John Boehner: between a tea bag and a hard place
John Boehner has been negotiating all week with President Obama and his staff to resolve the “fiscal speedbump” issue. President Obama took a step toward Speaker Boehner in the negotiations by allowing the Bush tax cuts to remain in place for incomes over $400,000/year (up from $250,000), making some cuts to entitlements to be named later and agreeing to a different way to calculate Social Security cost of living increases that would lower how much our seniors get in their monthly allocation by a smidgen — the so-called “chained CPI”.
In return, Boehner offered to extend the debt ceiling for two years and allow the Bush tax cuts to expire for income over $400,000.
This was, however, a bridge to far for his tea party leadership team, according to Ezra Klein at the Washington Post. So, he offered what he’s calling “Plan B” and the response from the White House was a resounding “screw you”.
Here’s what Press Secretary Jay Carney had to say on behalf of the President:
The American people have been clear that they will not accept an economic approach that places too big of a burden on the middle class, seniors, students and the most vulnerable Americans while asking too little of the wealthiest Americans. The Congressional Republican “Plan B” legislation continues large tax cuts for the very wealthiest individuals – on average, millionaires would see a tax break of $50,000 – while eliminating tax cuts that 25 million students and families struggling to make ends meet depend on and ending critical incentives for our nation’s businesses. It would also cut off a vital lifeline of unemployment assistance to 2 million Americans fighting to find a job just a few days after Christmas, while deeply cutting Medicare. The deficit reduction is minimal, and perversely, given its authors, solely through tax increases with no spending cuts. This approach does not meet the test of balance, and the President would veto the legislation in the unlikely event of its passage.
The hypocrisy on this issue among the Republicans borders on comical. As The Daily Dolt points out, Republicans are apoplectic that the White House is counting decreases in the amount of interest the federal government will pay when the national debt is reduced:
While the President claims his spending cuts add up to $1.2 trillion — roughly equal to the $1.2 trillion he seeks in added tax revenue — Boehner insists the cuts only add up to $930 billion because the interest savings don’t count:
“Interest savings from higher taxes is not a spending cut. I wish the folks at the White House would work as hard to actually cut spending as they do trying [to] look like they are.”
However, back when they were ranting and raving against the stimulus package, Republicans thought that interest was a big hairy deal. Here’s Speaker Boehner had to say then:
If you think about where we’ve been this year, we had the nearly trillion-dollar stimulus plan, when you look at the interest that’s going to be paid on it.
And here’s Paul Ryan:
We are about to vote on a trillion-dollar spending package. Yes, a trillion dollars, because the Congressional Budget Office just told us today (that) just to pay for the interest on this bill is another $350 billion.
So, we appear to be back to square one. And, funny thing is, President Obama still holds all the cards.