Little Hope In D.C. ...

Americans Losing Faith In Cliff Talks

Posted: December 27, 2012

By now, all Americans are tiring of the incessant references to the looming “fiscal cliff.” But even with the excitement of the play of the Washington Redskins as a diversion (see editorial below), there is really little else to talk about in our nation’s capital during this week between Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Indeed, the posturing between the White House and the House Republicans resumes after a brief holiday respite, as Congress returns to session today and President Obama comes back to Washington on an unscheduled break from his Hawaiian vacation. Ostensibly, both sides plan to negotiate toward a last-minute deal to avoid the automatic tax increases and spending cuts that will go into effect beginning on Jan. 1 if no agreement is reached.

The President remains steadfast in his position that the wealthiest Americans must pay more, but it remains to be seen if he is so set on further taxing the rich that he will reject any deal offered that does not do that to his satisfaction. If the automatic tax increases come into play, it seems that few are aware that those at the lowest end of the income scale will be hard hit in their pocketbooks as well.

A recent Gallup poll shows Americans are losing faith that a deal will be reached but are laying more of the blame at the feet of House Republicans. According to Gallup, only 50 percent of Americans believe the cliff will be avoided, while 48 percent are doubtful. While a slight majority still sees light at the end of the fiscal tunnel, that support is marginal at best.

Some 54 percent approve of the President’s handling of the negotiations (up from 48 percent a week ago), but only 26 percent give a positive rating to the work of the House GOP (down from 29 percent). Support for leaders to compromise remains strong at 68 percent, with only 22 percent preferring the hard line of sticking to principles even if it means no deal is reached.

So, as Congress and the White House go deep into the fourth quarter of an undecided battle of political wills, the American people continue to watch and wait for action. Odds makers currently have the Washington Redskins as a three-point favorite to beat the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night.

There is no betting line on whether Congress and the White House can reach a deal before year’s end.

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