Probably part of the reason the American people don’t expect a deal is that just like in Congress there is a sharp partisan divide among regular people about what even the basic outline of a deficit reduction package should look like. From Quinnipiac:
There are striking differences on the issue depending on party identification. By 84 – 12 percent, Republicans don’t expect a deal, compared to 51 – 39 percent among Democrats and 71 – 20 percent among independent voters. Whites by 73 – 20 percent think a deal is unlikely as do Hispanics 55 – 36 percent. Blacks are hopeful for a deal by a narrow 44 – 40 percent.
On whether the debt reduction plan would include just spending cuts, or include some taxes, the split is clearly partisan. For spending cuts only are Republicans 74 – 16 percent and independent voters 48 – 38 percent. Democrats would include tax hikes 58 – 30 percent.
There has been a very serious effort to put the blame for the Congressional Republican’s refusal to accept a “grand bargain” that contains tax increases squarely on Grover Norquist and his Taxpayers Protection Pledge, but the issue isn’t that Norquist personally has an incredibly amount of power to punish Republican that cross him. The issue is that the no new tax position is now held by a very large part of the Republican base. It is the Republican base that can and will punish elected Republicans if they don’t represent them on taxes.
Norquist’s pledge wouldn’t have power if it weren’t for the fact that it represents a popular and simple statement of principle with regular rank and file Republicans. Congressional Republicans aren’t eager to accept a grand bargain that contains tax increases because the people they depend on to elect them don’t want that kind of a deal.