What was it that Nate Silver tweeted on election night? “On The Wall, The Writing”?
On that score, the Washington Post reported last night:
Many GOP centrists and some conservatives are calling on House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) to concede on rates now, while he still has some leverage to demand something in return. Republicans are eager to win changes to fast-growing safety-net programs, such as raising the eligibility age for Medicare and applying a less-generous measure of inflation to Social Security benefits. … “Quite frankly, some people in this 2 percent who call me, they’re more worried about the fiscal cliff than about the rates going up a couple points. That has bigger risk for them,” said [Rep. Steven] LaTourette, a close Boehner ally who is retiring in January.
Like I was saying earlier this week, Republicans are slowly but unmistakably realizing that Obama is going to get his revenue (or most of it), so they might as well seize the chance to force Democrats to agree to modest entitlement reforms.
And then what?
Then the world will keep spinning.
Matt Miller shared a dystopian vision wherein this “fiscal cliff” is but a prelude to another debt-ceiling showdown, which will beget more “forcing device” legislation, leading to yet another “cliff,” and hence the threat of another financial calamity, world without end. Similarly, Yuval Levin, whose crypto-apocalyptic temperament is just itching for a “clash of visions” confrontation with the statist-welfarists of the capital-L Left, writes:
Middle-ground solutions can put off the need to decide, but they cannot make it go away. And until we take some meaningful step in one direction or another, we’re going to continue to muddle through showdowns at the edges of cliffs.
Perhaps I’m overoptimistic, but I think not.
My “hunch” (sorry, Nate Silver), is that, despite the bitterness and braying of the Erick Ericksons of the right, most Republicans have grown weary of this recurring cycle of manufactured crises. At some point, they’re going to want to pivot toward the urgent need to “rebrand” the GOP. At some point, they’re going to want to tackle immigration reform — an effort the “wise men” deem essential to building a winning electoral coalition in the future.
Are Republicans, just weeks after a drubbing that turned on the perception of solidarity with the working- and middle-class, eager to look like the handmaidens of the rich again? Does the question even need to be asked? The party will surely continue its internal ideological battle. But I’m wagering that said battle’s direct bearing on the function of the global economy is coming to a merciful end.