Once Again, GOP Faces Blame For “Fiscal Cliff” Deal’s Failure

The Hill, once again, as many times as necessary:

A new poll finds the public views the looming “fiscal cliff” as a serious crisis for the nation and would blame Republicans more than President Obama if Washington fails to reach a deal.

Forty-five percent surveyed in a new CNN/ORC poll said they would blame congressional Republicans if there is no agreement, with 34 percent pointing the finger at Obama…

By a 52-44 split, Republicans surveyed in the poll said they favor a combination of spending cuts and tax increases over only spending cuts.

Democrats surveyed overwhelmingly support both elements in a deal, with six of 10 independents wanting both cuts and tax increases.

Fifty-six percent say taxes on the wealthy should be high, while 36 percent support low rates to help boost investment and job growth.

It’s a similar situation to what congressional Republicans faced in 2011, when polls showed clearly that Republicans would be the ones to take the blame for any negative consequences of a failure to reach a fiscal deal at that time. And as it turns out, they did take the blame–the outcome clearly demonstrated in President Barack Obama’s re-election.

That said, there are many details to consider: how much play is there to negotiate between spending cuts and revenue increases? What’s the ideal “ratio” of revenue to spending cuts, if any? What programs should be protected, like Medicare, even at the cost of raising taxes? How do the human costs of “entitlement reform” factor in relation to the goal of reducing expenses?

One thing’s for sure, it’s past time to have an honest conversation about these issues. And that is exactly what Republicans have spent the last four years avoiding, hoping that any attempt at intelligent discussion of fiscal policy could be pre-emptively shouted down.

But Republicans lost the election. What will change is the question, and only they can answer.

11 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

    The GOP is already getting blamed for the impact of the fiscal cliff. At a lot of government contractors people have been told they will be laid off if this hits. That uncertainty is incredibly stressful for the people facing that possibility.

    And I’m guessing that like the public at large, they are not happy with the GOP saying no tax increases for millionaires is more important.

  2. parsingreality says:

    ….throwing off the Matrix of forty years of Republican propaganda.

    Of the several options for President Obama, the best he could pursue is to stand firm for tax increases.  It worked for Clinton, it will work for Obama.  

  3. ParkHill says:

    And, what is the actual problem we face if the Bush tax cuts expire?

    We have a weird political meme marketing system in which nonsensical metaphors gather weight allowing the real problems. People keep referring to the fiscal cliff, when in fact, the correct metaphor is an “austerity slope”.

    In other words, raising taxes in the middle of a recession would slowly send the economy back into recession.

    A recession means lack of demand, not lack of investment.

    So, government spending should be targeted at raising demand, not supply. That means you shouldn’t raise taxes on the lower and middle classes because they will spend that money on buying things. Businesses will invest when and if they see demand rising.

  4. rocco says:

    The mood of the American people is in favor of a very heavy handed approach by the President.

    Warren Buffet said so yesterday, intimating that there’ll never be a better time to lay down the law. It’s time to make the top pay their way.

    No more mooching.

    The negotiations can’t start out weak though. When you begin by offering a compromise position, the reds allways see that as weakness. They have no intention of working with the President, the public knows that, and this “crisis” should be dealt with in the stronger Congress this coming January.

    Should the President strike a deal with the repubs during the lame duck session, we’ll see a catastrophic ’14 midterm election.

    Should he bury them by leaving earned benifits alone and ramming the Clinton rates down their throats with a muscled up Senate and stronger HOR, we’ll see the House in Democratic hands after ’14, and a filibuster proof Senate for years to come.

    Proof’s in the fact that the fastest growing “entitlement” counties are white republican bastions.

    They don’t like the President, but they’ll secretly support him to keep their “gifts”.

    The older white conservative “up by their bootstraps” crowd is anything but “up by their bootstraps”.  

    It’s a dirty little secret Senate and House republicans are well aware of as they ponder how much they can obstruct and still keep their jobs.

    Now’s the time.

  5. AristotleAristotle says:

    It’s been swinging to the left for a few years now, after decades of being on the right. Just as it had spent decades on the left before that time.

