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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Boehner's bluff

The Republican Party is running on fumes, with bluster the chief coin of its realm as we stare at the fiscal cliff.

House Speaker John Boehner showed his hand this week by calling for protecting everyone earning up to $1 million annually from higher taxes -- eve after Barack Obama offered a small victory by upping his own threshold to $400,000. The millionaire balm came with a call for cutting the Social Security benefit increase for the elderly.

Obama did not mince words, saying any House-passed millionaire tax break was dead on arrival, should ever emerge from the Senate.
“They keep on finding ways to say ‘no’ as opposed to finding ways to say ‘yes,’” Obama said. “And I don’t know how much of that just has to do with, you know, it is very hard for them to say yes to me. But, you know, at some point, you know, they’ve got to take me out of it and think about their voters and think about what’s best for the country.”
Boehner was his usual bluff and bluster, the principal tool he has used through the endless scrums over our nation's future.
“Then the president will have a decision to make,” he said. “He can call upon Senate Democrats to pass that bill, or he can be responsible for the largest tax increase in American history."
House Republicans have been nothing but consistent in the face of last month's election results and polls that show the public favors the Obama approach. Like little children, they are insisting on holding their breath until they turn blue and Boehner is their enabler.

He has even enlisted the true leader of the Republican Party, Grover Norquist, to offer his imprimatur that voting for Boehner's Plan B would not violate the mindless pledge that has created the cliff.

Obama has been rightly accused of negotiating with himself in the past, but things appear different this time around.
"What I said was that the ultimate package would involve a balance of spending cuts and tax increases. That’s exactly what I have put forward. What I have said is, in order to arrive at a compromise, I am prepared to do some very tough things, some things that some Democrats don’t want to see, and probably there are a few Republicans who don’t want to see them either.”
And he added the ultimate twist to the breath-holding caucus:
“When you think about what we’ve gone through over the last couple months — a devastating hurricane, and now one of the worst tragedies in our memory — the country deserves us to be willing to compromise on behalf of the greater good,”
Perhaps we should rephrase Boehner's remarks: he can call on House Republicans to vote for a reasonable package of tax increases and spending cuts or he can be responsible for a Republican Recession that would be totally avoidable if only the zealots put their country above their ideology.

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