Republicans losing public opinion wars in "fiscal cliff" talks

Thu Dec 13, 2012 8:27am EST
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By Fred Barbash

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Negotiations are expected to continue Thursday on the "fiscal cliff" with Republicans at a growing public opinion disadvantage and approval ratings for President Barack Obama rising to levels not seen since the killing of Osama bin Laden.

Senior Democratic Senator Kent Conrad of North Dakota said on MSNBC late Wednesday that he thought Obama and House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner were edging closer to a deal.

He added that he hoped something will be announced next week to avert the steep tax hikes and budget cuts set for the start of 2013.

"I believe that they will have a framework agreement," Conrad said. "I believe they'll have it early next week. And I believe it will secure the votes in both the Senate and the House. We may miss some on the wings, but I think the center will hold."

Republican Representative Kevin Brady of Texas, in a Fox Business News interview Wednesday evening, disagreed with Conrad's assessment.

"I started pretty optimistic about this that we could get this done well before the holidays, but I don't feel that way anymore," Brady said. "It seems to me a decision's been made perhaps by the White House already to take us off this fiscal cliff."

Conservative Republican Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina said the economy had already been damaged by the uncertainty caused by the deadlock.

"We can't fix it Christmas Eve and expect it all to bounce back in January," he said Thursday on CBS.   Continued...

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) speaks to the media outside his office on Capitol Hill in Washington, December 7, 2012. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas