Pushing Obama Over the Fiscal Cliff

As a potentially toxic combination of steep tax hikes and deep spending cuts draws nearer Republicans are consistently being outmaneuvered by President Obama.

Disillusioned Democratic pollster Patrick Caddell counsels that this wonkish back-and-forth over the finer points of marginal tax rates is not the hill that Republicans should die on.

The GOP doesn’t even grasp the underlying political dynamics now in play, he says.

In a nutshell, Republicans need to understand that the real struggle is not with the Obama administration; instead, the real struggle is for American political opinion, including the broad middle that preferred Obama to Romney, but nevertheless feels no great trust or affection for the re-elected 44th President.

Republicans have to grab hold of the narrative and drive home the point that Obama’s overreaching is bad for America, something that now-private citizen Mitt Romney refused to do in the recently concluded election cycle.

Caddell believes that an outrageous proposal offered by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner presents a golden opportunity that Republicans have thus far failed to seize.

Geithner brazenly asked Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to ignore the Constitution and give the Executive Branch the ability to raise the national debt ceiling with the stroke of a pen. McConnell reportedly laughed out loud and Boehner afterwards said he was “flabbergasted.”

“If this cession of fiscal authority were ever to happen—if Congress were to lose its right to vote ‘yea’ or ‘nay’ on debt-limit increases—that would be an epochal political power shift,” says Caddell. “It would mean that for the first time in US history, the President would have complete dominance on spending issues. And that’s a kind of dominance that no president should be trusted with, let alone Obama.”

Caddell likens the blatantly unconstitutional surrender of congressional spending prerogatives to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s infamous Supreme Court “packing” effort in 1937.

Even though Democrats at the time had vise grip-like control over both houses of Congress, nearly-extinct Republican lawmakers worked with Democrats to kill the authoritarian plan. The resulting popular backlash against FDR led to the GOP’s huge comeback victory in the off-year elections of 1938, something that successfully halted “the forward motion of the peacetime New Deal” and as a bonus “preserved the viability of the two-party system in the US,” Caddell says.

Although Boehner and McConnell would prefer wheeling and dealing with the other party, Caddell says they need to play “the outside game” and pitch the American people directly, warning about potential presidential abuse of power, a concept the public can easily grasp. No more rhetorical ping-pong over sections of the Internal Revenue Code.

Republicans don’t seem to have much of a choice right now.

Each passing day it becomes more obvious that Republicans are making a grave mistake negotiating with the master manipulator in the White House who is trying to dash his ideological enemies on the rocks beneath the fiscal cliff at the end of the year.

As President Obama, a community organizer fluent in the teachings of Saul Alinsky, sanctimoniously postures as the anointed protector of the middle class, he drags GOP lawmakers down into the treacherous minutiae of tax policy. The fiscal cliff refers to massive tax increases and $1.2 trillion in scheduled spending cuts. Unless Washington comes up with a solution, taxes will skyrocket on January 1 and the spending reductions will take effect, likely plunging the nation into a new recession.

The president is obviously bargaining in bad faith, but Boehner keeps playing along with a man utterly, pathologically averse to responsible, statesmanlike fiscal stewardship.

Obama remains as determined as ever to wage class warfare with the backing of a significant, envious chunk of the populace. With the collusion of virtually the entire media and the constant drumbeat about the economic horrors that are just around the corner unless the president gets his way, he has forced Republicans into the politically untenable position of defending the highest earners in society.

Obama feels safe declaring that he will not “extend Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent that we can’t afford, and according to economists, will have the least positive impact on our economy.”

Obama’s spendthrift budgetary blueprints have been so extreme and dangerous that even the virtual communists among Democratic lawmakers have refused to support them. For example, this past May a budget resolution based on the president’s proposed fiscal 2013 plan was defeated in a vote of 99 to 0. Earlier in the year, the House also unanimously voted down the budget proposed by Obama.

If Obama is seen as a fellow who wants to move the economy to a better place by raising taxes on the Koch Brothers, he will win. But if Obama is seen as an arrogant and unconstitutional power-grabber, he will lose. By that logic, then, Republicans should shift their perceived focus, from defending the low tax rates of billionaires to defending the US Constitution against executive Caesarism.

Republicans are losing on Capitol Hill and in the public relations war. A new Washington Post-Pew Research Center poll suggests most Americans would blame congressional Republicans — not congressional Democrats and President Obama — if the country goes over the figurative precipice.

