hence the exhilaration of moving from a negative-sum zero-dimensional chess point to a zero-sum one-dimensional chess line. Or is it too early to count that chicken?

    My prediction at that time, FWIW, was that the victorious REPs would demand contractionary budget cuts in return for co-operation on appropriations, which would probably trigger a double-dip recession. On a brighter note I predicted that the REPS would not “go ballistic” and bluff a shut down of the federal government because their key constituents (Red-state voters and Blue-state donors) depend on federal money.

    One things for sure, the REPs are more interested in political failure of Obama rather than policy success for themselves. That is, according to Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, they aim to “make Obama a one-term President”, with the implied threat of sabotaging all efforts at successful governance. Although he seemed to step back from this threat a few days later.

    My prediction is that Obama will hold fast on health care and the REPs will step back from the brink on government shut-down. But that the DEMs will probably roll over on extending Bush tax-cuts and slashing discretionary spending, tossing the Tea Party some red meat. The US economy will limp along for another couple of years and Obama’s chances of re-election will probably slide.

    Not exactly Armageddon but not “hope and change” either.

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