Published for www.keithhennessey.com, December 11, 2012

The conventional wisdom on the fiscal cliff is that there are two options: (1) an Obama-Boehner deal; or (2) no deal, in which case there is no legislation before the end of the year and we “go off the fiscal cliff.” Even those who acknowledge the possibility of other legislative paths appear to treat the Obama-Boehner negotiation as if it were the only alternative to a failure to legislate.

I won’t rehash my argument that the President is no more willing to risk a no deal scenario than Republicans, and therefore that he and his advisors are bluffing when they say they are willing to “go over the cliff” if a new bill is not to their liking. But after talking to Republican friends on Capitol Hill, I am confident that I have convinced no one of this point. It appears many key Republicans believe that a no-bill scenario is unacceptable and must be avoided at any cost.

If enough Republican Members of Congress believe this, and if the President knows they believe this, then Speaker Boehner has literally zero leverage in his negotiations. The President can dictate his terms because Republicans think he is willing to walk away from a bad deal and they are not.

Full post here

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