If the U.S. goes over the fiscal cliff because the Republicans pressured by their own strong anti-tax increase advocates cannot reach a deal, the blame will be on the Republicans for the most part. The great irony of the situation is two-fold. All the Bush tax cuts will expire and so almost everyone's taxes will go up. Many of the anti-tax advocates no doubt support the military but there will be drastic across the board cuts to military spending once the fiscal cliff kicks in.
President of the Greater Boston Tea Party, Christine Morabito, said:
"I want conservatives to stay strong. Sometimes things have to get a lot worse before they get better."
She and many other tea party
activists applaud the recent Republican-controlled House's rejection of Boehner's Plan B that would increase taxes on the very wealthy. The Associated Press says that in over a dozen interviews activists claimed that they would rather fall off the cliff than agree to a deal that increases taxes, even though falling over the fiscal cliff ensures that taxes will increase even for the rich. The stock market will no doubt drop and the economy could go into recession. The wealthy and big corporations who dominate US politics do not want to see a drop in stock values or another recession and at the same time an increase in their taxes. This is what going over the fiscal cliff will probably mean.
The Republican party itself
is worried about the rejection of Boehner's plan B that would have kept taxes from increasing on all but a few very rich Americans. Representative Steven LaTourette said:
"It weakens the entire Republican Party. I mean it's the continuing dumbing down of the Republican Party and we are going to be seen more and more as a bunch of extremists that can't even get a majority of our own people to support policies that we're putting forward."
However, tea party activist Frank Smith of Cheyenne Wyoming said :
"Let's go over the cliff and see what's on the other side. We have a day of reckoning coming, whether it's next week or next year. Sooner or later the chickens are coming home to roost. Let's let them roost next week."
What will be coming home to roost are tax increases and probably a recession.
South Carolina GOP chair Chad Connelly
"If it takes us going off a cliff to convince people we're in a mess, then so be it. We have a president who is a whiner. He has done nothing but blame President Bush. It's time to make President Obama own this economy."
The Louisiana GOP chair Roger Villiere criticized Boehner for caving in and opting for tax hikes even though it is on only the very rich. Even in the north, in New Hampshire, former GOP chair Jack Kimball
was elated that Boehner lost :
"The Republicans really need to stand on their principles. They have to hold firm."
A CBS survey conducted in December found 81% of those polled wanted Republicans to compromise rather than stick to their positions. Almost half (47%) blamed Republicans more than Democrats for difficulties in reaching a deal. Only 25% put more blame on the Democrats, while 21% said both were to blame.
Even Matt Kibbe, president of Freedom Works and a tea party ally said that going over the cliff would be a fiscal disaster. Yet many activists are adamant that there should be no deal with a tax increase:
"If we have to endure the pain of the cliff then so be it. While it may spell the end of the Republican Party ... at least we will force the government to cut and cut deep into actual spending."
No doubt this will not be the end of the Republican Party but it may certainly be the end of any powerful conservative faction within the party. Apparently suicide is not too high a price to pay for thwarting Obama when he tries to do something that has popular support.