By cutting the fiscal cliff deal they did, have the Republicans set themselves up to win big on the issue that really counts: cutting spending?
Peter Orszag argued as much yesterday, and Byron York continues the same argument today. By splitting the fiscal cliff into two different debates — one on taxes, the other on spending and debt — Republicans shed their worst political position with a one-off concession and can now concentrate on a political strength. Or at least that’s what they hope:
Their thinking was this: The GOP was on the wrong side of the polls in the battle over raising taxes on the highest earners. Surveys showed substantial public support for the president and Democrats on that issue. But Republicans are on the right side of the polls in the battle over fiscal responsibility. The GOP, the party trying to put sensible limits on Obama’s runaway spending, is better positioned to make the case for cuts.“We’re making a hard pivot to spending,” says a senior GOP Senate aide. “Our view is that the revenue question has now been settled. It’s behind us. Now we fight on spending, and we’ve got two good opportunities to do so coming up — the debt limit and the continuing resolution.”The Republican strategy is more than just positioning. It’s the right thing to do. Everybody knows Obama’s tax increases will do little to reduce deficits in coming years; they’ll add about $60 billion in revenue a year, turning a $1.2 trillion deficit into a $1.14 trillion deficit. And everybody knows entitlement spending is on its way to eating the entire federal budget. It has to be reduced or disaster awaits.