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Insiders in Both Parties Want Fiscal Cliff Deal

November 15, 2012

A huge, bipartisan majority of Republicans and Democrats think their party should agree to a major compromise to avoid the fiscal cliff, according to the latest National Journal Political Insiders Poll.

What combination of tax increases and spending cuts would be included in the compromise was not specified in the question. But it's nonetheless a signal that post-election, both sides are inclined to strike a major deal even if it means sacrificing some of their priorities -- raising taxes for Republicans, and reforming the entitlement system for Democrats.

Still, the poll produced evidence that a small but vocal minority of dissidents continue to think avoiding a compromise is both politically and substantively unwise.

Seventy-five percent of GOP Insiders said their party should agree to a compromise. Democrats weren't much less inclined, with 69 percent of them similarly pushing their side of the aisle to cut a deal. Their arguments are rooted in a fear of what would happen to the country if the fiscal cliff, a combination of spending cuts and tax increases economists worry would plunge the economy back into a recession, were reached on January 1. But members of each party were also fearful of the political backlash that could come without a deal.


Broadly speaking, should your party agree to a major compromise to avoid the fiscal cliff?

(103 votes)
(93 votes)
Democrats 69% 75%
Republicans 31% 25%

"Avoiding a total disaster while acting like grown-ups has to be good politics," said one Republican Insider.

"Politically generated crises generally backfire," another GOP operative said. "Just ask Newt who shut down the government in 1995."

Democrats expressed a similar sentiment.

"Hell, yes," quipped one Democratic Insider. "Election is over -- act like adults and prevent another market crash and recession."

President Obama and Congressional Republicans have been divided over the president's demand that the Bush-era tax cuts expire for income above $250,000, which would help reach his target of an additional $1.6 trillion in new revenue as part of the deal. Republicans, meanwhile, have insisted any deal include major structural reforms to Medicare or Social Security.

Some Insiders, even as they voiced support for compromise, betrayed a certain wariness about what will be included.

"I want to say no, but I have to say yes because the country can't afford to lose economic momentum now," said one left-leaning Insider. "If ever there was a politically feasible time to make a run for it, though, now's the time. Unfortunately, the top 2 percent will be the ones with parachutes either way. Gotta say 'yes.'"

Retorted one Republican: "No change on rates. Tax reform. Real entitlement reform. Some defense spending cuts and domestic cuts as well. President has to change his leadership style and sell a comprehensive package."

Other Insiders from both parties were more emphatic, saying no major compromise should be struck if certain provisions are or aren't included.

"Any compromise that includes tax breaks for the wealthy, cuts in Medicare or Social Security, or serious cuts in children, education, health care, or veterans should be off the table," said one Democratic Insider. "Democrats had some of the biggest victories they have had in years and it was running against the proposals likely to be in a big compromise."

Said one Republican: "We don't own DC now, so no rush to compromise. Become the party of fiscal responsibility by insisting on an immediate spending reduction and glide path to entitlement reform. Anything else is simply lipstick on a pig."

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