In my previous post I gave columnist David Brooks some credit for coming up with a vision (or fantasy) of the two parties actually working together to not only survive the fiscal bumpy slope, i. e. cliff, but to actually begin to fix our entrenched fiscal problems. For his efforts he has been made a pin cushion, mostly by critics on the left.
These critics, brimming with their belief in an Obama mandate, have shredded Brooks’ ideas for one reason or another. Hey, it was only one column exploring the possibility of the Republicans coming to the table and saying something more than “no”. Those on the left, retract your fangs, please! When someone comes to you wishing to talk peace and carrying a white flag, you don’t shoot him.
Generally speaking, the Republicans are in some disarray, trying to come to grips with their election losses, while the Democrats feel they hold the high cards, so they are not inclined to give an inch to any Republican attempt to make peace. Barack Obama has demonstrated that attitude knowing that if the Bush tax breaks expire, the Democrats will then be able to propose new legislation to bring back the tax cuts for those below $250,000 (or maybe a bit higher). That would leave the Republicans in the awkward position of appearing to oppose tax cuts. Also, polls suggest that Republicans will receive more of the blame for the consequences of not making some sort of deal.
The amount of money going in and out of Washington is not going to suddenly change January 1, and the Obama team can soften the immediate effects of the so-called cliff, as mentioned in my previous post. As such, the Democrats are feeling their oats, believing they can have their way with Republicans on this issue. The Obama team seems willing to head down a bumpy 2013 slope if the Republicans won’t deal.
Given the Tea Party’s ability in the past to throw a monkey wrench into most compromises between the parties, perhaps no deal can be made any time soon, but some interesting news broke yesterday in an article in the NY Times. “At House Speaker John A. Boehner’s request, Senate leaders and Representative Nancy Pelosi have been excluded from talks to avert a fiscal crisis, leaving it to Mr. Boehner and President Obama alone to find a deal, Congressional aides say.”
What’s that song? Just the two of us…. Boehner’s request suggests to me that negotiating progress has been made behind the scenes AND that both gentlemen believe they have some negotiating room, i.e. that each can make some concessions and still sell the deal to their parties. Supporting this line of thought was the appearance of numerous pundits of liberal political opinion at the White House recently, such as many of the hosts at MSNBC. I infer this to mean Obama was looking for support for some concessions. Meanwhile Tea Party types have complained that Boehner is asserting more control over them by removing some from key committee assignments, i. e. he has laid the groundwork for less interference by them.
Boehner hasn’t shown suicidal tendencies as far as I know, so in requesting this meeting, he must feel fairly confident they can come up with something he can live with, which means he can get passed in the House.
When the two meet, I’d love to be a fly on the wall.