On the left and right alike — and even in the middle, political pundits and reporters are offering lots of slants these days about the corner into which Republicans have painted themselves with regard to the fiscal-cliff stalemate.
Let’s peruse a few, shall we?
On the right, John Podhoretz of Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post says THIS:
Republicans have a bad hand to play when it comes to the “fiscal cliff” coming up Jan. 1, when taxes will rise automatically on everyone and whopping defense cuts will be imposed automatically.
Did I say a bad hand? Make that a terrible hand. It’s like getting a 3, a 5, a 7, a 10 and a Jack in poker. Only in this game, you can’t trade in any cards — or fold.
The tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003 are set to expire. A new piece of legislation must pass the House and Senate and be signed into law by the president to change that.
Republicans, for good economic reasons, want to keep the tax cuts in their entirety. Democrats, for good political reasons, want to keep all of them but the ones for people who earn in excess of some large number — at the least, $250,000.
The truth is, every way you look at it, the GOP is trapped. Republican politicians will cave and give the president most of what he wants. The only real question is when. The answer is: Probably at the worst possible time, when they’ve done even more damage to the party’s “brand.”
On the left, Frank Rich of New York magazine says THIS:
Everyone knows the Republicans are going to fold — the Republicans know they are going to fold — and the only question to be resolved is when and on what terms. They have zero leverage. It’s not only that they lost the election; they continue to decline in national polls, with the latest Pew survey showing that 53 percent of Americans will blame the GOP (and only 27 percent will blame President Obama) if there’s no deal by January. The party has no national leader still standing except John Boehner, who can’t even command the loyalty of his own caucus in the House. Let’s hope that Obama, who is showing the admirable take-no-prisoners toughness he lacked last time around, continues on his current firm path once the Republicans start to buckle. There is a lot more at stake in the negotiations beyond the upper-echelon tax rates that the GOP will soon have to retreat on.
Meanwhile, The New York Times reports THIS:
With President Obama insisting on higher tax rates for affluent Americans and winning public support for the idea, Congressional Republicans find themselves in an increasingly difficult political spot and are quietly beginning to look for a way out.
Senior Republican leadership aides say they are contemplating a fallback position since a standoff over expiring tax rates will be portrayed by Democrats as evidence that the opposition is willing to allow taxes to rise on the middle class to keep taxes from rising on the rich — and their intransigence could mean taxes go up on rich, poor and middle class alike.
The leadership officials now say that if no deal can be struck to avert the automatic expiration of all the Bush-era tax cuts and the onset of deep, across-the-board spending cuts, they could foresee taking up and passing legislation this month to extend the tax cuts for the middle class and then resume the bitter fight over spending and taxes as the nation approaches the next hard deadline: its statutory borrowing limit, which could be reached in late January or February.
And CNN reports THIS:
Taxes on the wealthy are going up, House Speaker John Boehner conceded Wednesday in challenging President Barack Obama to sit down with him to hammer out a deal for avoiding the fiscal cliff.
Obama, however, continued to insist on Republicans first ensuring no tax hike for anyone but the top 2% of Americans as a first step toward a broader agreement on tackling the nation’s chronic federal deficits and debt.
The statements reflected how negotiations on the automatic spending cuts and tax hikes set to occur on January 1 — the fiscal cliff — have evolved since Obama’s re-election last month.
Republicans once opposed to any new revenue in their quest to shrink government now realize Obama’s victory and public support for the president’s campaign theme of higher taxes on the wealthy leave them with little negotiating leverage.
Less than four weeks from the fiscal cliff, GOP leaders face a choice: Agreeing to Obama’s demand to hold down tax rates on most Americans while allowing higher rates on top earners, or being blamed for everyone’s taxes going up in 2013.