Politicians have no interest in cutting ANY spending. That is where their power comes from. The power to dispense favor to donors. And they do it so well.
So well that they have run this nation into well over $16 trillion in declared debt. And that amount increases every second. It is almost certainly at least twice as much in undeclared (uncounted) immediate debt. And massive amounts more in piles of IOUs with a "I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today!" future payout promises.
Make no mistake; these economic budget plans have been passed all too many times before. Increase taxes and spending for the promise of decreased spending years down the line. Down the line never occurs.
But the fiscal cliff WILL make spending cuts. And tax increases. And while no where near ideal--I would cut all spending and all taxes and ask for donations of rope to hang the bastards--it is the only plan that will actually make cuts in government starting the first of this upcoming year. But even it is not an austerity plan as has finally been imposed on parts of Europe and will eventually occur here.
Of course these budget disasters have happened before and ALWAYS resulted in CONgress bailing out the furloughed federal workers and "capitalist"welfare cronies with back pay and newly issued debt. Undoubtedly if CONgress adjourns before passing a continuance, a budget or Obama vetoes what is passed, then you can count of the new CONgress to promptly restore everything including the official tea taster too.