The “Fiscal Cliff” – A New Republican Playbook

Since Obama has won re-election, one thing needs to become completely and unequivocally clear to Republicans – the playing field is not level and will never again be. So, Republicans need to throw out the old playbook and institute a new one.

With the coming fiscal cliff, the Republicans need to put it together and do it quickly.

With the apparent fact that Obama has zero ability to actually lead on any issue, the Democrats will look to pin the blame for the U.S. going off the “fiscal cliff” on the Republicans. Otherwise, they would have to own the issue that they agreed to. Note a few headlines –

  • NBCNews – Poll: If government careens off fiscal cliff, GOP to shoulder blame
  • Politico – Poll: Blame GOP for cliff diving
  • TheHill.com – Poll: Most Americans would blame GOP if Congress fails on fiscal cliff

There are many more examples, but one thing should become perfectly clear – the media needs to be treated as enemy territory. Under no circumstances can a Republican politician or private citizen feel even remotely confident that he will get even treatment. The days of media impartiality are long since over as more journalists are making their political leanings known – if not advertised.

So, what is the GOP to do?

Scenario 1 – Inundate the Senate Democrats with bills. Set a record for the number of bills passed between now and the end of the year – all tied to the ‘fiscal cliff’ – and put it on Harry Reid to do something. Proposals should be tried and true to conservative principles since they would in no way be considered…much less passed. (The obvious expectation is that Harry would table everything since he would consider working with Republicans “laughable.”)

Scenario 2 – Once the Republican proposals are in the Senate, demand that Harry Reid pass a counter-proposal immediately so the Republicans know where the Democrats stand. They must stress the urgency of the situation and that delay by the Democrats is tantamount to economic ruin of the country. Do it every single day, all day, and continually point out to the American public the inactivity coming from the Democrats until he passes something for them to consider.

Scenario 3 – When the delay drags on from the first two scenarios, the Republicans need to demand a proposal from Obama. He invited them to work with him – they need to put it on him to lead. If he actually leads and produces something; then it needs to be for the Democrats to consider in the Senate first. Then the House Republicans will take it up immediately once the Senate has passed it.

(Of all of the possible scenarios – this is the least likely to happen since it would interfere with Obama’s regularly scheduled golf outings.)     

The pressure must be continually applied to the Democrats to act – for every action they take; the House Republicans must respond quickly to it. It is a PR war that is being waged, and the Republicans need to employ almost guerilla-style tactics in fighting it.

Give ground begrudgingly – for every item Republicans concede (e.g. tax hikes on the rich), another Democrat “sacred cow” (e.g. entitlement reform, welfare cuts, discretionary spending freezes) needs to be placed onto the altar of sequestration in the response to Democrat proposals. Continually pressure the Democrats into responding to ideas that they cannot politically afford to pass if they want to be re-elected.

Timing is key to this plan. The Republicans must present themselves as willing to work with the Democrats – but they also must realize that Obama has made it clear that he is an ideologue who will expect full compliance with his whims. The Republicans will have to fight perception that is shaped by the lapdog media who stands at the ready to do the beck and call of their “anointed one.”

It is a PR war – and Republicans are in enemy territory.