Hunch: Obama doesn’t want a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff

posted at 8:31 am on November 17, 2012 by Jazz Shaw

Everyone came away from the initial summit meeting between Obama, Boehner and Reid with big smiles and a public air of confidence that Friday’s kumbaya moment would lead to The Big Deal. Call me a cynic, but I’m still not buying it. Yesterday, AP touched on a part of this story, tossing out some ideas about how everyone – particularly Democrats – might walk away with relatively clean hands if no deal is reached on the fiscal cliff this year. It’s all true, but for some of us there’s a bit more to the story. The Democrats, for their part, seem to have plenty to gain and not much to lose.

Some Democrats are pushing an unorthodox idea for coping with the “fiscal cliff”: Let the government go over, temporarily at least, to give their party more bargaining leverage for changes later on.

The idea has plenty of skeptics, and the White House regards it frostily. But it illustrates the wide range of early negotiating positions being staked out by Republicans and Democrats as lawmakers gathered Tuesday for their first post-election talks on how to avoid the looming package of steep tax hikes and program cuts.

But why would this work for Barack Obama? Because – as we learned the hard way on election day – he can watch the polls with the best of them. And if this train goes off the rails he has reason to believe that he won’t be left holding the bag.

A new poll by Hart Research’s Geoff Garin, conducted for Americans for Tax Fairness — a group that wants the Bush-era tax cuts to end for those who earn more than $250,000 — found that a majority of voters cited changing the tax system as a key factor in their votes, and that the majority broke for President Barack Obama.

The survey also found that Democrats have changed the landscape on an issue that has eluded them for years — taxes. The survey found that most want the Bush-era cuts on top earners to expire, but that Republicans will shoulder blame if all of the Bush cuts, including those on the middle class, expire because a deal can’t be reached.

Basically, this works out to a win-win for Obama. Yes, he could look like the great peacemaker and try to strike some sort of grand bargain with Boehner. And if he did, he would likely get some of what he and the Democratic majority want in exchange for taking a slightly less than maximum raise on taxes for the most wealthy. But why?

If he takes a very hard line and forces the showdown to a collapse in discussions, several potentially positive (for him) results are baked into the cake. He can claim that Republicans refused a “balanced approach” and it’s their fault that everyone’s taxes went up. He then has the Democrats force a vote on a bill to only lower taxes on the middle class and the poor and just dares the GOP to vote against it. (They won’t.) At this point he has the tax / revenue increase he promised without giving up a single thing. Now the negotiations start anew to talk about “spending cuts” but the GOP’s major bargaining chip is gone. Obama gets to put up a far more shallow version of cuts, and if the Republicans don’t like it, they can choose to reject the deal and just let the deficit continue to skyrocket.

What Republican in their right mind could go for this? Perhaps more than we might think.

The Republican Party took the rap for the debt ceiling and is under suspicion for the fiscal cliff. A new Washington Post-Pew Research poll has 53 percent of Americans ready to blame Republicans if America actually goes over the edge and only 29 percent planning to point fingers at President Barack Obama.

Understanding this, thoughtful Republicans are feeling freer to risk the tea partiers’ wrath and cooperate with Democrats. The teams may disagree on much, but at least they’re now playing in the same ballpark.

How does that work? Fairly simple. Just as I’ve been saying since earlier this year, if you needed congressional action to raise taxes it would never happen. But in this case, to raise tax rates all you need is for Congress to do nothing. And when you need nothing done, there’s no better crack team than Congress. And once the taxes are up, even the GOP reps who have signed the Norquist pledge are free to sign a bill that lowers taxes… even if that doesn’t apply to the wealthy. They get to remain covered on their voting record in their home districts and blame the fallout on the Democrats.

Here’s the part where I reveal my secret strategy of how the GOP can thwart this plan and come out on top.

Hang on… there’s somebody at the door.


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The GOP will have to fold on the tax hikes for the rich. It is going to be a long war and sometimes you have to lose battles and retreat so you don’t lose the war. We need to take this issue away from Obama or he will continue to use it as an excuse for the economy being bad and and our debt problems. I say end the Bush tax cuts for the “wealthy”, call it the “Obama Tax Hike” on the “wealthy” and call it a day. It won’t improve the economy and it won’t do anything really to solve the debt problems. It will however take a powerful political weapon away from the Democrats, that the GOP protects the rich, and when the economy does not improve, or gets worse, and when the debt problems still exist Obama and the Democrats will have to explain why their magic tax the rich plan did nothing to improve either.

