Krauthammer: Obama Using Cliff to Start GOP 'Civil War'

Friday, 28 Dec 2012 11:33 AM

By Dan Weil

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President Barack Obama has been winning the public relations battle so far in his dispute with Republicans over the fiscal cliff, but the GOP will come out on top if there’s a cliff dive, says syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer.

Perhaps the biggest area of disagreement between the two sides is over raising taxes on the wealthy. House Speaker John Boehner was willing to accept such an agreement, as insisted upon by Obama. But the Republican House conference rebelled against that idea last week.

As for the president, “he’s been using this, with ruthless skill to fracture and basically shatter the Republican opposition,” Krauthammer told Fox News on Thursday. “His objective from the very beginning was to break the will of the Republicans in the House and to create an internal civil war. He’s done that.”

But Republicans should realize they’re playing from a position of strength Krauthammer says. "I think the Republicans will surely have a much stronger hand [if] we go over the cliff, assuming Obama stays very hardline and offers only humiliating conditions,” he said.

Obama’s need for congressional approval to raise the debt ceiling and thus avoid default early next year gives Republicans leverage, Krauthammer says. “With bravado, he [the president] says 'Oh, that's a game I won't play.' He has to play, he's the president."

Both parties have something to gain from a jump off the cliff, according to Politico. Republican congressmen can tout their opposition to tax increases and avoid primary threats from the right. And Democrats can say they fought tax reductions for the rich and entitlement cuts.

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