The word among some Senate Republicans is that a fiscal cliff deal is likely to be struck by Sunday, or Monday at the latest. (And Monday, being December 31st, is in fact the latest a deal could be struck to avoid January 1 tax increases.) Those Senate Republicans hope the final deal will make permanent current tax levels — Bush tax cut levels — for everyone who makes below $500,000.
The $500,000 figure is not set in stone. It could be $400,000, as President Obama is reportedly willing to agree to, or it could be higher, as some Senate Democrats have suggested in the past. But it will be more than the $250,000 that is the president’s current position. In addition, big spending cuts, the sequestration cuts scheduled to go into effect in the new year, would not be affected and would go forward as planned.
There are two things to remember. The first is that Boehner had a big majority of Republican support for Plan B. An estimated 80 percent to 85 percent of the House GOP caucus was ready to vote for that bill. The second thing is that a Senate deal, presumably blessed by the White House, would have the support of Democrats as well as a significant number of Republicans, meaning House Democrats would undoubtedly vote for it. Put those Democrats together with even some of the Republicans who were prepared to vote for Plan B, and a bill would pass the House.
So a deal will most likely be done. But the bottom line is that the fiscal cliff fight will not end happily for Republicans. They will have given in on what was an article of faith — that taxes should not be raised on anybody, poor or rich — in return for essentially nothing. All they will have is a plan to fight again, soon.