Just in time for 2014….

William Eaton on November 17, 2012 at 2:28 PM

Not only should the GOP let Obama tax the rich, the GOP should state up front, “Raise taxes as much as you need in order for the rich to pay their fair share. Do NOT come back to us in 1 year and say the problem isn’t solved because you didn’t raise taxes enough. And never again say they aren’t paying their fair share, since you raised them specifically to achieve that goal.”

Then vote present.

The Rogue Tomato on November 17, 2012 at 2:31 PM

I think the House may have some parlimentary and constitutional tricks in their arsenal, so we may wish to reserve judgment, because I think we are in for some surprises.

That said, the goal now is to protect the House for 2014. Obama has proven that he can win a presidential electorate, but not a midterm one, and he’s coming up on the 6-year itch.

My own view is for the House to pass bill after bill preserving all current tax rates, but go through the negotiating motions and let the Dems have their damned tax increases provided that they OWN the consequences.

matthew8787 on November 17, 2012 at 2:33 PM

Thurston Howell III Republicans doing their dirty work.

I am disgusted by the Republican Party and it’s current Democrat Lite leadership.

2010 The Tea Party Conservatives had the biggest upset ever. But Stupid Republicans can not remember that and are in denial it even happened. Pure stupidity.

Steveangell on November 17, 2012 at 1:00 PM

A lot of that happened because way back in 2008, the Republican leadership cut a deal with Mitt Romney to back him to the hilt in 2012 in return for his dropping his 2008 bid.

The two people Team 0bama spent four years salting the ground against the most were Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin. To Palin’s credit, she refused to fall into the trap. This left the RNC stuck supporting a guy whom events (both spontaneous and engineered by 0bama) rendered the wrong guy for 2012. I think it was less trying to kill the Tea Party than being stuck having to support a guy who was decided on in the smoky back rooms back when a Tea Party involved watercress sandwiches, and was subsequently telegraphed to Team 0bama to where they could test every policy plan and address against Mitt Romney from Inauguration onwards.

Sekhmet on November 17, 2012 at 2:36 PM

Steveangell on November 17, 2012 at 1:29 PM

Buttwipe, when you’ve fought communism – on the ground, down, dirty and deadly serious – someway besides running your mouth, come talk to me. Otherwise – you can get stuffed, to.
You freaking bots always seem to assert that anyone who disagrees with you is pulling an “alinsky” on you and they should ‘go back to the dnc’ or is some kind of communist. The simple fact is that you bots are nothing but whining, sniveling little brats who want to be protected from being picked on. Well, run collect your participation trophy, little fella. Your pals at dkos have got it for you.
You clowns have driven yourselves so far to the “right” that you’ve gone full circle and joined the left.
Enjoy your BDS, you sniveling peckerwood.

Solaratov on November 17, 2012 at 2:43 PM

Not only should the GOP let Obama tax the rich, the GOP should state up front, “Raise taxes as much as you need in order for the rich to pay their fair share. Do NOT come back to us in 1 year and say the problem isn’t solved because you didn’t raise taxes enough. And never again say they aren’t paying their fair share, since you raised them specifically to achieve that goal.”

Then vote present.

The Rogue Tomato on November 17, 2012 at 2:31 PM

Excellent thought. And it should be said, loud and clear, by every Republican member of congress. Give’em what they want because they assert it will ‘solve the problem’…and let them own it.

Solaratov on November 17, 2012 at 2:52 PM

In fact if the GOP plays their cards right they can say we had no choice but to support the Obama Tax on the “wealthy” because the democrats and Obama threatened to go over the fiscal cliff unless they got it, which would hurt millions upon millions of Americans! We saved America from the cliff!

So in 2014 and 2016 when the Obama Tax on the wealthy did not create jobs, make the economy better, and the debt is still beyond comprehension, we can say…Why did the Obama Tax on the wealthy not give you free stuff America? That is because Obama used the money to pay off their cronies in the Democratic party! The democratic party is the party of crooks! You have been hoodwinked by the rich democratic elite!