Republicans are damned if they vote to raise taxes and damned if they don’t.

“While 53 percent of those surveyed say the GOP would (and should) lose the fiscal cliff blame game, just 27 percent say President Obama would be deserving of more of the blame,” the Post reports. “Roughly one in 10 (12 percent) volunteer that both sides would be equally to blame.”

In addition to pressure from the general public, Speaker Boehner is now being vigorously attacked by movement conservatives unhappy with his overall leadership and with his recent power play against prominent Tea Party-backed fiscal hawks in the House GOP conference. Boehner stripped several conservative lawmakers of key committee posts, reportedly because they have taken a hard line against tax increases.

After Boehner indicated he might be willing to accept an $800-billion tax increase — half the amount Obama wants — high-profile conservative activist L. Brent Bozell III said the Grand Old Party was no longer the party of limited government, limited spending, and limited taxes.

“It is now officially exactly right behind the Democrats — on everything,” Bozell said. “It is time for conservatives to start looking for a new home. There’s precious little left for us here.”

Regardless of how negotiations between the president and Congress turn out, the long-term prognosis for America seems bleak at the moment. We have been falling in slow-motion into a fiscal abyss of our own making for decades. The “fiscal cliff” is merely a helpful, dramatic expression that illustrates the exigencies of the moment.

The national debt now stands at $16.3 trillion, up from $10.6 trillion on Inauguration Day 2009. But that $16.3 trillion figure is misleading. Government accounting tricks keep another $86.8 trillion in unfunded liabilities related to Social Security, Medicare, and federal employees’ future retirement benefits off the books and out of the public eye. Add the two figures together and you arrive at the more accurate, unimaginably large sum of $103.1 trillion.

Something has to be done.

As former Bush White House press secretary Ari Fleischer tweeted Monday, “If we go over [the] tax cliff, [the] first few weeks will be brutal for [the] GOP. [The] [r]est of the year will be brutal for Obama. Do Republicans have the stomach for it?”

Americans will soon find out.

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  • Mr JTF

    Evil can come out of this battle but at least two possible blessings:

    (1) The Republican leadership can cave and give Obama the ideological victory he wants, having forced the right-wing infidels into a state of submission where they feel themselves subdued and ready to let their leftist masters have their way with them. This will destroy the Republican Party of course and it will be replaced by some combination of the Tea Party and the Libertarians, which will give America a clear choice between the Party of Government and Bankruptcy and the Party of Liberty and Minimal Government. That will be a blessing.

    (2) The Republican leadership can refuse to bend over for Obama and take the (mainstream media) blame for the middle class tax hike, defense cuts, etc. etc. Then they can attach the restoration of defense cuts and all the tax cuts to *every* bill originating in the House and see what Obama has left in his hand. Probably a war (think Syria, or whatever). This will discredit the Democrats and restore the reputation of the Republicans as the party of peace and prosperity when they refuse to pay for Obama's war. The Tea Party and Libertarian factions will then have a home in the GOP. That will be a blessing.

    Of course the two sides could reach a "compromise" deal. That would mean a continuation of the one-party rule of the Demopublicans and the inevitable slide into the sewer of the bankrupt welfare state. That leads to the stealth establishment of a dictatorship as the only way to deal with the permanent "emergency." *That* will be a disaster.

  • Chezwick

    The Republicans will certainly be blamed for the absence of an agreement….and after that, they will essentially own the economy, relieving Obama of his albatross. But let's be clear, that albatross wasn't an impediment to the Obama's re-election.

    It's a different country, folks…and rational arguments are not about to change the minds of most of those who voted for the Prez. They did so out of racial and/or ideological affinity, not out of any real understanding of basic economics. In fact, we've reached a point of narrative polarization…where any argument, no matter how devoid of reality, can find legitimization and perpetuation in the media, on the Net, etc.

    Ari Fleischer is right,…the GOP should decline, absent some very real concessions from the other side. Let the media and the public howl….there's no election for another two years…..and that's an eternity in politics. A helluva lot can happen in the interval. Meanwhile, absent an agreement, the debt spiral will be momentarily arrested…and that is a far greater public good than any prospective deal that merely puts off the day of reckoning for another year.

  • Don L

    "…envious chunk of the populace."

