Frank Rich argues that media clamor about the fiscal cliff is as nonsensical as the Y2K panic. And as usual, itís hard to argue with Frank Rich.
The breathless and phony countdown to the fiscal cliff ó What if they canít agree? What if we fall off? Can America possibly survive? ó is media hype, a desperate effort to drum up a drama to keep viewers and readers tuned in now that the election is over. Itís a Road Runner cartoon, Beltway-edition. And itís going to end with a whimper like the similarly apocalyptic, now long-forgotten Y2K scare of the turn of the millennium.
Everyone knows the Republicans are going to fold ó the Republicans know they are going to fold ó and the only question to be resolved is when and on what terms. They have zero leverage. Itís not only that they lost the election; they continue to decline in national polls, with the latest Pew survey showing that 53 percent of Americans will blame the GOP (and only 27 percent will blame President Obama) if thereís no deal by January.
The party has no national leader still standing except John Boehner, who canít even command the loyalty of his own caucus in the House. Letís hope that Obama, who is showing the admirable take-no-prisoners toughness he lacked last time around, continues on his current firm path once the Republicans start to buckle. There is a lot more at stake in the negotiations beyond the upper-echelon tax rates that the GOP will soon have to retreat on.