Wednesday's lead New York Times story by Jonathan Weisman followed media conventional wisdom, ladling on the labeling bias while showing Republicans on the defensive in their insistence on not raising taxes on "the rich," in "G.O.P. Looks for Fallback To Avoid a Fiscal Standoff – Pact Could Allow Taxes to Rise for the Rich – Risks Are Feared on the Right."
With President Obama insisting on higher tax rates for affluent Americans and winning public support for the idea, Congressional Republicans find themselves in an increasingly difficult political spot and are quietly beginning to look for a way out.
Senior Republican leadership aides say they are contemplating a fallback position since a standoff over expiring tax rates will be portrayed by Democrats as evidence that the opposition is willing to allow taxes to rise on the middle class to keep taxes from rising on the rich -- and their intransigence could mean taxes go up on rich, poor and middle class alike.
But any move toward compromise with Democrats on fiscal issues quickly comes under attack from conservatives as a surrender and unsettles the rank and file.
It is a dynamic that has haunted Speaker John A. Boehner throughout the 112th Congress, as he has repeatedly been caught between the imperative to govern and the need to satisfy the restive right. Mr. Boehner, of Ohio, has drawn fire this week for removing a handful of House Republicans who have defied the leadership from their preferred committee seats, a step he took to enforce party discipline.
Popular opinion seems to be running against the Republicans. Most Americans support higher taxes on the rich, and a poll by The Washington Post and the Pew Research Center released Tuesday found that 53 percent say Republicans in Congress would and should be blamed if Washington fails to reach a deal before January. Just 27 percent said Mr. Obama would deserve more blame, while 12 percent say both sides would share the blame equally.
And did Weisman pack enough "conservative" labels into this paragraph?
Speaker Boehner took as much fire from conservatives as from Democrats after proposing a deficit-reduction plan that would raise $800 billion in tax revenue over 10 years. Conservative advocacy groups and conservatives on Capitol Hill were united in their condemnation.
Also, the headline under Jackie Calmes' Tuesday piece on the fiscal cliff came with this optimistic headline, assuming that raising taxes are good and will guarantee loads of incoming revenue: "Democratic Group to Offer Tax Plan With Huge Payoff."