The fiscal cliff: A president's legacy

Obama told ABC News he was confident Republicans won’t “hold middle-class taxes hostage to trying to protect tax cuts for high-income individuals,” and conceded if they move on that, “we are prepared to do some tough things on the spending side.” Like what? It’s been five weeks since the election, and everyone knows Obama won’t give on new taxes for the top two income brackets — so what else is he waiting for? …

Obama agreed to two of the three entitlement reforms the GOP seeks in July 2011, yet the White House continues spinning that it must wait on Boehner and his crazy conference of conservatives. As one senior administration official told The New York Times, “It’s not like there’s another path; he’s the Speaker of the House.” The truth is it’s not Boehner’s move; the path is for Obama to give something Boehner can get passed, or we go over the cliff. If Obama wants to go over the cliff in January and get new taxes across the board, he will be forced into a far larger deal for a debt-ceiling increase then, and we will all ride out the sadly intentional consequences of his failure to be bold. For Obama, continuing the fight one hour into 2013 means fighting with Republicans throughout 2013.

Obama doesn’t need the left; he just won reelection. But he does need a legacy.