The Democrats think they are in a win-win situation. If they bully Republicans into agreeing to raise tax rates before the end of the year, they win — because Democrats get both their new revenue and the self-destruction of the GOP brand as the party of low taxes. If Republicans refuse to cave, Democrats are convinced they still win — because tax rates on the wealthy go up automatically Jan. 1, and they can blame Republicans for any tax increases on the middle class.
This is a major miscalculation. First, their ability to blame the GOP depends on their ability to convince Americans that Republican intransigence is to blame for any failure to reach a year-end deal. But right now, only Democrats are saying they want to go over the cliff. Some — including Schumer and Sen. Patty Murray — are saying so in plain English. With his offer to the GOP last week, President Obama effectively joined the Democratic chorus for fiscal cliff-diving.