Most people understand that the "fiscal cliff" is a fiction, manufactured for media consumption. It is a term which is a stand in for the strategy of 'austerity'. They did not want to use that term because the fight back in Europe to "Austerity" is there for all to see. They don't want fight back so they try to scare the American people. It is not working so well.
Some so-called "progressive" Democrats like to pretend there is no choreography between the two parties. They like to pretend that the fictional fiscal cliff is a creation of the Republicans. But the reality is that it comes from Obama's handpicked Simpson-Bowles Commission. Last month Rep. Nancy Pelosi slipped up and told the press she agreed with the commission findings. The reporters seemed confused but she was just indicating the truth that the endgame here is agreed to by both parties: cuts to so-called entitlements. In other words shredding of the social safety net. As they say in Europe it is all about making sure that those who created the economic crisis DO NOT have to pay for the crisis. The joint objective here is to gut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
The great disagreement is not between Obama and the Republicans, it is between them both and the American people. The majority of us want hands off these programs. The "Grand Bargain" was made in 2011 when both parties agreed to $4 trillion in cuts. Now they are using the "fiscal cliff" to say that the upcoming theft is an act of nature that is impossible to stop.
The Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Rep. Keith Ellison says that their members "are not going to allow the most vulnerable Americans to shoulder the burden of the fiscal problem". Words of bluster are cheap, but the so-called left wing of the Democratic Party can only stop the coming attack by opposing their own president. They have never done that before and it is doubtful they will do it now.