President Obama smiling. (Photo: Bill Pugliano, Getty Images)
David Jackson, USA TODAY - THE OVAL blog
There's a reason President Obama and aides believe congressional Republicans will cave on the issue of higher taxes for the rich -- the polls are with them.
A new ABC News/Washington Post survey says 49% approve of Obama's handling of talks to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff; while only 25% approve of how House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has handled the negotiations.
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ABC News did point out "that's at least in part because many more people are in the dark about Boehner's efforts, underscoring a president's greater ability to command the spotlight to make his case -- and to draw more unified backing from his party's core supporters."
The fiscal cliff is a series of tax hikes and budget cuts that take effect next year -- unless the White House and Congress reach an agreement to start reducing the nation's $16 trillion-plus debt.
White House officials say the polls -- not to mention Obama's re-election win on Nov. 6 -- reflect strong support for his plan to increase tax rates on couples who make more than $250,000 a year.
According to a Bloomberg National Poll, "65% of Americans say the Nov. 6 results gave Obama a 'mandate' on his proposal to raise tax rates on income over $250,000 and 'to get it done' -- 45% of Republicans agree."
Those kinds of numbers would make any president confident.
Congressional Republicans acknowledge Obama's election victory, but say he must be more specific about budget cuts -- including entitlements -- if the parties are to strike a deal.
"Look, the election is over," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. "The president may enjoy these political rallies, but it's time to get serious."