Here’s the reality of the situation.
– The economy is in bad shape and it’s conceivable that going over the fiscal cliff could push it into recession, although nobody really knows one way or the other.
– Going over the fiscal cliff is probably the best hope for deficit reduction we’ll have in the next four years.
– We’re being told that Republicans will be blamed if we go over the fiscal cliff and that may be so. However, the Republicans always seem to be blamed, so what else is new?
– Publicly at least, the Democrats don’t seem to be making any sort of serious attempt to avoid the cliff. They’re refusing to continue the status quo, they’re offering nothing of significance in return for tax increases and Barack Obama is on vacation. In fact, the Democrat strategy seems to be to go over the cliff and play it for politic’s sake.
Republicans in Congress have received all sorts of advice on how to handle this and here’s mine: A good deal is better than no deal, but no deal is better than a bad deal.
Just as Barack Obama was reelected, Republicans were reelected to control the House. So, John Boehner has every bit as much of a mandate as Barack Obama to deal with the situation as he sees fit. In an ideal world, we wouldn’t go over the fiscal cliff, but if this were an ideal world, Barack Obama wouldn’t be President and people like Nancy Pelosi would be considered unelectable.
However, in the real world that we’re in, the Republican base is going to be unhappy if the party raises taxes and that would do as much political damage, if not more, than the Democrats’ transparent attempts to engineer a crisis so they can blame Republicans for it. That doesn’t mean the GOP shouldn’t cut a deal, but it does mean that if they do, it needs to be a genuine compromise, not a Republican cave-in. If the Democrats want tax increases, are they willing to cut spending NOW? Are they willing to put real entitlement reform on the table? If the answer is “No,” they’re only willing to offer small spending cuts or will only agree to offer spending cuts in the future, then offer to continue things “as is.” If they refuse that offer, then go over the cliff and point the finger where it belongs — at the President of the United States.
Barack Obama has spent four years engaging in the most hamfisted partisanship we’ve seen since the Nixon years even as he’s claimed to be a bipartisan reformer. He apparently intends to keep that up throughout his second term and that cannot be allowed. Republicans should represent the people who sent them by cooperating if it’s in the best interests of the country and saying “No” when it isn’t.