It is amazing what a few weeks and a bad election will do to a political party. During the campaign, Republicans were adamant about not raising taxes on anyone. And though most of the party still stands by this principle, cracks are beginning to develop within the GOP caucus that could signal a significant shift in how to tackle the fiscal cliff. There are only a few short legislative weeks left before such things as the 2001/2003 tax rates expire, and while an outcome is far from certain, notable conservatives have signaled that they are open-minded on how to achieve compromise. Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), former chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee, urged his fellow Republicans during a closed-door session to move quickly to extend the 2001/2003 tax rates for all but the highest earners. Though he still supports extending tax rates for all earners, Cole believes that Republicans will be blamed if the rates are allowed to expire for everyone. Cole also stated that the House of Representatives should revisit extending the rates for the top earners once the middle class is secured.
Senators like Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), John McCain (R-Ariz.) and even Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), known as "Dr. No" due to his unwillingness to approve any type of spending — have publically come out against Grover Norquist and his infamous anti-tax pledge. Norquist, head of the conservative Americans for Tax Reform, once struck fear in the heart of the GOP, but now many members of Congress believe that their hands are unfairly bound, especially during a potentially devastating time for the country. If these senators stick to their word, it is likely that many more in the GOP will follow.
Both President Barack Obama and Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) are meeting with CEOs this week to discuss tax rates and the looming fiscal cliff. Obama and Boehner seem, however, to be meeting with anyone but each other, which signals that a compromise may not be possible. The answer continues to be wait and see.