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So as of a few hours ago we have a solution now to the fiscal cliff. Kind of. Maybe. It seems that the only things they really agreed on were what taxes were going to rise and by how much. The agreement raises $620 billion over the next decade, but substantial spending cuts were left out of the mix- only $15 billion. There are rumblings now though that the House Republicans are going to try to amend the Senate-passed bill to add more spending cuts.

In all of this, what I have found most fascinating is how much John Boehner has really moved from the spotlight to the sideshow.

Joe Biden and Mitch McConnell, two old boys from the old days of the Senate, came together to hash this thing out after talks between Boehner and Obama broke down. Since then, Boehner has been on the sidelines. Now the spotlight is back on him and the House to pass the Senate bill to avert the cliff.

It's nice that the House Republicans have for now stopped their nitpicking on the exact magnitude of the tax increases. It simply is not realistic to continue beating the Grover Norquist drum. Bottom line is that taxes need to go up. No question either that more spending cuts are also necessary.

But where in all of this has John Boehner contributed anything of substance that carried through to the end? He didn't do so hot during the debt ceiling fiasco in 2011, and couldn't muster enough votes this time around, setting the stage for Biden and McConnell stepping in to hammer out an agreement.

Summer 2011 and this ongoing situation have shown that he simply is not a very good negotiator, particularly with the minority group of tea baggers who put ideology ahead of pragmatism. He isn't acting like a leader of his party. He isn't controlling the narrative. Granted he isn't the sole leader of the Republican Party, so the narrative should not completely be his, but he is the Speaker of the House.

So if he can't even get an agreement from within his party, how can he be depended on to lead the negotiations for grand bargains? I get the feeling that Biden and McConnell, as ideologically different as they are, still have a sense of collegiality with each other. They have stature within their parties, and that gives them stature when working with each other. Boehner is just being pushed around and off to the side, which is disheartening because then it gives the tea baggers more power, pushing the party further into the fringe.

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Comments (14)

  • crackjack's picture

    Please. The fact the John Boehner has been given this much press is because he makes a perfect fall guy. First, he's not the de-facto head of the Republican party. He'll probably lose his speakership come that election in a few days, thanks to the Democrats narrative of him. As much as they like to hate on Boehner, think of how well things will go with Cantor running the show (which he may end up doing).

    As an aside though, I think it's laughable that you rag on the Tea Party Republicans like they are the sole reason a deal couldn't be worked out. If you ask conservative, it would seem as if the Democrats are moving further towards the fringe as well. You may not feel that way, but really, this deal is no grand bargain from the Democrats side either. If they really wanted to fight the deficit they would have proposed more spending cuts than currently proposed. And yet they didn't. Do you really think they're going to come back later and say, "Hey, you guys are right, we need to cut spending some more." If anything they will likely balk at any real spending reform, and continue to blame Republicans for pushing such reforms.

    Besides, the bill proposed also offers $330 in new additional spending, so half of the $600 billion Democrats are getting to suck from the rich is pretty much already lined out for new spending. The extension of the tax rates are going to blow another $4 trillion hole in the debt, and yet this is being touted as a victory. If the Democrats (or the Republicans for that matter) REALLY wanted to fix the deficit and debt, they would allow the tax rates to go into affect as they should have, and allow the sequestration to happen (though it sounds like they're still working on that).

    But whatever what it really takes to fix the deficit matters less than getting another political win on the President's wall.

  • psv's picture

    Boehner actually got a bit stronger today. Cantor came out against it and then Boehner said, "okay we can have two votes" and gave Cantor a chance to whip up votes for his amendment. The votes weren't there and Boehner took it to a straight up and down vote. This was a clear defeat for Cantor, thereby strengthening Boehner's hand.

  • Dhanam's picture

    Yeah Cantor voted against it along with Kevin McCarthy. I'm guessing Cantor was betting that the deal wouldn't get enough votes in the House and was trying to leverage a defeat in the House to start a power struggle to replace John Boehner as Speaker. It seems like it blew up in Cantor's face though.

    Ever since the election, watching the power struggles in the Republican Party has been interesting. You've got the Tea Party on one side clamoring for more ideological purity, moderates saying the Party has gotta take a different direction on things like immigration and taxes, etc.

    Also Paul Ryan voted for the bill, which is pretty interesting considering he's been the face of a lot of the spending cuts that the Republicans have wanted.

  • BTbanker's picture

    This is great!

    We can save 62 Billion each year, and keep spending 1.1 Trillion MORE than we're bringing in!!

    Fuck you democrats; Not a brain in your fucking heads.

  • TNA's picture

    I love everyone clamoring for additional taxes as if the government has some natural right to what you have or earn. We have a massive spending problem, end of story. This token tax increase is nothing more than show. Top tax brackets used to be 35%. Sorry, but that is too high in my book.

    We need to reduce the size and scope of government, cut spending, cut regulation, increase and means tests for SSI and Medicaid/care. We need reduce military spending some also. And we need to eliminate deductions, thereby widening the tax base.

    What you earn is yours, absolutely. Taxation is a necessary evil, not the defacto answer to everything. $1.3T in deficit spending per year equals an addition to debt and tax payer money. Solve the real problem, don't take more from Americans.

    And Boehner has done a fine job. He fought the good fight against Obama and the Democrats. A decision was made which had the smallest amount of tax increases that they could have gotten through. Now the fight goes to the debt ceiling increase, which I hope the Republicans draw a line in the sand.

    Bravo to the Tea Party for bringing the Republicans back to their fiscal conservative status. People who shit on the Tea Party a) don't understand it and b) believe whatever the Democrat talking heads tell them.

  • UFOinsider's picture

    He just told a respected member to fuck themselves. He has done a fine job marginalizing himself. I'm talking about the man, not his policies....

    As far as policy: whatever. Both parties have done a fine job running up the debt. This president pushes the public debate back to center, the next has an opportunity to restructure out finances.

    Personally, I have money on Cris Christie.

    It's just that, well, I haven't been wrong before.

    But you don't have to take my word for it?

    Get busy living

  • Scott Irish's picture

    Nice to see UFO, don't know if you've been gone or I just check at the wrong times.

    I don't trust any of these guys, and this shit is too depressing to do more than skim, but I just want to apologize to Ron Paul supporters because you've made more sense than anyone else I can think of, myself included.

  • In reply to UFOinsider
    txjustin's picture

    He just told a respected member to fuck themselves. He has done a fine job marginalizing himself. I'm talking about the man, not his policies....

    As far as policy: whatever. Both parties have done a fine job running up the debt. This president pushes the public debate back to center, the next has an opportunity to restructure out finances.

    Personally, I have money on Cris Christie.

    It's just that, well, I haven't been wrong before.

    But you don't have to take my word for it?

    Harry Reid can go fuck himself. This is exactly why I'd never be allowed to enter politics because I'd say that way too often.

  • TNA's picture

    Telling Harry Reid to fuck himself was probably the single best thing Boehner did. I consider it to be monumental respect not to spit in that anti-American's face.

    And the Republicans whittled Obama down to token tax increases, kept the debt ceiling as future leverage for entitlement cuts.

    Obama can piss and moan for 4 years about how it is all the Republicans fault. Frankly, I'd expect nothing else from a failed president who used his first four years to cry about Bush and talk about fairness all the time. Like electing my 4 year old niece who cries when she gets 5 less Cheerios than some other kid.

  • In reply to TNA
    UFOinsider's picture

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    Get busy living

  • olafenizer's picture