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Posted on Sat. Dec. 15, 2012 - 12:01 am EDT

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Republicans are in the wrong debate

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Poor, deluded Republicans. As we get closer and closer to the “fiscal cliff,” they seemed determined to throw themselves over it.

It became clear during the tax-and-spending debate (if saying the same things over and over again can be called a debate) that the GOP isn’t exactly on the same page as everybody else. Republicans are arguing about deficits and how to reduce them. President Obama is arguing about fairness and how to get more money out of all those rich people.

And the president has won the argument. He just won the election, after all, by saying exactly what he’s saying now. And polls show a majority of Americans now favor letting the Bush-era tax cuts expire for the top 2 percent of income earners and, furthermore, oppose any cuts in entitlements. Bill Clinton once famously said “the era of big government is over.” Perhaps now we must say “the era of saying the era of big government is over is over.”

Republicans now have a serious dilemma. They can go along with Obama and watch government grow a lot more, or they can keep resisting as the cliff arrives and get blamed for screwing the middle class and working poor just to help their rich friends. Sooner or later, most observers believe, they will give up on their philosophy rather than risk the wrath of voters.

And Americans will be able to happily coast along in blissful ignorance, continuing to expect and even demand more government than can be paid for. That’s the real cliff ahead of us.


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