Politics

December 11, 2012

From NH to Colo., voter disdain spreads as 'fiscal cliff' looms

The scene playing out on Capitol Hill is a familiar one as lawmakers with competing ideologies wage an 11th-hour battle to avert a predictable crisis.

Steve Peoples/Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

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This still image from video released by Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies shows a frame from their ad on the "fiscal cliff." Picking up where the wall-to-wall election ads left off, debate over the "fiscal cliff" has money pouring into television, print, radio and online advertising. As Republicans and the White House joust over big tax increases and spending cuts, outside groups on both sides weigh in with major campaigns aimed at politicians and voters alike. (AP Photo/ Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies)

AP

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In this photo taken Thursday Dec. 6, 2012 of John Pfeifle Bradford, N.H. is seen during his lunch break at Robie's Country Store and Deli in Hookset, N.H. Pfeifle, says that both Obama and House Republicans seem prepared to push the nation over the fiscal cliff.(AP Photo/Jim Cole)

AP

The conservative group Crossroads GPS is running television ads across the country describing Obama's solution as "a huge tax increase" with "no real spending reforms." ''Call President Obama and tell him it's time to show us a balanced plan," the ad says.

Most voters interviewed in recent days are calling for an immediate compromise and seem willing to raise taxes on the wealthy so long as the middle class is protected.

There is a vague sense that the "fiscal cliff" is more serious than other recent Capitol Hill clashes. But barely a month after the presidential contest ended, most people say they're not following the daily developments that consume Washington.

In a Denver coffee shop, interior designer Roxann Lloyd, 42, is mystified by the sound and fury out of Washington over the cliff.

"I don't think they have any idea what a big deal is to an average person," she said. "I'm just ignoring it."

Lloyd said she isn't surprised by the partisan bickering over the issue. "I don't feel like they are really looking out for us," she said of Congress.

John Baker, 65, a Denver psychologist, said he had little faith in Congress' ability to fix the problem: "I don't think Congress can fix a flat tire."

"It's a typical Washington, 'Let's hit the panic button and keep people scared so they will let us do what we want to do,'" Baker said in a downtown Denver Starbucks. "Ultimately, it will be fixed but not until a lot of pockets are lined."

It's unclear whether members of Congress are hearing the message.

Rep. Charlie Bass, a New Hampshire Republican who lost his re-election bid last month, says it's unclear whether his GOP colleagues will "face the reality that the president, at least at this point, is not going to accept anything other than a tax rate increase."

A stalemate would result in "painful uncertainty," Bass said, offering his caucus a bit of advice: "We best get on with it — get it done."

Back at Robie's, store owner Debbie Chouinard says she's burned out from election season and "tired of all the bull."

"I honestly haven't been paying attention," she said while feeding her 2-year-old granddaughter lunch during a brief lull. "People should be working together to get this country going."

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