William Eaton on November 17, 2012 at 3:00 PM

Not only should the GOP let Obama tax the rich, the GOP should state up front, “Raise taxes as much as you need in order for the rich to pay their fair share. Do NOT come back to us in 1 year and say the problem isn’t solved because you didn’t raise taxes enough. And never again say they aren’t paying their fair share, since you raised them specifically to achieve that goal.”

Then vote present.

The Rogue Tomato on November 17, 2012 at 2:31 PM

Agree with Solaratov. This is a terrific idea!

PatriotGal2257 on November 17, 2012 at 3:10 PM

I am so sick of these tax rates needing a vote in order to be continued every year or two. There is no ability to plan ahead and the DemonRats get to hold the rates hostage every year or two. Make them permanent one way or another, but this is ridiculous.

Theophile on November 17, 2012 at 3:42 PM

Badger 40

Badger 40, Thank You so much for Prayers!My husband is a proud good man! I worked fro the time i was 12 and him from the time he was 15.

lisa fox on November 17, 2012 at 4:06 PM

A new Washington Post-Pew Research poll has 53 percent of Americans ready to blame Republicans if America actually goes over the edge and only 29 percent planning to point fingers at President Barack Obama.

Well, you can’t fix stupid.

Physics Geek on November 17, 2012 at 5:13 PM

Let it burn. Let them have it all then remind them whose economic plans were used. Then, when 2016 approaches, let us Conservatives move to swing states.

Decoski on November 17, 2012 at 6:19 PM

Speaking of taxes, look at this:
http://www.fireandreamitchell.com/2012/07/17/6-obama-aides-owe-833970-in-back-taxes-media-silent/

onlineanalyst on November 17, 2012 at 6:24 PM

I think the country should go the way of the Twinkies, over the cliff. Until we ALL realize the dire consequences of our spending ways, we’ll never learn. And everyone needs to pay something in taxes.

COgirl on November 17, 2012 at 7:09 PM

So… 53% of America is completely retarded. We know that already, that is how 0bama got elected.

Wolftech on November 17, 2012 at 8:21 PM

I agree Republicans should let the Democrats have their way, but not before proposing their solution. We know the Democrats won’t agree to it, but it’s important, in the game that Obama plays, to not look like you’re not providing options. Just because Obama doesn’t like the options, doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be providing alternatives. If the Republicans do this right, the Democrats lose. I think the Democrats are prepared for the loser Republicans, led by John Boehner, who always play right into their hands.

bflat879 on November 17, 2012 at 9:25 PM

Obama and the Democrats will have to explain why their magic tax the rich plan did nothing to improve either.

Silly goose. They don’t have to answer anything if no one asks. And if some unpatriotic reporter manages to ask, then everyone gives a non-answer, and the media will pretend this was answered definitively a while ago you pervert, and the only reason you keep bringing it up is because you’re a desperate racist homophobic raper who won’t let his victims get abortions.

This is how they play the game.

gatsbysgirlontheside on November 17, 2012 at 9:40 PM

I’m glad to hear so many of our clear-thinking conservative brethren understand that we’ve been outplayed by Obama because the media is just completely in the tank for him and is like a black hole for negative information about Teh One.

Taxes are going up one way or the other. As has been pointed out, if we let them go up across the board the Democrats will follow with a cut for the middle class and get full credit as “tax cutters.” We’re beat, get the best deal we can, force Obama and the Democrats to OWN their plan, and wait for the whole thing to fall apart, as it must.

Adjoran on November 17, 2012 at 10:26 PM

Just fully embrace Simpson-Bowles and let Obama and Reid bury it. We’re not going to have any meaningful budget reform and certainly no regulatory reform to free up the economy, so let Obama soak the rich while rejecting the proposals of his own bipartisan commission and in 2 years he can explain why we’re in even further debt despite the tax hikes.

Daemonocracy on November 17, 2012 at 10:31 PM

And who cares? Its a Keysor Sose moment for the GOP. They should be willing to kill off the defense department with the draconian cuts the fiscal cliff will bring. It will be the Dems who will not be able to stomach the social program cuts. They just won’t do it. Soooo, The GOP postures that instead of reforming entitlements, the dems want to raise everybody’s taxes. Afterall . . . . . the GOP gave up the defense department.

