How hard is it to understand that, if there is a deal (and I continue to believe it’s more unlikely than likely) to avert the fiscal cliff, it won’t come much before the January 1 deadline?
If you’ve been reading CG&G for the past two years, you already know why: Congressional Republicans in general and House GOP’ers in particular have been saying since Election Day 2010 that the Gingrich Republicans of the mid-1990s compromised too early with Bill Clinton on the budget and would have gotten much better deals if they had only held out longer. The tea partiers have been especially adamant that their leadership has to drive the hardest bargain possible by not agreeing to anything early in the process.
And that’s the strategy House Republicans in particular have followed ever since on anything having to do with revenues and spending: wait until the last possible moment. The debt ceiling deal from last August that produced the Budget Control Act and the sequester part of the fiscal cliff was the ultimate example of that.
So let me ask again: Why is anyone surprised that no negotiating sessions on the fiscal cliff between the White House and Congress are scheduled this week? Why is anyone shocked that statements made about the cliff since Congress returned from the Thanksgiving recess seem to have gotten more strident rather than less? How is it possible that the two sides seem further apart now than they were a week or so ago?
The answer: It was both totally predictable and absolutely predicted.
There will be no deal on the fiscal cliff before December 15 and from what I can see December 31 may be the better bet.