When he unveils the budget on Wednesday, Obama will break with the tradition of providing a sweeping vision of his ideal spending priorities, untethered from political realities. Instead, the document will incorporate the compromise offer Obama made to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) last December in the discussions over the so-called “fiscal cliff” - which included $1.8 in deficit reduction through spending cuts and tax increases.
“The president has made clear that he is willing to compromise and do tough things to reduce the deficit,” a senior administration official said, “but only in the context of a package like this one that has balance and includes revenues from the wealthiest Americans and that is designed to promote economic growth.”
While Republicans are certain to be skeptical of Obama’s call for more taxes, the president also is likely to face immediate heat over his budget proposal from some Democrats and liberal supporters. Obama proposes, for instance, to change the cost-of-living calculation for Social Security in a way that will reduce benefits for most beneficiaries, a key Republican request that he had earlier embraced only as part of a compromise. Many Democrats say they are opposed to any Social Security cuts and are likely to be furious that such cuts are now being proposed as official administration policy.
A Q and A from the Atlantic.
Q: The impression, particularly among Democrats, is that the Republican majority in the House is a bunch of crazies determined to do everything in their power to stand in the way of functional government. Is that wrong?
Former Rep. Steve LaTourette: It’s wrong because the whole conference isn’t crazy. The majority are trying to get the right thing done. But if you do the math and you need 218 out of 233 [to pass a bill], you don’t need many people to leave the reservation to have a nonfunctioning majority. It’s reasonable to say that within the group are some extremists.
Q: How about that insurrection — doesn’t that prove that Boehner is a weak leader who can’t control his caucus?
LaTourette: I think it’s ridiculous. They should kick them all out of the Republican conference. The picture in Politico of a sitting Republican member of Congress on the floor with an iPad showing a screen with a whip count to deny the Republicans the speakership of the House is asinine. This is what I’m talking about: These guys are OK when it comes to ideology and dogma, but they don’t have a clue how to participate in the legislative process.
I don’t know what their objective is. If it was to deny the speakership to Boehner and hand it to Mrs. Pelosi, I don’t know how their cause would have been furthered. If it’s to force the vote to a second ballot to make some demands, well, who the hell do these people think they are? Twelve out of 233, and they’re making demands? That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s excoriation of House Speaker John Boehner commanded national attention Wednesday — carried live by CNN, making his last name one of the top trending words on Twitter for the rest of the day, analyzed and deconstructed by countless pundits and columnists.
One question raised in some quarters was whether Christie, a potential candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, had hurt himself in GOP circles by bashing his party’s House speaker, who already was politically wobbled from the conclusion of the “fiscal cliff” showdown.
Christie said in a Friday interview that he has no concerns that he damaged himself among Republicans nationally.
Disgruntled House lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are lining up to voice their discontent with their own leaders during Thursday’s vote to choose the Speaker in the 113th Congress.
Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) is expected to keep his Speaker position while Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has already secured her spot as the Democratic leader. But the small groups of defectors are a reminder that neither party is entirely unified heading into the high-stakes fiscal battles that are expected to define 2013.
For Boehner, Thursday’s vote for Speaker could be particularly punishing amid a week when the Ohio Republican pushed through a fiscal-cliff package that was wildly unpopular in his conference, and then scrapped a promised vote on federal relief for victims of Hurricane Sandy.
The first move alienated conservatives who said the tax-and-spending package didn’t include nearly enough cuts; the second enraged Republicans from the Northeast, who were apoplectic Wednesday that the aid to their districts won’t come faster.
Reps. Pete King (R-N.Y.) and Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) threatened to defect on the Speaker vote unless Boehner reversed course on the Sandy measure. After Boehner did an about face, they expressed support for the Ohio Republican.
I left the Republican Party in 2010 because these teavangelical ninnyhammers had gained too much power and were dragging the whole party in terrible direction. It was right to leave then, and it’s right to stay away from this large pack of suicidally destructive fools now.
In more than a dozen interviews with The Associated Press, activists said they would rather the nation fall off the cliff than agree to a compromise that includes tax increases for any Americans, no matter how high their income. They dismiss economists’ warnings that the automatic tax increases and deep spending cuts set to take effect Jan. 1 could trigger a fresh recession, and they overlook the fact that most people would see their taxes increase if President Barack Obama and Boehner, R-Ohio, fail to reach a year-end agreement.
The strong opposition among tea party activists and Republican leaders from New Hampshire to Wyoming and South Carolina highlights divisions within the GOP as well as the challenge that Obama and Boehner face in trying to get a deal done.
On Capitol Hill, some Republicans worry about the practical and political implications should the GOP block a compromise designed to avoid tax increases for most Americans and cut the nation’s deficit.
“It weakens the entire Republican Party, the Republican majority,” Rep. Steven LaTourette, R-Ohio, said Thursday night shortly after rank-and-file Republicans rejected Boehner’s “Plan B” — a measure that would have prevented tax increases on all Americans but million-dollar earners.
This is a masterful artifice by Boehner - by setting the tax ceiling so high and proposing little else to reduce the deficit he can make it look like he’s acceding to the the President’s plan when he’s not. Any cap above 250k offers too little revenue and Boehner knows it. This is especially true when that’s offered up with zero cuts. This is a game where the GOP won’t do anything that doesn’t cut medicare and social security, but they want it to look like it’s the president’s idea.
It’s really a gross dereliction of duties, since it is specifically the House of Representative’s duty to create and pass the budgets year to year.
