The Right Opinion

Why Republicans Are to Blame for the Fiscal Cliff

By Ben Shapiro · Nov. 28, 2012

America is about to plunge over the so-called fiscal cliff – and Americans are fighting mad about it. According to the latest polls, 77 percent of Americans believe that the fiscal cliff – a combination of automatic tax increases and spending cuts set to kick in at the beginning of 2013 – will hurt them personally. A full 70 percent of Americans want a compromise solution. And 67 percent believe that political leaders will act like “spoiled children.”

Most important, though, Americans blame Republicans for the situation. While just 34 percent of Americans blame President Obama for the current fiscal cliff impasse, 45 percent blame Congressional Republicans. This seemingly makes no sense: it's Obama who has incentive to watch America fly off the fiscal cliff, raising taxes and slashing the military budget in his wake. Republicans would prefer to avoid both eventualities. Actually, Republicans want to avoid the fiscal cliff so much that they're talking about eliminating tax deductions, even as Democrats refuse to put a single spending cut on the table. Democrats are the roadblock to a solution here.

But on the other hand, it's Republicans who put themselves in this situation. The fiscal cliff exemplifies Republican spinelessness. It was Republican spinelessness back in 2011 that led to Republican spinelessness now.

Back in 2011, Republicans objected to yet another attempt by the Congressional Democrats to raise the debt limit. They had a choice: either allow government to shut down temporarily while a real solution was found to America's spending addiction, or come to a long-term agreement on budgetary issues before raising the debt limit. The Democrats had two priorities: raise the debt limit, and push the issue of debt off until beyond the 2012 re-election campaign for President Obama.

And Republicans caved.

They came to an agreement with Democrats under which a super committee – six Senators and six Representatives, split parties – would get together and decide how to cut $1.2 trillion from the budget. If they failed to reach an agreement, an automatic series of cuts and tax increases would take place. All of this would happen post-election.

The Republican strategy here seemed to be to put a loaded gun to their own temple, then threaten Democrats that if they didn't compromise, Republicans would pull the trigger. Democrats were fine with the consequences of super committee failure: the American public would get soaked to pay for unaffordable social programs. In fact, the consequences of super committee failure are the central philosophy of the Democratic Party platform. Republicans, on the other hand, would be hosed by the results of a super committee failure. The deal, for conservatives, was a dud.

But not for Democrats. So Democrats refused to come to any real solutions in the super committee sessions. And now we're at the fiscal cliff. And President Obama laughs as we go sailing off of it. The American people find themselves in the uncomfortable position of Wile E. Coyote suddenly realizing that he's standing in mid-air.

So, will Republicans cave on taxes? In all likelihood, they will, if only because half a pie is better than no pie at all. But if they do, they'll be violating promises they made to their constituents about taxes.

We can only hope they do. The only Republicans seriously considering raising taxes or eliminating deductions are folks who fought for the super committee non-solution in the first place. They purposefully stepped on a land mine and then claimed duress. Now it's up to the conservative base to put them under real electoral duress.



Howard Last in Wyoming said:

The Republicans aren't called the God Owful Party for nothing. Would the earth stop spinning on its axis if the government shut down? This goes back to 95 when the Republicans did not pass the budget and Clinton started closing parks and monuments. Gingrich and company could not jump fast enough to pass the budget. In fact Gingrich castigated House members that would not go along. So much for calling Gingrich a Conservative. When will the Republican Leadership (still an oxymoron) that acting like Democrap Lite will not get them elected? Why vote for lite when you can vote for the real thing?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 1:26 AM

Tad Petrie in Westerville, OH said:

Mr. Shapiro, THIS is the kind of thing that needs to in the forefront of the media! Since becoming Speaker of The House, Boehner has done nothing but COMPROMISE! Last year when BCA 2011 was going through the House, I wrote and phoned my Congressman,(Pat Tiberi,12th District Ohio), and specifically told him NOT to vote for it! He did vote for it and after it passed, I demanded a meeting with him and told him that this was NOT going to work and that Boehner needed to be REPLACED, but like Boehner, Tiberi is INCOMPETENT and dedicated to COMPROMISE with the President and his liberals!

Boehner needs to be REPLACED, along with the rest of the GOP leadership in Congress! This has to be a goal for the 2014 midterm elections! Conservatives must be in the majority in the House and the Senate, but they also MUST be in leadership positions. Boehner has had 2 years and has accomplished NOTHING! The President has committed multiple offenses worthy of impeachment since taking office and if I may be brutally direct, John Boehner is a COWARD and will not hold the President to account for his actions! Now we are facing the largest tax increase in history and Boehner, McConnell, and the rest of the GOP leaders are going to let it happen! My question for the class is, why do these INCOMPETENT COWARDS keep getting re-elected?!!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 8:34 AM

Mindblown in Flyover USA said:

Just a question some of you may be able to help me with... Why, when the issue of spending cuts is raised, are the first things mentioned Social Security, Medicare and Military spending? It seems to me that while these programs are important and reforming them needs to be addressed, the spending that's causing the immediate problems are the ones instituted by "o" and the d's with the stimulus pkg. That was supposed to be a one-time spend but is now part of the "baseline budget" (something else that needs to be eliminated). Start with cutting that trillion dollar debacle and the idiotic "grants". There would then be time for reasoned, thoughtful reform of SS and Medicare.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 9:46 AM

Wayne in Hinesville, GA replied:

BN Granny, Don't forget the masive amount spent each year on welfare programs to support the parasites living on our taxes.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 6:45 PM

Army Officer (Ret) in Kansas said:

"Now it's up to the conservative base to put them under real electoral duress."