    Ultimately, Americans find that one side can no longer address the issues like they had (especially if they are relying upon the same arguments and talking points devised 20 or more years earlier), and throw their allegiance to the other side. We’re seeing it now because conservatism is no longer perceived to be the philosophy that will give us effective policies; although we also have to credit the decade or so of divisive politicking for eroding the Republican brand with voters who aren’t male, white, straight, and wealthy. (Or male, white, straight, and wishing to maintain their position at the top of the pecking order.) But… I think that the failure of conservatism to benefit anyone but the rich really is the bigger reason for the shift.

    That said, eventually the same thing will happen to the Dems. Liberal policies will make America stronger – this I truly believe. But there will be issues that arise and if the Dems become comfortable in power (which is human nature), eventually they’ll lose the public and the pendulum will swing back. If the recent past is an indicator, that will take about 20 years.

  6. JeffcoBlueJeffcoBlue says:

    It’s high time for Obama to take a stand, which he appears to be doing. I really hope we hold the line on SS and Medicare too.

  7. There’s a big hit to R&D, things like tax credits for renewable energy, and defense spending baked in to the “fiscal cliff”. This isn’t just about the tax cuts; the budget sequestration law passed after Congress failed to pass an actual budget fix will have a pretty big “investment” component, too.

  8. Diogenesdemar says:

    of the Bush tax cuts — the expiration of those would be fine, and should have occurred in 2010 as originally scheduled.  A program of targeted, responsible, tax cuts and incentives to spur economic growth, education, training, research, infrastructure . . . would be a welcome replacement.

    The other problem is the sequestration, as I understand it, is the automatic spending cuts, which themselves might have been managed if the politicians would have allowed that.  They didn’t.  Those cuts have to be applied across the board and can not be rebudgeted, transferred, or modified.  For example —  funding for an aircraft carrier or a new bridge after across the board sequestration — you can fund 85% of that aircraft carrrier or bridge.  But you can’t, for example, not fund the bridge in order to apply those savings to fund the aircraft carrier or vice versa.  85% of a bridge is as useless as no bridge, and what municipal entity or contractor is going to enter into an agreement to build a partial bridge that then becomes, instead of a savings of 15%, a waste of 85%?  Sequestration is going to grind many of these projects that it makes no sense to only partially finish, to a complete spending halt.

    You’re right that “recession means a lack of demand” that’s the tax increase piece of this puzzle, but sequestration does “a lack of investment.”  The old one-two . . .  

  9. The Navy could purchase 85% of the fleet that it otherwise would have purchased (e.g. shifting money away from the aircraft carrier and over to a submarine and a missile destroyer); similarly, 15% fewer bridges might be repaired, but they’d probably be whole bridges, not 85% of each bridge. The limitation is that there’s no moving funds between departments or line items within departments.

    Also, “across the board” isn’t strictly true: Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are I believe largely exempted from the sequestration cuts.

  10. Diogenesdemar says:

    I do appreciate that clarification.  

  11. There’s a reason why a number of Democrats are kind of shrugging over falling off the ‘fiscal cliff’ – by and large, it will be easier for us to negotiate the return of various programs (R&D, CDC, FDA, Transportation) to previous funding levels than it is for Republicans to restore what they want – Defense spending and lower tax rates.

    The Republicans certainly won’t want to let the lower and middle income tax cuts fall away permanently, and some of those other programs are normally non-partisan no-brainers (key word: normally). But the DoD isn’t going to die a horrible death of defunding at even sequester levels, and our revenue situation is much better off letting at least some of the Bush tax cuts expire. (In addition to the rise on the top income brackets, we’ll also want to keep the modest increase on the capital gains rate to 20% from 15%…)

    If anything comes out of negotiations on avoiding the cliff, both sides will want to get something above and beyond what they get by falling off the cliff.  For Democrats, I’d suggest starting out at:

    * eliminate the special capital gains rate

    * Restore funding to programs in order of partisanship (because in the end, transportation will be re-funded regardless…).

    And in return (the only two things Republicans want aside from more cuts…):

    * restore some Defense spending

    * agree to future (or immediate) tax reform negotations to vastly simplify the tax code

    With the joint side agreement to:

    * extend the tax cut for the lower and middle income tax brackets.

    Yes, this is a very partisan starting point; it should be, since Republicans are starting from the same old “nuke government from orbit” starting point as always…

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