‘There’s been a lot of posturing up on Capitol Hill instead of going ahead and getting stuff done, and we’ve been wasting a lot of time,” Obama said. “If you just pull back from the immediate political battles, if you kind of peel off the partisan war paint, then we should be able to get something done.”
But it was beginning to look a lot like postponement for Obama’s annual Christmas break in Hawaii, so he could continue working to prevent a looming political and financial crisis.
The House was poised to vote today on a measure that Boehner devised on his own — what the speaker is calling “Plan B” — to give tax breaks to everyone except millionaires. Obama Wednesday threatened to veto the bill and Democrats have dismissed that plan as a “political ploy” intended to give Boehner and Republicans political cover if the fiscal cliff talks end in failure.
Boehner showed no signs of backing down and appeared determined to maximize political leverage and use the measure to strengthen his hand in negotiations. In a very brief appearance at the Capitol, Boehner said that the House would take up his bill on Thursday. He declared that his “Plan B” measure will give Obama two options: `He can call on Senate Democrats to pass that bill, or he can be responsible for the largest tax increase in American history.”
Polls show that most Americans would blame Republicans if the fiscal-cliff is reached without a solution, a situation that would risk a recession with $500 in combined tax hikes and government spending reductions. How much Boehner’s “Plan B” bill with its $1 million threshold for tax increases would mitigate fallout for the GOP is difficult to predict.
Democrats attempted to paint it as an inadequate solution to the problems at hand, in terms of increasing revenues and reducing spending. The White House said Boehner’s Plan B would only cut $300 billion from the deficit, through increased revenues from millionaires.
“The deficit reduction is minimal, and perversely, given its authors, solely through tax increases with no spending cuts,” White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer said in a written statement. “This approach does not meet the test of balance, and the President would veto the legislation in the unlikely event of its passage.”
Obama, Boehner, and the Lessons Learned: Republicans show they haven’t learned much over the last four years
The 2012 election was widely seen as a ratification of the status quo: Obama will remain in the White House, the Republicans are still in charge of the House, and Democrats have a majority in the Senate (if not real control, which is virtually impossible in the age of the omnipresent filibuster). But that analysis has its flaws, starting with the fact that GOP control of the House hangs not on the will of the people—more cast votes for Democratic House candidates than for Republicans—but on two quirks of political geography. One is that Democrats tend to cluster in big cities, thus circumscribing the scope of their influence. The other is that Republicans used the recent redistricting process to solidify their majority.
But there are broader differences. Even the returning characters bring new wrinkles to the politics of President Obama’s second term, depending on the lessons they learned, or failed to, over the last four years.
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Take the Senate Democrats who suffer the unique disadvantage of having ostensible but not functional control of their chamber. Where the filibuster was once a rarity, it has become the rule. Nothing can pass without a supermajority. This is a large part of the reason that the current Congress is, according to NBC News, on track to pass the fewest bills into law since the Clerk of the House started keeping track of these things in the 1940s. The famous “do-nothing Congress” of 1947-1948? It passed 906 laws—710 more than the current group had passed entering its lame-duck session.
President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner met Sunday at the White House to discuss the ongoing negotiations over the impending “fiscal cliff,” the first meeting between just the two leaders since they both won re-election.
Spokesmen for both Obama and Boehner said they agreed to not release details of the conversation, but emphasized that the lines of communication remain open.
The meeting comes as the White House and Congress try to break an impasse over finding a way to stop a combination of automatic tax increases and spending cuts scheduled to kick in at the beginning of next year.
Obama met in November with Boehner, as well as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. The president spoke by telephone with Reid and in person with Pelosi on Friday. The president is traveling to Redford, Mich., on Monday to promote his agenda in a speech to workers at an engine factory; auto workers helped Obama win Michigan in last month’s election.
Obama has been pushing higher tax rates on the wealthiest Americans as one way to reduce the deficit — a position Boehner and other House Republicans have been steadfastly against. Republicans are demanding steeper cuts in costly government entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security.
Obama and Boehner spoke by phone this afternoon, their first conversation in exactly one week, an administration official said. Their relations have grown frosty in recent days as both sides have dug in on the issue of higher rates.
In separate appearances earlier today, Obama and Boehner publicly sparred over who’s to blame for the standoff and what to do if lawmakers can’t reach a broad deficit-reduction agreement in 27 days.
Obama, speaking at a meeting of 100 CEOs, warned Republicans that he would not accept a so-called “doomsday” deal that extends tax cuts for middle-income earners before the end of the year but nothing more.
Such an approach, which has been under consideration by top Republicans as a likely scenario, would set the stage for a big battle over spending cuts and top tax rates in early 2013 - all tied to the nation’s debt ceiling, which will need to be raised, which only Congress can do.
Boeher and the house Republicans are grandstanding once again, pretending that they are insulted and that the president’s offer is not a serious starting position. At the same time they refuse to put forth specifics of their preferred cuts, revenue enhancements, or budget changes. They in fact want to take from medicare and other social safety net programs, but refuse to do it in the Open or admit it, instead they mumble about ‘entitlement reform’.
They want to make these deals in back rooms and not in front of the American Public because they represent very narrow special interests and they know it. You know that their ideas are intensely unpopular with the public because otherwise they would be leading this discussion since it’s the house’s key duty to Budget. They’ve failed at that for four years because they don’t want to deal with this president. Call on your congress person to deal in the open, do it today.