Fiscal cliff vote ramps up political tensions

Deal has undermined some Democrat-Republican relationships.

New Statesman
In happier times. Obama and Republican speaker John Boehner. Photograph: Getty Images

The fiscal cliff legislation has been passed, but all conflicts have not been resolved. While the vote averted immediate tax hikes for Americans, in process it undermined various political relationships, including the one between Obama and John Boehner, "his most important negotiating partner", according to a report by the FT:

“I don’t think either of them regards the other as being able to deliver his own troops,” said William Galston, a former Clinton administration official, now at the Brookings Institution.

Within Congress, relations between the Democratic and Republican Senate leaders, Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell, two old warhorses who can usually find ways to do business, also foundered in the fiscal cliff talks.

In the short term, fiscal fights will dominate politics for months to come and threaten to crowd out serious consideration of other issues, with a large potential downside for the economy in 2013.