Will Republicans Call Obama’s Non-Bluff?

Republicans are unhappy with Obama’s fiscal cliff opening proposal. Last night, Krauthammer urged Republicans to hold strong:

Along the same lines, Keith Hennessey argues that the president is bluffing:

If there is no bill, the U.S. economy will probably dip into recession for much/most/all of 2013, and it’s impossible to predict whether such a recession would be short-lived. A 2013 recession would be terrible for the country and terrible for the Obama Presidency. It would limit the President’s options across his entire policy agenda, economic and non-economic.

Limbaugh piles on:

I think if you want to call Obama’s bluff — if that’s what you really believe, if there are people who think that Obama will not go where he wants to go unless he has Republican fingerprints — then don’t give him any. If you believe the Republicans truly have leverage, then use it. And the way you use it is making sure that as far as Obama’s concerned, he doesn’t have any assistance in taking this country over the cliff, that that’s all him. That’s my only point here. And let’s find out. Let’s find out real fast.

Chait sees the situation differently:

Since immediately after his election, Obama has been calling on Republicans to extend the Bush tax cuts on income under $250,000. If they fail to do so before January, Republicans will be in the position of denying popular tax cuts for all Americans — remember, rich people also get the benefit of having the first $250,000 of their income taxed at lower rates — because they insist on adding unpopular tax cuts only for the very rich. At least some Republicans understand that this isn’t a gun aimed at Obama’s head. It’s a gun aimed at their own.

I think this opening ballsy gambit is over-reach, and risky for Obama. He makes himself look far too soft on spending cuts, for too gimmicky with his defense cut claims, and positioning himself as the head of his party rather than the leader of the country. This is what Obama seems to have learned in his first term: don’t negotiate with yourself. But he may have over-reached and end up negotiating with no one in a second recession.

That’s my fear.