Sorry, Grover Norquist, but there is broad consensus in Congress that taxes will in fact be going up on the wealthiest Americans in 2013. In a new National Journal Insiders poll, all Democrats polled and 88 percent of Republicans said they believed tax rates were bound to rise, either in a deal to avert the fiscal cliff or by taking the plunge over. Members, however, were split when it came to predicting the outcome of entitlement cuts.
Do you believe tax rates on the wealthiest Americans will go up in 2013?
Do you think cutbacks or "reforms" to entitlements will be included in a fiscal-cliff package?
With fewer than three weeks until the end of the year, it’s become increasingly clear that members of Congress believe that President Obama is holding most of the cards.
“Taxes on all Americans rise unless the President, a Democratic Senate and a Republican House act,” said one Republican Insider. “Given that leverage, why would Obama give in on what he has advocated for two years -- higher taxes on the wealthy?”
The real leverage, Republicans say, is that the President seems more than willing to go over the cliff if Republicans aren’t willing to make a deal. Some even believe that’s what the President would rather do.
“Taxes will go up for everyone because the president wants us to go over the fiscal cliff so more revenue comes in,” said a GOP Insider. “He doesn’t say this, but clearly by not negotiating this is where he is.”
This is exactly the kind of talk Democrats like to hear, and they aren’t afraid to rub it in a little.
“The Democrats campaigned on raising taxes for the wealthiest and won,” said one Democratic Insider. “Promises made will be promises kept.”
“With or without a deal, the wealthiest are going to be looking at the same rates they paid in the 90s,” said another. “And they all seemed to do just fine then.”
If there is some degree of certainty about taxes going up, the parties are much more split on whether there will be cuts to entitlements in a fiscal cliff package. Where 63 percent of Democrats say there will be entitlement cuts, only 29 percent of Republicans feel that way. In other words, both sides feel a bit pessimistic about getting their way on this one.
“Not much reform but cuts, yes!” said one Democrat.
“The big concern is whether Obama will give more than appropriate away or will he fight for these issues as much as he is for tax equity,” said another.
And where Democrats are concerned that the president may give too much away, Republicans fear the opposite.
“President doesn’t have the political courage to take the steps necessary to address entitlements,” said one Republican.