Mitch McConnell lies low as 'fiscal cliff' nears | Bi-Partisanship may be broken | Scoop.it

Excerpt from article by LISA MASCARO, LA Times


McConnell, a political pragmatist who was a latecomer to the tea party wave, faces a reelection campaign in 2014. A compromise with Obama could pose a problem for him with conservative activists back home.


White House aides expect little in the way of favors from the man who had once said his top political goal was to make Obama a one-term president, although they have eagerly sought to highlight his role in order to keep the focus on Republicans.


Resolving the dispute, said a senior administration official, "is up to two people: the Senate minority leader to not block a vote and the House speaker to allow a vote."


While McConnell has not tipped his hand, some Republicans increasingly are willing to take their chances with going over the cliff — calculating that the economy will not suffer dramatically in the short run and that they will do better fighting in the New Year.


That was an option Republican leaders discussed in a meeting before the November election in which they considered their year-end choices if Obama were reelected.


If no grand budget deal was possible in the face of Obama's insistence on raising tax rates for the wealthy, they determined they could opt for what Boehner has called "trench warfare" — fighting the White House first over tax rates and then at every moment in the legislative calendar.


Republicans knew their leverage on the tax issue would be limited with an Obama victory, but some believe the next several months will offer new pressure points as Congress must again raise the federal debt limit and pass legislation to keep the federal government from shutting down.


"The president made a strategic miscalculation and overreached," said one GOP aide granted anonymity to discuss party strategy. "He could have worked to reach a fair agreement, but instead he picked a fight, poisoned the well, and now we are likely to have a rather unproductive next four years. The decision he made only hurts himself."


There is little evidence to back up that belief. In a Gallup poll released Wednesday, for example, 54% of Americans responding said they approved of the way Obama had handled the negotiations and 45% said they approved of Democratic leaders in Congress. By contrast, 26% said they approved of Boehner and the Republican congressional leadership. [MORE]


Via Eric Byler