Michael Cohen in the Guardian makes a persuasive argument that Republicans don't have much to gain by holding the economy to ransom again during the 'fiscal cliff' negotiations:
In the end, neither side has all that much to gain from dragging the fiscal cliff argument out. Now that President Obama has won re-election, and doing short-term damage to the economy is no longer in the political interests of Republicans, the outlines of a budget deal become that much easier to achieve. Moreover, all those House Republicans have to run for re-election in two years – and would prefer to do so in more optimal economic conditions, rather than in an economy undermined by growth-reducing austerity policies.
There were once good political reasons for Republicans to have a dalliance with economic calamity; no longer is that true. And it's worth remembering that in virtually every single showdown between Obama and the Republican Congress in his first term (from the tax cut showdown of 2010 and the budget battle of early 2011, to the debt limit negotiations in the summer of 2011 and finally the payroll tax confrontation in the beginning of 2012), it has been Republicans who have surrendered, with far less than half a loaf. In its brinkmanship, the GOP likes to dance right up to the edge; they are far less inclined to take the plunge.
I think Cohen is correct in his analysis - Americans believe that President Obama's economic policies are heading the country in the right direction, and explicitly rejected austerity at the polls in November. GOP strategists know this and will not be keen to shoulder the blame for a break down in the negotiations, making a decent deal for the Democrats a good possibility. It looks like Obama is sticking to his guns on raising taxes for the wealthy, meaning the onus is on Republicans to budge from their previous position on taxation.