Congressional Republicans Fall off the Fiscal Cliff
In case you missed it, the recent Gallup and Pew polls show big trouble for congressional Republicans. According to the Pew poll, only 14% of independents approved congressional Republican leaders' negotiations with President Obama. 69% of independents disapproved of GOP leaders' actions. Meanwhile, 74% of Republicans see Mr. Obama as the winner over Speaker Boehner, Senate Minority Leader McConnell, and other GOP leaders. Independents rate the president as the winner by a solid 55%.
Again, per Pew, a plurality of Americans (46%) believe that the Fiscal Cliff deal hurts the "economy, deficit, and average people." 69% of Republican identifiers rate the deal as hurtful, while 52% of independents do so. Slightly higher numbers are posted when Republicans (73%) and independents (55%) were asked if the tax deal hurt people like them.
Over at Gallup, 25% of all respondents approved the way the GOP's congressional leadership handled the Fiscal Cliff negotiations. 67% disapproved of Republican leaders. Moreover, 27% of Republican identifiers approved the deal, while a plurality of independents (46%) gave it thumbs down.
What Boehner and McConnell accomplished was to give Mr. Obama a critical win on the tax issue with the support of the GOP's "Romney" faction, those third or so of Republicans who carried Mitt Romney through the primaries and caucuses to the GOP presidential nomination in 2012. Conservative Republican identifiers and independents aren't going along with the Boehner-McConnell sellout.
By caving in on a bedrock principle -- agreeing to tax increases -- Boehner and McConnell have seriously damaged the Republican brand. Like an undersea earthquake, the effects of the Fiscal Cliff deal will create killer waves that will land ashore the Republican Party come the 2014 elections. Republicans better at least wear floatation collars.
Boehner's declaration upon his reelection as speaker that he was in Congress to "get things done" ranks as one of the great vacuous remarks by an opposition leader in the annuals of American boobery. By Boehner's reasoning, he shouldn't stop at throwing away a core conservative principle by accommodating Mr. Obama's tax lust. When the president pushes for draconian cuts in defense spending, the speaker should join in and bid to raise the ante. After all, gutting the nation's defenses gets something done -- right?
In the coming months, the GOP's poll numbers will fluctuate, with some ticks up. But Boehner and McConnell are the architects of the coming Republican walloping in the 2014 midterm elections. Conservative will defect to their couches in droves or exercise their franchises via write-ins.
Old John and Mitch are getting things done, all right.