Today on MSNBC, leading House Republican Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) said that Obama’s tax deal — that extends tax cuts even for people making $30,000 a month and enacts a weaker estate tax than otherwise would’ve gone into law — has resulted in the President giving away all his leverage:
TOM COLE: Again, I would prefer not to raise taxes on anybody. But we protected almost every American. We did it at a higher income level than the President campaigned on. And again, frankly, we’ve denied him I think his most important piece of leverage in any negotiation going forward.Ai??So I particularly like that part. I understand unemployment extension. I prefer, you know, a more focused effort in that regard. But we do have parts of the country where that’s necessary and it’s a fair compromise. The entitlement issue, just too much to deal with I think in one piece of legislation. But again, still sequester is in front of us. The continuing resolution runs out the end of march and obviously the debt ceiling. All of those things honestly are Republican leverage not Democratic so I think there will be opportunities to deal with the spending issue next year. Honestly I expect that will be the dominant issue along with trying to overhaul the tax code going forward. So that’s usually pretty good ground for Republicans.
Also note that Cole says he specifically thinks that now that Obama has given away his leverage, Republicans can go after “entitlements” — meaning Medicare and Social Security benefits — during the debt ceiling and sequester negotiations.