The mainstream media are focused on the fiscal cliff, as well they shoud be.
CBS News announces:
Newly re-elected President Obama will use a White House appearance to set the tone for upcoming talks with congressional Republicans on avoiding the so-called fiscal cliff.
Republicans continue to draw a line in the sand against higher tax rates for upper-income earners as they seek to topple the conventional wisdom that Mr. Obama has the upper hand in upcoming negotiations on averting the potentially economy-crippling set of tax increases and automatic spending cuts due to hit in January.
Mr. Obama faces a tough, core decision: Does he pick a fight and risk a prolonged impasse with Republicans, or does he rush to compromise and risk alienating Democrats still celebrating his victory?
This analysis is correct. Will he pick a fight? I doubt it. He has avoided political fights all of his political career. Pelosi gave him Obamacare. Justice Roberts let him keep it.
Many of his Democratic allies hope Mr. Obama will take a hard line when he addresses the matter Friday. Republicans warn that a fight could poison efforts for a rapprochement in a bitterly divided Capitol and threaten his second-term agenda.
I think they will be disappointed.
Boehner may buckle, of course. But he does not have to.
Mr. Obama has been silent since his victory speech early Wednesday morning, but Capitol Hill Republicans have filled the vacuum with vows to stand resolutely against any effort by the president to fulfill a campaign promise to raise the top two income tax rates to Clinton-era levels.
Boehner will have to desert his political base in the House to compromise. Then he must get his Party to vote for his compromise. This will not be easy. If he suffers a defeat by failing to control his troops, he will become a lame-duck Speaker at the beginning of the new Congress. Why should he do that? It would be mud sandwich, round two. He knows this.
“Raising tax rates is unacceptable,” House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, declared Thursday on ABC. “Frankly, it couldn’t even pass the House. I’m not sure it could pass the Senate.”
What do Republicans say they want? They want what Obama has vowed he will not give: cuts in Medicare.
Republicans say they’re willing to consider new tax revenue, but only through drafting a new tax code that lowers rates and eliminates some deductions and wasteful tax breaks. And they’re insisting on cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and food stamps, known as entitlement programs in Washington-speak.
The Republicans really do not want these cuts. They are bluffing. They are stalling. The longer they stall, the worse Obama’s situation will be. He is now a lame-duck President. If he loses this fight, his duck is cooked.
While some of that heavy work would be left for next year, a raft of tough decisions would have to be made in the next six weeks. They could include the overall amount of deficit savings and achieving agreement on how much would come from revenue increases and how much would be cut from costly health care programs, the Pentagon and the day-to-day operating budgets of domestic Cabinet agencies.
If the Republicans buckle, they will have nothing to show for it. The voters back home will be furious. The Democrats will lord it over them for the next two years, and maybe four. “We’ve got you, pantywaists.”
The House Republicans’ egos are on the line. We are about to see who has the taste for a fight: Obama or Boehner. We will see who sticks to his guns.