The reality should be seeping in to viewers of the Sunday shows that the Republicans don’t have a game plan. They don’t have a single, specific proposal to avoid the fiscal cliff. And even if they had one, they don’t have a roadmap to get there. They keep expecting Obama to come back with something more to their liking, which they’d also reject. Many Republicans literally don’t understand what is happening. Sen. Charles Grassley tweeted over the weekend that he was frustrated that President Obama hadn’t embraced the recommendation of the Bowles-Simpson Commission. Apparently, he is one of the many people in Washington who doesn’t understand that Bowles-Simpson recommended letting the Bush tax rates on the wealthy expire, while also proposing to cap or eliminate deductions primarily enjoyed by the wealthy.
Above all, the Republicans have yet to grasp that the field is tilted against them. Republicans have every reason to expect, based on their scouting of past Obama performances, that he will start moving toward them and then, essentially, bargain with himself. But now he doesn’t have to. Right now, the policy choice isn’t between an Obama proposal the Republicans abhor and a preferred Republican proposal. No, the choice is between an Obama proposal the Republicans abhor and the fiscal cliff, which Republicans would like even less and the Democrats could live with for a while.
The Republicans are losing, and time is running out. But instead of putting the quarterback on the field and rolling out an aggressive two-minute drill, they seem to be preparing to punt.