In the ongoing fiscal cliff chess match playing out on Capitol Hill, Democrats have a message for Republicans: checkmate.
Democrats look at the political landscape and see a win whether a deal gets cut now or after the country goes over the cliff. Worst-case scenario, they say, the House will approve legislation the Senate passed in July extending Bush-era tax cuts for everyone but the rich, an idea that Republican House Speaker John Boehner has flatly rejected.
If Boehner refuses to pass the Senate bill before the end of the year, Democrats say their hand only gets stronger in the new year when the Senate will have 55 Democrats and at least five Republicans who have signaled they could vote to extend the middle-class tax cuts.
“We have the political high ground — there is no question about it. The sooner they realize it, the better it will be for them,” Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer said of the Republicans. “In 2010 it was the opposite. They had the political high ground and we had to do just about all cuts and no revenues. Now, the election was fought on revenues; we won it on revenues; the public is with us on revenues.”
Indeed, polls show that a majority of Americans favor raising taxes on the wealthy and will blame the GOP if the country goes over the cliff. And Democrats don’t believe that Republicans have the time, the megaphone or the leverage to force Democrats into making significant entitlement cuts right now. Congress just spent the last year making more than $1 trillion in cuts and Democrats say they are well-insulated from charges that they’re unwilling to slash spending.
h/t National Journal