Commentary Magazine


Pew Poll: Majority Would Still Blame GOP for Fiscal Cliff Failure

That recent CNN poll showing a majority of Americans would blame the GOP if the country goes over the fiscal cliff apparently wasn’t an outlier. A new Washington Post-Pew Research Center poll found similar results, The Fix reports:

While 53 percent of those surveyed say the GOP would (and should) lose the fiscal cliff blame game, just 27 percent say President Obama would be deserving of more of the blame. Roughly one in 10 (12 percent) volunteer that both sides would be equally to blame.

Those numbers are largely unchanged from a Post-Pew survey conducted three weeks ago and suggest that for all of the back and forth in Washington on the fiscal cliff, there has been little movement in public perception. The numbers also explain why Republicans privately fret about the political dangers of going over the cliff, while Democrats are more sanguine about such a prospect

It’s also why Democrats feel they have an upper hand in negotiations. President Obama has rejected the GOP’s counter-offer to his first proposal, saying that tax hikes are a must and walking back his prior openness on entitlement cuts:

“I don’t think the issue right now has to do with sitting in a room,” Obama said in an interview with Bloomberg TV. “The issue right now that’s relevant is the acknowledgment that if we’re going to raise revenues that are sufficient to balance with the very tough cuts that we’ve already made and the further reforms in entitlements that I’m prepared to make, that we’re going to have to see the rates on the top 2 percent go up. And we’re not going to be able to get a deal without it.”

“It’s not me being stubborn,” Obama added. “It’s not me being partisan. It’s just a matter of math.”

In his first TV interview since winning reelection, Obama said he is open to changes to entitlement programs but wouldn’t commit to benefit cuts. It suggests a step back from his position during his 2011 debt limit negotiations with Boehner, when he agreed to raising the Medicare eligibility age, asking wealthier seniors to pay more for Medicare services and changing the inflation calculator for government programs such as Social Security.

Obama seems more interested in breaking the GOP than reaching a balanced agreement that deals with the entitlement crisis. And it’s not exactly a surprise. He’s always been primarily focused on eking out these little political victories — that’s how he governed during his first term, and that’s how he ran his campaigns. Why would he change now?