Republicans can have their cake and eat it too
The "fiscal cliff" is in reality a slope that gets steeper and steeper. We need to strike a deal in early January, before the economy gathers downhill momentum, but there is room to maneuver. This opens up the possibility that Republicans can have their cake and eat it too. Once January 1st arrives, the "temporary" Bush taxes cuts will have expired. Any final package will reasonably provide a cut to the post-January-1st level of the alternative minimum tax. It will probably include other minor adjustments. So what asked to vote, what Republicans can say "aye" to a package that contains tax cuts and not tax increases.
Object to this as sophistry. Fine, but sophistry is better than demagoguery!
Have Americans given Obama a mandate? Well, he's been pretty clear about raising the rather low tax rates the truly rich face, rates significantly lower than what I pay. He won the election. So people had an opportunity to say "no" and ... didn't.
Locally, my House district re-elected the Republican incumbent, Bob Goodlatte, against token opposition, a virtually unknown Democratic candidate running for office for the first time. Goodlatte won by the expected wide margin. Does that mean that he has a mandate? I don't think so; a mandate comes only when you've contested against a serious candidate, and the voters chose you. Even then, few people vote on a single issue, and few elections are decided on a single issue. Goodlatte is good on constituent services, and has done a modest job of lobbying for local pork. Did we elect him to bring home more bacon for all, or to procure a piece of choice filet mignon for the few? I rather think the former.
We can step over the edge of the "cliff" and still step back. That provides room for creative and constructive bargaining. Lets hope our putative leaders in Washington, Republican and Democratic, are up to the task.