Whether or not the conservatives or David Axelrod thinks so, America has given president Obama a mandate. To do what?
In exit polls 6 in 10 people polled on election day said that taxes should be raised, with nearly half of them saying they should be raised on the wealthiest Americans. Not to mention ballot initiatives have shown that Americans are willing to increase taxes in states like California and Arkansas, as well cities like Austin and San Antonio to fund programs we've all come to expect from good government.
So what does the house think about this? Surely speaker Boehner and the Republicans, now that their party has been handed a defeat, would take a more conciliatory tone with president Obama and finally get the message and agree to some revenue concessions right?
In fact in an interview with Diane Sawyer the speaker said:
"Raising tax rates is unacceptable."
Perhaps alluding to the continuing obstruction in the house and senate from the "party of No." he adds:
"Frankly, it couldn't even pass the House. I'm not sure it could pass the Senate."
So there we are, one expensive election over with, and we still have gridlock to look forward to.
Amazingly after all of this president Obama continues to think that he can work with this congress.
“I’m not wedded to every detail of my plan. I am open to compromise. I
am open to new ideas,"said the President. “But I refuse to accept any approach
that isn’t balanced.”
The president has to understand, that it's not balance the Republicans are seeking. The Grand Bargain, which consists of the result of the simpson-bowles commission on deficit reduction will raise $1 in revenue for every $3 in spending cuts, equaling $4 trillion. Even that wasn't good enough for the Republicans who walked away from the deal.
The democrats and the president have been extremely generous, offering to make significant spending cuts and asking only a tiny bit in tax increases. And Boehner keeps saying no.
Well it's time to stop being nice. The Republicans will continue to block any tax increases on the wealthy to help pay down our deficits. But the President has an opportunity.
The Fiscal Cliff.
The Fiscal cliff is where the bush tax cuts for everyone, as well as unemployment extensions will expire. As well as where automatic spending cuts from the military and domestic expenditures will kick in as part of the last debt deal. This will obviously have some negative effects on the economy, but it's also leverage.
In 1995 president Bill Clinton was going head to head with then speaker Newt Gingrich over the budget. They were unable to reach a deal, so Clinton let the government shut down. After a week of boarded up offices Gingrich and the Republicans finally offered to make a deal. It also helped usher in an era of compromise.
The fiscal cliff could be president Obama's shut down moment. For the last four years the President has agreed with almost everything the Republicans have proposed. In the debt deal Speaker Boehner remarked how he got 98% of what he wanted. Because of that the Republicans think Obama is weak and will fold on the issue of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. This one move could yank congress back to reality.
All we have to do, is go over the cliff.
It's a risky maneuver but if the president comes out as strong as he was in the campaign he can use the political capital he earned to end the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and finally get it through to the Republicans that he will not accept their obstruction anymore.
It will hurt the economy in the short term but I think it's our best chance to get rid of the biggest contributor to our deficit today, and finally be able to tackle the debt, and show the Republicans that we mean business.
Come on Obama, be a progressive and take Boehner off the cliff.