There's good news and bad news in a new Washington Post-Pew Research Center poll. Bad news first. All the hyperventilating about the "fiscal cliff" in the media has people freaked out.
More than six in 10 believe a missed deadline would have an overall negative impact on the U.S. economy, and about the same number anticipate a blow to their personal finances, including 74 percent of those with incomes of at least $100,000. Without a deal, taxes will jump for nine in 10 Americans, with the steepest hikes for top income brackets.The potential negative effects on the economy are significant. But they aren't immediate, even if Jan. 1 comes and goes without an agreement. There's ample time after that deadline for any crisis, including middle class tax hikes, to be averted. That said, here's the good news in the poll.
But Republicans in Congress may face more public pressure to make concessions. Should negotiations break down to avoid the $500 billion rash of automatic tax hikes and spending cuts, 53 percent are inclined to blame Republicans in Congress while 29 percent single out Obama.If nothing else, that strengthens President Obama's hand in not making a deal before year's end, particularly since the House GOP rank and file seem to be already rejecting the idea of a leadership compromise with Obama.
Putting responsibility on House Republicans for a lame-duck failure will make negotiations with the new Congress (which will be minus a few of its current tea partying nihilists) that much easier. They could be forced to the table without the cuts to entitlement sweeteners offered up in previous negotiations.