If you believe that the best way to get a deal you want is to always negotiate from strength, then Republicans may just finally be coming to an adequate negotiating strategy on the fiscal cliff. The New York Times reports that Republican leaders are considering giving President Obama what he wants on higher tax rates now while leaving the fight over entitlement spending till Obama needs to come to them for a debt limit hike early next year.

“Republicans also know they have a problem: many liberal Democrats are more than willing to return to the Clinton-era tax code, and to allow across-the-board spending cuts to take effect, which disproportionately affect the military, rather than compromise too much with Republicans,” The Times reports. “In the debt ceiling fight, the tables might turn. Many conservative Republicans say they are willing to let the nation default if Congress refuses to cut spending. If the tax rate fight is resolved by the time the debt limit increase is needed, Democrats will find themselves without the leverage they now have with the expiration of the lower tax rates a certainty unless Congress acts affirmatively.

This is not an offer Republicans should make immediately. As troublesome as Speaker John Boehner’s, R-Ohio, latest offer to Obama was, it at least put the onus on Obama to identify some real entitlement reforms he would be willing to support. Republicans should keep this pressure on the White House.

But as a back up plan, passing a tax cut for 98 percent of Americans, while avoiding any of the additional new stimulus spending that Obama is asking for, may be the best Republicans can hope for right now. The American people will quickly realize that raising rates on the highest income Americans does nothing to solve the true cause of our fiscal crisis: entitlement spending. Then Republicans can then fight for real reforms on better turf. “There’s always better ground, but you have to get there,” Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, told the Times, while also making it clear he does not support allowing any taxes to rise.

Entitlement reform negotiated over a debt limit hike isn’t ideal either, but it is at least a better negotiating position than fighting for spending cuts when default option is a $4 trillion tax hike on the American people.

From The Washington Examiner
Examiner Editorial: Boehner’s fiscal fumble
Byron York: Ryan, Rubio roll out new GOP message: We care
Michael Barone: Higher tax rates won’t support entitlement state
Tim Carney: Why lobbyists dislike Citizens United
Phil Klein: GOP shouldn’t adopt ‘new revenue’ as euphemism for tax hikes

In Other News
The Washington Post, Fiscal cliff warnings yet to faze Wall Street: The stock market has been little changed in the past three weeks, with few wild swings. That comes despite the Jan. 1 deadline when tax hikes and spending cuts are to go into effect unless politicians reach a deal to avert them.
The Wall Street Journal, Adelson to Keep Betting on the GOP: After spending more than $100 million mostly on losing Republican election campaigns this year, casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson said he planned to stay in the game and double down on his political donations.
The New York Times, Rhode Island Judge Has Stake in Pension Case Outcome: A Rhode Island Superior Court judge is hearing a pension case that affects her mother, her son, her uncle and even herself.
The Los Angeles Times, Deal brings end to L.A., Long Beach ports strike: Clerical workers at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach will return to work Wednesday, ending a strike that crippled America’s busiest shipping hub for more than a week

Righty Playbook
Andrew Biggs and Jason Richwine on The Underworked Public Employee.
Joel Kotkin on The Blue-State Suicide Pact.
Yuval Levin on Bargaining and Its Limits.

Lefty Playbook
The Washington Post editorial board: Opening bids on fiscal cliff talks are too small.
The Washington Post‘s Brad Plumer on how Obama may try to cut U.S. carbon emissions by 10 percent without Congress.
Think Progress claims Global Warming Is Behind The Real War On Christmas.