Boehner takes the bait

The annual bleg

Speaker John Boehner is not a stupid man. Which is why political junkies are wondering aloud what he was up to with a highly unpopular, rather crazy counter proposal to avoid the fiscal cliff coughed up by House Republicans today. How bad is it? It’s bad:

Steve Benen— So, what’s the pitch? Under this proposal, Republicans would keep all of the Bush-era tax rates, but accept $800 billion in new revenue. How? Through “through pro-growth tax reform that closes special-interest loopholes and deductions while lowering rates.

“From there, the GOP leaders want to cut $600 billion from Medicare and Medicaid; cut $300 billion from mandatory programs; cut $200 billion by changing the consumer price index; and then cut another $300 billion in further discretionary spending. o call this a “counteroffer” is to strip the word of meaning. Under the GOP plan, Republicans get the more than $1 trillion in spending cuts Obama already gave them; Republicans get the entitlement cuts they want; Republicans get hundreds of billions of dollars in additional cuts to programs they haven’t identified; and Republicans get all of the Bush-era tax rates they’ve prioritized.

This isn’t a “counteroffer”; it’s a Christmas wish list written by kids without access to calculators.

It might make sense if there was a snowball’s chance in hell of a middle of the road compromise, but there is no need to compromise with Boehner. If Congress does nothing, taxes will go up on Jan 1, 2013. At which point most pundits agree it will be much easier to peel off a few dozen House Republicans to get a bill through reenacting the cuts on the first $250,000 of income, which gives the President exactly what he wants, what he ran on, and what large majorities agree with.

What Boehner’s counteroffer does mean is progressives now have 2014 mid-term election material to run on already. That was the bait and Orange Julius took it.

So time is greatly on our side. The only real worries are 1) the economic concern — taking that dough out of our hands for too long could send the stock market plummeting and, eventually, the nation back into recession. That would be somewhere between tough and catastrophic for a lot of middle class wage earners. And 2) the political concern —  the majority of voters, who currently side with the President by a comfortable margin, might begin to blame him more than the House Republicans who are holding out on behalf of the super rich. I don’t know how the economic or political angle will shake out, but neither does anyone else and right now it’s crystal clear where most people are.

I do know one thing, just knowing evil filthy-rich greedy bastards like the Koch brothers and Sheldon Addelson will be paying tens of millions more starting on Jan 1 — after blowing tens of millions trying to unseat Obama — eases my fear and lightens my burden. But that’s just me, how will it affect you and what do you think?


  1. Stevarious, Public Health Problem says

    I mostly worry about Obama unnecessarily caving to some sort of stupid demands along these lines in the name of ‘bipartisanship’. He’s shown spinelessness in the face of win-win situations before.

  2. Gvlgeologist, FCD says

    @ Stevarious, Public Health Problem:

    That’s exactly my concern. Obama, for all his rhetoric, has spent 4 years trying to work with people who have no interest in anything except getting their own way. And far too often, they have. The advantage now is that Obama is a lame duck president and politically has no reason to give in.

  3. Ben P says

    I’m going to disagree, but the proof will be in the pudding so to speak.

    Obama/Reid proposed roughly
    Keep Bush tax cuts for all except those over $250,000 (top tax rates from 35% to 38%), Dividends taxed as regular income, the estate tax at 45% for estates of over $3.5m. This all equals to a tax increase of roughly $1.6 trillion over 10 years.

    SPending cuts of $600 billion (10 years) – of which $400 billion comes from medicare and $200 billion from other sources, including but not limited to farm subsidies.

    $200 billion (10 yrs) in economic stimulus spending front loaded with $50 billion next year.

    Extending unemployment funding.

    Boehner’s proposal
    All tax cuts extended but $800 billion in Revenue over ten years through cuts to unspecified “loopholes and deductions” but also with lower rates.
    $600 billion in medicare cuts
    $300 billion from other mandatory (i.e. welfare) programs
    $200 billion by changing CPI (meaning any “cost of living” adjustments to any welfare or to salaries will be reduced.
    $300 billion to non-defense discretionary spending.

    Given the realities on the ground this is not terribly more pie in the sky than the dem proposal was. As passed, neither would pass both houses of congress, so they were equally pipe dreams. The republican proposal is worse as a negotiating position only perhaps in that it clings to the $800 billion through “loopholes and deductions” without specifics.

    The proof is in the pudding though to see which side is willing to give more. You are correct that dems have the advantage here. All they have to do is wait, and tax rates go up and spending cuts happen, and not the way Republicans want them to. But that causes substantive harm.

  4. jamessweet says

    Given the realities on the ground this is not terribly more pie in the sky than the dem proposal was.

    Yeah, I was going to say something similar. My understanding is that conservatives were saying pretty much exactly the same thing about Obama’s proposal just one or two days ago — “surely the man must be joking”. These are the opening bids, and they’re meant to be ridiculous. The only question is, given that both sides are playing hardball, will they reach a compromise before the 1st.

    My only question is, who is this guy Cliff, and why is he so bent on destroying America? Can’t we just send a Predator drone after him?

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