Cliff Notes, Ctd


Noam Scheiber wants to jump off the fiscal cliff. He expects the GOP to suffer the consequences:

[T]hey will see that they have been completely repudiated by the public in a way that even the election didn’t impress on them. It will, in other words, be as close as you get in politics to a total victory for one side. It will highlight the perils of following one’s base too slavishly, a lesson that will come in handy not just on future fiscal policy fights (there will in all likelihood still be a debt ceiling to raise next year), but, one can imagine, also on an issue like immigration. Which is to say, it’s only by forcing the GOP off the cliff that Obama will find the space he needs to govern.

Unless his strategy permanently embitters them and prompts them to use the debt ceiling – once again – as a cudgel. I think the strategy in these negotiations is necessarily beyond our direct eye-sight. So it's foolish to keep trying to infer from speeches, body-language, and on and on. Here's what I hope for: a Grand Bargain that raises the top rate permanently, and commits to a serious outline of a tax and entitlement reform package by this time next year. I'd also favor the new stimulus. Yes, upon reviewing the evidence here and abroad, especially that of my friends in the Coalition government in Britain, I now see the recession continuing as the greatest immediate threat to long-term fiscal health. A short boost now could lead to take-off next year, which would make the fiscal compromise a little easier. 

I'd love Obama to be the president we wanted and be able to make a centrist deal before December 31 along these lines. There's a danger if he can't – the chance of a double-dip that would define his second term. I don't buy the argument that he has all the leverage, just most of it. My fear that his greatest strength as president is the long view; and his greatest weakness is being able to negotiate effectively. He's being tested now as never before.

(Photo: Speaker of the House John Boehner  talks with reporters after the weekly House GOP caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol December 12, 2012 in Washington, DC. Boehner described a phone conversation with President Barack Obama as 'tense' after they exchanged proposals to avoid the 'fiscal cliff' earlier this week. House GOP leaders said they doubt that a resolution will be reached before Christmas. By Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images. )