The New Republic‘s Noam Scheiber:
The fiscal cliff presented Democrats with as much leverage as they’re likely to come by in a generation or two. And even then, the GOP squeezed them for more some major concessions, including settling for a mere $600 billion in revenue after Obama and pretty much every GOP politico assumed $800 billion was the price of admission—what Obama was owed before the negotiation even started. Worse, even this preposterously good deal from the GOP’s perspective had trouble seeing the light of day in the Republican-controlled House. All of which makes you wonder what happens when Democrats lack leverage, which will be the case when the debt limit needs raising in several weeks. How does anything remotely acceptable to Democrats pass the House at that point?
The Washington Post‘s Ezra Klein:
The question of who “won” the fiscal cliff won’t be answered till we know what happens when Congress reaches the debt ceiling. The White House says that there’ll be no negotiations over the debt ceiling, and that if Republicans want further spending cuts, their only chance is to hand over more tax revenue. If they’re right and they do manage to enforce a 1:1 ratio of tax hikes to spending cuts in the next deal, they’re going to look like geniuses. … Republicans swear they are crazy enough to push the country into default, and they promise that the White House isn’t strong enough to stand by and let it happen. If they’re right, and the White House agrees to big spending cuts absent significant tax increases in order to avert default, then Republicans will have held taxes far lower than anyone thought possible.
The Washington Post‘s Greg Sargent:
The more serious problem for liberals is what the outcome says about what comes next. Obama had repeatedly insisted he would not budge off his demand that taxes go up on all income over $250,000. That obviously didn’t happen. The risk is that this will set a bad precedent for the next round in this fight, in which Republicans will hold the debt ceiling hostage to extract the deep cuts to entitlements they want. It’s reasonable to worry that today’s outcome, by signaling Obama’s over-emphasis on getting a deal for its own sake, will set the stage for a cave later. It’s on Obama to prove those worries unfounded.
The Corner‘s Yuval Levin:
For liberals, this was not a moment of danger to be minimized but by far their best opportunity in a generation for increasing tax rates (which is the only fiscal reform they seem to want) and for robbing Republicans of future leverage for spending and entitlement reforms. And it is likely the best one they will encounter for another generation. … If even under the conditions of the past month — with a very liberal president just re-elected, Republicans in disarray, public opinion on taxes seemingly friendlier to them than it has been in decades, and higher tax rates automatically taking effect — the Democrats can’t get more than a tiny pittance of revenue and no chips to use later, then their basic approach to fiscal issues just won’t work. The idea that they will raise rates again in the Obama years when they don’t have all these factors working in their favor is a fantasy. And the notion that the politics of taxes has decisively changed in their favor has been disproven by their own behavior.
Power Line‘s John Hinderaker:
It will soon become apparent that the fiscal cliff deal, including precisely the tax increases that Obama has been demanding for four years, makes hardly a dent in the deficit. … All of this is another way of saying that, with the Democrats’ BS about raising taxes on the rich out of the way, we can have a rational debate about the country’s fiscal future. And that is a debate the GOP can win, as most voters continue to believe that it is better to cut spending than to raise taxes on them. So let’s not despair: the post-cliff landscape may well prove favorable to the sorts of reforms that have been impossible for the last four years.