Analysis: Obama could risk going over 'cliff'

It may be just a bluff or a bargaining ploy, but the White House is signaling that President Barack Obama is willing to let the country go over the "fiscal cliff," a hard-line negotiating strategy aimed at winning concessions from Republicans on taxes.
Associated Press
Dec 5, 2012

If Washington really does fail to avert the looming series of tax hikes and spending cuts, the White House will portray Republicans as the culprits for insisting on protecting tax cuts for the wealthy, an effort the administration is laying the groundwork for now.

"This is a choice of the Republican Party," said Dan Pfeiffer, White House communications director. "If they are willing to do higher rates on the wealthy, there's a lot we can talk about. And if they are not, then they'll push us over the cliff."

But going over the cliff also would be full of risk for a president fresh off re-election and facing at least two more years of divided government.

Ending the year without a deal could roil financial markets and dent consumer confidence just as the economy is strengthening. It could make it harder for Obama to get Republican help on his second-term priorities like overhauling the immigration system and the nation's tax code, or in getting potential Cabinet replacements confirmed.

And it would signal to the country that the president's campaign prediction that the GOP "fever" would break following his re-election was a pipe dream.

House Speaker John Boehner says Obama is playing a risky game. "If the president really wants to avoid sending the economy over the fiscal cliff, he has done nothing to demonstrate it," the speaker said.

White House advisers say the president wants to avoid going into next year without a tax and spending deal, a scenario they say would hurt the economy. Obama, addressing business leaders Wednesday, said the White House and Republicans could reach an agreement "in about a week" if the GOP drops its opposition to raising taxes on families making more than $250,000 a year.

"If we can get the leadership on the Republican side to take that framework, to acknowledge that reality, than the numbers actually aren't that far apart," Obama said.

But with few public signs that Republicans are close to taking that step, administration officials are hardening their warning that Obama willing to risk going over the cliff.

Of course, the White House warning could be a bluff, offered in the belief that Republicans are unlikely to back down on taxes unless they believe Obama is willing to go over the cliff.

The White House says Obama's firm stand on tax rate increases for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans is driven by economics. The debt-saddled country can't afford to continue with the George W. Bush-era tax cuts, the president and his advisers argue.

Obama has made that case to Republicans before only to back down in the final stages of negotiations. But this time around, the president and his team believe they hold the political leverage.

There is some evidence to bolster that notion. Taxes were a centerpiece of the presidential campaign, with Obama running on a pledge to end the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and return their rates to where they were in the 1990s, when the economy was thriving.

Exit polls showed that 60 percent of voters supported that position, an even higher percentage than backed Obama's re-election.

A new poll also suggests a majority of Americans would blame Republicans if the government goes over the fiscal cliff. Just 27 percent of those surveyed said they would blame Obama, compared with 53 percent who said they would point the finger at the GOP, according to the Washington Post-Pew Research Center Poll.

Seeking to cement those impressions, the White House is casting Republicans as willing to forgo tax cuts for the middle class in order to protect lower rates for wealthier Americans. Rates for all income earners will go up at the end of the year if both sides can't reach a deal.

In turn, Republicans say Obama is acting like a stubborn partisan who will put the economy in peril in order to get his way.

"My sense is the White House wants to go over the cliff," said Tony Fratto, a former Treasury and White House official under President George W. Bush. "That may be the only way they get rates they want."

Going over the cliff could mark a new low in the relationship between the president and congressional Republicans. While the contentious debates earlier in Obama's first term over funding the government and raising the nation's borrowing limit went right up to the edge, both sides were always able to reach a deal.

As Obama ran for re-election, he sought to assure voters weary of Washington's bickering that things would be better if he won a second term.

Speaking to supporters in June, he said, "I believe that if we're successful in this election — when we're successful in this election — that the fever may break."

"My hope, my expectation, is that after the election, now that it turns out that the goal of beating Obama doesn't make much sense because I'm not running again, that we can start getting some cooperation again," he added optimistically.

(This is an AP News analysis.)

Comments

4shizzle

@ contango
I know not to send you any links because you don't read them anyway.
Heck, I doubt if you read your own links.
You don't care about facts, you just like to rant and rave and try to dominate with your opinions.

goofus

and years of reckless spending has almost wiped us off the map,a progressive dream

goofus

4shizzle must be for the new trickle up theory from the poor people

4shizzle

@goofus

You dont care about facts, you just want to rant and rave.

goofus

Huh????? Seems to me I am not citing facts without it actually being a fact.

