Opinon: Boehner's Brilliant ‘Blunder’ Puts Obama at Edge of Fiscal Cliff

It may have been framed as a failure, but walking away from Plan B may have been a brilliant move by Speaker John Boehner.

Every news outlet is reporting that the failure of Speaker John Boehner to get his “Plan B” passed the Republican House of Representatives is an “embarrassment” or a “failure.”

In fact, it may be a brilliant move—whether, or not, it was intended.

Remember, the world was to end last Friday, and the U.S. is destined for collapse on Jan. 1—if there is no compromise to avoid new taxes and spending cuts going into effect.

However, all of Boehner’s early suggested changes—designed to avoid “the fiscal cliff”—have been met with veto threats from the president and “non-negotiable” demands from the Democratic Senate. So, the Republican members of the House voted down the Speaker’s last offer, “Plan B,” and left town—as did the president.

Consequently, President Obama no longer has Boehner to “kick around any more.” No straw opponent. No one to blame. Next move—the president’s.

Obama must now negotiate with the Republican leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell.

Which is where the unintended “brilliant” part starts.

Obama has often “led from behind” by having others put their cards on the table before he trumps them—as was the case with the health care reform bill and with the last blow up between Boehner and the president, when Obama changed the budget deal at the last minute. Hence, the current mistrust between these two men.

Now, the president will have to show his own cards. Make the case for any taxes or spending cuts he wants in public; then try to get the votes from that unmanageable House of Representatives that Boehner “can’t control.”  Can’t vote “present.” Can’t blame “the others.” Buck stops with the president.

Or he can do nothing and over the cliff we go.

Lots of luck. No staying above the fray here. President Lyndon Johnson, the greatest legislative arm twister since Henry Clay, probably couldn’t pull this disaster from the “fiscal cliff.”

So, now Obama is put to the test. Negotiate in public—with himself—and hope the votes somehow materialize. Tough, but not impossible. Should the president fail here, or raise too many taxes and cut too many programs, and own the results. Or come up with another “band-aid” that does nothing but postpone the mess.

Looks like a clever tactic on the Republicans part to just “walk away” and let the president craft the “largest tax hike in history.”

Small wonder that the head of the Democratic National Committee, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, is crying foul.

She gets it.

Democrats know there is a trap door here. Obama must now deliver. Which is why he left his Hawaiian vacation early.

Obama’s move. If he can’t produce, over the cliff we go.

Stay tuned.

Komfort December 31, 2012 at 09:53 PM
Phony cliff... "To understand the federal budget mess and the so-called fiscal cliff, it’s important to remember three numbers: 39, 37 and 64. Thirty nine percent is the combined increase of inflation and population over the last ten years. Thirty nine percent. Thirty seven percent is the increase in revenues during the same period. That’s despite the recession and tax cuts. Not quite keeping place, but pretty close. Sixty four is what’s killing us. Sixty four percent is the increase in federal spending in that period. That’s nearly twice the rate of inflation and population over the last ten years. The spending side of the fiscal cliff is the so-called sequester: automatic cuts in federal spending. To hear some tell it, these cuts will mean the end of western civilization. Hardly. After a 64 percent increase in expenditures this decade, the sequester doesn’t actually cut spending at all: it simply limits spending growth next year to about a half a percent... ...But now, the sequester is all we have. It’s true that defense takes the brunt of it, but does our defense spending today really need to be higher – inflation adjusted -- than it was at the height of the Vietnam War, when we faced down the Soviet Union and had 500,000 combat troops in the field? The sequester isn’t stepping off a cliff – it’s taking one step back from the cliff..." http://mcclintock.house.gov/2012/12/the-fiscal-cliff-1.shtml
Things I Learned December 31, 2012 at 10:22 PM


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