More and more GOP members are indicating that they would support the tax rate increase on the wealthy that President Obama has been pushing.
And what makes this even more galling, is that there is not likely to be any significant reform of entitlements. In effect, the GOP is going to cave on a fundamental principle and get nothing in return.
The Post reports, "President Obama and House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) met Sunday afternoon at the White House to continue discussions over how to avert the 'fiscal cliff,' their first in-person gathering in nearly a month as the deadline to avert a massive tax hike is fast approaching. Aides to Boehner confirmed the meeting took place, but declined to provide further details."
The GOP House and Senate leadership offices were equally mum on background. One GOP adviser on the House side put it succinctly: "We have to wait and see if those talks bear fruit." But where is the deal?
More and more you hear responsible Republicans on the Hill observe that the GOP has little leverage on extension of the Bush tax hikes now, but will have increased leverage when it comes to the debt ceiling increase next year.
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said Sunday, "I do think something is going to happen. I hope it's large enough for people like me that want to see entitlement reform to vote for. But, you know, the president does have some leverage now. On the other hand, Republicans have leverage with the debt ceiling and the C.R. [continuing resolution] which ends in March." He explained, "There is a growing group of folks, that are looking at this and realizing that we don't have a lot of cards as it relates to the tax issue before year end."
If the House Republicans refuse to do something (which cannot include extending all the Bush tax cuts, a nonstarter with Democrats) then taxes for everyone go up, a huge hit to the economy going forward, and the GOP gets blamed. Not a good idea, and in fact that might be second-worst scenario. The absolute worst would be signing onto the president's humongous tax hike that not even Senate Democrats could support.
It's true the GOP has little leverage with the president on taxes. But surely they must be aware that giving in on this issue without getting a quid pro quo on entitlements will cause a revolt among the base of the party. Not getting that deal will be curtains for the GOP in 2014 just as surely as if they had refused to sign off on a deal in the first place.