Thu Dec 20, 2012, 11:43 AM
DonViejo (11,893 posts)
John Boehnerís Selfish Gambit May Send Us Over the Fiscal Cliff
by Michael Tomasky Dec 20, 2012 4:45 AM EST
With his speakership on the line, John Boehner has given up trying to do whatís best for the country. Michael Tomasky on the consequences of one manís quest to keep his job.
On Thursday, John Boehner will lead the House Republicans, or enough of them anyway, toward passage of his Plan B bill that will keep tax rates at current levels on all dollars earned up to $1 million. This means that House Republicans, or enough of them anyway, will be supporting a tax increase, no matter what they want to call itóan amusing grace note to which weíll return. But the main point is that with this vote, Boehner, unless heís doing something very different behind the scenes, is effectively ending fiscal cliff negotiations. His terse and unyielding remarks to the press Wednesday contrasted very poorly indeed with Obamaís plea for a soupÁon of post-Newtown perspective and reason, and his gambit isnít going to play well if we do go over the cliff. But it may save his job, which I suspect was really the point.
It hasnít been mentioned much in all the fiscal cliff talk, but remember, not long after whatever fiscal votes the House takes, there will come a far more important one as far as Boehner is concerned: the vote for speaker of the 113th Congress. That will happen on Jan. 3. Itís hardly a secret that his restive caucus tilts well to his right, and itís also widely known that a lot of them would in their hearts prefer to hear Eric Cantorís voice on the other end of the phone, or possibly Kevin McCarthyís, when they phone the speakerís office. Cantorís Cassius-like designs on the office have been likewise well noted.
At the beginning of the week, Boehner was talking like a fellow who wanted to cut a deal. His offer from last Friday put real revenue on the table for the first time and kicked any debt-limit fights down the road for one year. Obama responded with a concession on Social Security. They were dancing, at least. The establishment press, and the establishment for and to whom they speak, were all getting very excited.
But it would appear that the House Republican caucus wasnít all that impressed with Boehnerís dance moves. Plan B is a huge step backward, a retreat away from negotiation and onto the safe but counterproductive territory of the ultimatum. After the House passes Plan B, he said Wednesday, ďThen the president will have a decision to make. He can call on the Senate Democrats to pass that bill, or he can be responsible for the largest tax increase in American history.Ē
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