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.