Obama’s partisan strategy is risky, partly because it may spur partisan opposition to other second-term measures sought by Obama.
During November and December talks to avoid the fiscal cliff, Obama has demanded the GOP abandon its ideological opposition to high tax-rates and also let him raise the federal government’s legal authority to borrow funding.
GOP leaders offered several compromises, including a proposal to raise taxes by shrinking tax breaks for the wealthy, and an offer to extend the borrowing ability by roughly $1 trillion, which would pay for another year of deficit spending.
However, Obama and his congressional allies dismissed the GOP’s compromises, voted down a “Plan B” compromise by Boehner and publicly insisted that the GOP approve tax-rate increases for business owners and investors earning more than $250,000 a year. (RELATED OPINION: Don’t blame Boehner for Plan B fiasco)
Obama’s Democratic allies in the Senate say they are now drafting a last-minute deal that could avert tax hikes, but would not stop major cuts to the Department of Defense. Obama suggested on Sunday that the maneuver would be put the GOP in a politically difficult position.
“Republicans will have to decide if they’re going to block [the tax-cut bill], which will mean that middle class taxes do go up. … I don’t think they would want to do that politically, but they may end up doing it.”
However, that deal is uncertain, and may collapse in the Senate.
If there’s no deal, Obama said he would campaign as a tax-cutter in the new year, by introducing a popular bill to reverse the fiscal cliff tax increases.
“We’ll come back with a new Congress on January 4th, and the first bill that will be introduced on the floor will be to cut taxes on middle-class families,” he said.
“I don’t think the average person’s going to say, ‘Gosh, you know, that’s a really partisan agenda on the part of either the president or Democrats in Congress.’ I think people will say, ‘That makes sense, because that’s what the economy needs right now.’”
Obama did not suggest that the 2013 tax-cut bill would be accompanied by any spending cuts or reforms to reduce his administration’s policy of funding government with $1 trillion in borrowing each year.