October 26th, 2012
08:26 PM ET

Joe Klein on partisanship in Washington

By Jason Miks

Editor’s note: GPS Editor Jason Miks speaks with TIME political columnist Joe Klein about the upcoming U.S. presidential election. Watch Klein on "Fareed Zakaria GPS" this Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET.

A columnist in The Guardian this week suggested this may be the most divided American electorate ever. Whoever wins next month, can either candidate make good on President Obama’s pledge during his 2008 presidential campaign to bring the country together?

I actually think that either one of them is going to be in a strong position to make a deal. There’s a big deal coming down the road in terms of budgets and deficits, and I think it’s really interesting that on so many issues, the answers are now obvious. We’ve been in a period of real partisan gridlock, and I think that these problems are going to be solved.

Is one or the other candidate better positioned to do this?

No, I don’t think so. And I disagree first of all with the notion that this is a bitterly divided country. I think you have about a third of the country who hate the president and are Tea Party sorts. Then you have a much smaller “left” – perhaps about 5 percent of the country at most. But on a lot of major issues, I think there’s a real consensus out there, and I think the question is whether a Republican president like Mitt Romney would go with the national consensus, which is in favor of a balanced program for the future – restoration of the Clinton tax rates plus budget cutting and entitlement reform. And if Romney loses, the question is what does House Speaker John Boehner want his legacy to be? Some of it will depend on how much strength the Tea Party has coming out of these elections. We’ll see.

So you’re confident the U.S. can avoid the fiscal cliff?

I think that we’ve had four years of really heightened, destructive partisanship because of a strategic decision that was made on the part of the Republican leadership in the Congress, and one way or another that is coming to an end.

If Obama wins, then Mitch McConnell’s mission to get rid of him will have failed, and the party will have to deal with a new reality. And if Romney wins, I think there will be tremendous pressure to make a deal, and given the makeup of the Senate that is going to have to involve Democrats. And given that Democrats want to see higher rates, that’s going to be in there.

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Topics: 2012 Election • Barack Obama • Mitt Romney • Politics

soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. rokon

    Americans are excited. After four years they get a chance to choose who can serve their corporate masters better. Millions of dollars are spent this drama.

    October 27, 2012 at 1:44 am | Reply
    • j. von hettlingen

      No, the Americans are not excited, but agitated. Lots would be at stake, were there be a change of administration, which might turn the world upside down, with military engagements here and there!

      October 27, 2012 at 6:49 pm | Reply
  2. Chaotician

    Get serious...no one is voting for someone...everyone is voting against someone whether for racist reasons...a big majority, economic idolatry, religious bigotry and stupidity, and the like! The neo-fascists (corporatist) and their minions of ignorance in the religious right and teabaggers have created a cesspool of governance and nothing happening in this election will remove the corruption and malfeasance of our congress, exterminate the political corruption of SCOTUS and our Judiciary, send the lobbyiest jackals back to the wilderness, exterminate the incompetence and corruption of our appointed officials... or do anything to make our government "work" and be accountable in any way to the people! Half the people of America could be raptured to their nirvana and I would cheer, goodbye and good riddance! I have no interest or desire to be associated in any way with anyone south of the Mason-Dixon line or in that empty flyover plains of the continent! I want them to leave, peacefully and cooperatively as possible; but leave! Create your own nightmare and leave me alone! I have no interest in bipartisanship, no interest in compromising my ideals, my hopes and aspirations, my peace for the insanity spouted by Repugants and they can take everyone one of the 1% of the 1%, the banksters, wall street gamblers and every politicians with then!

    October 27, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Reply
  3. Pam Dulaney

    After watching the show today. My mail question is. How much of the fracking oil stays in the United States ?
    IIf it is sold, how does it help u.s.?

    October 28, 2012 at 11:03 am | Reply
  4. Citizen KK

    Can Joe Klein's analysis be any more far off the edge? Incoherent blather.....

    October 31, 2012 at 8:25 am | Reply

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