Skip to comments.President Obama's dilemma
Posted on 12/21/2012 8:37:09 AM PST by Qbert
President Barack Obama dispatched Mitt Romney a little more than a month ago but now faces an unpredictable new threat: a deeply divided House GOP that doesnt even seem capable of bargaining with him.
Obama had hoped the election would unclog the works in Washington. His aides often speculated that hed be freer to negotiate because he didnt have to run again and Republicans didnt have to run against him.
But Thursdays revolt was a grim reminder of how closely Obamas future is tethered to that of his political rivals.
If House Speaker John Boehner cant muscle his own bill through the House, his power to persuade his colleagues to accept a deal with the White House appears greatly diminished. And that means it might be tough for Obama to forge any agreement with House Republicans to avert the fiscal cliff this year or to push through his second-term agenda in the years to come.
The path forward looked unclear even to senior administration officials late Thursday.
Aides had thought the House wrangling would stretch past midnight, so many had left the White House early in the evening only to see Boehner pull the bill from floor at 8 p.m., much sooner than expected. They took it as a sign that Boehner wasnt even close.
Obama press secretary Jay Carney released a purposefully restrained statement a shift after days of senior administration officials accusing Boehner of strategic incompetence and political cowardice. The president will work with Congress, Carney said, to find a bipartisan solution.
But by the time Carney responded, Boehner had already signaled that he had no intention of returning to the bargaining table with Obama. After his own strategy backfired, Boehner said in a statement that Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) needed to come up with a solution not exactly the message that the White House was hoping to hear.
Now, negotiations move onto unusual turf.
In the normal choreography of such deal-making, Boehner would have been able to pass his bill and likely come back to the negotiating table wielding a new GOP bottom line: no tax hike on anyone making less than $1 million. Obama is seeking tax hikes on families $400,000 and up, so some split-the-difference number $600,000, maybe $750,000 might have been attainable.
But with Boehner unable even to get a millionaires tax through his irascible caucus, its less clear than ever where that common ground might be.
Even if Boehner and Obama can reach a compromise, Obama will need to decide whether no deal at all is better than the type of deal that might make it through the House something with less tax revenue and more spending cuts than Obama believes he should have to accept. For example, if Obama is going to raise the income threshold, he would want more in return for such a concession, and theres no really no way he could wring out more from Boehner.
The White Houses best hope is that Boehner takes a drastically different course and breaks with his own allies. He could decide to negotiate the best bipartisan package possible and put it on the floor with unanimous Democratic support and the backing of Republicans who want to avoid the cliff.
But theres little expectation that hell go that route and weaken his already shaky hold on the speakership. Boehner would flout the majority of the majority policy, which was instituted a decade ago by former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill). It means that leaders do not put a bill on the floor unless it has the support of a majority of the majority.
If Boehner keeps insisting on majority of the majority, we go over the cliff, since its now clear nothing but a straight-up tea party bill can pass the house under those conditions, a senior Democratic Senate aide said.
The collapse of Boehners Plan B was not really good news for Obama, even though Democrats took delight in it. Democrats believe and polls back this up that Republicans will get blamed if the U.S. goes over the cliff. Boehners miscalculation is likely to harden public opinion against the GOP.
But the White House has to be worried that at some point, the public questions will turn to Obamas stewardship of the process, and thats where Boehners weakness is troublesome.
Even though administration officials say the president is willing to go over the cliff, their preference, by far, is a sweeping compromise that lifts the economy, notches another major win for Obamas legacy and allows him to start his second term with a clean slate.
Instead, they may need to settle for a smaller deal under consideration by Senate leaders an extension of tax breaks on income below $250,000 and unemployment insurance, along with a fix for both the alternative minimum tax, which hits upper middle-income families, and the annual cut in reimbursement rates for Medicare providers. This package would not address the dramatic spending cuts scheduled to take effect in the new year.
Or Obama does nothing and waits until a market shock or voter outrage forces both parties back to the table.
