The election is over and the votes, for the most part, have been counted. The vast attention is now over the "fiscal cliff" with both sides overwhelmingly agreeing we can't afford to do nothing. That assessment is wrong. The president and democrats in congress could and should do nothing. Jumping off the "fiscal cliff" would no doubt be bad for the US and global economy over the long haul, but the short term would do relatively little damage and none that couldn't be repaired. It would, however, give the president and democrats the upper hand in negotiations. If the US dove off the fiscal cliff all of the Bush Tax cuts would expire, the payroll tax cut would expire, massive spending cuts on defense and other areas of the federal budget would be triggered. Social security, medicare, and medicaid are mostly exempted so they wouldn't be affected.
The messaging would be simple republicans led us to the "fiscal cliff" through dangerous debt celling negotiations in 2011 and then failed to compromise on the president's tax policy. Democrats could then demand tax cuts for the middle class without being held hostage to taxes for those making over 250,000 dollars. A real discussion on issues such as tax overhaul, defense, and entitlement spending could take place. This is the key area where democrats could demonstrate bipartisanship by agreeing to some cuts in entitlements such as raising the age on social security and medicare in return for status quo spending on defense, raising capital gains tax, and removing the cap income subjected to social security. All of these policies could be retroactive to January 1st, thus entirely avoiding the pitfalls of the fiscal cliff.
One thing is for certain, if the president or congress bow down to pressure from Speaker Boehner or Minority Leader McConnell it's completely on them for losing a powerful position of negotiation. It's a bluff and it's important as democrats that we not only call them, but raise the stakes.