Does President Obama have an advantage in the fiscal cliff battle?

A newly empowered Obama is heading into Round Two of budget talks with Speaker John Boehner

President Obama and John Boehner will likely have to contend with Tea Partiers who do not want any form of new taxes included in solutions to the looming fiscal cliff.
(Image credit: Retna Ltd./Corbis)

Unless Congress acts soon, two things will definitely happen on Jan. 1, 2013: The Bush tax cuts — totaling about $536 billion — will expire, and $110 billion in automatic spending cuts, sometimes referred to as sequestration, will go into effect. Known as the fiscal cliff, this frightening combination of tax hikes and spending cuts would probably act like a cardiac arrest on the recovery and push the economy back into recession. President Obama will soon begin negotiating with Speaker John Boehner over how to prevent such a scenario, a sequel to the budget talks for a "grand bargain" that collapsed in 2011. On the campaign trail, Obama said any deal must allow the Bush tax cuts to expire for those earning more than $250,000, and Democrats say the president's re-election is evidence that the country agrees. Boehner, meanwhile, has suggested that Republicans are "willing to accept new revenue under the right conditions," though that doesn't necessarily mean big tax hikes on the rich. Which side has an advantage at the negotiating table?

Obama has the advantage. The voters have spoken: "The question of whether high-end tax increases should be part of the country's fiscal solution was absolutely central to the presidential race for months," says Greg Sargent at The Washington Post. Obama underscored his position at every campaign appearance, every debate, and at the Dems' convention. "It does seem awfully clear that a majority of voters, in re-electing Obama, chose an approach to our fiscal problems that includes a bit more sacrifice from the wealthy — and rejected the argument that raising taxes on the rich will hurt the economy."

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