While the conventional wisdom is that President Barack Obama holds all the cards in the fiscal cliff negotiations, he’s actually in a precarious position, says Republican strategist Karl Rove.
“The president might be overplaying his hand — which would have ramifications not only for the fiscal cliff but for his entire second term,” the American Crossroads co-founder writes in The Wall Street Journal
If the spending cuts and tax increases now slated to begin Jan. 1 aren’t avoided, Obama’s approval rating, which stands at 51 percent in the most recent Gallup Poll weekly average, "will probably drop,” Rove says. That’s what happened during the July 2011 debt-ceiling conflict.
A fiscal cliff dive also would lessen the president’s leverage with Congress, “hasten the moment when congressional Democrats become more concerned about their standing than that of a lame-duck president, and further poison relations with Republicans,” Rove writes.
In addition, Obama would receive blame for the slew of economic problems that would follow, Rove says. “The damage to him may be long-lasting.” And “a weakened Mr. Obama makes recruiting and preparing for the 2014 mid-terms easier for Republicans and harder for Democrats.”
Republicans should take advantage by “appearing flexible rather than intransigent, willing to compromise rather than eager for a political smashup,” Rove says. “This requires them to keep offering sensible alternatives and emphasizing that the country's problem is too much spending.”
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