The more the media covers the "fiscal cliff" fiasco, the more perspective is lost. It is really quite simple. Because the Republicans unilaterally jettisoned their trademark anti-tax stance, they will get nothing in return. The Democrats are not going to cut spending. In fact, the new tax revenues will fuel new spending, that will be leveraged into even more debt.
The pre-emptive Republican capitulation decoupled the tax issue from the spending issue, precluding any "Grand Bargain'" or even token spending cuts. The Democrats trademark stance of protecting social programs like Medicare and Social Security from cuts is intact. Thus, Obama is off the hook. He will pay no political price with his own base, nor will he feel any pressure to provide leadership in averting national bankruptcy.