No quick path to fiscal cliff deal

You’re coming down a road and see a pile of rocks in the road, with a bicycle approaching to ride around them.

You can’t veer off to the side because that will put you in danger, maybe hitting the fence on the side of the road or perhaps even tumbling off the side of a mountain.

Bicyclist on Transfăgărășan, the second highest paved road in Romania

The only to get where you’re going is to slow way down.

You may have to stop a bit and you will need pay attention to what others are doing.

By cooperating with others on the road, you’ll get to your destination eventually, and no one will get hurt.

In the negotiations on the fiscal cliff, there are going to be lots of starts and stops. 

And there will be many twists and turns in the road ahead.

For this situation, President Obama has one huge advantage: the Bush tax cuts are all expiring at the end of the year.

He also has political advantages: Democrats won the presidency and additional Senate and House seats. Although they didn’t win the House overall, they did win more votes nation-wide.  Also, most people support his view on taxes (i.e., they should go up on upper income people) and think Republicans will be at fault if there’s no deal.

Nonetheless, this situation isn’t going to get resolved soon.

Both parties need to show their bases that they care about the issues about which they’re most concerned. Thus they can’t compromise too readily or too rapidly.

Overall, the path forward will require a certain degree of cooperation. Just don’t look for it to happen quickly.

Amy Fried

About Amy Fried

Amy Fried loves Maine's sense of community and the wonderful mix of culture and outdoor recreation. She loves politics in three ways: as an analytical political scientist, a devoted political junkie and a citizen who believes politics matters for people's lives. Fried is Professor of Political Science at the University of Maine. Her views do not reflect those of her employer or any group to which she belongs.