4shizzle

goofus
Quoting you: "and years of reckless spending has almost wiped us off the map,a progressive dream" --was enough evidence to me that you've blamed everything on Obama and George Bush had nothing to do with our economy.
Unless you are stupid; that was very dishonest and unfair thinking.

goofus

Bush had a hand in it,every time he reached out to the other side of the aisle, No Child Left With A Brain comes to mind.

4shizzle

'No Republican With A Brain Left' is maybe what you're thinking of?

Later Goofus

goofus

No it's child, much like yourself. You remember Bush working with the swimmer Kennedy. Now that the chinese bought 7 billion in USA assets we see Obozo bowing down to the head chi-con.

Contango

@ Centauri:

NDAA, The Patriot Act and the killing of Americans without due process on foreign soil who are deemed "terrorists" should be a heads up for most.

We are in the Endless War. If the govt. doesn't have enemies, it makes them.

A U.S. carrier is off the coast of Syria; looks like the U.S. may invade because of WMD - The Bush Doctrine just morphed into the Obama Doctrine.

So when did Syria attack the U.S.?

"US, French Troops Prepare For Syria Invasion In Response To "Chemical Weapons" Threat"

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/20...

Centauri

It is time to bring home the troops to fight the domestic terrorists that are killing Americans right here in America and at the same time destroying this once great nation from within.

Centauri

@ Contango, Thanks for that link. You are one of several voices of reason here with good informative truthful news. More wars are on the horizon.

the office cat

What you been drinkin'?

The Big Dog's back

winnie, the election's over.

Randy_Marsh

@Big dog
But the killing isnt huh? Because Obama won a election does not give him the right to abuse citizens no matter what you obama worshipers think.

4shizzle

@marsh

What are you referring to? The death of that American (in name only) high-level, al Qaeda terrorist? Again?

Give a link to what you are referring to.

Randy_Marsh

Well there is Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, 16 years old and a citizen. even the ACLU doesnt agree with his messiahship drone killing anyone he wants to. http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/...
Neat thing about the internet, You can look up stuff yourself sometimes.

4shizzle

@marsh
What's 16 yr. old American citizen doing in Yemen?(probably a 20 something of military age-- read article)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abd...
Yeah, aint the Internet neat?

Randy_Marsh

@4shizzle
Because his dad was a terrorist, Plain a simple. Was he? He was a US citizen who was denied his right to a fair trial as accorded to him through the constitution on the word of the president. That is murder as he was not in a combat zone and a non combatant.

the office cat

You still beatin' this horse? If you lie down with dogs you get up with fleas. If you reside with known terrorists you have to expect to share their fate.
I read everything you suggested... didn't see any affirmative statement he was non-combatant.

Randy_Marsh

Office cat
The ACLU dissagrees, You Obama worshippers are truly sick.

the office cat

OMG The Right citing the ACLU?
Oh. And theres' the namecallilng again... first sign of a loser.

the office cat

OMG The Right citing the ACLU?
Oh. And theres' the namecallilng again... first sign of a loser.

Randy_Marsh

the office cat
Thu, 11/29/2012 - 2:32pm
"All you TEAlemmings and Firelands Patriots"
Wanna do this? Actually you are more of a Bush supporter than I am.

4shizzle

@marsh
Did you read the article? NO.
Wrong place, wrong time, tough shight.

Randy_Marsh

@4shizzle
Yeah i have read up on it, He was targeted. So i can expect you to not get a lawyer if you are faulsly accused and just go straight to jail for a indefinate amount of time on der furhers word? Sad people are willing to give up their rights so easily.

the office cat

Whooooa! That was part of the Bush doctrine.

Randy_Marsh

Obviously YOU agree with it.

Contango

@ 4shizzle:

Yea, who cares about the innocent men, women and children that Pres. Obama is killing with his drones?

http://rt.com/news/pakistan-civi...

Hey! We've been beefin' up in Africa - more innocent people for Mr. Obama to murder.

http://www.voanews.com/content/u...

Butchering innocents and helping to improve the worldview of America.

Do drone strikes qualify Mr. "I won" for another Nobel Peace Prize?

4shizzle

@con

Romney would have gotten us in all kinds of wars if he was elected.

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