The problem, as Obama himself conceded, is that the GOP members who are causing him the most grief are utterly immune to the mandate he thinks he earned on Nov. 6. Their districts, many of them in the South, are gerrymandered to be as conservative as possible, and they are far more afraid of a tea party challenge from the right than any price they would pay with the center for bucking a national trend.
At a White House news conference on Wednesday, a visibly frustrated Obama made an explicit, if futile, plea for his congressional opponents to take him out of the equation in negotiations over the fiscal cliff.
It is very hard for them to say yes to me, the president said, referring to the staunch opposition of the partys right wing to tax increases an intransigence vividly illustrated by Boehners failed attempt to pass the millionaires tax Thursday.
At some point, theyve got to take me out of it and think about their voters, and think about whats best for the country, he continued. And if they do that if theyre not worried about whos winning and whos losing, did they score a point on the President, did they extract that last little concession, did they force him to do something he really doesnt want to do just for the heck of it, and they focus on actually whats good for the country.
Glenn Thrush contributed to this report.
"The collapse of Boehners Plan B was not really good news for Obama, even though Democrats took delight in it... the White House has to be worried that at some point, the public questions will turn to Obamas stewardship of the process, and thats where Boehners weakness is troublesome.
It doesn’t seem like obama is capable of bargaining with Congress either. The media is incapable of being honest about their messiah, too.
In an interview with MSNBCs Chris Matthews on Sunday, Biden said hes already been talking with a dozen GOP senators and more than two-dozen House members who have indicated theyd be more open to compromise after the election.
I could name for you I think theres a dozen Republican senators, and I think I could name you two and a half- or three-dozen House members, who once this election is over, they kind of get a get-out-of-jail-free card, he said. Because up to now its been, 'If you dont stick with this hard-right edge, then were going to primary you.' "
Whoever Biden was talking to obviously counted their chickens before they hatched.
Well, well, well. The “problem” is mostly caused by congressmen from TEA-Party districts in the south. But I thought the TEA Party was dead??? And say, isn’t the TEA Party really truly interested in government spending cuts? Where are they??
Where is the eloquence of a Washington, an Adams, a Jefferson, or even of a Reagan?
The very nature of the "miracle at Philadelphia" was one of passionate defense of liberty for future generations, selflessness in the face of danger to the personal life and property of the participants, and of a greater interest in the lives and liberties of countrymen than in the careers of themselves.
We pray that Divine Providence will send such leaders for this critical moment in America's history!
Perhaps leaders in Washington today might consider Jefferson's description of how he and his contemporaries in the early days approached matters of interest for the new nation:
"Sitting near me on some occasion of a trifling but wordy debate, he asked how I could sit in silence hearing so much false reasoning which a word should refute? I observed to him that to refute indeed was easy, but to silence impossible. That in measures brought forward by myself, I took the laboring oar, as was incumbent on me; but that in general I was willing to listen. If every sound argument or objection was used by some one or other of the numerous debaters, it was enough: if not, I thought it sufficient to suggest the omission, without going into a repetition of what had been already said by others. That this was a waste and abuse of the time and patience of the house which could not be justified. And I believe that if the members of deliberative bodies were to observe this course generally, they would do in a day what takes them a week, and it is really more questionable, than may at first be thought, whether Bonaparte's dumb legislature which said nothing and did much, may not be preferable to one which talks much and does nothing. I served with General Washington in the legislature of Virginia before the revolution, and, during it, with Dr. Franklin in Congress. I never heard either of them speak ten minutes at a time, nor to any but the main point which was to decide the question. They laid their shoulders to the great points, knowing that the little ones would follow of themselves. If the present Congress errs in too much talking, how can it be otherwise in a body to which the people send 150. lawyers, whose trade it is to question everything, yield nothing, & talk by the hour? That 150. lawyers should do business together ought not to be expected."
The destruction of all opposition is all that is on Obama’s mind. O’s speech about himself that was supposed to honor Sen. Inouye was amazing in revealing his obsession on himself and racism.
Indiana isn’t the south but we are definitely anti-Washington.
I heard that too. Just like Clinton, the bride at every wedding and the corpse at every funeral...that’s O to a tee.
