Dan Holler

Matt Damon, the actor who once gave $2,000 to Dennis Kucinich, is giving up on politics. He told Playboy, “It’s easier now more than ever in my life to feel the fix is in, the game is rigged and no matter how hard you work to change things, it just doesn’t matter.”

Liberal Hollywood elites are not the only ones disappointed with failure of President Obama to deliver on his 2008 promise to change Washington. Heck, even left-leaning newspapers are blaming – albeit inadvertently – his Washington for the fiscal cliff fallout. When consumer confidence took a sharper than expected dive last week, the New York Times attributed it to the “looming fiscal impasse in Washington.”

Amazingly, the Times is on to something. This so-called fiscal cliff is nothing more than congressionally designed geography with a presidential signature.

Let’s review. In August 2011, President Obama signed a bill that arbitrarily cut defense spending. In December 2010, President Obama signed a bill to extend the current tax rates for two years. And in March 2010, President Obama signed $500 billion in tax hikes into law as part of Obamacare.

Americans will get the bill for all of this starting in 2013.

Blame for the forthcoming economic pain should be placed squarely on President Obama’s shoulders. Sure, he had bipartisan help for some of his cliff creation, but as President and the guy who promised to change Washington, he owns the outcome.

President Obama’s reckless approach to the cliff negotiations should make that much clearer. In the Wall Street Journal, Kimberly Strassel explained, “Mr. Obama won't willingly agree to any serious cuts, to any meaningful entitlement reform, ever. He will risk everything—the ‘middle class’ he claims to want to protect, his economic legacy—to continue growing government.”

The word risk is appropriate, because President Obama’s strategy is creating uncertainty over the future. RBS Securities economist Guy Berger told the New York Times, “So far consumers are worried about the future. Once they start worrying about the present, we’re in trouble.”

In August, the House – Republicans and some Democrats – attempted to head off the uncertainty by passing H.R.8, the Job Protection and Recession Prevention Act of 2012. It was straightforward – extend the current tax rates for everyone. It was a position many Democrats held in December 2010.

But, like Matt Damon said, the game is rigged. Harry Reid will not even bring H.R.8 up for a full debate. For five months, the leader of the “world’s greatest deliberative body” has stonewalled any effort to avert Barack’s Bluff.

Charles Krauthammer believes the explanation is as simple as it is cynical: “Obama was never interested in solving the fiscal issue. He wanted to break the Republicans…”

Rather than allow Harry Reid and President Obama to divide them, Republicans could put up a united front, which they are finally doing by refocusing on H.R.8. Again, as Strassel said:

“They can continue the folly of believing this president will compromise. Or they can realize that he will never be reasonable on taxes—and so they can't give anything away. They can realize that he won't hold hands with them on entitlement reform—and so they'll have to state their own big demands and force him to explain his lack of leadership. They can realize that backroom talks are a sucker's game.”

In short, don’t play an away game. As Heritage Action’s CEO Michael A. Needham said, “It will never be enough for the political left.” He continued:

“Conservatives should rally around ideas and principles that unite them, not tactics that create exploitable divisions. As we move to the next phase of the fiscal cliff debate, conservatives, especially those elected to represent the American people, must recommit to explaining and fighting for pro-growth policies that advance freedom and create opportunity.”

That may not be good enough for Matt Damon, but it’d be good for the country.


Dan Holler

Dan Holler is the Communications Director for Heritage Action for America. Previously, he held numerous positions at The Heritage Foundation, most recently he was the Senate Relations Deputy. A Maryland native, he is a graduate of Washington College.