Mark Thoma has put together some thoughts of his own as well as those of Bruce Bartlett, Brad DeLong, and Paul Krugman. I think it is worth a scan.
Bruce Bartlett on President Obama as ‘an old time Republican’ seems to fit the description, without the hyperbole of contentious issue debate:
In a little-noticed comment on Spanish-language television on December 14, Obama himself confirmed this typology of today’s political spectrum. Said Obama, “The truth of the matter is that my policies are so mainstream that if I had set the same policies that I had back in the 1980s, I would be considered a moderate Republican.”
I think this is correct and explains a great deal about why Obama refuses to use his leverage to pursue liberal policies and keeps inviting Republicans back to the negotiating table again and again on the budget. He wants a deal, he wants to cut spending and balance the budget if possible. This may or may not be a wise course for a Democratic president to follow, but that is who Obama is.
Read more at Fiscal Times
My guess is that Obama already knows that the outcome of that debate will be one in which he looks like he retreated over time. But I also believe that the place he retreats to will be where he wanted to go in the first place; indeed, I suspect he never believed he would get 100% of the Bush tax cuts reversed in the fiscal cliff negotiations. Note too that, to DeLong’s complaint, the next debate will again be an issue of how much austerity. And expect that Obama will allow the negotiations to drag out to the eleventh hour, thereby forcing both Republicans and Democrats to choke down a meal – some combination of tax hikes and entitlement cuts – they both find distasteful.