Democrats are confident their party has performed better in fiscal-cliff negotiations so far, according to the latest National Journal Political Insiders Poll. Republicans? They aren't so sure.
Eighty percent of Democratic Insiders say their party has done better during the high-profile talks, the poll found, while just two percent of them said the GOP has won the battle so far. Republicans, meanwhile, are more likely to say the Grand Old Party has out-fought their counterparts so far, 34 percent to 26 percent. But a plurality of 40 percent say that so far, neither party has come out better.
To date, which party has performed better during fiscal-cliff negotiations?
The relative pessimism among GOP Insiders reflects the growing belief that Republicans are on the verge of compromising with President Obama by raising the top marginal tax rate on America's wealthiest citizens. The GOP has refused to do so thus far, demanding instead that Democrats and the White House propose concrete cuts to entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security while offering to raise taxes on the rich by capping tax deductions and closing loopholes.
But some Republicans, like Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn, have recently indicated they're willing to raise the top marginal rate. And polls have shown that not only is the GOP's position unpopular, but if a fiscal-cliff agreement isn't reached, the public is more inclined to blame House Republicans than the president.
"Republicans again defending the rich from paying their fair share of the burden," one Democratic Insider quipped. "Didn't they just lose an election over that?"
"The Republicans don't seem to understand that they lost the election and that tax rates on the rich will go up," another Democrat added. "They keep pretending this is 2010 -- it's not. The President has the leverage and he intends to use it."
A few GOP Insiders echoed that sentiment.
"Republicans still have not come up with a good counter to 'millionaires and billionaires can afford to pay a little more,'" said one. Added another, "Obama is running circles around the GOP, who can't seem to get their act together."
Not every Republican is in agreement the party has suffered in its first post-election political fight. Some of them think House Speaker John Boehner flipped the script with his initial offer to Obama, which included $800 million in new revenue.
"John Boehner's opening statement after the election put revenues on the table," said one GOP Insider. "The White House responded with a new stimulus proposal and a campaign-style trip bashing Republicans. Instead of becoming Bill Clinton II, President Obama seems destined to become a two-term Jimmy Carter."
Still, there's some feeling among both groups of party apparatchiks that neither side is performing well. Another political standoff in the face of a looming economic crisis won't help either party, they say, but instead cast more doubt about the country's ability to govern itself.
"The country thinks we're all crazy," one GOP Insider said. The sentiment was echoed by one of their Democratic counterparts. "Come on, both sides look stupid."