Republican Delusion On The Fiscal Cliff
Matt Lewis notes that many Republicans seem to be viewing the fiscal cliff negotiations through rose colored glasses:
Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t see how Republicans have anything but bad options regarding the fiscal cliff. At least, not in the short term.
Even if Republicans negotiate the best bipartisan deal possible (something akin to the Corker plan), anyone who votes for it would be accused of selling out.
This would cause the base to either become demoralized or (more likely) angry — angry enough to primary the “read my lips” traitors. Either way, it’s not a good thing.
On the other hand, if no deal is reached, Republicans will surely be blamed (this is always a safe assumption and a smart default position — for a variety of reasons.)
This hasn’t stopped some conservative pundits from acting as if Republicans hold all the cards. But the notion that Republicans have leverage is silly. It’s the same kind of happy thinking that led some to boldly predict a Romney victory.
Indeed, it hasn’t, and it’s a delusion that I’ve noticed has filtered down to conservative bloggers and activists online and on cable who seem to think that the GOP can somehow beat the President despite the fact that it not only lost the White House, but also lost seats in the House and Senate. Yes, it’s true that the GOP will still control the House in January, but they’ll have a smaller majority than they do now and they’ll only have control over one-half of one branch of Government. The idea that this puts them in a position of any relative power at all is monumentally silly.
Yes, it’s true that any bill that resolves this matter will have to make it through the House, but that still doesn’t give the GOP as much bargaining power as people on the right seem to think. As I’ve noted before, the public supports the President’s position on raising taxes on high income earners, and recent polling indicates that the GOP would get the blame if Congress was unable to reach a deal before December 31st, much as they received most of the blame in the wake of the utterly ridiculous and drawn out debt ceiling negotiations in 2011. This means, as I’ve noted before, that it really ought to be the GOP that has the most incentive to make a deal hear because, potentially, they’ve got the most to lose.
The GOP is coming off an election where they completely misjudged the mood of the public, and paid the price for that at the poling place. Now, they’re stuck in a showdown with a re-elected, and clearly confident, President over issues where they are out of step with the public mood. In the midst of this, they’ve got people like Grover Norquist and Rush Limbaugh telling them to hold the line on taxes and not give an inch to the President. And they’re starting to believe it. The longer they hold on to this delusion, the more likely it is that they’ll find themselves on the losing end up of yet another political argument in a month or so.