Most people believe President Obama has the upper hand in negotiations over the federal fiscal cliff. Kimberly Strassel offers a different perspective in the Wall Street Journal.

Let us assume that Mr. Obama is correct in his bet that the GOP will prove more responsible than he is and won’t cliff-dive. The president’s recent baiting of Republicans—his unreasonable offers, his public campaign to belittle them, his refusal to negotiate—has not put them in a generous mood. If Republicans have to fold on the top tax rates, it’s a decent bet they will do only that—and nothing more.

Mr. Obama has invited them to do just that. He’s called on Republicans to quickly pass an extension of middle-class tax rates, to get that out of the way. “I’ve got a pen, I’m ready to sign it,” he quipped. He can hardly complain if the GOP House sends him a bill that extends current tax rates for 98% of Americans—and that’s it. The president will have his “victory.” And?

Republicans will make clear they sent that bill under duress—that they wanted to extend tax rates for everyone—and that Mr. Obama is responsible for the consequences. The president claims that raising taxes on job creators won’t hurt the economy. Fine, but if he’s wrong, he alone owns it. There will be no GOP fingerprints on this.

Speaking of ownership, Mr. Obama will also take possession of the sequester. The Republicans, after all, offered to fix this as part of a deal, but he wouldn’t budge on taxes. The GOP would have to swallow hard on the defense cuts, though Mr. Obama will be under huge pressure to take actions to mitigate the damage to the military. That will be harder to do on the domestic discretionary side of the sequester, which will next year cut $50 billion from programs Mr. Obama and his partisans cherish.

The president will also finally have to show his math. He has argued his entire presidency that America’s debt hole could be filled by soaking the rich. He’ll now get his way, in a bill that likely provides $800 billion in revenue over 10 years, or $80 billion a year. To repeat: $80 billion a year. That is 7% of the $1.1 trillion deficit Mr. Obama ran in fiscal year 2012 alone. His tax hikes in hand, he can now explain why the hole keeps getting bigger.