    Finally we hear the "E" word- for 2000 years envy was called serious sin, as was lust, deviancy, stealing freedom, property, encouraging sloth, lying, slaughtering of millions of preborns for convenience,(and votes) coveting,…never mind a condoms'R" us convention that openly boos God and hardly a whimper about these real issues escape the GOP lips…as if boring economic lessons can combat sin among the sinners, without nature's GOD whom both Parties have discarded long ago.
    America is over–band-aids can't save a fallen nation that refuses to stop its death wishes.

    • http://www.okcteaparty.org DMW

      RE: “envious”. Replace or insert after that word “and covetous”. There. The from the bottom (of the 10 Commandments) gateway Sin. Time now for the “wages of Sin”, as money wages decline.

  • pierce

    Obama wants the Republicans to deny him his request for higher taxes on the rich. He is challenging them, they should accommodate him, and " NOT GIVE IN". Obama is the most irresponsible President in the history of America, so don't give in to him. Please, Speaker Boenher, stand your ground, you are right, he is wrong, protect the American people from this bully President.

    • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLNn2YflwNs Roger

      When I look at the pic used above with Boehner and Obama, it's getting harder and harder to see the differences between the two. If it wasn't for the big ears on the marxist on the right I'd mistake him for the socialist on the left.

  • kafir4life

    So now we negotiate with terrorists? We have a full fledged terrorist, President Stinky, also known as BO, is holding a gun to heads of the "middle-class". If his demands aren't met, he'll shoot, and claim it will be the fault of those who refused to give into him, that he HAD NO CHOICE but to pull the trigger. By ANY definition, THAT'S a TERRORIST. Our "president" is a TERRORIST, nothing more.

    • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLNn2YflwNs Roger

      Boehner may call it negotiating. But not anyone that's ever really negotiated.

      It's like a planned capitulation.

  • http://libertyandculture.blogspot.com/ JasonPappas

    Vadum is right that we are losing the media war. Part of that is because of who controls the media. But the Republicans are to blame to failing to fight the good fight. The tax increase on the rich will only make a 5% dent in the deficit. Obama wants and needs to tax everyone–at some point we won't be able to borrow.

    We will go over the fiscal cliff (increase taxes or reduce spending) sooner or later. In Europe it is called austerity. When you can't borrow anymore, you have to tighten the belt. Obama wants to blame the austerity on the Republicans; but it can't be avoided. Obama needs to raise taxes on everyone but he won't propose these increases. He is not negotiating in good faith. He wants and needs the expiration of the Bush tax cuts to fund his profligate spending but he wants to blame the Republicans for the increase in taxes.

    Republicans should accuse Obama of seeking the end of the Bush tax cuts for everyone. His propose increase on the rich isn't enough to support his spending. He doesn't want the Republicans to compromise. If Obama wanted to extend the cuts, he only has to sign the bill that Republicans would only be too happy to submit. It's Obama that's holding the cuts hostage for a symbolic envy-based taxed increase on the rich. If the Republicans gave in here, Obama will just make more demands to insure that any "compromise" is unacceptable. He needs the Bush tax cuts to expire. That's his goal. But he wants to blame that on the Republicans. He wants tax increases for everyone … let's face the facts. And the expiration of the Bush cuts are only the beginning of tax increases.

  • Guest

    We keep on talking about taxes but as pointed out n this article, the real game is unfettered access to the debt ceiling and the House out of the way…..the debating platform has to change. Taxing the 1% or even 2% is a negotiating red herring.

  • semby

    This is about politics vs. policies. Obama, Reid and Pelosi only care about Politics. They only goal right now is for Pelosi is to regain the Spekership again in 2014. Make no mistake about it. Why else would Wasserman be at the head at the DNC, she is Pelosi's puppet and can control the purse strings. The Republicans have to ensure that the policies that they are supporting FAIL, that is the only way to retain the House and win back the Senate.

    Behind Obama, Pelosi and Reid are George Soros and John Podesta. That is who they work for.

    If they can get the House back, then they will own DC and we can not let that happen.

    This is politics over policies period. It's time to play hardball.

  • cedarhaill

    So it's now perceived as a "Gordian Knot"? Good. About time. The GOP must stop trying to untie the Obama Knot and look to doing a game changer.