Which by the way is going down one way or the other over time. May as well break the china now so it can be repaired more quickly later.

I’ve always believed the Dems want to drive us off the cliff. The republicans just want to go a little slower before we get there.

Screw that. It’s time to street fight.

kens on November 17, 2012 at 11:02 PM

Silly goose. They don’t have to answer anything if no one asks. And if some unpatriotic reporter manages to ask, then everyone gives a non-answer, and the media will pretend this was answered definitively a while ago you pervert, and the only reason you keep bringing it up is because you’re a desperate racist homophobic raper who won’t let his victims get abortions.

This is how they play the game.

gatsbysgirlontheside on November 17, 2012 at 9:40 PM

Of course the media will try to cover up, however even they can’t cover this up. What are they going to say? This is why the GOP needs to push the line that all the tax money went to the democratic cronies…including the media. I now realize that if we are going to defeat the MSM we have to make the people hate them. It is the MSM that lied to the American people about getting all that free stuff!

See you have to get dirty and mean. You can only get attention in this country unless you are outrageous. It is the only way to get our story out. I mean Andrew Jackson got famous by winning a battle or two and hanging some hapless British agents in Florida…it has always been that way. I say we hang the media…

William Eaton on November 17, 2012 at 11:35 PM

Let’s face it people, he’ll take your money and do whatever he wants with it and there;s nothing you can do about (at least in the near term). If he can’t get support from the congress he’ll simply rule by executive order. How does it feel to have elected your very own dictator? You have become powerless and will be forced into compliance.

rplat on November 18, 2012 at 8:20 AM

…let them own it. Are you kidding me? If we can’t make them own F&F and Benghazi, how are the repubs going to make them ‘own’ anything. File this plan under Saint Happening.

Kissmygrits on November 18, 2012 at 8:40 AM

A new Washington Post-Pew Research poll has 53 percent of Americans ready to blame Republicans if America actually goes over the edge and only 29 percent planning to point fingers at President Barack Obama.

To understand the 53% number, first take 98% of 13% (race retards), and 75% of 17% and 75% of 5.6% — more race retards — and you get a total of about 30%. These are the racial minority victims of the Democrat/media decades-long propaganda campaign about GOP “racists”.

So that leaves 23% of the remaining population who buys the argument that anything “bad” which occurs is the Republicans fault. I’ll take that fight anytime.

I’ll also take my chances with a blind and mindless arrangement of tax increases and forced spending cuts which forces Americans to see what the obvious end-product of Democrat policies looks like. Nihilistic, yes…but I like it, too.

Jaibones on November 18, 2012 at 9:11 AM

Anyone who still believes opinion polls or even vote totals said to come directly from voters at the polls is an idiot.

bgibbs1000 on November 18, 2012 at 9:36 AM

The GOP will have to fold on the tax hikes for the rich. It is going to be a long war and sometimes you have to lose battles and retreat so you don’t lose the war. We need to take this issue away from Obama or he will continue to use it as an excuse for the economy being bad and and our debt problems. I say end the Bush tax cuts for the “wealthy”, call it the “Obama Tax Hike” on the “wealthy” and call it a day. It won’t improve the economy and it won’t do anything really to solve the debt problems. It will however take a powerful political weapon away from the Democrats, that the GOP protects the rich, and when the economy does not improve, or gets worse, and when the debt problems still exist Obama and the Democrats will have to explain why their magic tax the rich plan did nothing to improve either.

Just in time for 2014….

William Eaton on November 17, 2012 at 2:28 PM

+1

If the Republican had sone this prior to the election and Romney supported it, he probably would have won.

Chess > checkers.

Dreadnought on November 18, 2012 at 9:58 AM

Cloward-Piven on a national scale. overload the system allow it to collapse then in the ensuing chaos you can impose whatever changes you like.

bannor on November 18, 2012 at 10:35 AM

GOP doesn’t have the foresight to hit back and play games with the Democrats. They will be blamed for everything wrong that comes down the pike and the sheeple will believe the lies.

