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Because taxes are the prime issue for these voters, the post-election thinking in some parts of the GOP is that a deal with the White House that includes anything labeled a tax increase will give Democrats a chance to take control of the House that, because of redistricting, they otherwise would not have been able to capture through the end of this decade.
An additional new factor is that the understanding that the fiscal cliff is really more of a fiscal slope that won’t create an immediate economic catastrophe in January has now expanded as the media focus has shifted away from elections. This is changing the imperative to prevent the cliff that some on Capitol Hill had been feeling.
Finally, since the elections there’s also been an increased interest in the “let’s let the peasants storm the castle with pitchforks” strategy. The theory seems to be that actual layoffs, program reductions, tax increases and stock market drops will do what threats of the same have not yet been able to do: Change the political situation enough to make votes on higher taxes for some and bigger deficits for all politically acceptable.
I have no doubt that the fiscal cliff situation will continue to change as it gets closer and the pressure on Congress and the White House to prevent it grows. For now, however, any pressure to prevent it is being matched with new incentives to let it happen. Because of that, in spite of what you’re hearing elsewhere, a week after Election Day, nothing much has really changed.
Stan Collender is a partner at Qorvis Communications and author of “The Guide to the Federal Budget.” His blog is capitalgainsandgames.com.