    They should just pull out the deal made with Clinton in the mid-1990's and simple have the House pass the Bill Clinton Economic Recovery Act of 2012. Let the rates go back to Clinton era rates, let spending be what Clinton had in the 1990s adjusted for inflation. Include naming Bill Clintion the "Economic Czar". After all, the last Democrat that had a recession, recovered AND brought the budget in balance was Bill Clinton so, since Obama did "win", why not go for the best the Democrats have had to offer in the last 50 years.

    Pass it, then adjourn until (1) Obama and Reid pass a modified version of the Clinton plan so there can be a joint House-Senate conference or (2) just watch the circus. Let Obama, Reid, the Clintons and Giethner-Bernanke explain why it's different today and then how they'd modify it. But shift the finger back to Reid.

    Choice: new hand or toast.

  • Asher

    Cut spending, waste, and entitlements….No Deal until this administration shows willingness to stop their bad spending habits and lawlessness….Adios Obama and Geithner….We are doing this for our children and grandchildren…Lets just start at Rock Bottom! This will cut off the freebies you have been dishing out to people who don't work and pay taxes too….Fed Up!

  • Asher

    Look how Detroit has asked to be bailed out with another Quid-Pro-Quo…Its morally wrong, and after they run out of money again, they will ask for more….Deal with the budget you have and learn to manage instead of depending on the government to solve your problems…Especially Detroit and California!

  • Asher

    Some of this Serin Gas threat is to get the US on the ground in Syria and overthrow another regime, so the muslim brotherhood can take over!

  • sam

    Wow. All the Republicans have to do is preach a message of overreach and they'll win? Golly gee mister, are you Karl Rove?

  • tagalog

    Caddell is wrong about Republicans having to work with the public. The passage of Obamacare and the present "fiscal cliff" brouhaha are ample evidence that the influence of the voting public has very little effect on ongoing political maneuvering.

    Voters are only important when it comes to getting elected. And the Electoral College discounts a lot of that importance.

    Outside of elections, the only way for the voters to make their wishes felt is to invade Washington, D.C., and roust these people, preferably by tarring and feathering them. Politicians no longer fear the voters. On the state level, it might potentially work to scare the stuffing out of our Senators and Congressmen with large and unhappy crowds of their constituents during their campaigns. But they don't seem to be very afraid of that kind of thing since the Town Hall confrontations some years ago. The Dems convinced a lot of people that that kind of thing was just too much like mob rule.

  • ObamaYoMoma

    How Republicans can use the confrontation to revive their party.

    After the Bush family morphed the Republican Party into a party of spineless liberals and mentally depraved moonbats, is the Republican Party really worthy of being revived? Not in my opinion!

    If the Republicans want to be revived, then they better drop the political correctness fast and be open to the American people with what is really happening, which is the Marxist take over of America by radical Marxists. These Dhimmicrats are not the Democrats of our parents, as those liberals now populate the Republican Party today. Instead, they are radical Marxists and their aim is to turn America into another failed bankrupt Marxist state.

    Indeed, BHO is not a nice college professor in a little over his head. He is a radical Marxist that hates America with a passion. The Republicans better learn to say it as it is, as there won't be any country left worth governing.

    • WilliamJamesWard

      The Republican party, whisteling past the grave yard with failure confirmed on their
      toombstones. Trying to make deals with the devil will always get you burned. If the
      Republicans came out stating they were so far away politically from the Democrats who
      are now really Socialist, Marxist subversives destroying American liberty and freedom, well
      they had a case to make. The tea party did not miss all of this and the elections in two
      years will be the last chance to bring things back under the Constitution……….William

  • clarespark

    Democrats probably see our present institutional arrangements as a typical welfare state, reflecting the consensus after WW2 that there could not be another "Great Slump". But having studied James Cone and all the Jew-hating black nationalists of note, I think that populism is very strong and is pushing us toward an anti-white, anti-American new consensus. I wrote about that here: http://clarespark.com/2012/09/10/index-to-blogs-o…. "Index to blogs on populist demagoguery."

  • Jim_C

    "Republicans are damned if they vote to raise taxes and damned if they don’t."

    And it's their own fault for being too rigidly ideological. They can avoid real fallout by appearing sensible; of course, they'll have to deal with TEA party troglodytes for a bit, but can easily recover by election time.

    Right now, there's a growing chorus of CEOs and bankers (not to mention pundits including Ann Coulter!) saying "Yes, raise our taxes." The hard core of the GOP, though, still insists the wealthy have been taxed enough already. It's a really dumb position politically, and of course, in my opinion, practically, as well.

