In the immediate sense, Obama, of course. That’s why he’s not genuinely negotiating to avoid the cliff, having proffered nothing for days. He has yet to put forth any meaningful spending reductions–relying instead on so-called cuts (merely cuts in the rate of growth, not actual cuts) that have already taken place.
No, Obama plans to milk a fall off the cliff for all it’s worth. He will blame Republicans for being concerned only with the “mega wealthy,” and say that it was their intransigence that caused the free fall. He’ll say that in spite of the fact that the Republican leadership was poised to betray its base and agree to counterproductive tax increases in order to avert the cliff.
But Obama is much better at the blame game. He has spent four years laying the groundwork for this. Republicans, he repeats ad nauseum, want to balance the budget on the backs of parents of children with disabilities in order to protect millionaires and billionaires. They take the American people hostage to achieve their ends. Number two Democrat in the House, Steny Hoyer played right along, saying the Republicans are like people who take their own child hostage and threaten to shoot them if they don’t get what they want. Seriously?
And the rhetoric is working. For now. Polls show Obama trouncing Republicans in his handling of the crisis. In the short term, Obama wins. But very soon, the American people will feel the full impact of the fiscal cliff, combined with the implementation of part of Obamacare. And the economy will take a nosedive.
At that point, without the backdrop of the fiscal cliff drama and the faces of Republican leaders to vilify, Obama will be faced with trying to shirk off ownership of his economy. He will try. The question is whether the Republicans will have pulled it together enough by then to push back hard and effectively and to offer an alternative.
If House Republicans cave and agree to the president’s demands now, they will be the losers. They will be obliterated in the mid-term elections. If they stand firm, and over the cliff we go, they better be working on their message, and stick with it.
The message is this: Obama has tried to solve our economic crisis by radically expanding government. By appropriating private funds for the government to use supposedly more wisely. His experiment has been an utter, disastrous failure–with a stagnant (or free-falling) economy, unsustainable debt and a wildly bloated government taking over vast sectors of our economy and destroying others.
The Republican solution is to put the American people–with their vast ingenuity, ambition, and compassion–back in charge. To shrink government, and its unquenchable thirst for money and power, and unleash the power of the free market–to unleash freedom. Lower taxes, yes–but that’s not the essence of the freedom message. Shrinking government so the private sector can grow and prosper and all segments of the economy, and income levels, can benefit–that is the essence. More freedom and less government mean more prosperity for all. It’s been done before.
Look, without a message–a bold, inspiring, workable message–Obama’s continuing attempt to paint Republicans as the enemy will continue to work. Conservatives and Republicans need to wake up and realize they are not fighting on an even playing field. They are fighting character assassination–implemented by the “master of agitation”, Barack Obama. Their ideas and the means of expressing them (the MESSENGERS) better be good enough to combat that insidious, effective strategy of Barack Obama. He’s not interested in a philosophical debate. He cares only about fundamental transformation. And he’s well on his way.