Fiscal Cliff 2013: Polled Americans Think Congress is Too Childish to Prevent the Plunge

According to a CNN/ORC poll released Monday, Americans, by an overwhelming majority, understand that the idea of the country going over the fiscal cliff on January 1 is no laughing matter.  By the same majority, they want Congress to reach a compromise to prevent it from happening. Based on these poll results, members of Congress should have no problem understanding what needs to be done. But the poll has a caveat: more thantwo-thirds of those polled believe members of Congress will act like “spoiled children” during the negotiations.

Preventing the fiscal cliff will require Congress to agree to a combination of revenue increases and spending cuts. According to the poll, Americans believe the GOP needs to give more than the Democrats. This is understandable given the election results. Republican leaders have acknowledged the party needs to re-examine some positions, and they appear to be doing that.

For more than 20 years, Republican lawmakers have been held hostage by Grover Norquist and the Americans for Tax Reform pledge not to raise taxes. Within the past week however, several key GOP lawmakers have said they will no longer be bound by the pledge. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Bob Corker (R-TN), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), and Rep. Peter King (R-NY) have all said they can no longer ignore the possibility that tax increases may be required. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) have not completely agreed to break the pledge but have indicated reducing loopholes and deductions will need to be explored. Bottom line, the GOP is willing to include increased revenue in the deal.

The Democrats have not been so open minded on spending cuts. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) have said cuts to Social Security and Medicare are off the table. Only Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) has expressed a willingness to include serious entitlement reforms.

Up to this point, it appears the Republicans are the adults in this discussion. Speaker Boehner correctly identified the mandate sent by the voters; that Congress work together to solve our country’s problems. The Democrats seem to be a little slower to pick this up. Are they still gloating? Maybe the CNN poll is partially right. Some in Congress are acting like “spoiled children,” whether they will grow up in time is anyone’s guess.