    If there was one issue Obama ran on, it was on "raising taxes" on the top–or more accurately put, allowing Bush tax cuts to expire. He won. Elections have consequences, and will continue to do so if the GOP are so recalcitrant.

    I like the suggestion of some of the GOP to cap deductions; I think we should do that AND allow the tax cuts to expire. I also agree with defense industry execs that defense budget should be cut. Medicare also needs to be looked at, unfortunately, but I don't think anyone really has the political courage for it.

  • marios

    Republicans must stop repeat "reach" but use "those who creates JOBS" in this tax issue. Higher taxes for top 2% who already make incredible contribution to budget feeding those who don't pay taxes at all.
    Obama bribed the last one using Jobs creators money but black nationalists and all other parasites think "It's Obama money". Wake up Republicans bureaucrats, you will be victims not less than all of us.
    1. Stop using political correctness. 2. Demand "fair share" in MSM (Obama tried to grabe "fair share" in radio shows in 2010 but Rep's missed that chance to offer this alternatives). 3. Dem's control over Educational system must be stoped.
    Obama stole this election as it was enormous fraud and fakes/garbles: many precincts gave Obama 90% or even 100% voters. Even in commun..sts USSR commies did not reach such cynicism.
    Such economy crisis is result of Rep's failure to predict more than 50 years ago what Dem's control over MSM and Educational institution system and culture overall would lead to.

  • Herb Benty

    When I read that O'Lenin wanted unlimited spending power, I realised that his main target was to weaken America's military. He wants to go over the "cliff"so he can gut the armed forces….period.

  • Ghostwriter

    What people like Jim_C don't seem to understand is that aren't enough rich people in America to pay for all the social programs that those like President Obama wants. Inevitably,the tax increases that he and the Democrats want so badly will fall disproportionally fall on the middle classes that they claim to champion and I doubt that most Americans would like that.

  • pierce

    This scenario is get more humorous by the hour. The Republicans are being blamed by 55 to 60% of the people for this crisis. Apparently those 55-60% don't care, or don't understand what BO is up to. The next thing we are going to find out is whatever numbered Amendment to the Constitution that prevents a President from serving more than 2 terms is illegal, so that come 2016, he (BO), will again be President. Sort of like Mohamed Morsi becoming the Dictator of Egypt.
    Don't laugh, anything is possible, especially with BO's ego.

  • mlcblog

    Having visited the Congressional bldg, especially the dining room, as an adolescent, I am still convinced that there is a certain tunnel vision that would develop in that atmosphere. Too closed off from the real world.

  • WilliamJamesWard

    The ruling elites in America have their beds made with fortunes that go far and wide around
    the World with no worry about a future for themselves and their posterity. All American workers
    are on the hook for this government abuse and can not see a way to rid us of the giant con
    game going on in Washington. Are we rally free in America, I saw back in the "50's that I
    was as free as the amount of money I had and the same was true for everyone, nothing
    has changed it is just more obvious and money is the God of American Government and
    that is just how the Government sees itself, as Diety……………………..William

  • 11bravo

    It will never work; wer'e all gonna DIE!!
    It is getting to the point that going off the cliff IS the best option. If Boner caves I am done with the GOP. I will register independent and never vote for another republican.

  • kafirman

    The way to push Obama off the fiscal cliff is for the GOP to finally enter Obama's heretofore uncontested moral arena. The GOP needed Romney to say, "Both Democrats and Republicans believe that slavery and racism is wrong. But the way we find something to be wrong is to evaluate the moral principles that the practice violates. When we do this we see that if slavery is wrong then taxing one's income must also be wrong. If we say that one man's rights end where another man's nose begins, how can we say that one man's wallet is the place were another man's political fortunes begin?

    I'm not saying that all taxation is immoral, I'm only addressing the immorality of income taxation here. Taxing consumption falls into an entirely different moral hemisphere than taxing income. When you tax income, you tax our possibilities, the dreams of our children, the creation of wealth, the creation of jobs and you subvert our unalienable right to the pursuit of liberty and happiness. In many important ways, taxing income is qualitatively different than taxing demand, than taxing consumption. Our founders understood this difference. By the way, the Sixteenth Amendment was fraudulently passed and is incompatible with the "self evident" natural law foundation of The Declaration."

    See the article at teapartynationDOTcom