Republicans and Democrats are both claiming that the 2012 election results are a mandate for . . . well, whatever they want.
Version 1: New Taxes on the Rich
From Saturday’s New York Times front page:
WASHINGTON — President Obama said Friday that he would insist that tax increases on affluent Americans be part of any agreement to avoid a year-end fiscal crisis, setting up a possible confrontation with Congressional Republicans who say they will oppose a rise in tax rates for the rich.
In his first remarks from the White House since his re-election, Mr. Obama made it clear that he believed his victory had validated his relentless campaign call for wealthier Americans to pay more and that he expected Republicans to heed that message.
“I just want to point out this was a central question during the election,” he said in brief remarks in the East Room. “It was debated over and over again. And on Tuesday night, we found out that the majority of Americans agree with my approach.”
Except, maybe, for the majority of Republicans.
Version 2: No New Taxes on the Rich
From Saturday’s Wall Street Journal Weekend Interview:
In the wake of President Barack Obama’s electoral victory, gleeful Democrats believe that the impending “fiscal cliff” has Republicans trapped into finally accepting higher tax rates. But as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell sits for an interview in his Capitol office 48 hours after the election, one thing is certain: He is in no way chastened by Tuesday’s results. If Mr. Obama wants fiscal hand-to-hand combat, he will get it.
“Let me put it very clearly,” says the five-term Republican senator from Kentucky. “I am not willing to raise taxes to turn off the sequester. Period.” On Jan. 1, Washington faces both a huge tax increase and an automatic spending cut known as the “sequester,” which could tip the economy back into recession. A newly emboldened President Obama is likely to take his soak-the-rich case straight to the people, I remind the senator. The political pressure to capitulate could become intense.
“Look, he may think it would be helpful to his presidency to continue to divide and demonize us,” says Mr. McConnell. “But my answer will still be short and firm: No. We won’t agree to any tax increases that will hurt the economy.”
Sounds like a fiscal cliffhanger to us.