One of our regular commenters on this blog opined here yesterday that Americans will blame the Democrats if the country falls off the so-called fiscal cliff:
It will be devastating to the Democratic party. Obama and the Democrats are clearly the people in charge of the government right now. Republicans will easily take back the Senate in 2014 and the red carpet will be laid out for a easy victory to the White House in 2016. Then we’ll be talking about Democrats being lost in the wilderness for a generation. All because of the failed fiscal cliff negotiations.
A majority of Americans say that if the country goes over the fiscal cliff on Dec. 31, congressional Republicans should bear the brunt of the blame, according to a new Washington Post-Pew Research Center poll, the latest sign that the GOP faces a perilous path on the issue between now and the end of the year.
While 53 percent of those surveyed say the GOP would (and should) lose the fiscal cliff blame game, just 27 percent say President Obama would be deserving of more of the blame. Roughly one in 10 (12 percent) volunteer that both sides would be equally to blame.
Those numbers are largely unchanged from a Post-Pew survey conducted three weeks ago and suggest that for all of the back and forth in Washington on the fiscal cliff, there has been little movement in public perception. The numbers also explain why Republicans privately fret about the political dangers of going over the cliff, while Democrats are more sanguine about such a prospect.
To make matters worse for the GOP, a fiscal proposal proffered yesterday by House Speaker John Boehner and other Republican congressional leaders is nothing more than food for ridicule. HERE‘s the reaction from the editorial board of The New York Times:
Republicans didn’t even bother to assemble their own package of spending cuts and revenue increases; they did a simple copy and paste of a few proposals made extemporaneously at a hearing last year by Erskine Bowles, the Democratic co-chairman of a deficit reduction committee.
The proposal, which Mr. Bowles quickly disavowed on Monday, purports to raise $800 billion in revenue over a decade by ending deductions and loopholes, while allowing the Bush-era tax cuts for the rich to continue. It would cut $1.2 trillion in spending, half of which would come from Medicare, Medicaid, and other health programs, including an increase in the Medicare eligibility age to 67. Another $600 billion would be cut from other unspecified spending.
Which programs would be cut? The letter doesn’t say, and Republicans don’t seem to care, as long as they blindly achieve their goal of cutting a big chunk out of government. The offer was a transparent attempt to appear responsive to Mr. Obama’s detailed proposal from last week, without doing any actual math or hard work.
If Mr. Boehner had used a calculator, for example, he would have discovered it is impossible to produce $800 billion in revenue from eliminating deductions without severely curtailing the deduction for charitable donations, which is vital to the nonprofit sector. Doing so without limiting the charitable deduction would inevitably raise taxes on the middle class, as nonpartisan analysts have concluded, and would have a much greater effect on the upper middle class than on the very rich.
Take special note, friends, of that part about charitable deductions. If word gets around that Republicans want to curtail the deduction for charitable contributions, the GOP will find itself in even worse trouble.
If you’re wondering why Republican lawmakers don’t just cut their losses and drop their hard-line opposition to Obama’s call for a modestly higher tax rate on the top two-percent of income earners, the answer is simple: Most of them are afraid of getting challenged in primary elections by far-right Tea Party zealots.
Yes, these are tough times for the GOP.