Heading into the holidays, most people in Washington expected President Obama to hold firm against Republican obstinacy and let the country go over the fiscal cliff. Obama had been handily reelected after campaigning to raise taxes on households making more than $250,000. Afterward, he kept campaigning. He didn’t just want to raise taxes. He also wanted to cut entitlement programs and resolve the upcoming budget deadlines that are sure to upset consumer confidence and slow the recovery. Right up until the end, Obama was admonishing Republicans to go along or face the consequences. Then he folded.
Even before the deal was settled, many liberals were outraged at how much he was willing to concede to avoid going over the cliff — an event for which every poll showed Republicans would be blamed. Most Republicans were terrified at the prospect.