Talks broke down on the debt deal…again, and we all know why. The Democrats were upset about the deal Obama was about to make so at the last minute he moved the goal posts and expected the Republicans to cave. Didn’t happen:
[Boehner] said the two sides had agreed on an unspecified amount of revenue to be included in deficit reduction, achieved by broadening the number of Americans who pay taxes and lowering general tax rates. But he said President Obama on Thursday demanded another $400 billion in revenue, which Boehner said “was going to be nothing more than a tax hike on the American people.”
It is clear, however, that Boehner and Cantor were ready to accept up to $800 billion in revenue measures as part of a grand bargain. But when that number jumped, in part because of pressure from Democrats, the talks broke down.
Boehner sent a letter to his Republican colleagues explaining his decision to pull out of talks for a “grand bargain.” Here are some highlights:
“It has become evident that the White House is not serious about ending the spending binge that is destroying jobs and endangering our children’s future,” he wrote, adding, “A deal was never reached, and was never really close.
“The president is emphatic that taxes have to be raised. … The president is emphatic that we cannot make fundamental changes to our entitlement programs,” Boehner wrote.
“For these reasons, I have decided to end discussions with the White House and begin conversations with the leaders in the Senate in an effort to find a path forward.”
Where do you think the Democrats came to the conclusion that the Republicans would cave?
Did Gang of 6 kill the deal? Revenue numbers rose after gang weighed in.
The gang of six didn’t help, that’s for sure. Neither did poor widdle Harry Reid’s hurt feelings. But in the end Obama’s re-election campaign (as if he ever stopped campaigning) is what did all this in:
First, as James Pethokoukis (who beat the establishment media like a drum on this story) suggests, there is little political downside for Pres. Obama in such negotiations, so long as he insists on major, unambiguous tax increases and opposes entitlement reform. If Republicans caved in to such a deal, it would demoralize the GOP base and possibly prompt Tea Party challenges, splitting the vote on the right. Moreover, a deal would help fool the casual, low-information voter that Obama cares about and is addressing the public debt bomb.
Second (and perhaps more significant), failing to reach a “grand bargain” is Pres. Obama’s current campaign strategy. You need not take my word for it. Instead, you can observe what Pres. Obama has done since before the midterm elections.
Consider the general political environment before the midterm election. The right and the Tea Party raised the political temperature on the issue of the public debt bomb. Pres. Obama punted on the issue by forming the Simpson-Bowles commission. After the election, he tossed their recommendations in the trash bin. However, in doing so, Obama created a politcal vacuum, which was filled by the House GOP budget devised by Rep. Paul Ryan. The left needed a response.
Accordingly, Pres. Obama (as he always does) gave a speech (which was not a budget, and has never been made into one). While much of the establishment media spun that speech as an embrace of the Simpson-Bowles recommendations, it was not. Simpson-Bowles sought to clothe its tax increases in the garb of the Tax Reform Act of 1986: lowering tax rates and eliminating deductions. But the Simpson-Bowles recommendations were not revenue-neutral. Even so, they were at least structurally similar to the House GOP budget, which proposed similar tax reform that was revenue-neutral. Any purveyor of Beltway conventional wisdom could see the type of deal to be struck.
However, Obama’s non-budget speech did not adopt the basic structure of the House GOP or his bipartisan commissioners. Rather, Obama proposed raising tax rates and eliminating deductions. Moreover, Obama’s proposed enforcement triggers would exempt more than 90% of government spending from his supposed automatic across-the-board cut. Combined with grossly hypocritical demagogy on entitlements, Obama’s speech was not a forerunner to a serious plan, but an attempt to rerun the Clinton ’95 re-elect playbook.
Anyone harboring any doubt over who is repsonsible for the failure of a “grand bargain” must consider Pres. Obama’s record. He avoided the debt before the election. After the election, he submitted a budget so absurd it got zero votes in a Democrat-controlled Senate. [Indeed, Senate Democrats have yet to submit a budget of any kind.] He has not moved from the positions he staked out in April. His position is not balanced, no matter how much the White House and the establishment media try to spin it as such.
If the Republicans had caved it would have split the party even more then it is, if the Republicans didn’t cave then he and the liberals would continue trying to demonize the right. Either way it’s about what’s best for Obama and yes, President Obama, your Socialist ideals.
Not the country.
The man is a born campaigner, not a leader…