The GOP’s handling on the fiscal cliff crisis has been abysmal. The Party has shown they are divided. The GOP only needs to hold 90% of their constituents in the House to pass a plan and put Democrats on the defensive. Yet, the GOP cannot muster enough votes to do this. Boehner’s “Plan B” was a good compromise. Under this plan tax rates would only be raised on people earning more than 1 million dollars per year. Hence, 99.8% of all Americans would see their tax rates stay the same. However, if we go over the fiscal cliff, tax rates will return to Clinton era levels for everyone.
I understand many GOP congressional members unwillingness to raise taxes on anyone. That is my principle belief as well, especially during a recovery. But Democrats ran on a platform of raising taxes on the wealthy this past election cycle. What was the result? The Democrats won the Presidency, won seats in the both the House and Senate and although the Democrats lost one governorship, overall they gained seats in State Legislators. It was a fairly convincing win for the Democrats in 2012. This means if the Republicans pass any measure in the House, it must contain tax rate increases on wealthy Americans. Anything other than this will be viewed as a failure by a majority of Americans. Boehner understands this, but thick headed Republicans do not.
I figured Americans would blame Republicans if we go over the fiscal cliff. Now, I am convinced an even larger majority would concur based on the “Plan B” fiasco. What’s worse there are now rumblings that Republicans are going to try to force Boehner out of his leadership role. I am not a big Boehner fan, but he put to a vote the rosiest tax plan deal he could. His plan also included spending cuts, but that was not enough to get 90% of the Republicans on board. Besides, Republicans understand Plan B would not have passed the Senate and even if it did, the President would have vetoed it. The point is that Plan B would have forced Senate Democrats and the President to vote down a measure that would avoid the fiscal cliff. This may have been enough to shift public perception on this issue and given the Republicans the leverage they needed to win entitlement reform and significant spending cuts.
Are Democrats at fault if we fail to get a deal? Yes, they are. It takes two to tango. The Boehner plan is similar to a plan proposed by Pelosi a year earlier – yet no Democrats were willing to vote for the Boehner deal. After all, it is advantageous to Democrats to go over the cliff since they get everything their ideology preaches - massive spending cuts to the military and massive tax increases for all Americans. And since Republicans could not agree on a single measure to pass the House, they will be viewed as the culprits, obstructionists, and the ones responsible for pushing Americans over the fiscal cliff. And from where I stand, the Republicans look pretty guilty.
Never let a good crisis go to waste, and the Democrats do not plan to do so on the fiscal cliff issue. This is a win-win for them. They get everything they want – more tax revenues to spread the wealth and massive military while Republicans assume the blame in the public opinion.