Decoski on November 18, 2012 at 11:00 AM

The only way to win this game is to pretend that the MSM doesn’t exist because they will not report anything that is bad for Obama/Dems. Until that is figured out there is no way for the opposition to win the PR battle.

txmomof6 on November 18, 2012 at 11:04 AM

For once I agree with you. His goal is regaining the House in the midterms so he can do a real transformative number in the final years of his second term.

ProfessorMiao on November 18, 2012 at 11:25 AM

The Democrats are playing chicken. In the game of chicken, the winner wins because he knows the loser values something else more than winning the game. The Democrats know the Republicans care more about the country than Republicans care about being in power, so they know that the GOP will engage in negotiation. That negotiation means that the Republicans will be seen by voters as having a hand in what results.

Instead, the Republicans’ mantra should be “the people have spoken” and vote Present. Make it explicitly clear that the Democrats are driving the bus over the cliff.

What will the Dems say to the voters, “You screwed up. You trusted us” a la Animal House?

rokemronnie on November 18, 2012 at 12:34 PM

We’re going to collapse financially. It’s not a matter of if but when and if you can control the when and most especially who to BLAME it on then so much the better. Given the manner in which this Admin. “never lets a crisis go to waste” they’ll get bonus points for exploiting it to push through more of their agenda.

And we’ll deserve it as a whole for re-electing these criminal scum.

Yakko77 on November 18, 2012 at 1:13 PM

Public opinion shifts. In the long run, the party in charge will be blamed, George Bush won’t be.

Jump the cliff.

Everyone should feel the pain of the debt. The American people voted for the party promising more spending and higher taxes, they should participate. This is after all, a participatory democratic republic.

theCork on November 18, 2012 at 1:44 PM

I’m really surprised that the Republicans started negotiating from the “Please let us keep what we have” position, instead of demanding serious reforms.

They should’ve started from the position of “We’re cutting spending. That means, Obamacare is repealed, we’re implementing the Ryan reforms on Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid and we’re slashing the size of government to the bone. If you agree to all these cuts, then we’d be happy to talk about tax increases, but this is the minimum we can live with”

Instead they give away the store.
Its like they’re afraid of the argument. They’ve already won their elections. They actually have some power. It’d be nice if they acted like it.

Iblis on November 18, 2012 at 2:15 PM

Yes, indeed Obysmal won by growing the gifts. Take it from these gurrlz:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NzspsovNvII
NSFW

onlineanalyst on November 18, 2012 at 6:08 PM

One major aesthetic change that needs to happen. Make Obama RAISE taxes on the “rich”, not allow the Bush tax rates to expire. These then become the Obama tax increases, not the Obama “I let them go back where they belong”. These were the tax rates for 12 years. They were not “cuts”. They were the rates. Own it, Champ.

CycloneCDB on November 19, 2012 at 2:09 AM

Not only should the GOP let Obama tax the rich, the GOP should state up front, “Raise taxes as much as you need in order for the rich to pay their fair share. Do NOT come back to us in 1 year and say the problem isn’t solved because you didn’t raise taxes enough. And never again say they aren’t paying their fair share, since you raised them specifically to achieve that goal.”

Then vote present.

The Rogue Tomato on November 17, 2012 at 2:31 PM

I’m a fan of this. The rich don’t need our protection – they’ve got lawyers and accountants to help them.

hawksruleva on November 19, 2012 at 12:32 PM

Where did we get this $250K number anyway? Oh yeah, it was the democrats writing the narrative and defining who is “rich”.
I think the Republican House should let the tax cuts expire, but make the threshold $100K; and force the democrats to vote on it, and force PBHO to sign it.
If a majority of voters were for increasing taxes, then let’s do it. But let the Republicans write the narrative.
This way EVERYBODY has some skin in the game and the Republicans can’t be blamed totally for the tax increase. This would expand their negotiating power down the road because the political playing field would have been leveled.

OccamsRazor on November 19, 2012 at 3:22 PM

Meanwhile Our Beloved Leader is in Meeyanmarr….

Do they serve dog the way he likes it?

Sherman1864 on November 19, 2012 at 3:41 PM

I’m a fan of this. The rich don’t need our protection – they’ve got lawyers and accountants to help them.

hawksruleva on November 19, 2012 at 12:32 PM

Errmmm……I guess the problem/question is “Who exactly are ‘The Rich’”?

avagreen on November 19, 2012 at 4:08 PM

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