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They have a fair amount of leverage, in that they control the U.S. House of Representatives. From a political perspective, if the fiscal cliff is intolerable for all parties, then they have a pretty large seat at the table as well.

But that's the point. This "cliff" does much of what the Dems want. They can do nothing and they get their rich-guy tax hikes (or, more precisely, the expiration of the tax cuts). The conservatives are the ones scrambling to make this not happen. They need to be a bit more contrite and flexible than they have been in recent years, or Obama can just ignore them and let it happen.

That's what I meant by no leverage. Imagine if I try to return something to a store after the 30-day policy. The manager might accommodate me, but he doesn't have to. He's in the driver's seat, and I need to be very nice and pleasant or he can just tell me to buzz off.

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