Republicans the losers in cliff deal


That Congress waited until the very end to avoid the "fiscal cliff" should come as no surprise.

That's how things are done in Washington, said Chapman Rackaway, associate professor of political science at Fort Hays State University.

"I'm always amazed at people who talk about these negotiations going down to the last minute, and say this is somehow some systematic problem of Washington," Rackaway said Wednesday. "Apparently, these people have never bought a car in their lives, or done anything that involves a negotiation."

On Tuesday, the Senate passed a bill 89-8 and the House voted 257-167 in favor of legislation that would avoid middle class tax increases and spending cuts. In addition, tax rates will increase on incomes of more than $400,000 individually or $450,000 for couples.

"Had they not been able to come up with any kind of resolution whatsoever, maybe then people would have a legitimate gripe against their ability to compromise or get any deals done," Rackaway said. "But they got a deal done. They came down to the deadline, and that's how it works in Washington; that's how it works in Topeka; it's how it works just about anywhere."

Republicans came out the losers in this fiscal fight, Rackaway said.

"Republicans laid down on this one," he said.

"If Republicans are passing this bill, it tells me that there are one of two options that are feasible here: One, they've looked at the polls that say an inability to get a deal done would -- at least according to the people -- be blamed on Republican intransigence. ... Second of all, they're just not serious about deficit reduction, and it's all empty rhetoric," Rackaway said.

A vote was scheduled today on whether John Boehner, R-Ohio, would continue as Speaker of the House of Representatives. Conservatives could put up a fight, Rackaway said.

"I think Boehner has a massive target on his back right now," Rackaway said. "I don't know how they'll be able to do it. The tea party folks have a reputation inside the House of being somewhat hard to work with, so it would be very difficult for them to build a coalition that could take Boehner down.

"But I think they're going to give it a shot, and they might even be able to succeed."

Up next on the horizon are battles over sequestration -- across-the-board cuts in entitlements and defense spending -- and the debt ceiling, which Republicans and Democrats fought over in 2011.

"I think there will be a fight; it will go down to the very end again," Rackaway said. "Again, I think Republicans are going to knuckle under once again, because they've established a precedent. They're afraid now of public backlash, and that is what is guiding them, more so than good policy."