That's a good one.

Conservatives will NEVER put the Republican Party under any kind of duress.

Here's why: The only way to do that would be for conservatives to NOT VOTE FOR REPUBLICANS who refuse to cave in to the Democrats with regard to the hard calls (which is most of them, truth be told).

But apparently withholding support from RINOs is the most horrible thing that a conservative could ever do. I voted Libertarian this time (like I usually do), and plenty of so-called conservatives told me I was a VERY BAD PERSON, or a fool, or even a traitor (after 21 years of uniformed service) for doing so, since withholding support from RINOs is a vote for Obama, or an act of treason... or something equally nonsensical.

"NEXT time we'll nominate a conservative, but THIS time you have to support our RINO," they say every four years. But NEXT time is always just a repeat of THIS time, which was a repeat of LAST time... ad nauseum.

As long as conservatives are content to slave away on the Republican plantation the Republican Party will continue sliding toward the left, taking the blame, and selling us out.

Duress? You must be joking. Sheep don't put jackals under duress.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 11:01 AM

Army Officer (Ret) in Kansas replied:

Edit: the sentence that reads' "The only way to do that would be for conservatives to NOT VOTE FOR REPUBLICANS who refuse to cave in to the Democrats with regard to the hard calls (which is most of them, truth be told)."

Should say, "The only way to do that would be for conservatives to NOT VOTE FOR REPUBLICANS who cave in to the Democrats with regard to the hard calls (which is most of them, truth be told)."

Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 11:21 AM

Howard Last in Wyoming replied:

Army Officer, I will just vote Whig Party. What they became irrelevant and no longer exist. Could this be the faith of the God Owful Party? Am I the only one that wants to scream when some republican mouth piece (think Hanity) calls a RINO or worse a Conservative? As for the Simpson Bowles agreement, NFW. Simpson is a RINO. He endorsed Kerry for senator from Nebraska. No surprise there as he is from the Peoples Republik of Jackson. How about Jackson seceding from Wyoming and joining Kalifornia? Another RINO from Jackson is Cheney.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 12:39 PM

p3orion in Midland, Georgia replied:

Army, I wouldn't call you a traitor for voting for a Libertarian. But consider if a man under your command took his M-16 and decided to go shoot at some deer rather than remain with his patrol and engage the enemy. He's not joining the enemy and shooting at your side, but the lack of his weapon on the line could cost the battle nonetheless.

The time to vote for the best conservative or libertarian or whatever, is in the primary. Once the battle lines are drawn, you fight the battle that faces you, not the one you might wish you had.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 4:30 PM

Army Officer (Ret) in Kansas replied:


In your analogy I am the guy shooting at the deer and the Republican candidate is the commander (the guy I ought to support). The analogy is flawed because a soldier in my patrol is obliged to remain under my command - but I am under no analogous obligation to the Republicans. You assume that I consider the Republicans to be "my side." I do not: Although we share a common enemy I do not believe they are even truly ON my side.

From your nom-de-plume I assume you're a Navy vet. Let me modify your analogy a bit using the standard "blue" for my guys, "green" for allies, and "red" for the enemy.

Your analogy splits the conflict into "blue" and "red," but I see a more nuanced situation.

My side is "blue." We want to restore the Constitution as written.

Democrats and their ilk are "red." They want to destroy the Constitution.

The Republican establishment is "green." They are uncertain allies at best: not only are they prone to fratricide within their own ranks, but they engage in far too much "green on blue" hostility for me to trust them, AND they have even been known to collaborate with the enemy against me.

The "blue" force is, at this point, analogous to an insurgency - we do not have the ability to win pitched battles (in this analogy: elections) against the OPFOR. But neither can we simply subordinate ourselves to the "green" force. Although they have the ability to engage the OPFOR symmetrically while we currently do not, they get their butts kicked pretty regularly and constantly seek a negotiated settlement that is unacceptable to us. (In the final analysis our victory conditions are incompatible with that of the Republican establishment.)

To the extent that I help my wobbly allies fight the enemy by furthering his goals even when they undermine my own, I am giving him two things, neither of which gets me closer to my desired end-state:

1) I give him ideological cover even though his goals and mine are incompatible.

2) I strengthen his bargaining position relative to the enemy, which makes an unacceptable negotiated settlement even more likely.

No thank you. I'll cooperate with my allies when it advances my strategic goals and withhold that cooperation when they try to sell me out to the enemy.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 6:28 PM

Tex Horn in Texas said:

"Republican spinelessness." An accurate term. And thanks to all those commentators on the PP who berated us for saying anything against the RINOS, look what it got us. From what I'm seeing, the Republican Party has become Democrat-lite. As a Libertarian, I'm a conservative, but I get no pleasure in watching the so-called conservatives in the Republican Party have their spines turn to jelly when a fight comes up. And now, many are saying that the only hope for the Republican Party is to become more liberal in order to appeal to more...what? Liberals. It appears the GOP is on it's way to la-la land to join the Democrats.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 12:03 PM

Wayne in Hinesville, GA said:

We need a Constitutional Party to replace the RINO's. They have become just as big a threat to the Republic as the Demorats.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 6:49 PM

Army Officer (Ret) in Kansas replied:

Welcome to the Libertarian Party, Sarge.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 10:29 PM