In their efforts to serve the Grover Norquist no-tax increase pledge instead of the American people, House Republicans may have already lost their chance to get the best deal for the GOP's austerity-obsessed budget hawks.
Republicans like failed VP candidate, Rep. Paul Ryan, remain as disconnected as ever after their 2012 election losses. For some reason, Ryan and others Republicans believe that if they just continue to create spin in their own little bubble and repeat false claims, the country will follow them anywhere.
But their power to control the fiscal agenda diminished when voters sent Barack Obama back to the Oval Office for a send term.
The message was clear: The American people want millionaires and billionaires to share the burden of reducing the federal deficit through higher taxes. That puts Ryan, House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in a difficult spot. If they compromise, they risk alienating their shrinking but loyal ultraconservative base and their big money donors. If they don't, they will be blamed for sending the country over the "fiscal cliff" in defense of tax cuts for the rich.
The Obama administration knows it's in a better position now than in 2010, when Republicans successfully held the debt ceiling hostage in order to force an extension of all the Bush-era tax cuts, including those for the wealthiest Americans.
Still, it is the Bush tax cuts that are fueling a big part of the deficit problem.
As Bill Clinton so aptly pointed out in his 2012 Democratic National Convention speech, "People ask me all the time how we got four surplus budgets in a row. What new ideas did we bring to Washington? I always give a one-word answer: Arithmetic."
Republican math simply does not lead to deficit reduction; it makes it worse. But there is also a fairness issue in play.
Since the collapse of the financial markets in 2008 and subsequent government bailouts, the American public has watched Wall Street bankers recover with higher profits than ever, while working class families continue to struggle to find jobs. What the 2012 elections said louder than Republicans care to hear is - enough!
Obama is taking his promise to defend the middle class to the negotiating table with a mandate from voters.
The Hill reports: "President Obama is taking a tough opening stance in talks over deficit reduction, pushing Republicans to accept a plan that calls for $1.6 trillion in new tax revenue over the next 10 years. The figure is double the $800 billion last discussed by the White House and House Speaker Boehner (R-Ohio) during their 2011 negotiations on raising the debt-ceiling limit."
There are still some questions as to whether or not changes to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security will be on the table. But even if they are, any cuts to the popular "big three" entitlement programs are likely to fall far short of the slash-and-burn approach Republicans want, and might have gotten in 2010, if they had not so stubbornly blocked the Obama administration's "Grand Bargain."
It would behoove Republicans to read the message in the 2012 election results and become part of the solution instead of continuing to be the source of the problem.
If Republicans refuse to accept tax increases on the rich willingly, they will get them unwillingly on Dec. 13, 2012.
President Obama said Tuesday, "I am not going to budge," according to a Huffington Post source. Extending the Bush tax cuts for the rich is no longer an option for the GOP. Obama added, "I said in 2010 that I'm going to do this once, and I meant it."
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