This article assumes Obama cares how many eggs he breaks making his omelette.
Go 4 it!
Of course no ones taxes have gone up yet. However starting jan 1 the scenario will change greatly.
Here's the situation: the side that gets blamed by voters will generally be the one who caves, as with FICA, and the debt limit, and thebudget, and .....
These folks (except for o) still have to be elected in two years, or more in Senate.
Last night Levin was lecturing them on how they must be willing to risk their seats (to dems) by being brave like the US soldiers that took those Islands away from the Japs in WWII. Pretty enterrtaining. "Hold out to the last man/woman. Victory will come eventually, you just might not see it.", LOL
If the blame is 50-50% the House GOP has the upper hand over O.
If blame is say 75% to Rs, and 25% to Obama then no amount of complaining and crying and yelling will stop the tragic result. Republicans will give O whatever- he demands, although Bohner may get a meaningless token from O to throw at his members to save face.
Made up example :
Instead of taxes on >$1M , (the B bill), O gets taxes increased on >$250K AND another debt extension for two years and FICA extension. And in return GOP gets the restored the defense spending they themselves cut in the House last year....and no real spending cuts till at least 2017
If in Jan or Feb you see the House GOP agree to a pile of crap like this while looking like a starving squirrel jumping on a moldy half eaten peanut then you know that they took a wrong turn. The caving is just the formality marking the lost battle. (except for most of those Japs in WWII, they were determined)
Let the blame begin!
Here’s a radical concept to consider ...
Do what is RIGHT for America and DAMN the consequences!!
Actually, I’m rather amused that conservatives and the Tea Party were able to shoot down Plan B. After bashing the Tea Party at every turn, and yanking real conservatives off of important committees, the GOP’s chickens have come home to roost, methinks. I’m sure that’s gonna leave a mark.
The year or so after the national election I read many comments that go:
I dont care if the GOP wins the election, Screw them. I want them to do the *right* thing and if that means losing the next election (to O and Pelosi) then let it be. Our nation is at stake
But the year of the election the same ones post :
Republicans HAVE to beat (think of the dem you hate the worst here ) this time around. Those Dems will take away all our guns, force our wives to have abortions and then kill us using O-care death panels if they win this election. Our nation is at stake
That B bill would of kept our taxes from going up. I saw nothing right in killing it so taxes go up.
What if ‘doing (what you think is) the right thing’ results in the wrong thing?
Dems are on TV today defending poor Boehner, who can’t get those @#$%& tea partiers to play ball.
I can’t imagine Dems defying Pelosi’s iron grip. She controlled exactly how many would be allowed to vote against a bill. Will the GOP vote Boehner out? As you have asked, who else wants that job?
Boehner might have to try again after the new house members are sworn in, with a smaller GOP majority. The new congress could theoretically vote on Jan 3, right? Beohner (if still speaker) could offer concessions to Pelosi, but she is at least as determined to apply the coup de grace to the GOP as Obama is.
Dont laugh so fast, that is how they played the voters for ~ 2 years to get them ready for the past election.
That was their main theme(outside of Mitt) , ‘Bohner is a nice guy trying to do the right thing but those crazy #$%$$%...’
Yep, I would be surprised if anyone moves for speaker.
I figure Obama is making up new talking point lines to keep playing to the camera EVERY DAY to show them that HE is working over the holidays to do EVERYTHING he can to avoid the suffering that comes with the cliff.
He is disappointed that Republicans refuse to say yes to all his concessions.
He is optimistic that they will eventually do the right thing.
He is sad that they put politics ahead of the American people
His plan is to completely annihilate Republicans in congress so his last two years he can get the real reforms passed.
That is a huge difference between the two sides. One side has many members who put symbolism over results, the other side is fighting to win and transform America into their image of what they think it should be.
You know why none of those heroes will challenge Bohner? Because they know that Pelosi will take the House back in 2015(2014) either way and they figure that better Bohner than them on the bridge to be the goat.,
....and as I posted many times, Pelosi is 100X the fighter Boner is,
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