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Fri Dec 7, 2012, 08:31 AM

Robert Shrum: Obama Won Election & Will Win Again on Fiscal Cliff

by Robert Shrum Dec 7, 2012 4:45 AM EST

The fiscal cliff fight can play out in different ways—but in any scenario, the Bush tax rates for the rich are gone. Obama may make some concessions to the GOP, but he’ll end up victorious, just as he did in November, says Robert Shrum.

He’s abruptly resigned to take over the right-wing Heritage Foundation think tank. But on his way out the door, the presiding prelate of the Tea Party in the Senate, South Carolina’s Jim DeMint, anathematized House Speaker John Boehner for the secular sin of offering a Republican proposal to raise revenue by closing loopholes and limiting deductions. As heresies go, it’s not much. Boehner has brewed a warmed-over Mitt Romney plan while omitting the noxious idea of voucherizing Medicare. Never fear, through: the speaker seeks big cuts in Medicare and Social Security benefits, proving again that something at the heart of the Republican Party yearns to shred the social safety net.

n the Kabuki theater now being performed on the fiscal cliff, DeMint is irrelevant—and so are Boehner and the primary-paranoid GOP Senate Leader Mitch McConnell—on the central question of higher tax rates for the wealthy. It’s not just that President Obama campaigned and won on raising those rates, unlike the President Bush of 2004, who claimed a mandate to privatize Social Security, a scheme he had not dared speak of during the election. Nor is the decisive factor simply the exit polling or the post-November polling, which show 63 percent of Americans are on the president’s side here.

What matters most is that the tax increases will happen on Dec. 31, unless Obama agrees to stop them. Republicans backed themselves into this corner first with Bush’s deal to sunset his tax plan after 10 years, then with the congressional party’s 2010 “victory” in extending the tax cuts until after the election, and then with the 2011 jerry-rigged contrivance of “sequestration,” automatic reductions in domestic and defense spending at the end of this year as the price for raising the debt ceiling. The latter two moves were premonitory expressions of the GOP delusion of unskewed polls and an unrepresentative turnout, which pervaded the Romney headquarters and its attendant pundit class all the way until Ohio and the election were called—and in Karl Rove’s case, screechingly beyond that. Obama, they believed with all the fervor of a false faith, was bound to lose. And now, in the fiscal negotiations, they’re still running on the same tattered laundry ticket that took them down the road to defeat.

The deception of hiding blessings for the rich behind a tax break for the middle class, the drivel about “job creators,” the doctrinal fulminations of Grover Norquist with his pledge never, ever to vote for a tax increase—which has turned Republicans into Stepford senators and representatives—all this is a bankrupt strategy both in terms of policy and politics.


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